When couples refuse to answer the phone or return your emails…(even when they reach out to you first!)…how are you supposed to BOOK them?
The answer isn’t to keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing. The nature of communication is changing, and if you want to get a response from today’s brides and grooms, you’re going to have to change, too.
Check out these eye-opening statistics:
● 88% of Millennials (those under age 35) use text messaging, and 3% sleep with their phones. Accredited Online College
● Only 11-26% of email get opened. Epsilon Research
● 85% prefer text messages to voicemail. Research Now
Millennials typically don’t listen to their voicemail messages and seldom leave them. So what’s the answer?
You need to engage young couples in the medium they most prefer: TEXT.
Compare these statistics to the dismal ones above:
● 98% of text messages are read.
● People look at their phones 150 times per day, versus checking their email fewer than four times.
● 234 million people in the US use a mobile phone. (Only 133 million people in the US are on Facebook.)
What SMS Can Do For Your Wedding Business
SMS stands for Short Message Service. It allows mobile phones to send and receive short messages, also known as text messages. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
Sending a text message means your communication is received 98% of the time; it’s more effective than phone, email or social media.
Wedding professionals who are over the age of 35 (you know who you are, so ‘fess up!) are typically resistant to using text messages because they hate the idea of giving their cell number to anyone they don’t know personally. Why would you want someone texting you without permission?
Therein lies the rub.
If you are going to send a text message, you must have permission.
SMS anti-spam laws and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act are extremely strict when it comes to sending text messages. Here’s the jist:
● You must have written permission to send a text message. “Written permission” may be obtained by email, website form, text message or voice mail recording.
● The permission must be given by the owner of the mobile device.
● Your communication must clearly explain what messages will be sent and include a way to opt-out.
● Texts must identify the name of your business as the sender.
The penalty for violating these laws is a fine of $500 – $1,500 per unwanted text message.
With all these crazy guidelines for using text messages, how can we send them safely?
Use a reliable third party SMS marketing provider who is in compliant with these laws and guidelines.
Here’s how it works:
Brides and grooms opt-in by texting a keyword to your given SMS provider’s number or by filling in a web form. This works in much the same way as when someone signs up for your email list, except in this case they’re giving you permission to send them text messages.
“Ask any potential SMS providers if they have a relationship with the CTIA. If they do, it means they’ll be compliant with all the rules.” – Seth McGuinness, Call-Em-All
Text Yourself Booked
Now that you know a little more about what’s required in this world of text message marketing, it’s time to explore the opportunities it presents for the wedding industry.
These strategies are primarily being implemented by retailers, restaurants and real estate agents, but the principles remain the same for us.
A successful text message marketing campaign must:
1. Make a compelling offer in exchange for permission to text them. Discounts, coupons, free gifts and contests work well.
2. Deliver on the promises made when the bride or groom opts in, so that they want to stay on that SMS list.
3. Move that person to take a next step: visiting your website, scheduling a phone call, visiting your store or studio.
If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around how this works, here’s an example of how a wedding venue that also features a restaurant might use text messaging:
Step 1: Bride sees a Facebook ad to text “10off” to 84444 to get 10% off her first visit to the restaurant.
Step 2: She instantly receives the coupon, and you have permission to text her.
Step 3: She and her fiance’ have dinner at the restaurant and use their coupon.
Step 4: The following week, the bride receives a text message invitation to an exclusive tasting at the venue.
This type of strategy is far more targeted and effective than any email marketing campaign because your message actually gets through and it’s 100% permission based.
5 Innovative Text Message Marketing Strategies For Wedding Pros
Get the essential elements nailed down, and you’ve got a winning strategy. Try on these strategies just for the wedding industry.
Host a combination instant win and sweepstakes contest. One grand prize winner gets a romantic dinner for two at a fancy restaurant, and everyone who enters gets instant access to a free report called, “Top 10 Facts About Planning a Wedding in Boston.” (This would be for a Boston based wedding pro, of course.)
Brides enter by texting “wedding” to your SMS number. They immediately receive a link to their free report and get entered in to win the Grand Prize. You get their cell phone number and permission to text them.
Two days after the bridal show, you text them an exclusive free gift when they meet with you in person.
“Use a QR code and text to keyword offers to sign up for your SMS list. Young people will sign up with SMS much easier.” – Peter Davis, Jampact Technologies
#2 – Connect with guests after the wedding.
Photographers can distribute a mini-card (like these from Moo.com) to the wedding guests inviting them to text “sallybob” to your SMS number to receive a free group photo from Sally and Bob’s wedding.
After the wedding, text those wedding guests a link to their free photo. Now that you have permission to follow up, you can text them a special offer for a free gift or mini-shoot.
DJs can invite wedding guests to text their song requests to your SMS number during the reception. After the wedding, notify them via text when your blog post about Sally and Bob’s wedding has been posted so that they can comment, like and share. You’ll have access to the warmest leads you can get from a crowd who’s seen you in action.
“Photographers can set up a special keyword just for the couple’s wedding and let guests text to be added to the list so they can see the photos as soon as they’re released. This type of keyword has a viral capacity because the couple will share it with family and friends who couldn’t attend the wedding, and you get even more promotion for your business.” – Seth McGuinness, Call-Em-All
#3 – Invite couples to an “instant text” conversation.
Millennials are most likely visiting your website using a tablet or smart phone (ComScore.) Use the “Text Anytime” service from 84444.com to have invite mobile website visitors to text you with their questions instead of calling or emailing.
The Text Anytime service works much like a live chat popup on your website. Instead of typing in a question for a live chat, the bride enters her cell number and a question. You now have permission to respond via text or phone.
“Millennials often don’t want to make phone calls, and many people are afraid of the ‘sales pitch.’ The Text Anytime option allows you to capture the lead when they’re on your mobile site and answer questions in a medium they respond to.” – Bob Bentz, ATS Mobile
#4 – Host an interactive text message contest.
84444.com specializes in hosting a Jewelry Scavenger Hunt contest for their customers. The jeweler and radio station sponsor and promote a real world “treasure hunt” where the winners get a free engagement ring worth up to $10,000.
Participants meet at the kickoff location and are given a keyword to text in order to get their first question. Couples then receive text messages telling them where to go physically in order to answer the next challenge. Correct answers earn points and the couple with the most points wins the ring!
A co-sponsored promotion like can expose the jeweler to 500 engaged couples, all wearing the jeweler’s T-shirt as they compete for the ring. The jeweler typically sells 3-5 engagement rings on the spot, and several spotlight-loving couples choose that moment to propose. TV stations absolutely love it, which means more free publicity for the jeweler and partners.
“Couples are still coming in months later to buy their rings, telling us they were in the Ring Race,” Sarah Markel explains. “It’s really about getting exposure to more people and having fun. We’re not strangers, so they feel comfortable coming into the store.”
Contact Bob Bentz at ATS Mobile for more details about hosting a text message scavenger hunt like this.
#5 – Follow up with couples after you meet to build a relationship and earn sales.
When you meet with a couple, ask for their cell number and get permission to follow up with new products and specials that may be of interest to them. You don’t need an SMS service to send these texts as long as they’re expecting to hear from you.
The sales staff of Thomas Markel Jewelers uses text and email almost exclusively to recommend new products of interest. to their clients. For example, they may text a regular client before Mother’s Day about a new piece of jewelry that’s the perfect fit for his wife. They’re solving a problem for their clients (“What will I get my mom/wife for Mother’s Day?”) and building a relationship in the process.
A similar strategy could easily be adopted by a bridal salon. Let’s say a bride comes in to look at dresses, but doesn’t buy. The salesperson learns about the bride’s style and gets her cell phone number, along with verbal permission to text. When a new design comes it, that salesperson can now send a thank you text along with a picture of the gown and invite her in to try it on.
“We make a ton of sales from texting. We text videos and pictures of piece of jewelry to our customers, and it really keeps a relationship going. Our clients love it!” – Sarah Markel, Thomas Markel Jewelers
Next Steps to Text
It’s easy to see how powerful communicating with young couples via text message can be when you have their permission and engagement. A compelling offer, a solid strategy and permission are essential.
Visit these resources to learn more:
● Mobile Marketing Association – This organization is committed to expanding adoption and innovation of mobile marketing, and has many educational events and resources available.
What do you think about texting couples?
About the Author
Stephanie Padovani and her husband, Jeff Padovani, are the dynamic husband-wife duo behind Book More Brides, the #1 online resource for transformational marketing, business and motivational strategies for the wedding industry.
Stephanie and Jeff Padovani met and fell in love in the corporate world, and have been working together ever since. They are famous for entertaining and empowering wedding professionals with low cost, effective marketing strategies and powerful “anti-price shopper” communication techniques…that don’t require sleazy, high-pressure sales tactics or competing on price.
Want more wedding business tips? Visit BookMoreBrides.com to get your copy of the free report, “The Price Shopper Email: How to Immediately Convince Brides of Your Value So They’re Primed and Ready to Book.”
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