Were you in the wedding industry when your marketing consisted of relying on the reps from the yellow pages? Or advertising with the local wedding magazines? Perhaps you remember utilizing the local newspaper special sections, and relying bridal show promoters to contact you when it was time to renew your ad? Would you then you get mailing lists from some of those sources so as to be able to mail a brochure and make a call? Because of this, did you find you could spend most of your professional time focusing on your craft, making sales and serving your clients?

Now you deal with emailing, social media, and texting, while having a harder and harder time getting your customers on the phone.  While it is intuitive for people who grew up on the Internet to market online and use social media, for the more established wedding businesses whose owners may be more mature, it is like having to go back to school while having a full time job.

What options do experienced business people have to re-establish their firm foothold in the marketplace? It really begins with education.

Your website is your front lobby and having an elegant site will help your business and being found on the first page of Google will too. Print, while still relevant, is harder to quantify and platforms like the yellow pages most definitely have diminishing returns.

You can no longer just push your services and close sales. Couples are savvy and prefer to make decisions through exploring options, particularly through the Internet. Your branding and marketing message has to convey credibility and reputability but the greatest differentiator is mastery and expertise. Fortunately you can take more charge of your credibility than ever before by being proactive about getting reviews on Google, Yahoo, Yelp and wedding focused platforms like Wedding Wire and The Knot. When someone finds your business online, if someone they know recommended them to check out your business, and sees many authentic, positive reviews, what this equals is a great pathway to generating an interested prospect coming with a positive inclination to buy.

However, it is the perceived expertise that you can establish for your business that can be one of the most important shifts in your company image. Preparing articles, educational blog posts, doing small seminars that strictly share ideas and inspiration create an audience and readership that hunger knowledge on how to do it right and you can in a very natural way tempt their appetite to do business with you.

One of the best ways to have that credibility and perceived expertise infused into your business is by taking wedding industry courses and becoming certified as a wedding professional. Most of the certification courses are designed for newbies, so they will be of little benefit to your actual knowledge enhancement, but can still help your credibility. The one certification program that is created for the experienced wedding professional and is designed to impart relevant industry knowledge, trends and the nuances of 21st century wedding marketing is The Wedding and Event Institute.  If you look at their educational articles, social media and videos they sample online, you will already benefit just from that, but they also seem to have the best grasp on helping a seasoned wedding professional position themselves as an expert. Their board of advisors consists of some of the leading experts in the industry and will inspire, regardless of the category of wedding products or services that a student’s company provides.

Certification is no longer something to just consider as an option it is a necessity in today’s business world. To really set yourself apart from the competition continued education isn’t a luxury it is a necessity. Your bridal clients are discerning and savvy, and they expect you to be too.