Do you really want that exposure?

On a road near my house there’s a billboard that promises to expose my business to many thousands of people. A similar promise has been made by the producers of Married at First Sight and other TV shows. Everyone wants to sell us exposure.

I would argue that exposure is the last thing we need.

A bad day

I’m willing to bet that your day would be significantly worse if you had 300 daily enquiries for people who would never book you. I know my life would be unimaginably more stressed if I had to take even 10 or 20 more phone calls a day.

Exposure

Exposure can bring all that. You can spend enough money on advertising, billboards, social media marketing, SEO, public relations, magazine features, and mailbox drops that you’ll get that exposure, and your life will be worse off for it.

Because most of us would be financially and soulfully happy if we married a certain number of couples. For some it might be 30 a year, or 100. I can tell you from my own experience that more than 200 is a drain on your soul that none of us are prepared for.

Number one

Gaining that massive exposure where you get to call yourself the number one celebrant, or the most popular celebrant, or the best, or whatever tagline you think works for you, will certainly take you to that number quickly.

But can I propose a different way, a way that might bring you to your goal albeit slower, but whilst maintaining your sanity and your joy.

Awareness is not action

Just because all these new people know you exist, it doesn’t mean they will enquire with you, book you, and love what you do. Just because they are aware of you does not mean they will act on contacting and booking you.

I would focus my energy on trying to expose myself to people that would take action.

First step is self-awareness

Know what you’re good at and not good at. Cut out everything that is hard for you, too much work, things that don’t bring you joy in your celebrancy business. For some it might be travel, for others it might be supplying furniture, if it doesn’t bring you joy, bin it.

Second step is client awareness

What about you have people loved? What elements of your business do people go out of their way to compliment you on? I know in my business my couples love that I don’t read from a script, but in your business it will be something special about you.

Third step is clarification

Bring that self-awareness and the things that matter to clients, and mash it together into a brand, a product offering, a price, and a package, that sits well with your soul. Once you’ve built the product, and the storefront (website and social media), you need to find the right people to tell. And that’s a story for another article.

How to become the celebrant in the know

Anka asks

I’m wanting to start blogging this year and making myself known as the “celebrant in the know” within my area with some personality thrown in as well but I’m not sure exactly how to start? Any suggestions or topics?

This is another fantastic question Anka, and the answer is simple and complicated at the same time.

You’ve identified blogging as a possible area for content creation, and I’d encourage you into it as well into other areas that match up with your personality type. If you’re a speaker, speak into a podcast, if you thrive on video, make videos, if you love to write, write.

The key isn’t the medium, but the message. Make sure your message is one that matters, a message that the community needs to hear. No-one’s trawling the web looking for selfish, useless, unhelpful content.

I could talk on this topic for ages, and we will be at the conference on the Gold Coast in August, but between now and then, devour this content deck from Gary Vaynerchuck, it’s the real deal.

Marketing: if I was starting today

If I was starting as a celebrant today I would do so many things differently.

This article is hopefully timely for our readers, after all it is enquiries season! My rough research tells me that more people are engaged in between Christmas Eve and Valentine’s Day than any other period through the year. Many couples engaged last year decide to start planning their wedding “in the new year” which is only days away.

We’ve also had a number of questions about marketing ourselves as celebrants, from new and existing celebrants, and I wanted to wrap up that conversation into a personal one for me, that will hopefully help you too: if I was starting as a celebrant today, knowing everything I know, what would I do?

You’ve got to get the foundations right

So many Australians consider the basic foundations of a business to be a logo, a fancy business name, business cards, car signage, name badges, brochures, and a yellow pages listing. But if I was starting today I would have none of them. Today I would consider the basic foundation a celebrant business needs before they start marketing to be: your name, a simple, culturally relevant, informative website, social media accounts that have the same username as your domain name and are branded the same way, an email address at your domain name instead of blahblah@gmail.com, a system for taking enquiries, bookings, and payments, and finally, a purpose. We’ll get to that soon.

I’ll detail how to get your foundations right first because before anyone enquires you need to be able to process that enquiry, plus I have an expectation that before enquiring with us our couples are doing their due diligence and researching you, finding out what kind of business person you are.

Why no logo or business cards?

In a world where most communication is electronic, and we’re trying to use less paper and waste materials less, a paper business card is out of fashion. At expos I’ll set up an iPad app so instead of handing a business card I’ll send them an email, and at client meetings they’ve hopefully already got all of my contact details in my emails.

As for logos, they’re fine, but distracting. If you’re starting fresh today investing the time and engergy into creating your own logo will probably result in an ugly logo if logo design isn’t your daily job, and paying for a good one is fine, but I’d rather put that $500 into paid marketing so you can make $5000 then spend the $500 on a good logo.

Your business name

Much like a logo, inventing a cool and fun business name (in my humble opinion) is a distracting exercise on day one. Plus in a world where our couples are being marketing to about 7000 times per day (look around you, at the brand computer you’re using to read this, the watch on your hand, the car you can see, there are logos and brands everywhere all day long), I think it is a bridge too far to ask our couples to remember our personal name and our business name. It’s double the work.

A basic website

The easy way to identify whether your website is a winner or a failure is to see if you can answer these questions in the first 10 seconds of viewing your website:

  • Whose website is this?
  • What do they do?
  • Where do they do it? (I get it, you do destination weddings, but where do you actually live?)
  • What does the celebrant look like?
  • How can this celebrant make my life better? Not just my wedding day, but my life between now and then.
  • How can I contact you?
  • Bonus question: Price/package information.

Your website is a failure if you can’t answer those first six, and it’s definitely a failure if you’ve only got stock photos of rings, flowers, brides and pretty dresses. Couples are visiting your website to hire a celebrant, not to receive an empty and inauthentic “congratulations!” alongside stock photography.

It’s important to remember the purpose of your website, it’s your storefront, the place where you are 100% in control of how your brand is perceived. Don’t waste this fleeting opportunity.

People visit your website to verify that you’re a real person, not a scam or a fake business. Impress them with your “you’ness”.

Social media accounts branded the same

I’m not going to detail an all encompassing social media strategy in this article, but if I have your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest pages all in front of me, along with your website, I should be able to tell that they’re the same person.

Hopefully you’re using the same usernames, display names, and profile photo, and the profile photo isn’t the logo of the latest popular awards system, but it’s a stunning photo of you and your cake hole showing teeth inside a massive grin.

A professional email address

Your website is hopefully something along the lines of yourname.com.au and I’m hoping and praying that your email account is yourname@yourname.com.au. There are some other clever email addresses like hello@yourname.com.au or info@yourname.com.au and they’re awesome, in fact there’s room for your to become even cleverer by utilising all of your personality and using janitor@yourname.com.au. Whatever you do, please don’t use yourname76xx@hotmail.com. It is a well researched fact that the brand perception of emailing a professional at their yahoo.com or hotmail.com or gmail.com email address is a negative.

Enquiry and booking systems

This is a whole other conversation, but before you start trying for enquiries and bookings you need to be able to receive and act on enquiries and bookings.

I use Dubsado, Sarah uses Tave, others use Studio Ninja and 17Hats, and some craft their own systems. Whatever you do, figure out what that customer journey looks like so when someone responds to your fancy marketing, they don’t fall into a pit of no reply.

Pre-marketing research

So you’ve got the foundations in place, and you’re about to spend your first $100, we’ve just got one last hurdle to complete: your ‘why’.

Why are you a celebrant?

Why would people hire you?

What difference do you bring to couples lives?

How can you help them?

There are the other 99% of celebrants who simply advertise the fact that they exist and they cost this much, but you’ll be the 1% who have as story to tell. A reason for existing. A purpose for being a celebrant.

Identify the kind of people you would like to marry, and then imagine how you can help them. Write down a bunch of dot points and ideas on how you can be useful to these people and these notes will form the basis of your marketing.

Marketing time

If I was starting today, I would do everything I’ve just talked about, and then I would start creating content in a way that was natural and fun for me. Here’s some places to start thinking about:

  • If you like to talk, a podcast might be for you (check out Anchor)
  • If you like to talk and you’re not scared of the camera, a video blog might be for you (heard of Youtube? or even Facebook Watch!)
  • If you’re a writer then Medium and your own blog is a good start. You could even pre-write some content that you think other wedding vendors and venues might like to publish and offer it to them.
  • If you have a knack for answering questions, create a Quaora account and start answering questions in your own flavour on Quora or even Reddit, and build a brand that showcases your expertise and knowledge.
  • If you’re handy with a camera, hit up Instagram and start creating the most valuable content Instagram can take: original content (because everyone else is busy re-posting everyone else’s content while you can create your own)

Start creating content that is helpful to people you’d like to hire you. Whether it’s recommending other vendors or sharing ideas on writing vows, start being useful.

Then once you are useful, start promoting and cross-promoting that content in places that matter.

So firstly, publish to Anchor, Youtube, or Medium, but then share those links on your own website’s blog so that as people research you they see that you’re active online.

Then on the platforms that allow it, boost those posts to targeted audiences that match the people you were thinking of earlier.

Rinse, and repeat.

If I was starting today I wouldn’t bother with all of the directories and the magazines, I would go straight to the people and prove my worth and value by creating content that is helpful and useful to them.

By backing that content up with paid advertising on the different platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Google, and even on Quora, you’re going into uncharted ed territory for celebrants, which is a brave and fruitful place to go. If “every celebrant” is advertising on blah blah weddings.com then that’s the last place I want to be. But if I can be useful to my target demographic I’ve got guaranteed sales plus I’m building a fanbase that will evangelise for me.

If I was starting today I’d stop wasting my money on the maybes and start spending it on reaching real people that are in my target demographic.

And you can too!

Which directories should we advertise in?

Sarita asks

I’m a relatively new celebrant and just after some advice on the world of wedding directories. There seem to be loads. Apart from the obvious ones like easyweddings, ABIA, there’s lots of smaller ones like polka dot bride, wedding guide, celebrant society, etc etc & a huge variation on how much it costs to list with them. Have you any tips, recommendations on where to go and where not to go. I feel like I should be listing somewhere (shouldn’t I?) but where to go!

I’m going to address the most important aspect of Sarita’s question straight up: “I feel like I should be listing somewhere” because it’s a trap most businesses get caught up in. For years Easy Weddings advertised its services to celebrants on the back of “Josh Withers lists with us, you should to” and that is the worst reason to ever list with a directory, because someone else is there. The only thing you should be doing is telling your story in a way that motivates other humans to pay you money to be a part of that story. There are zero directories, blogs, websites magazines, fairs or expos that you should be in. There are literally thousands that you could be in, and the space in between is for you to navigate, let me lay out the map.

Directories in the pre-internet era

In 1999 I was a junior in a team that sold, installed, fixed, and configured point-of-sale (POS) systems for businesses. Point-of-sale systems was fancy industry speak for cash registers and stock control. If you were a business that needed a POS system you would find our business a very finite number of ways:

  1. Through relationship – one of our sales team would have knocked on your door, or met you at a networking event, and formed a relationship with you so that when it came time for you to get a POS system (1999 was definitely that year thanks to a little Year 2000 bug) you would contact your salesperson and start the process. Word of mouth is a form of relationship, just one step removed.
  2. Through a directory – like the Yellow Pages, the Bartercard (remember them?!), or the Chamber of Commerce directory. You would identify your own need for a POS, realise you have no relationship with someone who can provide one, and thus seek out a directory listing.
  3. Through advertising – we would advertise in places like TV, radio, newspapers, local magazines, and on billboards, forever impressing on yours (and everybody’s) brains that if you were in business you needed a computerised system to track sales and inventory, and we were definitely the people you needed to pay for such a system.

It was an easy system, our focus was on building relationships with potential clients, and those we didn’t form a relationship with would find us in a directory or through our advertising. We even bought competitors purely to increase the value of our relationships, in that we now had a wider range of POS systems available for purchase and we also had three different businesses and phone numbers listed in the directories. So we would receive three different phone calls from the same potential client, and three different sales staff would quote for three different systems, and the one we actually wanted to sell was always the best deal, so the relationship with the first salesperson was cemented because even after two other phone calls, the first one was the best deal.

That’s how local business operated before the age of accountability, relationship, and knowledge we access through the information superhighway we now call the internet.

Directories in the early internet

The transition period between not having the internet, and now, was a messy time for the internet. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry had the power to create their own directories – and they did – and the easy way to find out their effectiveness today is to ask yourself which directories you used?

I remember accessing the Yellow and White pages for a time, but that time has long passed.

Some of the directories really invested in SEO (hi, Easy Weddings!) so they actually did provide real value for many businesses, and some even invested heavily in offline brand awareness (hi, ABIA). But a quick survey of most couples being married today would tell you that the brand awareness (relationship) isn’t there anymore.

Directories today

The world wide web that we know as the internet today provides a completely different basis for doing business, and every sector of business, at every level has had to re-think what it does in advertising and marketing and why it does it.

Many directories today have a modicum of success today because they had it yesterday, but a wise business investor doesn’t invest in a business because of past profits, but for future returns.

I believe the successful directories of the future will based on

  1. Relationship, as in “these are people I know and trust and I recommend them”, or
  2. Niche market segments, as in “these are celebrants that perform hand fasting ceremonies”, or
  3. Exploiting algorithms like Google’s, Facebook’s, and future algorithmic influences that we don’t even know about. A good example of this is how I list on a number of directories purely because my research has proven to me that those websites help lift my own website on Google’s pagerank algorithim.

But that’s not to say you shouldn’t advertise in a directory or on a website today, I just believe that we have the personal power to reach people directory, so we don’t need to be in directories, instead, we get to choose.

The attention gambit

The greatest currency in the world today is attention, and the fact you’ve read this far means I have yours, but most directories don’t have the attention you need them to have for you to have a return on your investment.

What should we do?

My regular advice in this respect is to remember that you as a celebrant have different sales goals than Coca Cola, so just because they advertise somewhere, it doesn’t mean you should. This even extends to others in the wedding industry. A popular wedding venue might have the sales goal of selling 150 x $20,000 wedding packages a year, and a photographer might have the goal of selling 30 x $6000 wedding packages a year, while your goal and mine will be different, so reaching those goals requires thought, research, process, and strategy.

Thought

Who are you hoping to attract to your business? What’s their world view and what kind of celebrant would they hire? Where do people like that find people like you? What influences their decisions? Do they care if you are an ABIA member? Are they scrolling through the 200 other celebrants on Easy Weddings to find you?

Research

Ask the big questions, not on social media, but make the phone call or send the text, ask people what sources proved helpful in planning their wedding and the vendors they did hire, where did they find them? The websites, magazines, guides, expos, that are coming up as potential successful places to advertise in – what do they look like? Does your brand fit in there?

Process

You won’t get this right every time, but start investing in advertising in a small number of places you’ve identified and track their success. Don’t commit long term, but if you are going to advertise, don’t get the cheapest and smallest package because you’lll get the smallest result. Watch your website analytics and see where the clicks are coming from. Ask your enquiries and bookings where they saw you online. Don’t ask in a form, but ask them in person when you talk, find out the whole story that a web form can’t provide.

Strategy

With the information on advertising you’ve gathered, researched, and experienced, look at how it affected your business’ financial results, and then readjust and try again. If the biggest most intelligent businesses are changing and improving their strategy regularly, you should too.

What if we just ditched directories?

Directories, and most of the online websites, are not necessary to succeed in business, they simply provide and opportunity for you to jump on their back and ride their success.

But if you were feeling bold, and adventurous, and wanted to take your fate into your own hands – you could try reaching people directly.

My personal directory success

I’ll round out the article lightly detailing what has worked for me in the past.

  • Directories that rank really high on Google. It’s a little bit like scraping the bottom of the potential-clients-barrel but it sells. Search for terms you want to be found for, and see who’s there.
  • Directories that are run by wedding planners for specific regions and the wedding planner tells couples about the preferred vendors directory.
  • My directory, the celebrant.directory, because it lists the small number of celebrants that are of a similar price-point to me, that are of a similar worldview to me, and everyone on there might be suitable replacements if one of the others wasn’t available. It’s a relationship-based directory where we all refer couples back to if we’re not available.

I can tell you that I don’t advertise on Easy Weddings or any of the other big directories because I’m certain that I won’t be found amongst the hundreds of other celebrants there, and even if I am, the couple haven’t identified my personality or worldview, and they’re not sold on brand me. They’re just scrolling through a massive list.

I also don’t list with ABIA or any of the award based companies because I don’t subscribe to there being a singular “best celebrant”. The world we live in today doesn’t allow for it. I might be the single best celebrant for a couple, or for a couple of couples, but the idea of there being a single awarded top-spot for such a personal service doesn’t suit my purposes in my marketing and advertising strategy. I’d rather people find me and book me because I am me, not because a third party I paid hundreds of dollars to said I was the best.

How to publish Facebook ads that work

I don't know.

If there's anything you can expect from me today and into the future is that I'm not going to talk BS. The good news is that I know as much about Facebook advertising as most marketers and advertisers do, and they don't know either, because there is no one perfect ad that will close all the deals and make all the bookings. So as much as I don't know how to publish Facebook ads that work, I do know how to publish Facebook ads that work for me, so I'll take you through that process and also weave in some professional best practises and see if we can't help you. Read More

How to network in the wedding industry today

Networking amongst your industry colleagues, other wedding people, like photographers, venue co-ordinators, planners, and others, is a vital part of being an active member of the wedding industry. For the longest time that’s why I went to wedding expos – not to meet couples, but to meet vendors.

In 2018 and beyond networking still remains vital, and those physical events like vendor nights, expos, and workshops are always going to be king – but they cost money and time, the two things we’re low on.

So if you want to network cheaply and effectively, here’s some food for thought – as you post on social media, you’re hoping it resonates with your audience, and my rough math tells me for every like or comment, 10 other people are exposed to the post by the news feed algorithms.

So if you like and comment on my post, 10 more people see it, and more people like and comment, and I think you’re a legend.

So why not do that to others. Follow local wedding vendors you’d like to network with, and genuinely like and comment posts of theirs that you like and have a comment on. Be nice, be positive, be encouraging, share advice or expert insight. Be you, actively on social media for a month, and I guarantee you that more people will know who you are.

The Facebook opportunity

Facebook, owner of Facebook but also Instagram and WhatsApp, is pushing hard to get more advertisers on its platform. In last week’s earnings call they made two statements which stood out to me:

“When we think about Instagram, we think we have a great opportunity: 25 million Instagram business profiles, 2 million advertisers, we see both anecdotally and in the data that this is a great place for people to become aware of a product in the first place,” she added.

and then on the “Stories” medium which is on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

We have 400 million people sharing with Instagram Stories, 450 million of people with WhatsApp Status. Facebook is newer, but we’re seeing good progress there. The question is will this monetize at the same rate as News Feed? And we honestly don’t know, we’ll have to see what happens. There are good reasons to be very optimistic about the monetization. The opportunity—full-screen authentic, very engaging, different formats than feed—gives us an opportunity to grow.

Facebook is giving you direct access to people that want to hire you. People that need you to be their celebrant are waiting for you to invest in reaching them on Facebook’s platforms … not through magazines, directories, blogs, expos, or fairs. Direct to them, no middle man.

The age of the middle man is dead.

The middle man still serves value in some areas, for example I even run a small directory that leverages my position in the market. But the investment is small and the return on investment is high.

But when it comes to magazines, there’s not a wedding magazine in the country that is performing well. They’re all struggling, financially, but also in reaching the same people you can reach directly on Facebook.

What should we do on social media? Part 3

A member asks

When chatting with celebrants recently I heard again and again that most celebrants aren’t really that interested in following the general Instagram “best practice” advice that you see on social media blogs/podcasts. Most people a) don’t want to invest the time and energy to go down the Pinterest-style heavily-curated aesthetically-pleasing path, and b) think it’s bullshit anyway. They don’t want to follow a posting schedule, they may not even post very regularly. I think most celebrants just want to post photos that they like, when they have them – but want to maximize the appeal/reach of those posts and spend the least amount of time on them. Can you share any practical little hacks to shave a few minutes and a few headaches off your posting/planning time.

There’s a reason Facebook and Instagram have personal and business accounts. There’s a place for you to post what you like, and a place for you to post content that has a positive on your business.

This is part one in a three part series, part one on why, part two on what and part three on when.

How much should we post?

Social media accounts with an intent on growth in followers and reach post at least three times a day. Less than 30% of your followers see your posts, and posting amazing content three times a day is a growth strategy. Personally I’m not that energetic, but once a day is my goal, plus a handful of stories documenting what I’m doing.

But when it comes to quantity, lets go back to our categories:

  • Posts branding me
  • Helpful/value-adding posts
  • Posts about others

Here’s a simple strategy for how much of each: 3-2-1.

3 posts adding value to your couples, posts that help them, entertain them, add value to their lives, a completely generous act

2 posts about others, about how they help, how they’re awesome, and what you love about them

1 post about you, a selfish indulgence to showcase what you are, who you are, why you matter.

When should we post on social media?

This final point matters equally as much as it doesn’t In the age of non-chronological timelines on Facebook and Instagram (that means that you don’t see the posts as they are posted), we’re now subject to algorithms (maths) deciding what you see. So timing matters less than frequency and engagement on the posts.

So think less about timing and scheduling posts and instead worry about creating content that will be commented on, content that people will find value on, content people will like.

The secret word I just mentioned is about engagement: when is your following active? For the wedding industry that’s generally between 6am and midnight, when they’re commuting, at work, at home, watching TV. There’s nothing easy in regards to timing, just post good stuff.

You don’t know what ‘word of mouth’ looks like

I wanted to share a story straight from my inbox today, to show you how word of mouth actually works and how your marketing efforts today pay off for years:

I wanted to let you know how I’ve come across you… About two years ago we went to Queenstown for our first holiday there together. Matt had always snowboarded and done trips and I had always wanted to learn to snowboard. This was my first snowboarding adventure. I feel in love with it and Queenstown but particularly Wanaka.

We stayed at this place that provided breakfast and one morning we sat down and this couple was across from us. The pregnant lady said hi, how are you going, what are you doing today.. and I replied so excited saying about we were going snowboarding. I returned the question to her and she said ‘We are getting married today!’ Wow, I thought, how inspiring and she told us they were just going to randomly knock on a strangers door and ask to be married in their back yard / or on their property. This story has always stuck in my mind and I soon found this couple’s photo on Instagram. I was determined to find out how their story went. I feel in love with your stories and I didn’t want to ‘like’ your page in case my partner thought I was ‘giving him hints to propose or something’ haha.. I still don’t follow you yet in case people see and think we are eloping. I would elope. Since this couple’s story I have always wanted to exchange vows in Wanaka. We are winter lovers and mountain outdoor people.

A girl, I use to work with in Brisbane is also using you next October 2019 on the Sunshine Coast. So she always spoke to me about it. I thought this was a sign to email you!

Try and insert that story into your marketing plan?

How to get this?

How do you get enquiries like this? Do the right thing today, tomorrow, every day. Be consistent and strong in your branding and your language online.

To get this enquiry I had to first of all win over Carly and Sam, and then be active on social media for two years.

Doing the right thing on social media all day every day.

There’s no shortcuts, it’s just about being the best you, you can be.

What should we do on social media? Part 2

A member asks

When chatting with celebrants recently I heard again and again that most celebrants aren’t really that interested in following the general Instagram “best practice” advice that you see on social media blogs/podcasts. Most people a) don’t want to invest the time and energy to go down the Pinterest-style heavily-curated aesthetically-pleasing path, and b) think it’s bullshit anyway. They don’t want to follow a posting schedule, they may not even post very regularly. I think most celebrants just want to post photos that they like, when they have them – but want to maximize the appeal/reach of those posts and spend the least amount of time on them. Can you share any practical little hacks to shave a few minutes and a few headaches off your posting/planning time.

There’s a reason Facebook and Instagram have personal and business accounts. There’s a place for you to post what you like, and a place for you to post content that has a positive on your business.

This is part one in a three part series, part one on why, part two on what and part three on when.

What content should we post on social media?

I mention in part one that my posts, and hopefully any good posts, do one of the following for my couples:

  • help them plan a wedding and be married
  • inform and educate them about weddings and being married
  • make them laugh/entertain them
  • introduce them to me and my brand

Hopes and dreams are great, but they need to work themselves out into actual content, so what follows is my content-creating brain looking at that list and giving you a bunch of content ideas I hope you steal, repurpose, and post for your own good.

Here’s the important thing to remember as you post: most people see about 30% of your posts. So don’t assume they do and say things like “as you saw in my last post” or imagine that they care enough to go back. Each post needs to live on its own. Secondly, generosity will go so much further than greed. So offer up all of the industry insight, expert advice, recommendations and truth you can muster up.

The three different types of posts

I like to start by categorise my content into three different types of posts:

  • Posts branding me
  • Helpful/value-adding posts
  • Posts about others

With those three categories down, I start breaking it out into actual content ideas.

Content ideas

Helpful and value-adding posts

  • Shortcuts people could take in planning a wedding
  • Funny observations from weddings (respectful of the couples involved)
  • Your own personal insight about decisions people make in wedding planning
  • Inspiration for wedding planning looks and styles
  • Funny wedding memes (stay classy ok)
  • Things people could skip or drop from their wedding
  • Ways to stay mindful and stress-free planning a wedding
  • Advice on how to build and grow your marriage
  • Insight into your own wedding and marriage that is relevant to your tribe
  • Think about common mistakes or problems people encounter on their wedding day that you’ve observed, not things you’ve imagined or found on a Buzzfeed list
  • Your views on wedding traditions and what they mean
  • Your insight into what weddings mean and how they could be better
  • DIY advice

Basically, be useful to people. Think even about the reason you’re a member of this institute, hopefully it’s because we bring you value through these posts. Bring value to people, with actual help, not another bloody free e-book, social media marketing is one place where if you give away the cow the right people will still buy your milk.

Posts about others

  • Recommend other vendors, giving them a voice to your followers, and a personal recommendation as to why they’re great
  • Helping couples make other purchasing decisions in regards to their wedding
  • Anti-DIY advice because DIY isn’t as easy and cost effective as you think
  • Help people understand the role different vendors have in weddings
  • Relate other vendors/peoples’ works to real results and pinterest trends

Remember, most of your couples have never planned a wedding. So help them not only understand your role and value, but others as well. I’ve never met a person on their death bed who hoped they were less generous.

Posts branding me

  • Testimonies from your own couples so other couples can see what kind of celebrant you are
  • Snippets from your ceremonies either in video or text that might be encouraging to people’s own marriages and also showcase your talent
  • Question and answer sessions regarding your own niche field you’re the expert in
  • Photos of couples enjoying your services
  • Photos of your couples after the ceremony (see how happy they are?! you could be to!)
  • We’re the harbinger of meaning and purpose on the wedding day, so be that person on social media
  • Insights into your personal life, marriage, business

Inform your followers about who you are, do it regularly, do it with variety, do it with pride in yourself – you’re awesome!


In the next part of this series I’ll give you a hint on what your next six social media posts could be, and also some insight as to when to post.

Share any other posting ideas in the comments, I’m sure my list is only the tip of the iceberg!

What should we do on social media? Part 1

A member asks

When chatting with celebrants recently I heard again and again that most celebrants aren’t really that interested in following the general Instagram “best practice” advice that you see on social media blogs/podcasts. Most people a) don’t want to invest the time and energy to go down the Pinterest-style heavily-curated aesthetically-pleasing path, and b) think it’s bullshit anyway. They don’t want to follow a posting schedule, they may not even post very regularly. I think most celebrants just want to post photos that they like, when they have them – but want to maximize the appeal/reach of those posts and spend the least amount of time on them. Can you share any practical little hacks to shave a few minutes and a few headaches off your posting/planning time.

There’s a reason Facebook and Instagram have personal and business accounts. There’s a place for you to post what you like, and a place for you to post content that has a positive on your business.

This is part one in a three part series, part one on why, part two on what and part three on when.

What are our social media posts for?

I can’t answer that question for you, but I’ll tell you what my posts are for, and leave you to formulate your own social media plan.

When I post on social media I want to do one or more of the following for couples that are getting married or are married:

  • help them plan a wedding and be married
  • inform and educate them about weddings and being married
  • make them laugh/entertain them
  • introduce them to me and my brand

You might of noticed that I didn’t mention selling, sales, leads, enquiries. Social media isn’t for selling, just like catching up with friends at a cafe is ruined when you mention you’ve got a business opportunity for them and start talking about Amway.

I want my social media posts to brand me to my couples, so when they a) need a celebrant, or b) someone they know needs a celebrant, they think of me.

If you scroll through my feeds you’ll notice I don’t post wedding porn. (Wedding porn is my description of all the Pinterest crap that makes brides and grooms anxious about their wedding not being good enough. It has the same effect normal porn has on relationships, but on weddings instead.)

Instead of finding and regramming and reposting all of the wedding porn that will get you all the likes and followers, post content that will create a tribe of fans that ardently love and refer you.

Create content, just like you do with ceremonies, but do it for social media. In a future post I’ve got a page full of social media content ideas that I hope everyone steals and adapts for their own brand, and in another post I’ve got a social media schedule that I think you should adopt, but before you start posting, you need to get your mental and emotional ducks in a row.

Your business social media isn’t for you, and it’s not for other celebrants. It’s for people to fall in love with you and absolutely need you to be their celebrant.

The do’s and don’ts of email marketing

A pertinent question about building and maintain an email list today:

For anyone looking to follow your example of maintaining "an email list of all couples I meet at expos, fairs, open days, along with all who enquire with me" and sending them a weekly newsletter - are there any legal considerations or permission issues (opt in/opt out) we need to consider? Is it fine to just add any email address to a newsletter database or is there particular wording we need to use in sourcing those addresses for that purpose? Cheers.

So there's three issues to address here:

  1. Consent to being added to a list
  2. Sending commercial messages versus sending spam
  3. Once you've identified that you're within the law, are you sending an email worth sending

Read More

Pricing on websites; to list or not to list??? Josh’s view

Ella asks:

Price points seem to be a hot topic everywhere… Would you recommend putting your fees on your website?

Some celebrants display their price on their website, others don’t. Some also seem to provide services cheaper then a BDM wedding. Which poses that question that some people expect you to compete on price, they aren’t comparing the quality of service provided. Only the number they see on the page…

As Sarah noted, everyone has a different answer on this, and here is mine. Don’t count this post as the final word, it’s just a brain dump on a Wednesday afternoon. I’m sure this is a topic we’ll return to over and over, and I’d invite you to list your thoughts in the comments.


Price, that big bad number we all freak out about.

Firstly we wonder, are we charging too much, or not enough.

Then we look at the profit & loss, or the budget, and start freaking out because our price multiplied by the number of bookings doesn’t match that magical budgeted number.

Finally, we get the couples with feedback like “you’re too expensive” or worse “is that all??”

This is a discussion that has kept me up at night in building my own business, and even just this week in trying to think how to best answer this question.

What is your price for?

I like to view my price as part of my customer journey. It’s just one of the touch points in between a couple finding out that I exist, and booking me. On the same journey there’s emails, web pages, social media, advertising, conversation, and booking forms.

Because my business is a customer jounrney focused business. Because my business is focused on providing an experience to the couple, well before any ceremony takes place, my price is made available by request. So it’s not publicly on the website, but if you enter your email address I’ll automatically send it to your email and even your phone. You can try it now – visit marriedbyjosh.com and request an information pack.

I’m not ashamed of my fee, and want it to be easily known to my couples, but I also want it to be part of the journey. So I ask for their email address, and every week I publish a value-adding email called “On getting married and being married”. Everyone who has requested an info pack gets that email, so they know I exist, and they know my fee, but I’m continuing the relationship and also building value.

Because I want to have the price position of “I might cost a lot, but you’ll get way more than you paid for”. Because I think that’s a position I can win, and for me to give you more than you paid for, we need to establish relationship. You need to join my tribe. It’s not as a simple as scrolling down a list of celebrants and choosing one.

It’s more than likely that your business has a different price position and purpose in your price. So it’s not a matter of displaying your price on your website or not, the better question is “why am I/why am I not displaying my price on my website?”

If your only differentiator is that you’re the cheapest, then the best way to announce that to the world is to display your price, note how much cheaper you are than everyone else, perhaps offer discounts, and maybe post a photo of your soul slowly withering away.

I’ve also used price as a filter, to keep tyre kickers and price-conscious couples away. I increased the leads into my website (through marketing and advertising) then put my fee publicly available, no info pack request needed. This worked if I increased the volume, but the visit to enquiry rate was right down, because there was no relationship and journey for most of the couples.

For most of my existence as a celebrant I had never mentioned price on my website, and only couples that enquiried would receive pricing information. All this did was lead to a large number of enquiries but terribly low conversion rate because not everyone was willing to pay my price.

In the end I’ll always advocate for the average Australian marriage celebrant to be building a powerfully local and small tribe who value them, their service, and their worldview, and those people want you for you, not because of your price. Obviously price is still a thing, but it’s not the last word, nor is it the first. It’s just part of the conversation.

My final encouragement for you is to embrace the conversation. When people say “I haven’t budgeted that much” know that they are booking and luxury service in a wedding, and if you are a good celebrant and you provide a good service, then don’t be dismayed. Learn to communicate your value outside of those numbers we identify as price, communicate it confidently, succinctly, and in a way that a five year old could understand.

So I guess I’m saying don’t hide your price but maybe don’t advertise it like a $2 store would. Make it part of the conversation. When your price is live on your website for all to read, the conversation around it – your website, social media, and marketing – better be really really good. And if you don’t view the enquiry process as a conversation, over a marketplace or bargaining type of arrangement then this advice will probably not help you at all.

Pricing on websites; to list or not to list??? Sarah’s view

Ella asks:

Price points seem to be a hot topic everywhere... Would you recommend putting your fees on your website?

Some celebrants display their price on their website, others don't. Some also seem to provide services cheaper then a BDM wedding. Which poses that question that some people expect you to compete on price, they aren't comparing the quality of service provided. Only the number they see on the page...

You will literally get a different answer on this from every celebrant or marketing guru you speak to. So for this question, both Josh and I are going to offer our views! This article is just Sarah's thoughts.

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Get testimonies that matter

Celebrants offer such a personal service, your service is very different to mine, to every other member of this website, and the thousands of other celebrants available. We can communicate our differences in text and photos on our website, through blog and social content, and by meeting people but meeting every single enquirer can become tiresome.

So, let me introduce you to a secret warrior in my sales toolkit: testimonies.

Couples I have already married, via a testimony, are the most experienced people to tell new couples how I am different from other celebrants, whilst also confirming that I am indeed the person talked about on the website and social media.

Testimonies are social proof that you're not a dud, not a scam artist, but you are indeed a person who does the thing you say you do. Because here's the tip no-one else is telling you: in a world where anyone can start a website or social media account, we're looking for indicators that you're authentically, honestly, who you say you are. Read More

The only thing you can rely on in the wedding business

This afternoon a couple got engaged and they have never heard of you, they've not made any decisions about their wedding, and it's highly likely they don't know anything about the wedding industry, how it works, what things cost, and who does what.

The only thing you can rely on in the wedding industry is that today a couple got engaged and all of your previous branding, marketing, advertising, and godowill in the market means nothing. Read More