It came as no surprise when I fell in love with marketing years ago. Its marriage of creativity, planning and solving problems had always interested me. I was reminded of this, recently while working on a different, but very related project — planning my upcoming wedding. It turns out, campaign and wedding planning have a lot in common.
Hear me out.
I’ve been involved in planning marketing campaigns for years and the nuances of it have become ingrained in my professional life. However, wedding planning is something completely new and very intimidating. The horror stories that set expectations are everywhere; TLC, blogs, wedding magazines, friends.
A few months after getting engaged, I started to see the patterns. So here it is, some insights that I’ve gained while planning my wedding that marketers and (soon-to-be newlyweds) will find helpful.
Tip 1: Set your budget.
This is screamed in all wedding blogs, magazines, books, etc., etc. And for some reason, the importance of setting a marketing budget is often ignored. This completely baffles me. Marketing campaigns don’t happen for free — whether it be designing a logo, brainstorming campaign ideas, boosting social posts, putting up a billboard, or labor costs to put it all together, it all takes money.
A well-prepared budget that you’ve reviewed with people who’ve been there, done that (like a wedding planner or marketing vendors) will help avoid painful hurdles down the road.
Tip 2: You want the best? Be prepared to pay for it.
I’ve heard wedding planners say the same thing over and over — Pinterest has unrealistically changed expectations. Couples will go to a planner with gorgeous photos of their dream wedding. Unfortunately, Pinterest doesn’t show photos with in-real-life price tags. Thus, sticker shock can strike like a bomb.
Marketers face the same issue.
A multi-faceted campaign can include everything from logos, brand guides, gorgeous photos, perfectly scripted radio spots, social media ads, influencer posts, giveaways, etc. Those things cost money. If you want quality work, tack on more dollars. You can’t have champagne taste on a beer budget — especially with campaign or wedding planning.
Tip 3: Figure out your priorities.
Unless you’re working with a blank check, you’re not going to be able to get everything you want. That is why it is crucial to sit down with your team (or soon-to-be spouse) and figure out what is most important. Categorize your “absolutely must-haves,” “would be nice-to-haves,” and “I can live if we don’t do this.”
Compare your priorities to your budget to see if you’ve allocated money in a way that’s realistic to your vision.
Tip 4: Everyone has an opinion — take ’em with a grain of salt.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a relative or a stranger, everyone is more than willing to give their input on anything and everything. Whether it be the font on a logo or a wedding invitation, someone’s bound to offer up their two-cents. If it is a priority of yours (see Tip 3), listen to advice AND your gut. Nod, smile, and thank that person for their perspective.
When it comes down to it, this is yours to own.
Tip 5: But listen to experts and incorporate what you like.
With an avalanche of opinions, it’s hard to make a decision. Many ideas can be filed away. But often, someone will offer a nugget that makes you stop and think: “Hey! That person is on to something!”
Those factoids can be offered in treasure troves from professionals, whether that person is a marketing pro or a wedding planner. They do this every day, so their opinions can be worth their weight in gold.
Tip 6: Something will go wrong. It’s better to come to terms with that at the beginning.
Our wedding venue was sold to a different owner months after we put a deposit down. And we weren’t notified. Needless to say, I had that infamous bridezilla moment. A few tears were shed. We had no idea what it meant for us. (Everything worked out, so the tears ended up being unnecessary).
A campaign involves people. Probably technology. Both are variables that aren’t perfect. You can strive to mitigate errors, but mistakes happen. Being prepared for hiccups or a crisis can be one of the most crucial parts of planning. If anything, it gives you a piece of mind.
Had I known before planning that it doesn’t go like the movies show, it would have put my mind at rest.
Tip 7: Simple or intricate? That’s up to you.
We could have gone to the courthouse after work and posted a Facebook notification announcing our life event. (No, mom. That wasn’t an option). And we could have gone all out with white-gloved servers and a horse and carriage. (Also not an option, mom). Not to say that those are the wrong options, they just aren’t for us.
We took inventory of what was important to us and applied our interests — you could say that we set our personal brand and decided on a vineyard location.
Tip 8: It can come together as quickly…or slowly as you’d like.
It goes without saying; a short time frame is going to put more limitations on what can be done, a longer time frame will give you a bit more flexibility. Not everyone can or wants to have a long engagement. Not everyone can or wants to spend months developing a marketing campaign. Just know, there will most likely be fees associated with trying to fit a lot of objectives into a short timeframe. Building a time cushion around the perfect timeline will help alleviate any surprises.
Tip 9: Keep your eye on the prize.
Campaigns and weddings are tough to pull off. There are a lot of variables involved that become even more complicated when more people get involved. Whether it’s the person holding the purse-strings (CEO), your significant other (business associate), or you yourself, it’s important that key decision-makers feel heard. That can be really hard to do when you’re passionate about something and want to hold fast to your decisions. Keep your chin up but be able to articulate why you’ve made the decisions you have.
Tip 10: Remember your goals.
Sometimes you have to compromise when you don’t want to. It can be a relief to stop and take a breath — why did you start to begin with? What outcome do you envision? Resparking that excitement can help carry you through to the finish line, whether that be launching a campaign or saying “I do.”
Our wedding is less than 50 days away, so I’ll be back to share new campaign and wedding planning hacks come October.