© ALYSSA LANG / HYBRID PHOTOGRAPHY
Wedding photographer Alyssa Lang says Bradley has helped her and her business "immensely." She comments, "This has been my busiest and best year yet, and I expect next year to follow suit. Natalie has completely changed my business!"
Growing your wedding business can be challenging, and nobody knows this more than Natalie Bradley. She began her career as a wedding planner in 2002, and after a rocky first year that she said seemed “like an endless money pit,” she turned her company on its head in a matter of months by changing her marketing strategy and her mindset. Now known as the “Bride Attraction Expert,” Bradley has helped 20,000 wedding professionals like herself across all facets of the industry with The Bride Attraction System, which she launched in 2008.
For wedding photographers, social media can be key in building a strong client base. Bradley utilizes every major platform including YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon and her own personal blog, but she finds that Facebook and Pinterest are the two sites that work best when attracting brides. However, she notes that frequently using these sites does not necessarily guarantee effectiveness and she encourages her clients to take active care in how they post and pin.
“You must have a strategy to get these tools working for you effectively,” she explains. “Just having a presence doesn’t cut it if you want real bookings from your time on social media.” Bradley provides these five tips for effectively utilizing social media to grow your business:
#1: Avoid sales pitches that feel like spam.
Bradley emphasizes that social media platforms are not for pitching yourself repeatedly. “Think of it more like a conversation in progress that you’re jumping into,” she explains. She likens it to a series of small conversations at a cocktail party, only the conversation is built on likes, shares, comments, re-pins and follows. “Do not start off posts with ‘Hey Brides!’ on anyone else’s page or on your own,” she says. “It’s an [instant] turnoff.”
#2: Connect with your audience through specific and strategic posts.
Instead of asking general, open-ended questions on your pages, such as “What’s your favorite wedding color or theme?”, Bradley suggests posing questions that are more specific and thought-provoking in order to generate a better conversation. Her example: Asking viewers’ opinions on controversial trends such as “trash the dress,” imagery. Post a visual reference and participate in the discussion.
Bradley also says it’s particularly important to be perceptive and anticipate what decisions that brides need to make. “Try saying something like “Looking for the perfect solution to..?” then post a link to your own content, such as a blog post,” she suggests. “Brides should almost feel like you’re reading their minds with what you post, share and pin”
#3: Don’t just use “stuff” to market.
It’s important to understand the “give-and-take, partnership side of these platforms,” Bradley notes. The key is balance and variety. Her content ranges from links to her blog posts, questions that promote discussion, inspiration photos and tips. “You will be seen as a resource for valuable information, while building likeability and trust with your brides. This will translate into sales for you on social media.”
Bradley also places emphasis on personalization. Talk about your hobbies or your interests as well as your business. Clients connect more when you have things in common with them.
When you do market your products or services, offer something in return, such as tips or resources to balance out the give-and-take nature of social media.
#4: Keep online relationships with vendors.
“Remember that it’s called social media for a reason,” Bradley says. “Be sociable.” This includes other wedding vendors’ social media pages. Keep good relationships with them for likelier referrals and to expand visibility and reach with prospective clients.
When commenting on local vendors’ pages and pins, Bradley says to keep all feedback positive and in natural language with no sales or spin. Comment on how you enjoyed working with them or how much you like their products, but do not pitch your own services on their page.
#5: Be patient and consistent.
Bradley reminds her clients that her system is “not a magic pill” that works overnight, and that repetition and consistency are important. She says that social media platforms build exponentially with time, and it typically takes 1-3 months of committed practice to see results. She personally has seen extraordinary results attracting clients through social media, one year booking $25,000 in bridal business, and $50,000 the next year from Facebook alone.
Despite the impact social media can have, she firmly recommends not to rely on it as your only marketing tool but to distribute focus evenly. She says, “It’s simply a piece of your fabulous marketing pie.”
To learn more about Natalie Bradley’s “Bride Attraction System,” visit www.brideattraction.com.