What’s Better? Christmas or Wedding Season?

For as long as I can remember, my favorite movie has been Wedding Crashers. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s romantic, it makes you believe in love.

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Not only did I love this movie because of the listed reasons, but weddings in general are an absolute blast. Weddings bring people together, everyone is drinking and dancing, and listening to speeches about love and admiration. It’s just a beautiful thing. Anyway, this weekend I attended a wedding of a “fake cousin” and it was an absolutely wonderful event. I don’t have social media on my phone (except for Twitter) but I do check Instagram on my iPad. I noticed that the hashtag in all of the photos that I was tagged in was #dontchaGano. I understood the pun pretty quickly and had a good chuckle, but then it made me think about the wedding industry. The Wedding Planning industry in the United States has $1 billion in revenues. This was wild to me and sparked this blog post and how the industry has been utilizing social media and digital business.

After some research, I found that wedding planners are huge on analytics to target customers just like other businesses we’ve discussed in class. One luxury wedding planner, Kaleigh Wiese, uses three main things to find her target audience. Research the keywords and hashtags wedding planners use when searching for inspiration. Explore relevant search terms that are getting more volume, then capitalize on those concepts in Pinterest content before they reach peak popularity by using Promoted Pins. Use google analytics to identify where the most traffic is coming from and focus paid campaigns on those geographic regions. She additionally admitted that she tried to tag as many vendors as possible on Instagram posts in order to increase her network effect on social media.

Another planner used digital business and social media to help couples plan destination weddings. Jennifer Stein, one of the co-founders was planning her own destination wedding and found little to no content on the internet for advice on how to plan this travel wedding/honeymoon. She’s quoted saying “We do our best to provide partner products, inspiration, and content that will help (couples) with that process and, in the end, make it fun and stress-free.” Her use of marketing dollars in Instagram and Pinterest put her ahead of the curve with a niche target in the wedding industry. This use of strategic planning and early adoption helped to increase internet traffic to her site. In fact, her magazine/website Destination I Do, has gotten so large that it was turned into a TV show.

The information on this industry absolutely shocked me (probably because I’m not planning my own wedding anytime soon). It was really interesting to see how the most successful vendors and planners were the early adopters of the digital business marketing campaigns. With nearly every person on their phone all the time, it does make sense though to target the mobile interface. While people are looking through Pinterest or Instagram for wedding inspiration, an ad can pop-up anywhere at anytime and create revenue for said vendor.

However, the first click/interaction/payment doesn’t mean that the business will grow. The concept of a wedding is that you’ll only have one, so how does the marketing campaign for the vendors continue to grow? Relationships and referrals. I didn’t know how many parts of a wedding there are to plan (flowers, caterers, band/DJ, table cloths). It was surprising to me that most people use a different vendor for different pieces of the wedding instead of just having one “do everything” vendor. After research into the wedding planners themselves I saw that they tend to have their own list of referrals. The planner tends to have three to four suggestions of vendors for each part, but the bride and groom can have their own preferences as well. That’s the key to all of this. The social media interaction with the bride/groom getting to the wedding planners, and then growing their network effect.

After doing the research for this blog I discussed it with my soon to be sister-in-law which opened up a can of worms I was not ready for. It was about a two hour conversation about the wedding but the gist was, my research was spot on. So if you’re a romantic like me, and you love that moment when Shout by the Isley Brothers comes over the mic, maybe look into a future in the wedding planning business.

PS – Sorry this blog is late (I blame my brother’s fiance)

-MC

8 comments

  1. jennypenafiel11 · ·

    Really interesting post! Whenever I think of wedding planners, I think of them with a big agenda in hand ready with numbers of vendors and contacts to use for the wedding and a pack of business cards to advertise themselves. I guess that concept of a wedding planner is a little outdated now. Its interesting to see that they’re using social media to increase their presence and strengthen their marketing. I think its also really cool that they’re tagging vendors because on top of increasing their own network effects, they’re also helping the vendors with some positive brand endorsement. For small vendors and local shops, I’m sure this promotion is really helpful. I’m sure the use of social media for inspiration has also really served to broaden the options and possibilities throughout the wedding planning process beyond what was offered when you relied on just the little agenda your wedding planner had compiled over the years. With all those choices, it must be an overwhelming process to plan the wedding of your dreams!

  2. Hey Mike, first love this movie so excellent click bait. Second, very cool research on a niche industry especially finding how they target their audience. You definitely taught me something with this” capitalize on those concepts in Pinterest content before they reach peak popularity by using Promoted Pins.” I was definitely told to use pinterest awhile ago. Worth exploring. You are a natural social media strategist!

  3. Hey Mike, I really enjoyed the content of this post! As a Pinterest explorer myself, I find it fascinating how big and small companies utilize the app. Like you said, people are always on their phones, so why not meet them there?
    I’m not too surprised to hear that the most successful vendors and planners were the earliest to create digital business marketing campaigns. I find this similar to YouTubers who began creating content before being a “Creator” was a form of employment. They found a way to reach the masses before the competition, and therefore grew a strong following.
    Overall, great topic and great content!!

  4. kikinitwithraf · ·

    Great post! Just like in retail with the various consumer goods, or in produce with the certain availability of fruits and vegetables, what a great way to utilize analytics. And for those who are the best at what they do, the opportunity to charge a premium during the busy season and extend that to their network of planners, and other related vendors, its a win-win for the industry. And for those Pinterest explorers like @tarakane36 mentions, what bride-to-be or couple is not on their mobile devices looking for the perfect score. Digital is transforming the competitive landscape.

  5. mariaknoerr · ·

    This post is spot on when it comes to the use of Pinterest and wedding planning. I would take it a step further and say that Pinterest has become the go-to for planning any major life event – bachelor/bachelorette parties, honeymoons, birthdays, baby showers, anniversaries, etc. While I am not getting married or having a baby any time soon, some of my friends are and these types of searches sometimes mis-target me for a bride or expectant mother. Right now my social media accounts are flooded with diaper ads after I searched Pinterest for “how to build a diaper cake” while planning for my best friend’s baby shower. It will be interesting to see when the analytics can decipher between who is a bride/expectant mother and who is a bridesmaid/baby supporter from their social media searches.

  6. Jobabes121 · ·

    Wonderful post. My aunt also works at a hotel and manages wedding ceremonies and events happening at the hotel, where many of wedding events take place. I did not know that social media was a robust tool for wedding planners (I thought only the incoming married couples are using social media for honeymoon travel inspiration). After reading this post and learning about the strength of the network effect, I am also thinking that wedding planners can further extend their network effect by building partnerships with hotels that organize weddings. This would also seem like a “wedding package” that Expedia offers with flights and hotels to stay in. More commission and partnership will eventually drive the price down a bit for the consumer side with their collaboration, and the “word of mouth” effect will play a larger role in this relationship/trend.

  7. realjakejordon · ·

    Hey Mike. Great post! Going off of your saying that this is not necessarily a growing industry because most people (hopefully) only get married once. I wonder if there are ways for these wedding planners to monetize this. My thought is that the problem is that they collect so much information about the two people they are planning for, and then essentially just scrap it all when the wedding is over. I like @mariaknoerr‘s point that Pinterest is used for all kind of planning. Maybe we will see wedding planners reselling this valuable data, or maybe even expanding the company and being a couple’s event planner for all of life.

  8. Thanks for shedding some light on the wedding planning industry! Like you, I had no idea about the intricacies of planning a wedding. Being that the focus of weddings is on the “what, where, who”, it makes sense that many planners use social networks that emphasize images and pictures such as Pinterest and Instagram to showcase their best works. In addition, I can easily believe that planners were early adopters of digital marketing. Since the success of their business depends on word-of-mouth and consumer awareness, and being that they’re limited in the number of storefronts they can open to establish themselves in their communities, it’s logical that the low-cost, high-return sphere of digital advertising is an enticing means of increasing profitability.

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