Vendors: maximize your ROI with inclusive marketing materials

Diversity bow tie from Etsy seller PitchandPull
Diversity bow tie from Etsy seller PinchandPull

Offbeat Bride's business model is mostly built around promoting independent wedding vendors who are looking to reach our nontraditional wedding market. We're clear that we're a little bit picky about who we bring on as sponsors, and there are some types of businesses we decline without a second thought — sketchy-looking Chinese dress replica sites, scammy-looking diamond ring sellers, etc.

That said, we never turn businesses away for being "not offbeat enough."

The way we see it, our readers are all along the offbeat spectrum, and we'd expect our vendors to range from "more traditional" to "totally out-there" as well. We know that sometimes vendors who've catered to more traditional weddings really super want to start working with less traditional clients, and advertising with us is a way they put that desire into action.

So, while we almost never decline an advertiser for having marketing materials that are "too traditional," I do want to make sure wedding vendors looking to appeal to nontraditional clients know that if your website is too traditional, you may not see a solid return on investment when you reach out to nontraditional couples.

Let's be clear here: we're all working our market niches, and it's totally up to every business owner to know which markets they do and don't want to target. For instance, some vendors only cater to luxury weddings — they don't want clients with budgets under $100k, and that's a fine choice to make! Other vendors may have religious reasons for excluding LGBT couples, and while I certainly don't agree with them (nor would I accept their advertising money!), it's their business and if they want to focus on the "straight market," that's their prerogative! (Ew! …but I mean, I guess I wouldn't want people telling me how to run MY business, soooooo….)

BUT! If you're coming to Offbeat Bride wanting to reach nontraditional readers, then you should do your best to make sure your marketing materials are inclusive, so that you match our market as well as you possibly can. This means stuff like…

  1. Use LGBT-inclusive language and imagery
    Don't refer to "brides and grooms," just refer to "couples."
  2. Avoid gender assumptions
    Don't use language or imagery that reinforces the bride as the decision maker — or that there's even a bride involved at all!
  3. Show couples with a wide range of ethnicity, shape, size, age, ability, etc
    I get that not every vendor has worked with a diverse clientele, but even vendors in white, conservative areas can show off their plus-size couples, over-40 couples, etc.
  4. If you have gaps in your portfolio, offer incentives to clients to fill them!
    If you wish you had more nontraditional diversity in your marketing materials, you can explicitly invite potential offbeat clients to get in touch with you. We've seen lots of vendors have great luck with special promotions in Offbeat Bride sponsored posts, where they offer discounts or deals to couples who are outside the vendors typical clientele.

If you don't make an effort to have inclusive marketing materials that invite nontraditional readers in, then you can't expect to get a great return on investment from your marketing dollars… and fuck, I really want my advertisers to get a great ROI from working with us. We send you traffic, but how you welcome and work with that traffic is what's going to make the difference for conversions.

I'd love to hear from wedding vendors who've worked to make their marketing materials more inclusive — what angles have you worked with?

  1. Great article, Ariel! As one of your newer wedding coordinators to be listed in the OBB Vendor Guide (http://vendors.offbeatbride.com/listing/stephanie-gatton-events) – and a proud resident of NYC, a place that will ALWAYS, ALWAYS remain inclusive of all who want to get on the crazy roller coaster that is marriage – I knew it was vital that the language I put out into the universe be consistent with the inclusivity and openness I want to give to my clients.

    On my contact form, it does not list "bride" or "groom," but rather "Partner One" and "Partner Two." (Though I've really been wracking my brain lately on how this language can further include polyamorous couples and triads – any suggestions?). I also don't ever assume that if you're having a bridal party, the boys stay with the boys and the girls stay with the girls. Nope – that's some 20th-century, outdated gender construct! Instead, I ask my couples if they are even having "honor attendants," and then ask them to list the "honor attendants of partner one," etc.

    I've booked four couples in the last three weeks for 2017 weddings, and I'm so happy to say they reflect this beautiful diversity that I believe in – one couple is two beautiful women, another are of different races, and a third is proudly 55+ and owning every moment of a process that often focuses solely on the 35 and under set. Whatever I'm putting out there, it *seems* to be working – thanks OBB!

    Any other vendors with any other suggestions they'd care to share? I'd love to know!

    1 agrees

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