Decoding Influencer Partnerships for Wedding & Hospitality Brands

Have you contemplated working with an influencer? While the mainstream consumer market is ripe for influencer partnerships, there’s an interesting opportunity for those in the creative industry as well. The “influencer to brand” relationship is symbiotic in many respects - they fuel one another. And while celebrity mega influencers are easy to spot, there are other types of influencers that play an equally impactful role in a smaller, more niche community.

The first, and arguably most important thing to remember, is that followers don’t equate to value. Working with someone solely based on the size of their network may not alway deliver the best results for your brand.

It’s a wise strategy to target an influencer for their tone, content and engagement rate amongst their network rather than number of followers.

When may be an appropriate time to engage with an influencer? Specifically for those in the wedding, events and hospitality industry;

  • Book Launch

  • Product

  • Experience at a venue / hotel

  • Industry event

Today we’re diving into how to best work with micro-influencers (10k - 100k followers) and nano-influencers (as few as 2k followers); both key personas who may be able to leverage your brand in a meaningful way.

Both these influencers have high engagement amongst somewhat of a smaller audience. These people are often more approachable than the mega influencers, but still have a vested interest in creating high-quality content. Their followers inherently trust them, often leading to a higher conversion rate for any posts they sponsor, services they recommend or events they attend. And if you’re having trouble pinpointing a digital influencer, do a little local outreach. Maybe it’s a popular yoga studio who uses your mat in class and shares that with their students through social media and word-of-mouth. That’s a captive audience!

Influencers tend to look for one or many incentives from brands before committing to a partnership. Brand alignment is priority, with either a product/event/service in trade or payment.

Start by understanding whether your two brands would be followed organically by the same audience. Are you speaking to the same language, and do you have a like-minded approach?

Once you feel confident you’ve found a match, assess what your objectives are and how this particular influencer can help you reach that goal in an authentic way. How can they promote your brand in a way that feels like a natural extension of what they already do? For instance, if you’re hosting a workshop for wedding photographers and need to sell tickets, consider inviting an influencer bride who recently got engaged who can share her experience of working with a photographer through her Instagram. Storytelling will come across more natural, not salesy.

Nurture your influencer relationships

Give them respect: An influencer’s content is at the core of their professional reputation. In many cases, influencers have likely committed years to crystalizing their aesthetic and finding their voice online. Developing visual content and copy takes time. Show you respect that process.

Give them creative liberties: Are you naturally drawn to that influencer’s grid? If so, don't feel like you need to hold on to the reins so tightly when guiding their creative direction. Chances are, if you already like their style, they will give your brand or product the same royal treatment when posting about it. It’s important to give influencers the creative flexibility. Empower them to become your brand ambassador, but give them the leeway to speak to their audience the way they know will resonate in a meaningful way.

Give them a platform: Is there something that particular influencer is passionate about? Have a transparent conversation at the start of your engagement to understand their larger goals and how you can contribute to that through a collaboration.

Influencers represent a powerful marketing channel if you can approach things with the same thoughtfulness you would with media. Let those relationships grow organically and you may find a new way to achieve brand awareness in this market.

Considering new ways to strengthen your marketing strategy for 2019? Let’s chat

Media and Marketing in the Modern Age

As the digital era continues to evolve, print media has adapted to our modern lifestyle - there’s no doubt. History has proven the resiliency of new technology, and we’re currently walking a tightrope between print and digital media.

Over the LAST decade, our appetite for content has skyrocketed thanks to blogging and social media, which will only continue to grow.

Today, we’re taking a moment to contemplate their roles for the wedding industry and how creatives can take advantage of these new opportunities for long-term marketing success.

There have been a few remarkable shifts for many mainstream media; like Martha Stewart Weddings, a brand who will continue primarily as a digital platform, with a single print issue annually. In the Fall, XO Group, whose flagship brand is The Knot, merged with WeddingWire. These changes, among others, reveal widespread executive-level changes happening at outlets around the country. From the perspective of a media liaison, our team can attest to changes felt by our editorial friends and the priorities they’ve been tasked with from a content standpoint.

A recent AdAge article spotlights Troy Young, who previously led Hearst’s digital operations but now oversees both digital and print for a collection of the Hearst name brands. "Mediums don't die, but their use cases shift as new mediums put pressure on them…” says Young. “The nature of magazines change when a consumer gets their news in the moment from their phone. It makes you think differently about the role of the magazine. It still plays an important role, but it's different." Read more here - it’s fantastic

Rather than focusing on the consolidation or ‘shrinkage’ that may be happening with print, consider how you may be able to effectively diversify your efforts in a way that generates new business.

Traditional ‘media relations’ is still effective, but even more so with a blended approach to social media, content development and creative marketing campaigns working in tandem. Here’s an example: we don’t send static press releases (and never will). Why not? It’s tired, lackluster and mechanical. Instead, we opt for creative visual graphics along with proactive pitch angles that are tailor-made for an editor’s precise audience. It’s just one of the ways we have reinvented traditional practices to serve our clients. So, how will you do it for yourself?

Embrace emerging outlets

Consider newer or niche outlets like podcasts and blogs to showcase your work and expertise. Read and listen to them often, and gain a sense of trust in their content. While they may have smaller following than a widely distributed magazine, their audience are invested and engaged. Brand awareness will be a goal you’ll share with the editor, so maximize the impact of your feature with a mutually beneficial social campaign to increase reach across your shared networks.

Meet your audience where they are

Revisit the characteristics of your ideal client (and if you need help, we designed a helpful blog post a while back). Where are they spending their time? What are they reading or listening to? Perhaps it’s an independent quarterly design journal or a podcast on sustainable living. Could you creatively find a way to collaborate with those outlets? Or maybe, it’s just Instagram to start. Make sure that you’re engaging with the brands your clients follow, and bring value to those conversations. Seek opportunities to share curated content that resonates with your ideal client. These simple ‘hacks’ can make a significant impact.

Need more help? Our marketing consulting service is perfect for giving your brand a boost.


A Modern Guide to Real Wedding Submissions

For wedding photographers and event designers, the ways to market your brand and showcase your work are nearly limitless in today's world. If you are naturally drawn to more traditional real wedding features, you may already feel the compounding pressure to differentiate yourself in a time when editorial priorities continue to shift at some of our favorite magazines.

Real wedding features will only become more coveted as media companies continue to replace organic content with sponsored posts from advertisers.

But trust us - those beloved stories won’t disappear entirely. Writers will still be searching for great content, but are looking for something that makes readers linger over each element rather than flip right past. Today, we’re diving into some of the insights we give our clients, specifically photographers and designers, through a modernized guide of how to attract an editor's attention, and your ideal client.

The Essentials

Imagine you just watched a movie with all your favorite celebrities - anticipating every moment only to be left at the end feeling unsatisfied from a lackluster storyline. You think it had all the makings of something great, but had nothing to sink your teeth into. Stunning photographs only have true representation of an event when they are complemented by a compelling and personal story.

  • Tap into your inner author: Envision the trailer of that movie and condense your couple’s story into an opening few sentences of your submission email. Highlight the most meaningful and treasured moments, and even a few of the finer details, to build anticipation for what’s to come in your collection of photos

  • Showcase your team: Include a thorough vendor list with links to website and Instagram

  • Build a media-friendly collection: Sending around 75-100 photos gives editors a great pool to choose from and help find photos that really give a complete narrative of your wedding. More on how to curate these photos in the next section.

The Visuals

Quiet stolen looks, boisterous laughter and joyful tears will always give your collection life, only to be enhanced by a dynamic range of detail shots that establish a sense of place and time. Those kinds of sensory shots give powerful depth to the entire celebration; a close up of the vintage leather used in a custom invitation and day-of suite, the unique tabletop linens mirroring the bride’s lace from her gown, or the Victorian china displayed at dessert, inspired by a set that had been in the groom’s family for years. Colors, textures and details of almost every aspect should be respected and embraced. Bring along a styling kit (linen board, silk/chiffon ribbon, small vintage mirror, ceramic dish, and some extra flowers from the florist).  

Try and visit the venue or property ahead of time - that perspective will help you mentally dog-ear a few spots to bring the couple during golden hour, style that invitation suite or have a second shooter capture the ceremony from an alternate vantage point. Photos of the intricate tile detailing in the foyer, the overgrown lemon trees in the garden, or the antique velvet settee in the bride’s room will serve as the interlude from one photo to the next - tying all the day’s happenings together seamlessly. Finally, a thorough understanding of the day’s timeline is critical. You’ll mentally anticipate the traditional must-capture moments, but also have time to capture the more obscure happenings that make a celebration truly unique; a prayer amongst groomsmen before the ceremony, a stolen dance between the flower girl and her father in the hotel lobby, or the boisterous embrace of a grandmother to the bride at dinner.

Real wedding features have evolved into true narratives - told both visually and through written word. Being able to keep some of these considerations in mind will help you build a submission that truly represents your clients and your distinct work.

We work with a select number of wedding professionals through our Real Wedding Submission program, and our short-term consulting service. Let's chat more

Building a Social Identity Your Followers Will Crave

Have you ever sat staring blankly at a blinking cursor just waiting for the perfect witty response to surface? Welcome to the club.

We have so much control over our brand’s visual identity, almost to an overwhelming degree, that finding our authentic voice is not only essential - but rather a means for social media survival.

Millennials favor brands that deliver content in bite-sized, digestible pieces. The copy doesn’t have to be overworked - just something that your audience can connect to.

Bring Followers Value

Even while you’re selecting the next photo to post on Instagram, you can start crafting your captions internally. Ask yourself: why does this post matter to my audience? Does this photo show more than just a pretty scene? And, how is this post - both the photo and the caption - serving my community? Feeling confident in those few areas will help crystalize the intention behind your voice.

Transport your audience

Focus on giving followers a level of 'surprise and delight' with each short narrative - something new and captivating. What’s the story behind the scene? How does your unique approach as a creative drive that design or experience? Provide a sense of place and invite curiosity from your audience (which we will get to next). Videos are on the rise, and should be used liberally when you have the right content.

Encourage Curiosity

However brief, captions should be the appetizer - not the full meal. Always try to encourage your audience to go beyond the double-tap and further into your world, whether leading them to a blog post on your website, a media placement online or to your stories. Without this push, your followers might just casually scroll through your feed, rather then go on the journey that is your brand.

So, let’s get down to it - a few examples

Standard Caption: Florals by @flowerbud were so pretty!  Couldn't believe how everything came together for this wedding.

Revised Caption: With the creative artistry of @flowerbud, we transformed an otherwise minimal backdrop with a jaw-dropping display of budding lemon trees. Our clients spent three years traveling around Europe and remember fondly a sense of peace in a place that was covered in these earthly trees - the Island of Capri along the Amalfi Coast. We transported guests to that serene haven with a nod to A+J’s travels, through a multi-dimensional design that felt uniquely personal. See our stories for more.

Standard Caption: Just finished our fourth wedding of the year, what a crazy journey!

Revised Caption: We just returned from a special wedding weekend in Nantucket - one that was a true testament to many creative minds at work. At the start of our journey together, V+B had already selected a beautiful venue to host their celebration. But as the design process got underway, it became clear that the space didn’t feel totally right. Thanks to the gracious flexibility of our team, we moved things to a private estate that would allow for us to execute their vision without limitations. And the result was more memorable than we could have imagines. We’re so thrilled to share this celebration, now featured on @brides [link in bio]

Many of us share the struggle of communicating what’s going on inside our imagination, on paper. Here’s a helpful post we wrote a few months back about developing engaging copy for your brand. It’s not going to happen overnight and it may mean some trial-and-error. But shifting your approach in favor of a more compelling narrative is something your followers won’t be able to get enough of - trust us.

*This post was conceptualized by Rachel Trahan, a valuable member of the In Good Company team

Need a helping hand crystalizing your brand's marketing strategy? Email us - we'd love to chat

Maintaining an Intentional Marketing Strategy in the Busy Season

As our clients head into the busiest season of their year, we understand that marketing may take a back seat to design plans, site visits and weekend-long productions. To help, this actionable guide is designed to help you maximize your marketing efforts during the course of the next few months.

You'll continue to build a dialogue with your network, giving them an even deeper understanding of your work that will sustain you long past the height of wedding season.

Pre-plan Instagram

Instagram remains one of the strongest marketing channels used in the wedding industry, primarily funneling new client leads and maximizing brand awareness (despite the ever-changing algorithm - more on that here). Remembering to post continuously and often on Instagram can seem like an uphill battle, especially while juggling tastings and client meetings during the busy wedding season.

  • We suggest clients take 2-3 hours every week to pre-plan content using a scheduler like planoly or later. These platforms allow you to upload images, visualize your grid and draft captions. You can easily re-arrange the look of your Instagram grid all in one sitting, and not have to worry about continuously posting in real-time.

  • Once you schedule the post, you’ll be instantaneously reminded to post on that day and time (making it super easy to do while in the middle of a project on-site, for instance). A few platforms have also enabled automatic publishing for those who want a totally hands-off approach.

  • We still encourage clients to make an effort to engage on Instagram, liking and commenting on content from other industry creatives to help contribute to an active community.

  • Stories are a way to post real-time content quickly while on-site at a wedding, to show your audience your creative process.

Whether you set aside a block of time every week or small breaks during your day, establishing an efficient process that works with your unique schedule can help you nurture and build your audience even during your busiest season.

Reflect in real-time

Traveling affords us a bit of extra time to read those bookmarked pages of our favorite magazines and blogs - take advantage of that time and get reacquainted with the media world. Take note of tone, style and types of features being published in your favorite publications. Are there projects you’re working on that could fit in nicely? Anticipate the weddings you have coming up that you think may be exceptionally 'noteworthy.’ Consider reserving one afternoon after that celebration (or on the flight back home) to reflect on the most notable aspects, still fresh in your mind, that can be later submitted alongside a thoughtfully curated collection of photos. That simple strategy will help you shape a narrative for the editor when you finally have bandwidth to sit down and submit the entire package for editorial consideration. Keeping with the shift towards efficiency, this will save you time down the road when you may be trying to remember the small, unique details that made a celebration so special.  

Utilize your blog as a megaphone

Maintain your blog, even at a basic level. Instead of simply posting a wedding recap, focus on more observations from the field that you’re noticing while on-site, working with other partners. What are the changes in design that are developing? Are there new venues of note, and what makes them special? Are there new specialty vendors or products that may align with your style? What are new ways you’re seeing other leaders deliver a memorable experience for guests? What has been inspiring you over the course of the season - from travel and design to culinary arts and culture?  Collect your thoughts into a brief post that will take your audience along the journey with you through this wedding season. Then, share that content with a post on Instagram and Facebook or through an email newsletter (if part of your strategy) to maximize its impact.

*This post was conceptualized by Neeka Bardi, a valuable member of the In Good Company team

Our consulting service helps brands gain clarity on marketing objectives and establish a strong strategy for growth. Contact us if you are looking for that perfect partner.