Those with an eagle eye may have noticed a major change to our site with the addition of 9168 churches last night. This is a major project that we have been quietly working on with the Church of England for several months and will, at last, make churches more accessible to couples who do not regularly attend.
Unfortunately we overlooked one minor issue, and as we uploaded adverts for every Church of England church, from Guernsey to the Isle of Man, an automated email went to every single one of them confirming a total of £871000 in advertising.
Never before have we answered quite so many phone calls in such a short period of time, while waiting for approval from the church media office to send an email to confirm that we are not charging churches for this service.
What has surprised us, from the calls we have received, is the variation from church to church in the understanding and interpretation of the Marriage Measure 2008. Some have asked for the wording on our site to be changed to discourage “casual Christianity” they would like to make it clear that couples are expected to have a strong connection with the church where they would like to marry as well as regularly attending for at least six months and undertaking to join an ongoing “support” group. Other vicars are keen to make everyone welcome if the law allows it.
It will be interesting to see whether making the church more accessible to couples starts to correct the balance between civil ceremonies and church weddings.
Don’t stop advertising – it’s your lifeblood
Advertising is all about knowing what your customers want and communicating the benefits you can offer them. Stop telling them and they will stop buying – they could even forget about you.
When business gets tough the first reaction is to cut advertising budgets, despite the evidence that, if anything, it is time to keep your communication levels at a high. The Harvard Business School says that brands that increase their advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and appear more stable.
Success in a recession is about being “brave”, customers do not stop spending during a recession – they just tend to buy differently.
Making advertising work during the recession
1 Set your objectives clearly – What are you trying to achieve with your marketing budget. What products do you intend to sell to them, this process allows you to see the opportunities that exist even in a recession. Web advertising allows you to try new approaches, changing the emphasis on your advert to target new products, driving traffic to a specific web address etc. Print advertising, especially in regional guides allows you to promote different aspects of your business, different products may sell better in specific areas.
2 Review your existing operations – Are your adverts working? This means taking a look at print, web, and other media that you currently advertise on. People are very unspecific when questioned where they saw your advert, they say they saw you on the internet, in a book etc. The need to have some way of measuring, especially on the internet, is paramount. Tools such as google analytics, both free and very easy to use, are recommended as they allow you to monitor traffic referrals. Don’t be afraid to change where you advertise. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, How many hits? Where does it get distributed? etc
3 Use your existing customers as a marketing tool – Happy customers will be fast to spread the word, use reviews on websites, or testimonials on your own website.
4 Frequency of advertising – Frequency of advertising is so important during a recession, this reinforces your stability as a company giving people confidence to book with you. Remember out of sight is out of mind.
5 Remember advertising is your lifeblood – In many studies it has been found that businesses who cut advertising spend during a recession lost both market share and continued to lag behind their competitors even after the recession.
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