I've got something a little different for you today, something that's been on my mind for a while now. It's about wedding directories – you know, those big names that promise to skyrocket your business visibility and send a flood of leads your way. I've decided it's time to pull back the curtain and share my honest, no-holds-barred thoughts on these platforms. And let me tell you, it's not all sunshine and roses.
In this episode of my podcast The Power and Purpose, I'm diving deep into the world of wedding directories. I'm talking about the good, the bad, and yes, even the downright shady tactics some of these platforms use to get you to advertise.
Be honest – have you ever felt like you're being strong-armed into advertising because, without them, your business will crumble? Or maybe you've been on the receiving end of a barrage of fake leads that lead nowhere? I've been there, and I'm sharing it all.
As a published author, business coach, and seasoned wedding professional, I've had my fair share of experiences with wedding directories–most of them bad. One wedding directory I advertised in cost me $5,000 a year (and this was back in 2008!). It was billed as being an exclusive and luxury wedding directory filled with the “world's best wedding professionals.” Except they said yes to me and I had just opened up my business about a month before and NEVER planned a wedding. Ha!
But it's not just about airing grievances. I'm also breaking down the nitty gritty of whether it makes sense for you to invest your hard earned money into these directories. Spoiler alert: for most businesses, the answer might surprise you.
And if you're already advertising and wondering whether it's time to pull your listing, I've got you covered. I'll walk you through how to assess if these directories are genuinely benefiting your business or just draining your resources.
In this episode about whether or not you should advertise in wedding directories:
- The criteria I use to determine if wedding directory advertising makes sense for your business
- The pros and cons of advertising in wedding directories
- Some of the bad business practices these directories have
- How to decide whether it's time to PULL your ad from a directory (and save your money!)
- Where you can put your marketing dollars instead
This episode is packed with insights, real-life experiences, and practical advice that I hope will help you make informed decisions about your business. So, grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine, you know I won't judge), and let's get real about wedding directories.
[00:00:00.150] - Candice Coppola (Host)
As a wedding pro, should you advertise in wedding directories? I'm asked this question no less than five times a week, sometimes a day. And I thought that we would create a podcast episode and have a big old conversation about this. I think you're going to be surprised at my thoughts and opinions. You're here to grow a business, but not just any business. You want to grow a profitable business with purpose, a business where you wake up every single day driven to serve your customers and make a difference in your own life. I'm Candice Coppola, published author, business coach, and your guide to building a profitable business with purpose. Join me here every single week as we explore how to build and grow your business with purpose. Get ready to dig in and have meaningful conversations about the strategies and techniques that will help you build your dream business. This is the power and purpose. Hey, friend, welcome back to the power and purpose podcast. It's me, your business coach and your host, Candice. And this is an episode I feel like is a long time coming on the show. Should you advertise in wedding directories, both big and small?
[00:01:26.830] - Candice Coppola (Host)
I have big, bold feelings about this, huge feelings about it. They probably don't align with a lot of other people, and I'm cool with that. I'm totally fine with that. I'm going to give you my honest, raw, unvarnished, and experienced opinion, having been around the block for more years than I'd like to count and tell you what I've seen over the years and if advertising in a wedding directory is really going to help your business no matter the industry you're in, photography, venue, planner, Florida. We're talking to everybody today. First of all, let's talk about what I mean by wedding directory. A wedding directory, the wedding directories I'm talking about are the large, big names that you know well. I wouldn't say you love, but you know them well. I'm not going to say any names on this podcast because I don't know if I can do that and I certainly don't want to find out if it's a bad thing to do that. I am going to just leave you to put yourself in the situation where you're relating this to the wedding directories and those types of companies that you've encountered and come into contact to.
[00:02:47.880] - Candice Coppola (Host)
There's a small handful of big ones and there are lots of smaller ones. We're going to talk about both wedding directories of the large kind that have a lot of money behind them, that have a lot of marketing behind them, and that have been around for a very long time. Then we're going to talk about smaller directories that might be managed just by a single creator or a small group of people, more like mom and pop businesses, if you will. That's what I mean by wedding directories today. I just want to say that this is my opinion based on my experience. You don't have to agree with me at all. That's fine. We are free to disagree. I believe in disagreeing. I believe in healthy debate. But I am definitely not going to sugarcoat how I feel about this and my opinions around this. If I've ever coached you, if you're a part of my Mastermind wedding pro insiders, if you're in the planner's playbook, if you've ever hired me for a one on one coaching call or a mentorship, or you've ever just gotten on the phone with me and you've ever asked me this question, Candice, should I advertise and insert the blank wedding directory?
[00:03:59.550] - Candice Coppola (Host)
Then you know what I'm going to say today. You know what I'm going to say today. I literally am asked this question probably more than any question I'm ever asked. Should I advertise? And should I stop advertising? We're going to talk about both. We're going to talk about if you should advertise in these wedding directories, what I think qualifies a yes. And then we're going to talk about if you should remove your ad. Because why are you spending $500 a month on something that's doing nothing for you? So first, let's talk about if you should advertise in these big directories. My opinion, I'm going to get straight to the point, I'm not going to beat around the bush. My opinion, in large part for most people that I come into contact with, is, hell no. Not just no, but it's a hell to the no. No, no, no, no. I think a lot of these large wedding directories do absolutely nothing for most established business owners. It's a waste of money. It's a waste of resources. It also is super dysfunctional the way they treat wedding vendors, the way they treat advertisers. They make you feel like without them, your business is going to implode.
[00:05:30.500] - Candice Coppola (Host)
It's going to wither away into nothing. You're going to be broke. You're going to be nobody, and your business is just going to dry up and you're going to be nobody. Nobody's going to know you without them, which I have a big problem with. We're going to talk about that. Right off the top, I'm going to tell you, for most people, it does not make sense. It is a waste of your money and your money could be invested in 15 other places that I think are a better investment for $500 a month. Now, I do think it makes sense for some, and this is the criteria that I look at when I'm evaluating this question on a person by person basis, because my big fat, hell no applies to a large swath of people. I would say 80 % of the people I talk to, it's a no. But there is a 20 % of people that I do think it works for, and this is where I would say yes. Wedding directories and advertising in large ones is a yes if number one, you're very new to the industry. If you are just hanging your shingle, advertising in one of these directories can quickly establish credibility for your business.
[00:06:38.390] - Candice Coppola (Host)
Very quickly. It helps to build social proof because you're building an alliance between you and a very well known brand. And that alliance helps to establish credibility. It helps to establish trustworthiness, and it helps to build brand awareness. If you're Now, if you've been in business for 12 months and you're booking clients and everybody knows your name, you don't need these wedding directories. I'm sorry. You have now used those wedding directories to help establish credibility and brand awareness. But the work is really in the work you're doing and the connections you're making. I think it's safe to say you can move on from that relationship. It's not going to make or break you, trust me. It might break your bank account, though. So if you're new to the wedding industry, advertising and wedding directories can be a smart move to help establish credibility, trustworthiness, and to build brand awareness. It's also worthy to consider if your ideal clients are actually hanging out on these wedding directories. Now, I know that I have a large cross section of listeners across the wedding industry. My personal experience as a wedding pro was I worked in the mid luxury market, so I wasn't the Preston Bailey of wedding planning by any stretch of the imagination.
[00:07:57.730] - Candice Coppola (Host)
I wasn't the Mindy Wise. But I did work with clients who had sizable budgets in the six figures and seven figures. I know that I speak from a different... Not everybody is serving those clients. Not everybody wishes to serve clients who have 100,000 plus budgets. Not everybody is in a location where that is even possible to do. I speak to a large group of people, and I know that there are some people listening who want to work with clients with smaller budgets. That's their people. Those are their ideal clients. So I say to you, if your ideal customers are using these wedding directories to plan their weddings and to search for wedding vendors, then you might want to advertise in them because that's where they're going. Whether it's their first stop, their second, their third, Midway, or throughout the process, if they are actively using these tools and these directories to make decisions, it would make sense for you to advertise in them because you want to be where your ideal clients are hanging out. That's just one of the fundamental tenets of marketing. You don't want to market on the moon if nobody's over there looking for you.
[00:09:08.500] - Candice Coppola (Host)
But if clients are using these wedding directories to seek out their vendors, to do research, to look for credibility, read reviews, then yes, being there makes sense for you. Now, if you are serving a clientele that has a larger budget, being there is not going to make sense for you. I'm sorry. The people who use these tools are either geographically, it is within the culture of wedding planning geographically. So what you find is some states in the south rely heavily on these tools where many states in the north don't. So it depends on geographically, but also budget. I'm sorry to say that most people who use these tools are planning a wedding in terms of budget on the smaller side. They're not spending maybe over $50,000 on their all in wedding budget. They're looking for deals. And God bless them. I don't have 50 grand to spend on a wedding. And if I did, I wouldn't spend it on a wedding. So I totally get it. I'm one of them. They're there using these tools, reading these articles, using some of the actual software tools in these platforms, and of course, the vendor directory to plan their wedding.
[00:10:18.220] - Candice Coppola (Host)
So if you are in the mid to luxury market like I was, and of course, beyond, beyond you would never, these spaces are not for you. I would say the third and final factor to consider if you should advertise in these wedding directories is if you're pushing volume. I think any vendor who pushes a large volume of clients, it makes sense to advertise in these directories. And that's why you're spending so much money because they know that you should be there. That's why they're charging you two grand a month to list your venue, to list your catering company. So for the venues, for the caterers, for the people pushing high volume, it makes sense for you to be in these wedding directories and to be positioned against other venues. You may not get direct bookings from the directory, but the brand awareness, the credibility, and being next to those competitors, it makes sense for your business, unfortunately. Hey, friend, hear that noise? That's the sound of Honey Book depositing cold hard cash into your bank account. Honey Book is an all in one client flow platform that helps you manage your leads, send wedding proposals, and sign contracts all with the click of a button.
[00:11:41.230] - Candice Coppola (Host)
And every time you get paid, you're going to hear this noise. Honeybook also offers a variety of resources and materials to help you grow your business. One of my favorite features of the Honeybook platform is the community of creative entrepreneurs just like you. Honeybook is offering listeners of the power and Purpose podcast 35 % off any of their three plans for your first year. 35 %, it's an amazing deal. Use the code purpose at checkout or go to candicecoppola. Com honeybook to learn more. Those are the three pieces of criteria I use in a coaching call answering this question. Should you advertise in these large wedding directories? If you're new to the industry, if your ideal clients are using them, and if you're pushing volume, the answer may be yes. It doesn't have to be yes, but it may be yes. Outside of that, I think most of these large vendor directories are a waste of money. Full stop, period. It's a wrap. It's a waste. And you know what I don't like? Let's just have a little heart to heart for a second. Let's have a gossipy just shit talk for a sec. Here's what I don't like about these wedding directories.
[00:13:01.010] - Candice Coppola (Host)
I don't like their fear based marketing. You heard me mention this earlier in the episode where they make you feel like if you don't advertise, your business is going to suck. You're never going to make it and you're just going to struggle and be fucking broke. Honestly, that's such bullshit. Honestly, genuinely. I advertised in large wedding directories twice at the beginning of my career, and then they got me with this fear based marketing in the mid, I would say, in the 2010. So I advertised to begin with in 2008. I stopped my ad. And then in 2010 or 2011, I was like, all right, I'll try it again. Immediately canceled within, I would say, no more than six months. I was like, bye. See you. You guys are full of shit. And they got me with the fear based marketing, and I see them do this all the time to other wedding pros. They also gaslight you. So if you are in already with some of these directories and you get on the phone with your sales rep and you're trying to cancel, you're like, listen, lady, your directory ain't doing shit for me, dude.
[00:14:03.220] - Candice Coppola (Host)
I have no inquiries coming from you and I don't have the money. I can't facilitate this relationship. I need to conserve money because I'm not getting clients. They have the freaking audacity to start gaslighting you and they're like, Oh, well, let me bring up your page. Let me bring up your page on our site. And oh, I see you haven't updated it in six months. No wonder why you're not getting any leads. It's like, Are you fucking joking? You cannot be serious with this. But listen, there are people who've never experienced that manipulation in the sale and they don't know it. So they genuinely are like, Oh, my God, is that true? And when you're desperate for a sale, when you're desperate to make money, when it's been quiet, it's been crickets. And let's face it, the wedding industry is retracting right now. Less people are getting engaged, people are waiting to get married, and it's showing in your freaking inboxes, which is going to be a whole another podcast episode. When the chips are down, you want to trust and believe in this major entity that it's got your best interest at heart. And so they spin a load of bullshit telling you that your page needs to be updated and, oh, we're going to do this and we'll move you to the front and we'll do all this magic trick bullshit.
[00:15:20.890] - Candice Coppola (Host)
You get off the call, you didn't cancel the contract and you're like, What the fuck? What is going on here? It's like a whirling dervish came in and just completely took over your brain. And you signed a contract for six more months. You're like, Oh, my God. How did this happen? They're trained to make that happen, I believe. I don't have proof, but I've seen it over and over. And that's part of their sales process. And it's Ick. It's I ck. It's I ck personified. It's BS. I also don't appreciate all the fake leads and prospects that it sends you, whether these are bots that they hire or that just comb through the internet or the scams. A Nigerian prince get married in Oklahoma. You're like, Dude, what are you doing? You're not coming to Oklahoma to get married. I don't appreciate the fake leads that it sends. It's a waste of your time. When you're starting your business, it's just so misleading. It's wrong to send people fake leads. You're wasting time and resources and your heart's getting invested. Every time we get a lead, and myself included, every time somebody reaches out to me and they're like, Hey, Candice, I want to know more about your coaching.
[00:16:42.350] - Candice Coppola (Host)
I get super excited and I'm like, Oh, my God, this is so exciting. And you get invested in the person. You might start looking up information about them. You're just thinking like, Okay, here's what I'm going to propose. You get super jazzed. And to have it be fake is fucked up, period. I also don't like the SEO cannibalization that they do. I mean, they obviously have more domain authority and more resources to rank for every keyword you want to rank for. And so it's their website that shows up first, not yours. The advertiser, the small business who's actually located in the location doing the thing. That really pisses me off. And I also don't like their total and complete disregard for vendors and small businesses in their articles, in the advice they give their users, and in their client focused education. I don't need to tell you what, because you've read one too many articles by some of these directories that go viral because they're so Fing bad. And it's just like it's not realistic. It's not true. And it doesn't take into account the realistic cost and fees and process that goes into planning a wedding.
[00:17:52.910] - Candice Coppola (Host)
Those are the things I really dislike about these large wedding directories. The fear based marketing, the gas lighting, the fake leads, the SEO cannibalization, and the disregard for small businesses. So you might be asking yourself, shit, I'm advertising. I don't want to anymore. Or I don't know if advertising in these directories is actually good for my business. I'm going to give you an exercise right now on this podcast that is going to help you answer this question. Should you advertise? Should you continue to advertise in these large wedding directories? And the exercise is so simple. It's so simple. The first thing you're going to do is you're going to count the number of leads that directory sent you in the last 12 months. From today, going back for 12 months, how many leads did it send you? Did it send you one, 100, 1,000? What was the number? And what percentage of those leads converted into consultations? This is important to know because a lot of those leads are fake. A lot of those leads are very unqualified. They're just price shopping. They don't know what the hell is going on. So we need to know how many of them were qualified enough to actually get on a call with you, meet you in person, or take it to the next level.
[00:19:15.430] - Candice Coppola (Host)
What percentage of those leads converted into a consultation? And what percentage of those consultations converted into clients? What you're going to see is 50 leads, four of them converted into consults, and maybe one of them converted into a client, meaning you're going to see maybe a large bucket of leads with a drastic reduction in the number that converted into a consult for most of you, I'd say, and then even a smaller number converted into clients. I want you to add up the total value of the people who did convert. How much did they end up spending with your business? If you're a photographer on your services and your products, so if they purchase albums and prints, and it'd be nice to know, well, you know what? They spent 10 grand in services and 2 grand in product. They spent 12 grand. Cool. This is going to help you to understand if financially this makes sense for you. If you're actually getting a return on your investment. Now, there are a lot of things we do in marketing that we don't really care if we get a monetary return on our investment because it's really more about brand awareness, connection, networking.
[00:20:25.550] - Candice Coppola (Host)
It's all relative. It all gets dumped in and it all happens. But with directories, you want to see a return on your investment because we're not out here paying $500 a month to get a stupid award at the end of the year that means nothing. I don't know about you, but I'm not paying six grand a year for a fucking gift. I'm not doing it. You could do it, but I'm not doing it. So we want to understand how many people converted and what was the total value of those conversions. And doing this very simple exercise is going to give you an answer. It is in the black and white. You can't fake it. How many people acquired? How many of those inquiries converted into consults? How many of those consults converted into customers? And how much were those customers worth? If they were worth more than what it costs to advertise, continue to advertise. If they weren't, guess what? You have your answer. You have your answer. It's as simple as that. Or at least you have an answer that you can use then to make a decision based on facts and not feelings.
[00:21:35.640] - Candice Coppola (Host)
So while we're talking about directories and how much I don't like them and why I don't like them and why I think they're a waste of money and how to evaluate this on your case by case basis, let's talk about what might be better. Because I think if you do have a budget, it's nice to make sure that that money is going somewhere that's going to help you scale and grow your business, help you market your business, attract clients, get leads, make better decisions, and just build and grow a business that's meaningful to you. So I think you would be better to take that money and spend it with smaller creators, smaller bloggers, smaller Instagram creators. I love smaller creators. I love smaller bloggers. And I'm not going to call any names in this podcast of anybody, but you know who I'm talking about. These are businesses run by families, largely by women, and they're fantastic. They really care about their advertisers. They're also a hell of a lot cheaper. They prioritized sharing your content on Instagram, creating content for your business, blogging about you, giving you link backs, giving you things to brag about and press.
[00:22:39.960] - Candice Coppola (Host)
So if you're going to take that money and spend it anywhere and you want to spend it in the same genre of internet marketing, spend it with smaller creators, smaller bloggers who actually fucking value your $300. That $300 actually, it makes a difference in their lives. Number two, local and niche magazines. These are a dying art form. I think local magazines and niche magazines that serve a national audience are really important in the wedding industry and in the planning process. And they're not going to survive by you submitting weddings for them to feature and you never giving them any fucking money to be advertising in them. They're not going to survive by magazine sales. Unfortunately, they survive by advertisers. So supporting your local magazines, your local print, your local niche or national niche magazines, I'm thinking multicultural wedding magazines, if those are the types of clients you're trying to attract, those folks genuinely value your advertisement. And I don't know if you'll directly be able to assign a client from them, likely, but it is really good to keep it going in your community for your clients, for inspiration. And being featured in print is bragging rights, girl, and you know it.
[00:24:04.070] - Candice Coppola (Host)
Because listen, you're featured on a blog and you're like, Yay, you're in the link. You're featured in a magazine. Your mom's going and buying that shit at CVS. She's buying all of them. I have all the magazines that have ever been featured in the closet in my office. I will never throw them away. Are you kidding? I was featured in a magazine. I remember the first time I was featured in a magazine. It was like the most amazing, incredible thing ever. I couldn't believe that me, Candice Coppola, from Nagatek, Connecticut, from Nagatek High School, was featured in a magazine. And I know you feel the same way. But they're not going to stick around unless people advertise in them and read them. So that's a better place to put your money. Google ads, I think, is a better place. Advertising right on Google, girl. More people are searching on Google than they are necessarily using these directories, and Google is the place to be. So if you don't have good SEO, running Google ads can help you get on the first page and could be a better place to place your money. But also that just goes hand in hand with my last suggestion of what's better, SEO support.
[00:25:09.900] - Candice Coppola (Host)
Buying an SEO course. Sarah Dunn has a great course, SEO boot camp. Learn how to rank on Google so that you can then take that skill and apply it to your business for a lifetime. It's so important. And if you can be found on Google, I mean, you don't need these vendor directories, quite frankly. Sorry, you don't need them. You don't need them. So listen, I have big thoughts about this. I don't think I sugarcoated any of it. At the end of the day, I think these large wedding directories do very little for the advertisers that support them. And you have to do what's right for your business. And I think in large part for most small businesses in the wedding industry that have established their brand, who are working with a mid to luxury tier client and who are not pushing volume are better taking their money and using it in those places or hiring a virtual assistant, a social media manager, a business coach. I mean, the list goes on and on of what you could do with that money instead. So I want to hear your big thoughts about this topic. What do you think?
[00:26:20.030] - Candice Coppola (Host)
Do you advertise in vendor directories, the big ones? Do you like it? Do you get leads from it? Because some people do really well and like, has off to you. But they're in the minority. They're in the minority. What are your thoughts on it? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let's take it to social. I'd love to hear from you your honest thoughts, I can take it. I'd love to hear. I'd love to start a conversation around this. I also just want to really emphasize the smaller creators, the smaller directories, the smaller bloggers, and not small. I don't mean in comparison to these big directories. What they're doing is by no means small. That's the place to spend money, in my opinion, and your local magazines and your local publications and your niche national publications. Keep those people in mind. If we want them to continue to survive and we want them to provide a service and we want them to go toe to toe with some of these big conglomerates, we got to keep them in business. Somebody's got to advertise. And if you have the money, let that somebody be you.
[00:27:26.020] - Candice Coppola (Host)
All right, friend, thanks for listening to today's episode of the show. I hope you've enjoyed it. I hope I've made you laugh and also given you some food for thought. Let me know if you do my exercise in evaluating whether it's worth it or not for you. All right, friend, I will see you in another episode of the show. I'm here to remind you, as always, there's so much power in your purpose until next time. Thanks so much for tuning in to this week's episode of the Power in Purpose podcast. If you enjoyed the show, be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode and consider leaving a review. Head over to powerandpurpose podcast. Com to access all of the resources and links mentioned in today's episode. That's powerandpurpose podcast. Com. I'll see you next time.
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