I have followed Mark Kingsdorf’s career for a number of years and have always been impressed with his wisdom, natural marketing instincts, authenticity, and his ability to successfully pivot his career in the industry to fit his ideal lifestyle. With over 40 years in the hospitality and event industries, Mark has a very unique perspective and offers a wealth of knowledge.
After running a highly successful event planning business and working at prominent event venues, Mark currently runs Wedding Ghost which offers ghost blogging, content-based web marketing, and freelance writing for the wedding, events, and hospitality industries.
I have asked Mark to share his best marketing and blogging advice for wedding professionals, and more specifically, for wedding planners.
Top Blogging and Marketing Advice for Wedding Planners
How, when, and why did you get started in the wedding industry?
In 1998 I was a partner in a restaurant and catering business and HATED having business partners. A photographer friend had a client that was having issues with their reception venue and asked if I could talk to them. I worked with the couple and the venue and helped craft a solution that they both loved. They all looked at me and asked: “Why aren’t you doing this for a living?” And the rest is history.
I did some research, sold my share in the restaurant, and in early 2000 I joined the Association of Bridal Consultants and networked with our state manager in Pennsylvania. I assisted her on some weddings and registered my business name with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
I worked part-time with a bridal salon and flower shop while waiting tables and launching the business. I knew I had a strong food, beverage, and catering background, but needed to work on my knowledge of gowns, veils, headpieces, and floral; I can still bustle a wedding gown blindfolded.
What has been your career path in the events industry?
When my husband and I made the decision to sell my event planning business in Pennsylvania and move to Florida, I sold my business to a decorator in our market that I had a tremendous personal and professional relationship with.
When we relocated to central Florida, I thought I would work for Disney in Catering or Events. After reviewing their volume and wedding packages, I knew it wasn’t my style. Instead, I accepted an hourly position with Park Event Operations and Disney Catered Events. Neither job was full time and I eventually decided to take a Wedding Sales Managers position at a local family owned resort.
I worked at Mission Inn Resort for a little over three years, starting as Wedding Sales Manager and then as Director, overseeing wedding sales and service including most marketing and social media related to weddings.
When we made the decision to move to St. Pete to be closer to the beach and my husband’s job, I was blogging part-time for a few friends and decided that blogging and writing full time offered me the opportunity to have a flexible schedule and enjoy more time with my husband and traveling. It utilizes my experience in weddings, events, and catering, as well as the connections I’ve made over several decades.
What do you wish you knew when you first started in the industry as a wedding planner?
I wish I completely understood the concept of outward perception versus inward reality.
Even before we had social media, I looked at the ‘propaganda’ people were marketing and never realized that their level of service, attention to detail, and business profitability were not nearly what they portrayed.
What mistakes have you made?
I initially only took on as many weddings as I could personally handle and referred overflow to other planners. I later found out colleagues were promoting people from being interns one week to taking on full-service weddings the next, and they weren’t NEARLY as good as my wedding assistants.
That was the point where I decided to grow my wedding team and have them take on Wedding Day Direction. They still assisted me on weddings, and I groomed each of them to do full-service planning and to take on the role of lead planner. I wish I had done it sooner because I had a fantastic team who got rave reviews from the venues and professionals we worked with. (Helpful article: Types of Services Offered By Wedding Planners)
Why is blogging important and what is a ghost blogger?
When I owned The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants, we blogged a minimum of once a week. Part of it was to brand the business and showcase our work. It was also a great way to showcase our team so people felt comfortable working with them and not just me. Blogging was a really affordable way to market the business and build visibility in a growing internet. We were consistently on page one of Google for various search terms and remained there.
I knew blogging worked but also saw that planners and other wedding professionals didn’t have time to write, did not like to write, or opted out because they didn’t know what to write about. Too many were (are) posting pretty wedding pictures with little or no text in their blog posts. Or, if they were blogging, they were not including SEO rich text or they did not consistently blog, so they saw no benefits and quit blogging.
As a ghost blogging service, I offer blogging services at a few levels. If you are already blogging and don’t see any search engine visibility or your search engine ranking is not improving, I offer blog consulting. This includes an evaluation with written analysis plus tips on improving your blogging. It’s a big help to many people if they have time to blog on their own and need direction and focus.
Most of my clients hire me for ghost blogging. They share images of their real weddings (or other work) and I create weekly content for them and post it directly to their blogging portal. It is rich in keywords and phrases to help search engines find them. I include descriptions of images, key search terms couples are using, hyperlinks, strong photos titles, and adding ALT tags. Because of my background, it’s all pretty turn-key. I can come up with new content beyond real weddings to help brand businesses in their market.
Many of my blogging clients have hired me to create new content for their website, or to do a little refresh and get them better SEO; so now I offer that as a separate service.
Most of my clients are small businesses and all of the services are surprisingly affordable. Because I’ve owned a small business, I am flexible with payment plans that work for entrepreneurs.
What are the top blogging mistakes that wedding professionals make?
- Inconsistency. You cannot blog once a month and expect to see any results. Potential clients who check back and don’t see anything new will move on.
- A LOT of wedding professionals post images of their work and call it a blog. Search engines cannot read images, and unfortunately, no one is renaming their blog photos correctly or adding ALT tags. Without text and properly names images, the blog post basically has no SEO value at all.
- People don’t include text that couples are searching for in their blog post. It’s not just a “beach wedding”, it’s a “sunset beach wedding ceremony on St. Lucia”.
- People are not being geographically specific. If you only use “wedding planner” in your story, you are now lumped in with any wedding planner anywhere in the world. Couples are searching phrases like “Philadelphia wedding planner” and your business is not going to show up unless you are using geographic specific text.
- Name dropping in blogging is a good thing. Talking about the venues and vendors you work with and linking to them helps to build backlinks to your website. When someone searches that venue, your blog post mentioning and linking to them will pop up.
Why do wedding and event planners need to be blogging AND what topics are most important to blog about?
- Millennials want to be able to search for you and easily find out about your business, personality, services, and reviews. Blogging gives them all of that in one place.
- Consistently adding fresh new curated content that is rich in search terms helps search engines find you and increases the frequency that your business will show up in the results of a potential client’s web search.
- You can control the dialogue about your business and your branding through your blog posts.
- Blogging creates excellent content to share on social media. With the right tools in your blogging platform, readers can pin and share your blogs which creates more online visibility for your business.
For wedding planners and most other professionals, real weddings are huge, but things like team profiles and REALLY letting potential couples connect with you lend credibility and build connections. Mixing in tips and trends, client reviews, upcoming wedding events, and community involvement are all great topics to blog about for wedding planners that will help build your brand.
What is your prediction for the future of blogging?
With the increasing costs of major wedding portals, blogging is becoming even more critical. Consistently feeding search engines and building your own links makes your business visible.
People do business with people they feel they know, like, and trust. Blogging opens that door to authentically show your work, personality, and experience.
Many wedding professionals don’t update their wedding galleries often. Blogging allows potential clients to see recent images of your work, pin those images to their own Pinterest boards, and share the images of their venue and wedding design ideas with family and friends. These details are HUGE with couples planning weddings.
What marketing advice can you share specifically for wedding planners?
Don’t be afraid to let people into your world.
I had many brides and moms come through my door grateful that I had opened up about losing my mom to breast cancer, and the work I did with cancer charities. Being a foodie and talking about that attracted couples who were really into unique restaurant quality food and wanted my help in doing that. Don’t be afraid to share who you are.
I had a sign in my office (and I have said this 1,000 times):
“It NEVER gets any better than the first meeting.”
This applies to hiring staff and meeting with other professionals you might refer to, but it REALLY applies to clients. Too many wedding planners want every couple that walks through the door.
Not all business is good business.
If that high maintenance wedding couple is going to suck the life out of you, you might have to turn away three other weddings because you just don’t have the time. Or worse yet, your attitude from dealing with them might taint the next client call you receive and turn them off.
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