The events industry has become one of the earliest adopters of equality-minded business practices, and many sectors have seen a dramatic increase in potential and actual bookings as a result. A business doesn’t become overtly equality-minded overnight, however. It takes reflection, attention and adjustment to ensure that your business actively appeals to diverse communities.
Recognize the Challenges
Our industry, the wedding segment in particular, is extremely heteronormative, and our brains are wired to think of clients in terms of “brides and grooms.” We hold “bridal shows” for example, and often assume that wedding parties break down into “bridesmaids” and “groomsmen.”
Adjusting our approach to marketing to LGBTQ couples requires retraining our thought processes – as well as our employees – to be inclusive. It is critical never to assume a client’s identity or orientation, and, until they share, to encourage your staff to use gender-neutral terms such as “partner” when referring to significant others.
Adapt Your Language
In fact, one of the easiest and quickest fixes to ensure your wedding business is equality-minded is to look at the language on your website and in your client documentation. Swap out phrases such as “bride” with terms such as “couple,” “soonlywed,” “partner,” significant other,” or “client.” Ensure that your promotions don’t read “Calling all Brides,” and instead are inviting to all couples.
Diversify Your Imagery
When trying to appeal to a market such as the LGBTQ community, a kiss of death for your business is excluding them from your imagery. If you’ve had LGBTQ couples, include them in your albums and share them! Eighty-six percent of LGBTQ adults say they are more likely to purchase a company’s products or services when they have been tailored to their audience.
Make Your Acceptance Explicit
According to a recent CMI Marketing poll, 95 percent of same-sex couples feel that it is important for brands and services to communicate that they are LGBTQ-friendly. While it can be done subtly through inclusive language and imagery, it is also necessary to be somewhat blatant, such as sharing in your marketing and promotional materials that your company is eager to work with all couples, regardless of race, ethnicity, identity or orientation
Imagine how uncomfortable it is to approach vendors when you fear that they will reject you based on your identity or your relationship. By claiming your equality-mindedness, you become instantly inviting and a “safe” business to approach, increasing your opportunities to work with all clients.
Social media is an effective platform for publicizing your desire to work with diverse couples. Instagram’s algorithm is always changing, but couples can get a sense of your brand by going to your profile, and also from your images. Depending on the size of the user’s phone and if you use the Highlights feature, users see either three, six or nine images at first glance. You may not have enough LGBTQ content to post one in every three, but you know you won’t attract gay grooms, for example, if your grid is entirely photos of brides.
Be strategic with the images you select and make sure that they are reflective of the audience you want to reach. If you don’t have same-sex content of your own to share, break up the hetero imagery with décor shots, groom details and wedding party pictures.
The other primary platform, Facebook, is built around sharing information--even if it’s not your own. You can communicate your open-mindedness by sharing viral articles on a regular basis that will be appreciated by everyone, such as viral same-sex proposal videos.
Take a careful look at the way that you use words and imagery to convey your business, and decide how you can improve your own online and print materials to encompass and embrace all couples. Your sensitivity will pay off in the form of new bookings and a reputation for inclusivity.
Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., a leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publication. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She serves on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Weddings & Events.