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You will have no doubt read the news that blogging giant and industry leader Style Me Pretty owned by Oath (formerly AOL) is closing on the 30th April and this news has rocked the wedding industry.
Questions such as:
“How can a blog with over 1 million followers not be making a profit?”
“Does this mean blogging is dead?” have been landing in my inbox this week.
We cannot speculate as to what happened, that is not our role, nor our place, but I am devastated that this is happening to an industry colleague and for the staff who will be losing their jobs. I think we can forget that bloggers are humans and business owners too, trying to make a living.
But there is a shift happening right now – Perhaps a sign for us all of the growing and very real need to diversify our businesses. Times are changing politically and socially, especially in the UK and US and you cannot expect such sociopolitical upheaval not to affect businesses and consumer spending.
You will know from following my blog how important diversity is. Not just socially, but economically. You will know how important it is, not just for breaking down stereotypes, not just for visual content to engage, attract and be better representative of the amazing humans that are getting married; but in your staffing, who you hire, diversity of content, opinions, ideas and new ways to inspire readers. I mean, who wants to go to a library and only read one type of book?!
Diversity is essential in being able to respond to growing global needs and to be able to better to reach, resonate and attract diverse audiences. Perhaps more pertinent, lack of diversity has been proven to be costing businesses billions, so it makes no financial or economic sense, for the wedding industry to continue operating so homogeneously.
In my diversity training for wedding industry pros and creatives, I’ve said it before, couples are responding differently with how they engage online and they are expecting more from business owners, savvy Nu Bride readers do their research and are consciously choosing not to spend their money with businesses and brands that are not representative of them. They have a wider choice now, the internet has made it easier for them to find brands who are diverse, ethical and more-so, who are in alignment with their values.
SO let me bust some myths and leave you with a few tips to help with your marketing plans this year.
1. Is blogging dead?
Much like when I was planning my wedding, couples continue to seek inspiration from a variety of different sources – diversity is the spice of life! Blogs and digital influencers continue to have powerful influence and remain trusted sources of inspiration for consumers and add to some pretty nifty SEO footprints – making businesses, relevant content and inspiration more visible. Do I post less than I used to? Absolutely – it’s not necessary to produce as much content as it once was, that and the fact that I spend a significant amount of my time away from my laptop doing diversity work in the form of consulting, workshops and keynote sessions.
Does this mean you should no longer invest in blogs?
Absolutely not, but do your due diligence.
Work with those that are in alignment with your brand and contrary to popular belief that doesn’t always mean the biggest. Think beyond the numbers – what would happen if we lost instagram, twitter and facebook tomorrow? What would bloggers numbers look like – we’d all look pretty pants if we determined our success, expertise and value as businesses solely on social media stats.
We’ve become obsessed with click-throughs and tallying followers which don’t have the same value as they once did. There is much more value in evaluating engagement. Are people who follow the blog actually engaged and interested in wedding inspiration because they are planning their wedding, or are they following because they just like looking at pretty things, or worse still, are they robots?
Build working relationships with bloggers as you would any other supplier. Build a support and referral network.
Request bloggers media packs so you can understand their readership and engagement.
2. Consumers want more
On average, there are 7 touch points before a customer decides to purchase from you and that’s if your product or service is of great quality, your marketing is up to scratch and is representative of the clientele you want to attract in the first place. Most wedding pros have painfully homogeneous portfolios. Diversify! No amount of advertising on any blog will help you if your brand message is dated or unclear.
It’s vital to think about if your current branding and business ethos is in alignment with your branding and online footprint, if it’s not, take action. Think about where you want those touch points to be, don’t solely rely on one type of marketing and don’t solely rely on passive advertising either, it might be cheaper, but is less effective than it used to be.
3. How can you add value?
Think about how you can add value to the couples who might be coming across your content. My readers don’t like to be sold to, they like to feel like they are getting something from you, honest expert advice, tips, visual inspiration which instills trust in you and your brand.
I am grateful to have a niche audience that I know intimately, I know what they are looking for, how much they spend, who their favourite brands are and where they feel let down by the wedding industry, so I can be part of the change to improve their experience.
As before, more couples and that includes my awesome readers are not tolerating brands who aren’t representative of them anymore. We don’t all look the same and we don’t all want the same thing. So we have to turn the notch up with diversity and inclusion our businesses not just for a tick box measuring exercises which you can smell a mile off, but to evolve with growing global audiences and spenders – Even publishing giants Conde Nasté Vogue had to diversify from their staffing down to content, down to new initiatives to engage new readers.
Diversity is HOT on the agenda this year, globally. I am involved with some VERY exciting media projects, that I can’t wait to share with you next month, yes change can feel disconcerting and will always keep you on your toes, but this is an exciting time for Nu Bride.
Change is exciting. Don’t panic.
Nu Bride has alway been more than just a wedding blog and I will continue to do work within the wedding industry to not only improve the experience for my readers, but more-so to help evolve an industry that has become stagnant, as such I am very proud to have been nominated as a Positive Role Model in the National Diversity Awards for the work I’ve been doing to bring more diversity into the wedding industry!
If you care about evolving the industry and your brand please do enquire about my diversity website reviews and consultancy offerings. I look forward to welcoming some incredible business owners and press to my forthcoming diversity and inclusion masterclass next week (there are two spaces left if anyone wants to grab a seat at the table) for creatives who are ready to evolve in this area and quite timely, I will also be speaking about how to get the most out of bloggers for your business with some of the UK blogging community at Bloved Hive on the 28th April.
Someone asked me what my purpose was recently – my response? To make a difference. And I shall continue to make a difference in the wedding industry and beyond. Who’s with me?
Article punctuated from images by photographer Luca Latrofa http://lucalatrofa.com/ of my talk at London Bridal Fashion Week Last Month with a selection of readers discussing diversity challenges and how to improve in the bridal shopping experience for women.
Last image: Roberta Facchini