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Turn your Ads into Clients. Two Ways To Supercharge Your Next Advertising Campaign

Nothing is more heart (and gut) wrenching than knowing you are great at what you do as an event professional; knowing there’s an enthusiastic market out there who would love to book you; knowing that getting the word out through advertising could and should generate inquiries and leads, and then hearing crickets when you launch your ads.

No leads.

No extra web traffic.

No inquiries.

Nadda. Zip. Zilch.

Now imagine the above scenario but instead, your ads launch to hungry clients and end up being wildly successful. That’s the plan, right? The trick is NOT finding some secret and magical platform to advertise on, nor is it burdening yourself with becoming a master of online advertising, or becoming a Google AdWords or Facebook Ads Manager maven.

The trick is knowing what to say and when to say it. It’s really that simple.

You see, advertising platforms, either online or off, are just vehicles for a message that will hook your potential clients. If the message is wrong (whether it’s your visuals or the words you use) no ad platform in the world will work right for you.

Here are two overlooked tips to help you make sure your next ad campaigns will attract qualified leads.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Many clients I work with want to start at the bottom of the funnel with a direct sales message and a so-called strong call-to-action. “Book now!” their ads shout. “Inquire Today” they cajole.

The problem with that approach is people have different needs at different points in their wedding planning journey. Not everyone will be ready off the bat to fill out an RFP or an inquiry form.

Here is a common wedding and event planning journey most couples experience on the road to the altar.

  • Inspiration: At first they are thinking in general about the experience they want to have. Do they want a big event or a small one? Will it take place in some far-flung, exotic place or at home? Are they partial to a rich and moody color palette or do they want something light and romantic? What style do they like? Are they into laid back and casual or over-the-top and luxe. At this stage they are not necessarily looking to book a vendor, they are just imagining what their event will be like for themselves and their guests.
  • Research: Next they are trying to figure out everything they will need for their event. How much will it cost, who do they need to hire, what the timing looks like throughout the process, basically all of the details one finds in a standard wedding planning book.
  • Evaluation: Once they’ve started making some decisions about where they want to get married, what their budget is and how many guests they’d like to invite, then they’ll start looking for vendors like you. They will stalk your entire digital footprint and compare you to other vendors.
  • Booking: When someone decides they will likely want to book you, then they will fill out an RFP or inquiry form. At that point, they are in your formal sales funnel and it’s your job to close them.
  • Experience: How they experience their wedding and your services.
  • Sharing: How they share their experiences on social media and review websites.

Understanding that a person who is looking for inspiration or researching wedding timeline details may not be ready to book yet will help you better craft your message to meet their needs, warming them up and preparing them to do business with you.

Understanding where they are in the event planning journey and the logical progression from one phase to the next can go a long way toward warming up your audience and leading them “down-funnel” effectively and authentically.

RETARGET, RETARGET, RETARGET

Online marketing platforms can provide powerful ways of targeting and retargeting audiences. For example, say you know that people are searching on Google for local, in-season caterers in Raleigh, North Carolina. You could deliver some targeted Google AdWords ads encouraging them to visit your website and fill out an RFP.

Because you have installed Facebook’s pixel, once they are on your website, you can start tracking them and retargeting ads to them on Facebook.

If they do not hit your RFP confirmation/thank you page, you can start retargeting them with Facebook ads. Again, while thinking of where they are in the event planning journey.

Are they in the vendor evaluation phase? Then, by all means, encourage them to look at your services and inquire.

If they are not quite ready to inquire because they are still researching and need more information, consider offering them a free piece of content, like a blog post or a downloadable Seasonal Food guide, complete with some of your signature menus that are guaranteed to wow guests. This will allow you to capture their email address BEFORE they are ready to inquire and keep the conversation going.

You also have a great opportunity to retarget once they visit the blog post or download your guide. Because you can retarget them once you’ve installed the Facebook Pixel, and you know they are interested in you because they’ve downloaded your guide or read an article on your website, you can hit them with ads with a stronger call to action to inquire or request a quote because you know they are ready for stronger messaging. Stay with them on their wedding planning path instead of hustling them along.

No one likes the hard-sell all the time. Not everyone is ready to fill out a form or book the day they find your services. By mapping out what your ads say to potential clients at each stage of their event planning journey and using technology to monitor those stages you can continue to reach out and with the right conversation at the right time – and the more effective your ads will become.

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator who recently presented at NACE Experience in both 2017 and 2018.

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Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator who recently presented at NACE Experience in both 2017 and 2018.

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