Marketing Your Wedding Business & How to Avoid Being a Spammer

It’s difficult this self-promotion thing. On one hand you want to scream and shout about your latest venture, and on the other you’re slightly paranoid and embarrassed about the whole ordeal (how frightfully British!) It’s a fine line between forging a successful marketing campaign and coming across as an annoying spammer, and so today, dear reader, I thought I’d compile a few tips that I’ve picked up over the past few years. Of course this isn’t a finite list, it is merely a collection of musings I’ve gathered together after being at the receiving end of one too many terrible marketing campaigns.

Email Lists/Newsletters

As a general rule I dislike newsletters, email lists or any correspondence that is impersonal. I’m also usually not a huge fan of the traditional press release either (more on this later) although I do understand that they play a vital role in the majority of the marketing efforts of small businesses.

My number one pet peeve with the newsletter approach is when people add me to their email list without my permission and then send me their generically composed emails about their latest shoe design or whatever over and over. I can only imagine this is done with the vague hope that something will catch my eye and ta daaaa I’ll give them lots of free blog coverage. Ahhh! Not only is this a huge annoyance but it’s actually against the terms of service of the majority of the companies who host said newsletters.

From the MailChimp terms of use:

Anti-Spam and Abuse Related Rules : You agree to the following:

  1. Definition of SPAM: We have adopted the definition of Spam set forth on the Spamhaus website at http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html The first line of the Spamhaus definition reads:

The word “Spam” as applied to Email means Unsolicited Bulk Email (“UBE”).

It is a concern to us if you use MailChimp to send any unsolicited email to anyone with whom you have no relationship. It is much more of a concern, and more likely to cause our system to be blocked by various ISP’s, for you to send an unsolicited email to an entire list of people you don’t know.

  1. Permission Lists Only: You may use MailChimp only to send Emails to individuals and entities that either:
  • Possibility 1 – Consent Obtained
  • A. gave or give you written (including electronic) permission to send Emails to them, without subsequently withdrawing such permission and either:
  1. Consent Given Recently gave you the permission within the prior 12 months; or
  2. Consent Given More Than One Year Earlier you sent them a promotional email, which was not objected to, within the prior 12 months; or
  • Possibility 2 – Sold or Negotiated to Sell Product or Service
  • B. gave or give you their name and email address in connection with their purchase, or negotiations to purchase, a product or service from you, have not opted out from receiving your emails and either:
  1. Recent Sale or Negotiation such sale or negotiations occurred within the previous 12 months; or
  2. Sale or Negotiation Occurred More than One Year Earlier you sent them a promotional email, which was not objected to, within the prior 12 months.

If you send Emails to a list, and you get an unusual amount of SPAM complaints (more than 1 out of 1,000), ISPs will begin blocking future emails from your company. They will also request (that’s putting it mildly) that MailChimp shut down your account. So if you don’t have proof that each recipient on your list has opted-in to receive your emails, or otherwise meets the above requirements, don’t import them into MailChimp.

So there you have it. “Spam” is any unwanted email promoting a business sent to someone who did not ask for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling viagra or vintage wedding dresses, spam is spam is spam. It also doesn’t matter if the email is generated by some internet robot or handwritten by you either.

I can’t imagine that anyone would want their business to be percieved as a spammy one, and I sure as hell know that no one ever wants to receive it. I (and I’d imagine countless other bloggers/editors/journalists) receive a huge amount of emails daily, and as harsh as it sounds, anything that reads remotely generic or sounds spammy usually gets automatically deleted. You and your business may well be awesome but I’m sure annoyance is not the first emotion you want someone to feel when engaging with it for the first time.

Press Releases

As I said, I’m not a huge fan of the press release but I think that’s probablly because I’ve been at the receiving end of so many bad ones! Debs wrote an amazing guest post for me a while back about how to create a good press release, and if you haven’t already, you definitely need to read it before you write your next one!

My number one gripe about them would be one-size-fits-all mentality, and my number one tip when sending them out is to only do so to relevant people. I can’t tell you what a waste of everyone’s time it is to send me a notice about your latest diamante encrusted flip flops… or your new sex toy design… or your revolutionary teeth whitening system (and yes these are all pitches I’ve actually received). This is not the kind of content I feature and will only result in your emails getting deleted. However in saying that I did once receive one for the Sylvanian Family wedding collection… and while I didn’t feature it, I did tweet about it, plus it sure as hell made me giggle.

Social Media

Always stick by this mantra and you won’t go far wrong: if it would be weird in real life its weird on twitter.

Using social media to only promote yourself is a surefire way to get unfollowed. I wrote an article all about how to effectively use social media a while back, so I only want to reiterate that one simple point again here. It’s the golden rule and so many people ignore it!

Don’t abuse twitter’s @ function. Simply tweeting someone saying “Hi @RocknRollBride northern girl making personalised heARTwork 4 special occasions! Pretty pls take a peek @my website & RT if u like it x” (genuine tweet I received last weekend) will not suddenly make me your biggest fan… or even want to go and look at your website. It’s weird and it’s annoying. Therefore I assume you and your company are weird and annoying.

Only commenting on things on a high profile facebook to promote your company is a surefire way to get deleted and blocked. Of course it’s OK to add to a discussion, but if ‘your name’ is ‘Mary’s Wedding Flower Company based in Bristol’ and your comment is “great job!”… Well think about it, blogs (in fact most media outlets) make money from advertising so why on earth would they allow such self-promoting comments stay up? Duh…

The same goes for blog comments too of course…

And finally…

For me, the best form of self-marketing is organic and genuine. Getting to know the bloggers/editors/journalists and engaging with them in a genuine manner will always win over simply trying to push your latest venture onto them. And with twitter it has never been easier to engage with the real people behind the media outlets.

In my opinion the best and most successful promotional features are the ones where the writer (blogger/journalist) genuinely loves the product, engages with and knows the designer and has a genuine affinity for the product they’re reviewing. I very much doubt these kinds of reviews ever result from any other the above methods.

Oh… and as one final piece of advice, if it all gets too much and you find yourself lost for ideas and inspiration, just read this hilarious article and be grateful you didn’t call your company Ayds.

26 comments

  1. Thanks Kat for sharing this info. I agree that the spammy methods don’t work and that’s what differentiates the professionals from everyone else.

    Do you have any practical tips to engage in an organic way? Meetups are good, guest blogging – anything else?

  2. Great advice. I often find myself only promoting my own stuff on twitter, especially when I’m too busy to properly engage with it.

    Then I realise how deathly dull that must be for people who follow me and tell myself to try harder.

  3. Great green room post as always – I hate impersonal emails with a passion – if you can’t be bothered to find out my name you aren’t getting my money!!

    Also loving the retro SPAM images!

  4. Some great advise in this blog, it’s so hard to get the balance right when you start out. I am definately guilty of a few of the above, especially at the beginning, and I cringed as I did them but it seemed like the only way.

    I think the best way to get yourself recognised as a company is to make friends with like minded people. From the short amount of experience I have, actually meeting with people has had the best impact. Me and a fellow supplier organised a networking evening locally, then we asked everyone that came to put photos of FB and tweet about it, since then we have had lots more followers and therfore lots more enquiries from Social Media.

    One question for you Kat, what are your thoughts on #ff, does this really encourage followers or is it becomming something we just see and scroll down?

  5. Post author

    Kelly – thanks for your comments! to be honest i dont do follow friday myself…mainly cos whenever i have done it ive forgotten someone important or people are like ‘oi what about me?!’ haha
    i reckon most people just scroll past them now…

  6. Great post, spam is all but a distant memory of my childhood. A while back I had drinks with a hedge fund manager friend of mine, he asked what I was up to ‘lots of shameless self promotion I said’ he responded with ‘yes, but there is no shame in sales’ Well said, he is now an investor.

  7. Thanks Kat, I think especially for small businesses and spam vs promotion it’s such a fine line to tread – I think that as long as you are genuinely engaging people then you should be ok.

    The mailchimp think is also difficult – especially as I think that people don’t understand the consequences of clicking the ‘spam’ button instead of ‘unsubscribe’ (i.e. that we could get blacklisted). I only import genuine contacts who have agreed to go on my list when I do business with them etc, and when I am given a mailing list from a show or the like (exhibitors are often given a list of the emails of the attendees – check the Ts and Cs when you buy your ticket, it’s usually on there) , always send them an email telling them why they’ve been added to the list, and give them the chance to unsubscribe before receiving any e-news etc. but still get the odd spam complaint, not sure what else I can do to prevent it, as my newsletter is a valuable marketing tool that gets results!

  8. My mum has recently had a book published and now she owns a website, a blog and a twitter account, I wish she spoke English so that she could read this! Since she understood how to use her twitter account at the very basic level, she’s been tweeting ONLY things like ‘go check out my book!’, ‘my book is amazing, buy twelve copies for your kids and grandkids’, ‘don’t know what to buy for your husband’s birthday? Buy my book’.

    I’ve tried to explain to her that she will only annoy people by spamming like crazy, but she just doesn’t get it.

    I gave up! Gotta love mummy ♥

  9. Interesting post to read! I only joined Twitter yesterday so it’s good to get a little more insight in to how it is viewed!

  10. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, it’s so nice to hear something from a blogger that’s well, genuine. Very helpful. : ) love all the “spam” visuals hehehehe

  11. This was really helpful, im looking into ways to promote my business but I certainly don’t want to be one of those people who is there all the time on everything going look at me look at me, I find it annoying when people do it around things I am looking at.

    Its the part out relationships with bloggers and people etc, I find it hard to create first contact with people and then how to develop it from there, its something I need to stick at for sure but my next plan is writing my press release but that for the weekend after editing 🙂

  12. Thanks so much for writing this – so necessary. So sick of people spamming my wall.

    Love Sara at Under the Vintage Veil, a really super awesome wedding blog Kidding

    Haha

  13. We’re probably all guilty of doing some of those things when just starting out, so it might be a little harsh calling ‘northern girl’ weird and annoying when it’s just being naive and a little bit cheeky to send a ‘can I have a RT’ tweet! Obviously you may not have the time or inclination to go and check out their site, but if you do and you like the business, it’s no time at all to press that RT button and make someone’s day.

    I personally like hearing about businesses and people on Twitter I’ve not yet heard of from other people’s RTs- and quite often I will click on to the people mentioned in #FF’s to see if there’s anyone I’m interested in following. I’d rather RT or read a RT about someone in the industry then the endless ‘Can you RT for my uncle’s dead brother’s parachute jump’.

    Sending ‘Dear Blogger’ or equivalent is definitely unforgivable though! x

  14. Another killer Green Room post, thanks Kat. I do think I’m too self-promotey on my FB page but am definitely better on twitter. Must work on making the FB page a bit more social.

    As for news letters, there are very few that I’m signed up to that work, at all. Most get deleted straight away and I’m currently unsubscribing from most. But I think that’s because I keep up to date with the companies I want to via social media rather than email.

    Dave, loving your comment!

  15. Fab write up! Have done the press releases and have been told many only like this kind of thing from PR companies!
    One major bug bear of mine is when I post an image, I get (and I have had on several occasions so they’ve been deleated) “Do they want a…” Well, love, if they wanted a hat, i’d have asked and put them in touch with a hat maker! This happened several times from a fascinator maker so I just blocked and banned the user.

    Don’t mind folk introducing themselves on my page either as long as it’s personal to me and they don’t say that I should go ‘like’ their page to. It’s like link sharing. I dont put links on my page.

    My business page links to Twitter so followers get to see images and updates, but I do like the twitter interaction on a more personal level. However, saying that, I cannot stand to see repeated woes on business pages. I get to a point and then unlike. I’m intersted in the business and the product. Business is for business, personal for the rest of it! xx

  16. Post author

    Linda – agree, theres definitely a difference between being personal and approachable and just being a big moanface!

  17. I think the problem has arisen with the Facebook timeline switch or those who just don’t want to loose ‘likers’ For me, Facebook is my biggest audience. I get a lot of suppliers who add me as a friend and then I end up pulling back on more personal issues regarding business or I am having a shite day because I think, “Do they really want to read about that?”

    It is hard having the divide. I notice you have quite a clear note asking not to add you as a personal friend. People do like to see a bit more of the ‘behind the scenes’ or the real you, but as you say, there is being approachable, which I like to think I am, being personal, by sharing things that interest me and being a moanface. I would NEVER talk about a bad client, I was having a shit day or anything else which isn’t business related on my business page. I tend to look towards the top designers like Stewart Parvin, vera wang and see how they conduct themselves on their pages.

    If you are going to use social media as a promotion platform then I would say have the divide. have the personal and have the business.

  18. Post author

    Linda – yeah i do put a few personal things on my rocknrollbride stuff but i still really just want to keep my personal facebook for actual real life friends!

  19. Exactly! and then some get offended when you delete them. I have times where I go through my ‘friends’ list and think, I don’t even know you! However, yes you do post things which is what makes you the person you are, but you always hold back. I think you have to keep personal, personal.

    Lots of love x

  20. Post author

    Linda – yep! i think its like clothes… if i havent worn them in 6 months i should throw them out. same with facebook ‘friends’!

  21. Now, branding association will be another thing I bet you get tired of. Funny how folk want to be your ‘friend’ because of who you are. It certainly sorts the true from the false. Sometimes this industry is wicked! x

  22. Awesome post as usual, agree with so many points and wrote something similar on my personal blog the other day….I’m a whiz on Instagram and f/b, but I’m getting there with twitter. I don’t know, I kind of avoided using it for a white. Since I have been more active on it, I’ve made some brilliant, genuine connections within the industry….! I tweeted you, saying I wish there were more quirky and alternative brides in Dubai…ha-ha, promise you it wasn’t for publicity, it was a genuine thought! Lots of love from Dubai!

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