• about this blog

    The postings on this blog are a compilation of over 30 years of industry insights from wedding and stationery industry writer, seminar speaker and consultant Brian Lawrence from his broad experience in the retail and wholesale arena.

    Here you will find industry trends, marketing advice, new service offerings and musings. We invite you to add comments and learn from others who have businesses similar to yours. You can subscribe to the blog by adding your email address to the tab on the right side below.

SEO Realism

You are not going to rank on the first page of Google for Wedding Invitations, Photography, Bridal Consultant or any other term that describes your business. Nor do you need to if you are a local business.

Your concern is to be visible when clients in your local area are searching. They are more likely to add a geographic term to tell Google the area they are interesting in finding a resource. However most businesses concentrate on ranking for the state, county or town they are located in. Many people (especially men according to studies) will search using a zip code. If you are in a larger city like New York City, one may use a neighborhood term like Chelsea or Upper West Side. Another little known strategy that can help your ranking on Google Maps is embedding your latitude and longitude. Here is a site where you can find out what that is.

While the broader the search term, the more potential clients there are searching, the more localized or specific the search term is in relating to where and what your business does, the stronger the average inquiry will be. And it’s much easier to rank for those more complex terms. Any Search Engine Marketing Professional will know how to do it. We certainly do. One thing you should not do is start adding zip codes to the text on your site but it can be a good idea to act text about neighborhoods.

Posted in invitation industry, local business, marketing, search engine optimization | Tagged | Leave a comment

Proof of Print

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Magazine publishers have this challenge. Twenty years ago when a wedding business or stationery business advertised in a wedding magazine, proof of print would be the phone call. When I was a retailer with multiple stores, I took a full page ad in Brides and Modern Bride magazines and also had a coupon for the bride to fill out and mail to me. Magazine advertising was indeed a mainstay for my business.Unfortunately proof is now more difficult now because the bride and grooms go to websites first and then they pick up the phone. If you do not list your website you risk hurting your credibility.

That does not mean magazine advertising does not work. An attractive ad can drive customers to your website but because the customer cannot click on your website, it cannot be quantified. The only way to quantify a magazine ad is to have a unique landing page specifically for that ad or a domain name that points to your main website. This is similar to what limousine companies did when they advertised in the yellow page in multiple areas.  At least this way you are playing chess with your print advertising dollars rather than rolling dice.

For example if you own AmourPhotographyStudios.com and you are in Portland, Oregon, using a domain name like PortlandWeddingPhotography.com will allow you quantify the number of times that domain was typed in and also can actually increase the response to your ad by clearing tell the couple what you do and where you do it. There are some geographic domains still listed on my  Wedding Industry Domains website.

Posted in domain names, Event Planning Industry, invitation industry, marketing, Stationery Industry, wedding industry | Leave a comment

You Don’t Have To Go Loco About Logos

Many wedding and stationery businesses do not have a professional logo and underestimate it’s importance. We are in a creative profession and a logo is a launching to establish that perception of creativity. It can help increase response and interest in any type of marketing you do.

Logo Design is about creating a memorable and creative visual mark for your business. A well designed logo should be capable of standing alone to represent the personality of your business and your brand. It should convey a polished, professional image that will appeal to your ideal client.

There are several ways to get a new logo. Pre-made logos are an inexpensive and quick way to get a professionally designed logo and can often be designed in a short space of time so you can have new artwork quickly. Pre-made logos are a perfect solution for start up businesses, those on a smaller budget or anyone wanting a quick turnaround but are limiting the uniqueness.

Investing in custom design will deliver a logo that is totally unique to your business. A more in depth consultation and design process will result in something designed just for you. You can be sure your custom logo will represent your business perfectly.

A good designer will ask the right questions to determine how to bring together the elements of typography, color and graphics to design your logo. Nowadays, logos need to work in various applications; on websites, social media platforms, and watermarks on photographs. A good logo designer will ensure that you have a full package of logo resources that will work for any application required and will supply all the common file formats to ensure all your print and web needs are met.

The logo and web design that has always been behind Local Traffic Builder’s success is the Mosaic Design Group. A heavily marketed brand or prominent local or online retailer should not hesitate to invest in hiring a top design firm like Mosaic. However for many of the local-focused wedding and stationery businesses who are on a much more limited budget, I wanted to share with you a good industry resource.. Christine Findlater was a former invitation designer who is now designing industry focused logos. You can access her pre-made logos on www.thelovelylogostore.etsy.com and custom design at www.christinefindlater.com.

Posted in invitation industry, Stationery Industry, Uncategorized, website design, wedding industry | Leave a comment

Ten Seeds To Plant Now For Your Invitation Business To Blossom In The Busy Season

Summer may be a cold time for sales but it can be a very hot time to cultivate ideas and turn them into future profits. I have spoken to thousands of invitation retailers with Encore, designing web sites, marketing and consulting. These are the 10 ways you can till the soil of your business and bear more and more fruit in coming months.

Generate Reviews
If you are not proactive about getting your satisfied customers to review you on sites like Google, Yahoo, Wedding Wire and The Knot you will lose business to your competitors needlessly. If you have more positive reviews than your competitors on a list that a bride may be scrolling through, that can be the number one reason that can inspire her to click on yours.

Visibility
If you are a local retailer in New Jersey you do not need to be found in California or even all of New Jersey. You need to define the geographic radius that you attract the vast majority of your customers from and there is no better opportunity to generate business from advertising exposure than being contacted customers searching online using search terms that like unique wedding invitations or including the name of a brand you carry and your business coming up prominently in the search results a credible business with good geographic proximity.

Website
It is no longer enough to have a nice website. Most invitation businesses do not have a website that matches their intended perception of their image. Now your site has to read well on a tablet and convert to a mobile site when being looked at a by a Smartphone.

Social media with positive perception
For the average retailer, relative to other important ways to grow their business, blogging and social media is more about perception rather than obsession. Most invitation businesses have 100 – 500 Facebook likes or friends. Minted has 49,000. Wedding Paper Divas has 240,000. Crane “only” has 11,000. They have an audience that makes it worthwhile to blog and post daily. When you have a few hundred likes you are posting for perception so when a new visitor comes to your Facebook page or blog they are impressed with it and may be inspired to contact you. The main thing is you have a recent, quality post anytime someone is looking. But give your quality post a chanced to be viewed. Why have them buried by new posts before a number of people get to see them?

Understanding profitability
Here is one example of misunderstanding profitability:

If you do a $2000 invitation order at the full retail price it is more profitable as doing two $2000 invitations orders at a 25% discount. It is the same gross profit based on a 50% dealer discount off the retail price but you are spending twice the time for the same amount of money. And we all know how labor intensive a custom $2000 order can be.

Networking
The electronic age has not made networking obsolete. Invitations are still one of the later rungs on the planning ladder and your business can be the beneficiary of many referrals if you network effectively.

Add-on sales
Any invitation business that it not focused on add-on sales is losing clean profits. There are many options for other personalized products and rentals that require no inventory, can be added to the order in minutes and actually enhances the importance of your business as a one-stop resource.

Exclusivity
With discounting at all time highs, supplier selection is something that a retailer needs to be extremely mindful of. And sometimes it is more profitable to pay significantly for an album that is exclusive, not sold online and is mandated by the supplier to be sold at the full retail price than to receive an album free from a supplier that is saturated in the marketplace, discounted all over the place and sold all over the web.

Generating referrals
As genuine as the promise your satisfied customer makes to recommend you to all her friends, she normally doesn’t. The only thing you can do is to inspire her to remember you. Keep in touch with your former clients; offer an incentive to refer you. Stay on their radar screen.

Order efficiency and Time Management
Many stationery retailers I know are very anal about giving up responsibility. They know no one sells, places and follows up on orders as well as they do. Even if that is true, for optimal profitability and efficiency owners need to determine what they do best and delegate the rest.

What I can to do help
This summer I am going to work with select retailers and consult with them to turn these ideas into reality. If you are interested let’s start off with a web conference where we can discuss your current business, its challenges, solutions and what I can do to help. The cost for the web conference is $300.

To get client feedback from people I have helped, click here.
To sign up for a consultation click here.

 

Who would you call first if you were looking for invitations?

Who would you call first if you were looking for invitations?

 

Posted in discounting, invitation industry, local business, marketing, Stationery Industry, website design | Leave a comment
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