It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year of unfortunate events and remarkable turbulence. Looking forward to the new year, there are several things that small businesses in the wedding industry can do to incorporate what we’ve learned from this past year. Since Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) has been one of the hottest topics in 2020, let's let that be the main area of improvement we discuss.
Perform an Internal Audit
Take a look at what kinds of clients you serve. Considering your ideal customer avatar (ICA), is there any chance your client identifies as an individual of marginalized, underrepresented, or oppressed groups? If there’s a possibility that your prospective clients are Black, brown, indigenous, people of color, disabled, LGBTQIA, neurodiverse, or otherwise non-white, non-cis gendered, and/or not heterosexual, then you might benefit from doing an internal audit exercise. This kind of exercise is an intentional approach to making changes to enhance your brand’s appeal to engaged couples. It’s beneficial to perform DEIB internal audits in collaboration with your virtual or personal assistant, business partner, or preferred vendor to peer review and catch anything you might overlook. It is recommended to do this quarterly.
Every few months, review your website copy and images. How many times do you use the words “bride and groom” across your homepage and/or blog? Is there a sense of diversity in the imagery you publish on your website pages? On your image settings, do you include alt text for folks who may have impaired vision? These are a few elements on your website that signal to your website viewers whether or not you’re a fit for what they’re seeking. Consider making a statement on your 'About' page to express if and why you prioritize DEIB for your business and clients.
Overlooking these small details can deter the very people you’re trying to attract. If you haven’t already done so, one or two simple actions you can do immediately add your pronouns to your email signature and edit your Contact page to include a Pronouns field for folks who want to send you a message. If you have a client questionnaire, that’s another piece of material where you can request your client’s (and their family members’) pronouns. Even if you would have made assumptions about pronouns in the past, making these changes is a small way to communicate to your clients that you care and are thinking about all of the details.
In the next part of this internal audit exercise, look over your newsletter and email communications. Some of us have long-term nurturing sequences or drip campaigns that we’ve set up long ago and don’t remember exactly what we wrote in each one. Since the beginning of the pandemic, have you discovered that your ICA has changed in any way, or do you have more than one ICA? This is another reason why it’s a good practice to review your email campaigns and make edits that address the changes you’ve seen in your business in the past year.
Curate Business and Vendor Partnerships
Clients often expect that you have an industry network and that you’re a great resource for exploring fellow wedding vendors who can accommodate their personal preferences. Especially if you service a relatively diverse region, it’s wise to create a preferred vendors list that is representative of the population. Not to mention, the majority of fellow planners understand that vendor referrals within our network feed us more business year over year.
For example, if you have a client who’s seeking a makeup artist who can work with darker skin complexions, a hairstylist who’s trained to work with mixed-race hair textures, a venue that can legally comply with cannabis consumption, a planner experienced in same-sex weddings, or an officiant who has experience facilitating Native American blessings, you can add value for your clients simply by diversifying your vendor network. Since the uprising in response to social justice issues this year, more Black couples are seeking to support Black wedding vendors. One piece of actionable insight you can take from this section: Reach out to Black vendors in your region by surfing the Member Directory of the National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals and other similar networks.
Make Your Workplace Culture More Inclusive
Your workplace culture not only demonstrates your values as a business owner but also sets an example for your clients. If you and your team or your wedding vendor partners wear name tags on the wedding day that include pronouns, you just might find that one or some of your clients will want to follow suit with a similar format for pronouns on their guest placement cards for the reception meal. One wedding trend on the rise among wedding party attendants is the mix of bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, and groomsmaids. This is an example of where pronouns on place cards can make a difference in the wedding day experience for everyone involved.
Looking back on 2020, take note of every aspect of your business that has an impression on the engaged couples who need your services. Draft up a list of actions can you take to create an inclusive experience for them. From your website, blog, social media, email marketing, and consultations, get creative with your new year vision board for your business to incorporate values that align with those of your prospective clients.