Our top marketing and business productivity tools for success in 2019

Each year we like to share a handy list of some of the tools that enhanced our everyday routine, to hopefully inspire a brighter New Year for this community. Now is a great time to reflect on your achievements, asses where you may still want to grow and commit to a few (realistic) ways to getting there for 2019. In the spirit of doing things with a bit more thoughtfulness, we’re excited to highlight a few of the most impactful resources and musings we’ve come across this year. These little tools have helped us better communicate and execute our plans, while we learn to grow and adapt to our clients’ changing needs. Ultimately, we’ve found they help us to be more creative inside the office (and out). And that’s important.

For design brainstorming with a digital-first approach: Milanote (free)

What we love most about Milanote is that you can collect all of your assets in one place—images, ideas and research side by side (including vendors and details) and include your personal notes. Then, you can export this dynamic moodboard to an easy-to-read PDF version or invite clients to collaborate online directly within the board. It’s a great tool for designers and planners who want to have a more polished and streamlined experience for their clients, but also a place to work from within their team as ideas continually evolve.

You can also create marketing plans and campaigns, build client personas and more. We’ll be utilizing this great tool in 2019 and hope you find it useful for your own business!

Some light reading material:  Oversubscribed: How to Get People Lining Up To Do Business With You (Amazon - $15)

Want to give your business a bit of an edge and find a new perspective on approaching the market? This book gives readers an inside look at how to get people lining up for their products or services. Author Daniel Priestley explains how prolific businesses are able to harness word of mouth and use it to their advantage. Priestley gives tips and examples on how to get your business “oversubscribed” in a crowded marketplace and learn how to stand out amongst your competitors.

For Your Daily Scoop: TheSkimm, THE WHAT LIST, The Broadsheet & Glossy podcast (all free)

Our favorite morning newsletters (in no particular order):

  • TheSkimm - one we have shared in past iterations of this annual guide - is a daily newsletter filled with breaking news and insightful articles from around the globe, with plenty of pithy personal anecdotes.

  • Founded by Amy Parker & Gina Pell have created THE WHAT; a community of a 100,000 perennial women in SF and beyond. We love their women’s groups, intimate salon-style events (check out THE WHAT Summit) and awesome monthly email newsletter, THE WHAT LIST; filled with general musings that are essential to the powerhouse creative woman.

  • The Broadsheet: “The dish on the world’s most powerful women.” What more could you want? This Fortune daily newsletter is a must read (not only for women) with an analytical view into global economy, policy, financial and startup news all syndicated from other mainstream publications in the business world. Some are inspiring stories, and many are in-depth views behind headlines that will absolutely shock you.

  • Glossy: Glossy is our go-to for news at the intersection of luxury, fashion and lifestyle. If your clients live in this space, Glossy will be your bible. Their podcast is a fascinating series profiling the trendsetters in the luxury market and their perspectives on the changing consumer landscape.

For maximizing team collaboration to the next level: Airtable (free to $20/month, with enhanced features)

Making tables can be intimidating, especially when MS Excel could be the only table tool you have used. Airtable takes the intimidation and confusion out of creating charts, tasks, timelines, agendas and more through an easy to use interface. These tables are able to be used solo (just for yourself) or they can be shared among a group of people. This app feels effortless and approachable to both the novice and techie. We’ve seen it used to develop social media calendars, where you can drop images and craft content easily. For campaign calendars, we can upload documents directly into each task and assign a ‘lead’ on the project; enhancing our productivity amongst the internal team and directly with our clients, without the need for additional email reminders.

The Podcast That’ll Let Your Brain Breathe: NPR's Hidden Brain (free)

Shankar Vedantam’s Hidden Brain is a series of podcasts that help the listener understand the world around them and themselves. The podcast has some insightful guests who may help us all step outside out normal grind and indulge in a bit of ‘big picture’ thinking. Some recent topics? The psychology of surprise, voting and the middle class, and a discovery into how power and wealth affect our minds. Each episode is complex and rousing, and we appreciate the thoughtful conversations about changing society. They are released once a week and last for a little less than one hour (perfect for commuting).

Other great business tools

  • Freshbooks: Easy Invoicing, Accounting & Time Tracking

Invoicing, accounting, time tracking, and all the things to make tax time easier

Add some creative typography to your Instagram stories and posts with a few clicks

  • Grammarly: Enhancing Your Message One Word at a Time

This app helps catch grammar and spelling mistakes while you’re writing emails and blog posts.

If you’re looking for a holistic marketing partner, we would love to hear more about your goals for 2019. Let’s chat.

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.

Curious about how much influencers charge for their services? Later’s blog features a great guide that can help!

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