Marketing is an ever-changing, always-evolving necessity for any business, and your online presence is now more important than ever, especially in the wedding industry.
But this infinite, intangible digital resource can seem daunting, expensive, and overwhelming. That’s exactly why online communities are such a beneficial resource for both big and small businesses.
Joining an online community is one of the best ways to grow your business and generate new leads.
Here you will learn how to find the right group, engage with other businesses, and use the tools and opportunities to grow your wedding business and book more brides!
How to find the right group
There are thousands of different online communities in every industry, ranging from simple Facebook Groups to large national organizations with hundreds of local chapters.
1. When looking to find your perfect group, make sure it is specific to your industry. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you may not find the best results from a large community of photographers, specializing in everything from families to commercial. Although talented and wonderful businesses, these people might not be the best ones to help you with advice, referrals, and leads.
Instead, spend some time looking at those businesses in your specific industry who are active in the community, and notice what groups they are supporting. Also look for groups that have members you think you could benefit from, and wouldbe able to share referralswith.
The most successful online communities have members that are active and giving back.
2. Does the group Mission Statement line up with your values and goals? Every online community should have a clear Mission Statement that outlines to ultimate goal(s) of the group. Here is an example of a clear mission statement for The Forever Bride Association; “We believe in creating a beautiful and simple experience for brides to find the best local wedding businesses.” This clearly states what the group’s ultimate goal is, to help brides find the best wedding vendors in that area. So, if you are a wedding vendor in the Minnesota area wanting to be seen by more brides, this might be the perfect group for you!
For more information about joining The Forever Bride Association, CLICK HERE
3. You will never be able to 100% foresee how well a group or community will work for you until you TRY IT! Each business will have a different experience based on a variety of variables. Always give a new opportunity at least a year, and make sure you are tracking the results; such as: how many leads acquired, how many new relationships formed, how much additional exposure you gained from it. Like all things in life, your outcome is directly related to your input.
How to engage with other businesses
Once you have decided to join an online community, jump right in! Make a splash! The purpose of your investment is to get something out of it, so do the work!
1. Announce on social media that you are now a proud member of XYZ Group, and share the group’s emblem or “as seen on” badge. This shows your followers & potential customers that you are active & investing in your business.
“If YOU don’t invest in your business, why should your customers?”
2. If there is a forum or community page, post a welcome note introducing yourself & your business, and why you are excited to be the newest member! Include a link to your website and your social media (only one form of social media, don’t over-share)
3. Next, find a select few business who you think would be a great mutual connection. Send them a direct email or even better, a phone call! Quickly introduce yourself & let them know you are both part of the same community, and that you are interested in networking to help each other grow. Meeting for a coffee is a lovely way to get to know someone.
(helpful hint: if you ask THEM to coffee, you should pay!)
How to use tools and opportunities
1. Put your best foot forward: take the time to make sure your brand is well represented, with quality images and a complete listing. If available, make sure you add as many positive reviews as possible. Not only is this important to potential customers, but search engines also recognize reviews as valuable information when ranking websites and businesses. Learn more about how to create a successful online listing HERE.
2. Share your work: in many online communities, there are opportunities to showcase your work, usually at no additional cost! Submit a wedding or styled shoot, write a blog, or tell everyone about an upcoming event! Take the time to submit often; there’s nothing wrong with showing off a little! Make sure to give credit to all participating businesses.
3. Support the group: successful groups only work if you do! Tell others about your experience & how it has helped you. Everyone will benefit as the community grows. “A rising tide lifts all ships.”
4. Be active, consistent: Visit the online forums regularly, and see how you can serve others, whether it be with referrals, your services, or just some helpful advice.