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Kerry Lee Doehr

How Simply Paying Attention Can Help Your Event Business Through the Predicted Wedding Downturn

If an economic downturn does show up, this wedding expert shares tips on weathering the storm.

In case you missed it, it’s all over the news: Economists are stating that a serious recession is about to hit us towards the latter part of this year, predicting people will be losing jobs, homes and more. Even wedding industry experts have been forewarning wedding businesses of this potential shift.

Whether or not it actually comes to pass, statistics have proven that with these kind of predictions, people tend to panic and pull back significantly on their spending, even if out of fear alone.

Wedding businesses are likely to experience some collateral damage of this economic prediction--whether it comes true or not. So practicing value-aware marketing and advertising never goes out of vogue, and is a sage way to invest your hard-earned income for your creative business marketing plan. After all, late 2019 is when we traditionally start marketing hard to get those 2020 event bookings.

As one of the longest-standing wedding businesses in Santa Barbara, Calif., through all kinds of economies--and as one who did not moonlight or have a part-time job but had to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head exclusively with my wedding business--I’ve learned a few tried-and-true methods for economical (i.e., “free” in many cases) marketing.

Most of my business was based on my reputation and word of mouth after I discontinued formal advertising in my fifth year of business, and I’m proud to say that being one’s brand can actually help carry you through hard economic times if your brand is based on integrity, superior quality, customer experience and connections with clients and event partners alike. These qualities continue to serve as your “business card” long after an event has been completed.

One of the tried and true cost-effective marketing methods I implemented was paying close attention to my business social media. Here’s what I mean:

When you reflect on who consistently likes your posts and stories, engages with you/your business with comments and conversation, as well as pays attention to you and your message, you should intentionally cultivate these people.

These are your loyal fans. Your potential clients. Your past clients who could be repeat clients (and don’t forget the power of referral--I’ve built a largely successful business based on this almost entirely). And they are being handed to you on a silver platter.

Invest in these people with your time and money, because you cannot buy that kind of loyalty. These individuals naturally find you and your brand/business of interest, and out of all the “noise” in their media feed and lives, they chose to take note of your post and engage. They are the most natural prospects for future revenue and, more importantly for longevity and legacy, relationship-building. And I’m including fellow event partners (vendors) in this, too, who are often your largest source of referral income.

I’m not necessarily saying stop all your paid advertising, nor am I saying this is the only way to float through economic challenging times. But in the spirit of finding organic and cost-effective ways to keep your business moving during an economic downshift, simply paying attention and following through with what you are seeing play out right in front of you can be a powerful and economical start.

Sometimes many of our answers and solutions are right in front of us if we are missing the forest for the trees.

Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a consultancy dedicated to leadership, communications and education for the special event and hospitality industry. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."

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