Offbeat wedding market lessons #2: you better email back, AND FAST

October 23 2012 | offbeatresilience

Yesterday I introduced the week-long series I'm going to do be doing, nerding out on the market research released by Liene Stevens of Think Splendid about the nontraditional wedding market, and there are some FASCINATING tidbits. This week, I'll be putting on my demographer's hat and highlighting five unique aspects of the nontraditional wedding market. Today? Let's talk about emails.

Offbeat wedding market lesson #2: Offbeat Brides expect QUICK email responses

This lines up with tons of posts I've seen on the Offbeat Bride Tribe, where Tribesmaids are like "Look, I emailed this bitch yesterday and she STILL hasn't gotten back to me yet — should I find a photographer who actually knows how to answer emails?!" The truth is, this is one of those rare issues where I sympathize more with vendors than brides. As a small business owner myself, I know how overwhelming it can be to try to get through your inbox every day… and I'm in a business where I'm sitting in front of my computer all dang day! I can't even imagine how challenging it must be for business owners who AREN'T at their computers all day every day because they're, oh, you know, out in the world coordinating weddings. (Really: would YOU want a wedding coordinator who was responding to emails from other clients on your wedding day? No, you would not. So give your vendors a little time to do their jobs well, so that they can do their job for YOU well.)

Oh and look back up at that chart and notice the difference between email responsiveness and phone responsiveness: 48% think it's very important to respond to emails quickly… but only 37% care that much about phone calls. Lots of us web types loathe using the phone. (In fact, I have an understanding with my ad sales manager that if a potential advertiser needs to talk to her on the phone before buying an ad, their company may not be a great fit for placement on Offbeat Bride. As a publisher, I worry about referring web-savvy readers to a web-resistant vendor. It's just not always a great fit for either party.)

My take on this data

No denying, in this era of smart phones (and with 20-something brides especially) being in close email contact is a big deal. Kelli from Shindig Events told me she actually has response-time clauses built in to her contracts, saying that leading up to your wedding, she'll get back to you with in three days, but the month before your wedding she'll always get back to you in less than 24 hours. These response time guarantees are a big deal for couples who are used to being connected all the time.

As someone who does business with a lot of wedding vendors, my one bit of personal feedback here is that your auto-responders can be bothersome. I get a LOT of email auto-responses from vendors who are trying to compensate for couples' needs for constant contact with an automated email message saying "Hey! I got this! I'll get back to you soon!" I don't know if these messages reassure couples (they very well might), but kind of a pain for the rest of us who DON'T need to know that you're on a shoot this weekend.

If you're dying to know more about the offbeat wedding market, you can purchase the whole report from SpendidInsights.

  1. "give your vendors a little time to do their jobs well, so that they can do their job for YOU well" THIS!!

    As one who works in the wedding industry- be patient, bitches!! We absolutely want to do our best work for you- and everyone else who's contracted us for their wedding day. SO, breathe, have trust in the attentiveness of your vendors ( if you don't feel your vendors are trustworthy you should maybe think about using someone else?)

    Also, weekends- the busiest wedding days are weekends- and that's why there's no one in the studio to answer your 47 phone calls- we're all out working. But I promise we'll pay attention to you just as soon as we can : )

    3 agree
  2. I picked both my dentist and my realtor this way–emailed a bunch, and the only ones who emailed back got the job. I figure: if you have a website with your email address or a contact form on it and you don't reply to messages you get that way, you're not the sort of person with whom I want to do business. (And let us not speak of the people whose contact forms were broken or going to email addresses that didn't exist! MULTIPLE businesses that way!)

    When the dentist asked why I'd picked him, I told him that his office was the only one who replied. It made me very happy that he was surprised at that stat, because it meant that *not* replying was unthinkable to him.

    My wedding photographer, who I found through listings here, conducted the entire business over email. Yay for her!

    9 agree
    • ME TOO! Sometimes I confuse people because I use "bitch" as synonymous with "sassy friend." It's very much a term of endearment for me.

      10 agree
  3. Basically everything in my life runs on the clause of email response – I chose my wedding celebrant because she was the only one with a decent website, my current apartment I got through constant email contact with the property manager, doctor through their website… even worse than judging people on their shoes, I judge people and businesses on their websites.

    And regarding out-of-office replies? Hate them. So much. UNLESS you are submitting a booking enquiry or something and it is an automated "we have received your booking and will get back to you with confirmation details" etc, which I always appreciate because hooray for paper trails, but I don't actually care if you're not at your computer right this instant. I just want you to get back to me!

    4 agree
  4. At least three of my vendors were chosen simply on the basis of email replies. While searching for a DJ: one was an instant, but completely cookie-cutter, response. Nah. I already researched your prices from the website, I need to contact a real person! Two of them never got back to me at all. Sorry, if I'm supposed to email you to book, I did my part. The one we went with actually emailed me back with-in 48 hours, with an email that let me know that it was a real person, and what specific questions did I still have about their services? Nailed it.

    5 agree
  5. This is a GREAT lil' series, AMS. And thanks for the shout-out. It's something that I think all vendors can do in their initial consultations as well as their contracts. I learned the hard way so I had to set ground rules. People pay attention to them when it comes to lawyers, accountants, etc. Our time is money as well. Setting a precedent is KEY. I even have to mind my Pinterest pinnings after 6 pm. I try NOT to have them wedding-related if I can help it (but seriously, innit that what Pinterest is for anywayzzzz?).

    • I'm the same! I have an email tab open on my computer (even if I'm doing other things), and my email also gets sent directly to my phone. Basically the only time messages stack up is when I'm sleeping XD

      1 agrees
  6. Hell yes. Throughout the whole planning process I almost exclusively contacted people by email. I work 8-5, I cannot phone people during working hours and I feel bad doing so in the evenings, besides which I have other stuff to do. If you won't talk to me by email, you and I are not going to get along.

    7 agree
  7. I agree, it does matter. However I give about 3 days before it starts emailing me, and a week before I nearly give up on them. I'm sure that in a week, they can find to check their email.
    One caterer completely lost my business because of this. I sent them an email, and I got a response fairly quickly saying they were heading off to a wedding, but would get me a quote the next day. A week or so later, I sent another message "Sorry, we're short staffed! We'll get you a quote tomorrow!" Another week went by and still nothing. I gave up and didn't bother messaging them again and moved on to companies that actually valued my time and money.

    5 agree
  8. I definitely agree with this. I've eliminated two wedding venues because I contacted them over a week ago and have not heard anything back. Especially when I'm just inquiring about a pricing and package list, that should just be a form e-mail that they can send out within a day. I'm trying to plan a wedding, which means I need to make decisions and put deposits down- I can't sit around and wait two weeks for people to get back to me.

    4 agree
  9. Response times are a topic that has come up repeatedly on a wedding vendor forum I frequent.

    My response times are 1-3 days. Some emails I can get to in a day… such as the "so, which day is my order shipping out?". A lot of them, I cannot get back to in a day.

    I wrote last week on this issue something along the lines of "when I'm in the middle of producing a large layered beribboned pocketfold invitation order, that is my #1 priority".

    Most of the time, the emails that take me three days to respond to involve me creating design proofs to email the customer. I think they forgive me the wait once the awesome design proof is set before them.

    Actually, that was one of the things I had to point out during debates about this among vendors- I get compliments on quick response times, despite taking days to respond.

    I think that the type of business does factor in. I just know that I do what I can, and I treat my customers like I'd want to be treated. I'm fine with a few days for a vendor that does good work, but wouldn't be happy with a week.

    3 agree
  10. I'm getting incredibly frustrated by this. Our venue asked us about 3 months ago to let them know when we wanted to book our registrar for the ceremony. I replied, no reply, emailed again a week later, no reply. I then emailed them quite angrily with a couple of other queries which they responded to straight away but ignored the registrar. Exact same scenario happened last month. 4 days ago I emailed asking if it had been booked and no reply.
    What's the reasonable length of time to wait for a reply then? 4 days during quiet season mid week seems more than reasonable!?

    5 agree

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