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Katie French-White

Katie has been working with boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental properties, wedding venues and more for over 19 years. She is passionate about the numbers and helping properties succeed.

Scott Crumpton, CEO of White Stone Marketing, recently had the pleasure of speaking at the 2021 Wedding MBA in Las Vegas, Nevada. In his highly applauded presentation, Curated Modern Marketing for Venues, he shared proven strategies and marketing tips for wedding venues based on 27 years of experience in the industry. Watch the video below to see his full presentation.

The first step for any business looking to improve its results is to define what success looks like for them. You have to first define success in order to hit the target, as the unaimed arrow hits its target every time. We live in a noisy world filled with self-proclaimed experts claiming to have a magic solution, but all their business advice out there boils down to two categories; how to do it cheap and how to do it well. Keep reading to get our secret formula for success in 10 actionable strategies.

1. Spend Money to Make Money

Marketing is the art of spending a dime to make a dollar, and when you find your winning strategy it essentially becomes a guaranteed slot machine. You put a dime in and get a dollar out. However, it’s important to keep in mind that as with everything in life, you get what you pay for. You need to invest in a robust, multi-channel strategy and not simply hope that one platform will do it all for you.

2. Apply an Appropriate Marketing Budget

We recommend that businesses allocate around 10% of their Gross Annual Revenue towards marketing and design. Marketing is an investment, not an expense, and should be treated as such.

3. Hire the Best Partners

Many times we find businesses hire a family member or locals for services so important, they can make or break a business. It is critical to take the emotion out of hiring and that you partner with the best photographers, web designers, marketing partners, and other proven, industry experts.

4. Build Your Brand

Wedding venues need to invest in their own marketing assets. You should own your website, be consistent with professional branding, be found everywhere, and diversify your reach. It is important to have a strategic plan with search engine optimization, paid ads, social media marketing, directories, and more. Purchasing luxury products and services is an emotional decision and your marketing message should cater to this fact.

5. Test and Measure Success

If you cannot test and measure your marketing efforts you do not have the ability to improve them. Having conversion tracking in Google Analytics is a key to your online success. Tracking when visitors fill out an RFP is often overlooked by wedding venues. Understanding which online sources produce qualified leads allows venues to allocate marketing dollars to the resources that produce.

6. Re-Target and Refine for the Greatest ROI

It is easy for businesses to think business is good. What we see on our end is what revenue could be if there was a well-executed marketing strategy. We have hundreds of before and after results for clients that decided to invest in a more aggressive and strategic marketing plan. It is a challenge as a business to know what could be, and what revenue was left on the table because of your marketing and design choices. There is an opportunity cost to every decision and it is important for businesses to assess this in order to be as successful as possible.

7. Build and Maintain Your Reputation

Diversifying reviews is an important strategy to employ for venues. Google My Business, The Knot, Wedding Wire, Yelp, and many more directories/channels allow couples to write reviews. It is important to obtain real reviews in all channels, but also strategically garnish new reviews in the most important channels as determined by conversions in Google Analytics. You cannot out-market a bad reputation, so it is critical you are active in soliciting and responding to reviews.

8. Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Businesses should not get caught up in the latest “insert buzz word here” and vastly adjust marketing or design efforts on a whim. For example, Google announced that website speed is a critical factor to ranking well in search results. We can build the fastest websites out there, but there will be no artistic element to it and it won’t lead to a single conversion. Website designs are part art, part science and it is all about conversions. There is no magic bullet in rising to the top of Google. Hiring a company with a proven track record that integrates reputable tactics that will benefit you for years to come.

9. Fill Your Calendar

An often-overlooked cost to doing business is the cost of an unsold booking. How much do venues lose when a day or weekend goes unfilled? There is overhead, employee costs, and more. Integrating a yield management strategy with an understanding there is a loss with unbooked days will be a key to reaching new heights.

10. Determine Who You Are and Own It

You have the ability to be whatever you want to be as a business. Whether you want to be budget-friendly or only host the most luxurious weddings, it is all on you. Your website, your marketing message, your imagery, and more all determine if you will be who you want to be. Twenty-seven years ago White Stone Marketing allowed market demand to determine who we were. Twenty years ago we decided to change and be something different. We defined our own success, aimed at it, and succeeded – and so can you!