Be the… Mother of the Bride

At my sisters wedding back in 200? (sorry I don’t remember) I recall saying to my mom “you’re not a loud to plan Dana’s wedding” (the youngest and next one to be married) because the poor woman barely had a chance to slow down the entire weekend while we alphabetized escort cards and showed up to the rehearsal dinner venue to find it closed.  Alas, Emily’s wedding went off without a hitch, but that’s was because we worked are bottoms off to make sure it did. WORKED being the key word.  We worked that wedding. Yes, there was lots of celebrations happening, but did we live in every moment? Grasp every memory possible and be present in all the conversations with friends and family?  Probably not. We were busy putting on the show!  That was part of our inspiration in rebranding Occasions Magazine to The Celebration Society.  In searching for our ultimate brand message and what separates us from every other gazillion wedding blogs/magazines out there the images that filled my brain were those of being too busy worrying about the event that I couldn’t just enjoy the events from my life.  The night before my wedding I was hot glueing artificial ivy and hydrangeas together (BARF << Don’t ask me what I was thinking) for the pew decorations instead of gushing with my sisters about why I chose to marry Andrew.

This is why The Celebration Society exists >> to elevate the importance of hiring professionals. To say it’s okay to spend that money on their services. To encourage delegation.  To build trust in the system and to eliminate the unnecessary stress of a wedding. And to help you make more memories. When we pinpointed what our switch would be, what it would mean, I always knew I would come up with a branding campaign to drive the message home to make it click…..and I feel pretty certain I was finally able to put into design the message my brain so clearly saw with these ads running in 2017 our Annual issue.

Tonight, validation came to me when I checked my phone and found a text from my mom with this picture and she said “best ad ever.”  😉

Thy Will Be Done

Recently I hear these words over and over in my brain whenever I’m not thinking of something else.   From the second I heard Hillary Scott’s song “Thy Will be Done” I haven’t been able to get these simple four words off my mind.

And I’m pretty sure it’s for good reason:  I need this constant reminder.

Thy will be done. 

As entrepreneurs we are always juggling to-do lists, team meetings, HR, marketing and all the admin work that goes with running a business while also exploring new ideas that present themselves almost on a daily basis.  Every day we work to control chaos. Truth is, I love it. I’m certain project management and risk taking is the ultimate talent given to an entrepreneur (and I’ll gladly take it!), but with that gift comes the responsibility of identifying where the line is between what can be controlled and what cannot  – and that is exactly what I feel myself searching for at this current moment.

I struggle with control, planning, every movement needing a bigger picture cause, revenue stream, purpose and again, plan.  Enough is enough.

Thy will be done. 

I don’t know the purpose of this blog, there’s no revenue plan, but I’ve always felt compelled to keep it, write my thoughts, share our experiences and potentially lead others. It’s something I cannot get out of my head like those four words.  Weighed against the mounting to-dos from our business I ask myself “should I really be spending any time thinking about this, let alone writing about it?”

I don’t know the answer, but I know I feel incredibly compelled to share.  So that is what I will do until perhaps the plan is shown to me through Him right here.

Thy will be done. 

I find myself being called to soul search recently.  And in my quest for whatever it is (still not sure), I’ve started with reading the Bible.  (Like actually reading the whole thing instead of just screen-shoting versus that run across my Instagram feed.)  I’m not reading it front to back, but instead started with a verse in Romans that I read in the book Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer.  It spoke to me, so I started there and will continue wherever God leads me.  I am making it my mission to know the Bible.  I was raised Catholic and married an Evangelical Christian and while we both have a fervent belief in the Almighty God, I don’t have the habit of turning to the Bible for hope, learning, and prayer like Andrew does.  I don’t feel comfortable praying out loud. I have so much faith, but not much experience putting those beliefs into action and habits.  So, that is where I am putting my time these days.

Spending less time scrolling news feeds and more time empowering myself the written word of God.

Thy will be done.

I don’t know what will come about on this blog, but I will start with my prayers and paying attention to the things God puts on my heart. You’re welcome to follow along and chime in.  I am an open book.

Thy will be done. 

Sidenote:  I know Hillary wrote this song as she recovered from the grief of miscarriage and that has no comparison to the struggles of running a business…. but the good news of God’s word is that its healing powers transcend every scenario.  Whether when dealing with death or debt, life or logistics of a small business – God is there.

Dear God,

Thank you for this day.  I’m sick.  And while my first instinct is to ask for speedy healing, I want to first thank you for the ups and downs of life.  Thank you for the moments that force us to slow down.  Force us to stop and get off the hamster wheel and rest.  While I don’t need this head cold and the clogged ears, runny nose and coughing that comes with it.  I need the rest.  I need to be locked in our room all to myself to digest all of the clutter from our lives recently. Andrew and I are weighing so many new moves for our company and we are grateful about new adventure and opportunities, but that excitement can often bring distraction.  Lord, help me to remain focused on our business as it stands today.  Help me to not stray from our mission.  Help me to balance the desires of growth with the gratitude for what we currently have.  Help me to water my own grass. Bloom where you have planted us.  Take in every second of this day because it is a gift from you.  God make me a vessel.  Help me to answer the call to share and do it with my unique purpose. When I am stressed, when I am worried, when I am weak – turn my doubts to you.  Thy will be done.  Amen.

–Heather

Is Print Advertising Still Relevant Now that We Have Social Media Marketing?

Q:  Is print still relevant now that we have social media marketing? 

A:  Yes. Yes. Yes!  Today we’re answering the ever present question “Is print still relevant now that we have social media marketing?” because this question is sent to our sales team nearly weekly these days.  And for good reason.  Non-marketers like business owners, sales teams, and regular folk just trying to do their job are legitimately confused, unsure of where to spend their marketing dollars and mostly where to invest their marketing TIME to garner the biggest return.  We get it.

I ask you this….  In the beginning we all advertised in the newspaper.  So, historically speaking, in 1901 did radio advertising kill newspaper advertising?  In 1927 did TV advertising kill radio advertising?  In 1990 did internet advertising kill TV and radio advertising?   The answer is simply no because one media does not replace another – they work together.

Advertising Plan Advice

Let’s just pause and thing about this… Take online internet companies like autotrader.com, wayfair.com, eharmony.com – these are the companies we see advertising OFFLINE with TV ads and magazine ads to get people to GO ONLINE and sign up for their services.  Amazing right?  I digress.

But, before we can say anything about social media, let’s talk about internet as a whole.

Just because the internet exists, doesn’t mean that everything else is extinct.  It just works different now.  In the past offline ads drove people to directly call your company. Now offline advertising drives internet search so that a consumer (who is more educated than before) can research you and due their own due diligence before they ever decide to call you.  They don’t want to be influenced or sold by you, they want to decide for themselves.  That research generates a transaction – a click, a like, an email, phone call or in person visit to either your business, website or social medias.

Truly, your social media channels could be considered to be your receptionist or publicist, just like your website is.  Your website and your social media are your greeters.

Now, you can actually put those greeters to work for you to generate sales too.  Social media advertising is a passive type of advertising.  It works very similar to magazine advertising in that instead of waiting for the consumer to search for you (like you have to do for search), you can put your company’s message in front of your ideal consumer by plopping an ad right in their view.  In print it’s an ad place in a magazine that a reader sees on the page, on social media it’s an ad that shows in up in their regular feed.  Print ads bring your business to your potential customer when they are offline.  Social media advertising (and online banners ads too) bring your business to your potential customer when they are online.

They work together to reach the customer wherever they are so don’t make assumptions about how your customer spends their time consuming content by choosing only one.  

Experts will argue that you can get a much more targeted ad in social media because you can narrow down the demographic by location, age, and interests but I will argue that you can also narrow down your target demographic in print by choosing the right publication that reaches the specific demographic you are trying to influence. Your choice is very important.  If you are an Atlanta wedding DJ and you place an ad in an Atlanta newspaper, it’s not going to deliver the same results as if you placed in ad in an Atlanta wedding magazine whose only reader is a bride actively planning their wedding in Atlanta.

But if you think you still get better targeting with social media advertising, I’ll also say this:  People are smart and they are wising up to what’s an ad in their social media feed and what’s not.  They are trained to scan by your ad faster than you thought possible. Case in point – do you ever find yourself actually clicking on an online banner ad? Rarely, (if ever!) right?  Even though web banner ads have an excellent tracking ability, the percent of people who actually click on them is less than .17%.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work – it means that they actually work more like offline ads do.  They subconsciously make an impression on the reader to be recalled at a later time or inspire search for further evaluation.

In the case of niche magazines, people are actually BUYING these products.  They are not being fed the ads involuntarily in the magazine, but rather they are choosing to spend their money on that specific topic – be it fishing, weddings, sewing, parenting – they want information on this topic whether its in editorial or ad form. Whereas on social media, they have zero control on what gets fed in their new stream.

The moral of the story = BALANCE.

Marketing is more complex than it ever has been. No longer do we work in a society where there are three ways you can promote your company.   In addition to traditional advertising like TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines we now have niche magazines, niche blogs, our very own social media platforms, social media influencers, organic search, paid search, remarketing, Facebook advertising, email blasts, trade shows, and direct mail.

Determine a budget and distribute those funds evenly across the board to very specific medias that are reaching your target demographic.  Period.  An unbalanced advertising plan will garner you the same results as an unbalanced diet.  Poor health.

Let’s Recap the talking points…

  • One media does not replace another – they work together so you should use multiple media platforms to make your advertising plan work
  • Offline advertising (tv, magazines, radio billboards, etc) drive internet search which then leads to a transaction
  • Niche magazine deliver an opt-in reader
  • Balanced advertising outreach is the only guaranteed outreach for success

How We Keep Track of Contributors with CoSchedule

Managing two publications with vast contributor pools used to mean countless emails, constant check-ins and an endless deadline guessing game. It’s tricky, keeping up with creative professionals. No amount of Facebook group chatting or emails can ensure the progress of tasks and muster the level of ownership and responsibility the way working in a brick and mortar office can. Working in an office is a motivating experience, but we recently found ourselves desperate for a way to convey that same level of productivity online.  We dug around the web to find the right tool to bring our team together and stumbled upon CoSchedule, an editorial task management system that doubles as a WordPress plugin.

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Finding What Works
Seeking out the right tool for our editorial needs has been nothing short of a long process. Flip flopping between email, online task lists, and our web platforms opens our process to error. Anyone who knows editorial knows losing momentum can be a post’s kiss of death, and that’s how our staff editors started to feel. With a list of tasks, stories and real weddings ready to assign, we took CoSchedule by the horns and put it to the test.

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What We Use it For
There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to editorial web content. For every post comes a list of tasks pertaining to imagery, written text, editing and sharing on social media. Being able to assign specific tasks to different people on one specific post means our calendar looks cleaner, more organized and well, just plain better. We used our staff interns (the best in St. Augustine, hands down!) as our in house test team, working to improve our productivity while simultaneously teaching them independence in the work place.

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Sharing the Love 
Swapping between social media platforms can seem like an overwhelming process, especially when you’re just trying to push the same content across the web. Double that work load? It can be hard to keep track of. Now, we have simple, color coded reminders to push content to our desired platforms all in one place–the backend of our publication websites.

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Why We Love It
Easily streamlining a lengthy to-do list into a tangible calendar of tasks was our number one priority in testing this system. Since starting our trial, we’ve cleaned up our list of pending submissions from Two Bright Lights for The Celebration Society and assigned new exciting web posts to St. Augustine Social contributors across the oldest city. The use of custom template tasks lists is easily the most time-saving portion of our CoSchedule experience. Though repeated task lists should become second nature, working with new interns every semester and bringing on new contributors regularly means we need to continuously inform individuals of our editorial needs. Assigning written work to writers, editing to editors and general tasks to office personnel simply makes sense! (Plus, checking off a task when it’s complete and seeing the strikethrough is pretty cathartic!)

You can sign up for a 14 day free trial here!

Now Hiring: Editor, The Celebration Society

When I get to write posts like this I feel like I am officially a contributing member of society. Employing people has a whole different level of satisfaction beyond the thrill successfully growing the business of our advertisers has.  It’s deeper.  Sort of a validation that the work we are doing, is working and we need more people to keep doing it.  That’s an awesome feeling.

So, today I am super excited to share that we have officially begun the search for an Editor of The Celebration Society to join our team.  Yay!

NOW-HIRING

The perfect person for the job has an impeccable eye for style and looks with a discerning eye for honest-to-goodness great ideas for modern day weddings and parties and can create super shareable posts that cover those things in a fun, casual, relatable way.  This person should be social media savvy, big-time advocates for print and digital media and literally obsessed with weddings, parties and celebrations of all kinds.  Oh, and a natural talent for connecting people is a major plus.  This is the perfect career for an enthusiastic people person, problem solver, idea generator, cheerleader and all around team player who wants to work side-by-side their best friends and know their daily work makes a huge impact on the growth of their company.

Not to mention all the obvious work skills of an Editor too (you can read the whole official post with specific details over here).

If you think you are the perfect person for the job, email me at heather@occasionsmediagroup.com.

Image by Rustic White Photography