Taking The Wedding Venue & Wedding Industry By Storm

Katie French-White

Katie has been working with boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental properties, wedding venues and more for over 15 years. She is passionate about the numbers and helping properties succeed.

On August 27, 2019 owner of White Stone Marketing, Scott Crumpton was interviewed for a Wedding MBA podcast which was hosted by renowned wedding officiant, Rev. Clint Hufft. Hufft is active with the Wedding MBA Conference and interviewed Scott Crumpton to obtain a teaser for his presentation at Wedding MBA. Scott’s session, “Unprofessional Marketing = Runaway Bride. Live Marketing Reviews To Increase Revenue”, will be presented at the Las Vegas Convention Center, October 14-16, 2019. The Wedding MBA conference is the largest wedding industry conference in the world and has over 150 wedding business seminars for its attendees.

 

Listen to entire the podcast here:

 

Scott Crumpton and Rev. Clint Hufft Marketing Podcast

 

Below are some of the top questions and excerpts discussed during the podcast.

 

How did you come up with the name White Stone Marketing?

Our business name, White Stone Marketing, came from the book of Revelations which states when you go to Heaven, you are given a white stone inscribed with a new name. Essentially, all that was old and bad is washed away and you have a new name, a new image or brand if you will. This is what we’ve done for all of the thousands of clients who have entrusted us with their marketing over the last 25 years. As we’ve moved more into marketing dedicated wedding venues we’ve changed our own logo to better reflect this focus by implementing the concept of a diamond as a white stone.

What businesses utilize White Stone Marketing?

Primarily High-end Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, Small Boutique Hotels, and Wedding Venues.

Everything we know about marketing luxury inns and boutique hotels also applies to marketing wedding venues. We are currently #1 in Google for “Wedding Marketing” and ranked #3 for “wedding venue marketing” and are expanding more into the dedicated wedding venue space.

What does it mean to do live reviews?

Unprofessional marketing = runaway bride. What will this wedding industry marketing session cover?

Over the last 20 years, live website reviews have been one of my favorite presentations to give because of the immense need for an expert’s opinion. In just a few minutes, I can help transform someone’s marketing simply by telling them what they can do better. Everyone in the session puts their business cards into a hat and I do a live analysis of their website. I am known as the “Simon Cowell of Web Design.” And, for good reason – there is a time to sugarcoat your opinion and there is a time to be brutally honest about what is hurting them.

Wedding Venue Marketing - Hawaii Property with Ocean Views
  • As an example, an innkeeper once showed me a pen and ink drawing of her inn as the main photo on her home page. She then told me how her 5,000 square foot bed and breakfast had a 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean. I asked her where that photo was located on her website and she said it was on page three at the bottom of the photo gallery! I indicated that this photo must be front and center on the website. Two weeks later she called me and said she was booked for 6 months! All I did was point out the obvious.

Discussion of the 80/20 rule.

Pareto’s Principle states that 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of your effort. We help our clients stay laser-focused on the 20% so they obtain the 80% result. If you do that, you can transform your business.

Our goal when we take on a client is to have them hire a professional photographer; hire us to do professional web design along with all the correct SEO (search engine optimization) to get them in the top of google; buy and maintain their paid search ads and sign them up for top revenue-producing channels. We go through all the tried and true methods of what they should do. Often times, these clients have not been doing any of these things well if at all and we are able to help them make $100,000 more per year on a $500,000 a year business. Are these results typical? It depends on how well they were marketing before they came to us. The revenue they are missing is the key!

What is the most common marketing mistake?

Going cheap is the most common mistake. The number of businesses that fail in the first year or two is incredibly high. Most often I hear the tired refrain, “I have already spent too much on marketing!”  My attitude after 25 years is that I have never seen anyone spend too much on marketing. I often observe too little spent and in all the wrong places.

  • One example is social media. The thing about social media is that it is social. It is not the best place to spend the majority of your marketing budget. If people focus on the things that actually give the greatest return on investment and they do those things correctly, they will get the returns they want. Of course, they have to run their business correctly, set their prices strategically, obtain great reviews and take excellent care of their guests.

How much should you spend on marketing?

You should spend 10% of your Gross Annual Revenue on marketing. Please read that again, slowly. When I started doing surveys, I found most businesses generally spend only about 3%. Thus, they are strangling their business. If you want your car to go fast, you push hard on the accelerator. Marketing is the accelerator of your business.

Finding slot machines that work.

“People are more afraid of losing money than making money. There is something about a human being which causes them to be more stressed about losing than gaining. So is that something you do – tell people what not to do?”

As part of our service, we will shift and adjust a client’s marketing budget to be much more effective. One of the first things we do when we take on a client is to review where they are spending their money and highlight where they are making money to try and capitalize on the resource.

Marketing is Like a Slot Machine

So many resources are like a slot machine. If you go to Harrah’s in Las Vegas and I guarantee you a particular slot machine will pay off, the question is how much of your money would you take? The answer, if you trust me, is you would take all of it! This is exactly the way marketing can work. You are correct that people are afraid to lose money. No fighter goes into a ring without someone in their corner and that is what a marketer can do for you – they are going to tell you exactly how to fight. We will tell you the slot machines that pay off and which ones don’t.

Analyzing Results

You analyze websites but would you analyze where they are spending their advertising dollars? 

Yes! We do this with our clients because we need to have Google Analytics and Ecommerce tracking set up so we can see exactly how much traffic and revenue each source brings to their business.

  • Example – I had a funny story where a client indicated they were going to cancel with a directory costing $1,000 a month. I about fell over as I had never heard of a directory costing that much. I told the client I would check and see what their money was doing for them. I called her back and said, “Do you really want to give up a directory making you $100,000 worth of business?” She was stunned and so was I! I told her to call them and ask how she could spend more. We had found the slot machine that paid off by pouring money into it and reaping the rewards.

Bright new shiny things.

Have you ever told a client to not do the latest shiny new thing? Or have you suggested they test the waters someplace?

We do both! We often tell our clients to direct sales calls to us. We will handle the call and tell them what to do. Unfortunately, many folks are looking for the bright new shiny thing and will take the sales bait. My attitude is that I don’t like to be on the bleeding edge. I don’t mind being on the leading edge but I don’t want to be the beta tester with our clients’ money. There are things that we will try to work through and test because some of our more aggressive clients want to push the envelope. An unproven company will usually agree to allow our clients to be a test case for their product/service at a reduced rate because they know we will heartily recommend if they can prove their revenue value.

A business owner doesn’t have to take on the entire burden of that knowledge base in regards to their business because all the marketing comes through White Stone Marketing on behalf of the client. – Rev. Hufft

 

Fear of losing money.

marketing budget for weddings and inns - snowball effect

We like to talk about the fear of losing money. You can use your energy to focus on making more money and being more successful, or you can focus on cutting costs and saving money. Rarely can you do both at the same time. If you take the approach of making more money and running a more successful business, you build momentum and it becomes the snowball that rolls downhill allowing you to no longer worry as much about the cost. If you focus only on cutting costs, you whittle the snowball down to almost nothing only to wake up and realize you have no business.

The arbitrary goal of obtaining a high return of investment.

I heard someone say they want a 3x ROI or it isn’t worth it. Do you have a formula like that?

We have heard people that say 10x is the ROI or it isn’t worth their time.

  • Example – I pull someone on stage. I have them hand me a dollar and I hand them two dollars back. I tell them to do it again. They gladly hand me a dollar and I hand them two back again. We go through this a few times and I ask them, “Are you happy?” Yes – because I doubled their money! So why is it that you need 10x or 3x? People create these arbitrary numbers in their head because they heard someone say it one time on stage or they read it in a book. It just isn’t true. I will take double my money any day of the week. 10x is lovely and we can get that from certain resources; we can even get 20x sometimes but the reality is, I will take double my money all day long and I will laugh all the way to the bank.

Websites can be 24/7 money-making machines.

Because your website is always open for business, unlike your physical location, people can book your property day and night. Advertising by its very nature works for you while you sleep! Being placed highly in Google both organically and with paid ads along with stellar listings in directories like TheKnot or WeddingWire allows your advertising to work for you. They become your salespeople.

Marketing is an accelerator for businesses.

We were working with an inn from Asheville, North Carolina and we launched a new bed and breakfast website. I got a call the next day from the owner who said, “Scott, I cannot find clean sheets!” He said he was so busy with all the last minute bookings and wondered what to do. I told him to raise his rates. He told me he already had and I told him to do it again! That is what is called price equilibrium. Once you have upped your game in marketing, you look more professional with new photos and proper digital marketing and a lot more people are calling you, emailing you and booking online. Now you can raise your prices! This is the revenue you never knew was there!

So often the client slams the accelerator down to ramp up their digital marketing presence and then they back off once things are great. However, one day the client wakes up from cruising along at 40 mph only to see their competition whizzing by at 70 mph. Ideally, you keep pushing the accelerator as long as you can prove the ROI and you aren’t killing yourself to stay there.

race car and marketing

We generally work with small businesses and they only have so many people working for them and can only handle a certain capacity. One day they look in the mirror and say “I am tired. I have too much business.” Only then do I tell them we can then back off marketing and raise rates to turn away guests.

Can you price yourself out of the market?

Have you ever heard of someone pricing themselves out of the market? They have so much success and they raise their prices but then it backfires?

The entire study of revenue management is crucial, especially for the lodging industry, but the practice applies to wedding venues as well. Every day of the week is essentially a different price based on demand. Everyone wants a weekend in the summer or June for their perfect wedding venue. Thus, the price point during those times should be higher than for the dead of winter. Revenue management is all about setting prices strategically for each day you are open for business.

We have seen folks so wildly successful they set their prices too high and strangled their future business. Prices need to be adjusted daily if not weekly to capture the most revenue for every season you are open.

For greater insights on marketing wedding venues, we encourage you to listen to the entire podcast.