Picture it: Richmond, VA. April 2021. Venues were starting to open up again, couples were moving forward with planning their weddings and it felt like the right time for a get back in the wedding game.
It was time for a giveaway!
Giveaways are a great marketing tool. People LOVE free stuff, especially for weddings where the associated costs start to add up quickly. By making the point of entry for your giveaway easy - like, follow, share, comment - but also being mindful not to break any Facebook or Instagram rules on the subject, more people will “enter” it. That means a greater chance of impactful engagement for your brand.
In addition, if you enter a collaborative giveaway where there are 1+ other vendors, you have an amazing opportunity to further network with other professionals in your field. This also helps you to reach a broader audience but to individuals who are likely interested in the products and services you offer.
There are some other things to consider when deciding whether or not to hold a giveaway. For starters, the full cost of the product or service that the winner receives (from your portion of the offer if working with multiple vendors) is on your shoulders. Your materials, time and planning will be yours to bear. Anytime I participate in a giveaway, I attribute those costs to my marketing budget.
Another thing to think about is that if you are giving away something like a custom bridal bouquet, you will still need to bring the couple’s vision to life. This includes excellent customer service and keeping them in the loop for the entire process. The overall hope is that the couple loves working with you enough to leave you a stellar review, through word of mouth they spread knowledge about your business and what you offer and you may get to share some amazing photos on social (after asking for the photographer’s permission, of course).
But, in my case, it isn’t a guarantee that the bride will use the bouquet you made for their wedding.
So the backstory. A photographer friend and I decided to do a giveaway together. A local venue was holding an open house and was looking for giveaway packages. The photographer’s portion of the package was free engagement photos and free wedding photography (as long as the couple’s wedding was booked at the venue) and mine was a free bridal bouquet.
The winners were announced and we messaged them together. The bride provided her vision and inspiration photos but their wedding was not until June 2022. As happens with some weddings, I wanted to ensure the bouquet would still be in their vibe so I told them I would begin working on it in March of 2022. We had a lovely back and forth and they were impressed with how realistic wood flowers looked. After one change (taking out a sunflower and adding more of the other flowers she had wanted), it was complete and the bride picked it up in person. She said it was exactly what she had wanted and was impressed with how it matched the idea she had in her head.
To say I was excited for the wedding day was an understatement! My friend was the photographer so I knew I would be able to use the photos for my own business and I was looking forward to connecting with the other vendors that were a part of the wedding via social media.
The sneak peeks from the event planner and venue started coming out the day after the wedding. And I noticed there were no pics of the flowers (no biggie because they were mainly of just the couple) but another florist had been tagged as creating her “personals” (personals in the floral world are mainly handheld items like bouquets or items worn such as boutonnieres and corsages). I was a bit confused but just let it go.
Then I noticed my photographer friend posted a sneak peek, also including this other florist’s handle. I reached out to her and asked her if there was any problem with the bouquet I had made or if the bride had said anything about it but she didn’t know. She just told me that the bride had a fresh flower bouquet and it looked very similar to the pictures of the one I had shown her.
And that’s when I learned that the bouquet I had made for free as a marketing/networking tool would not have any ROI for my business.
It was completely unexpected and to be honest, it stung a bit. But like this blog’s title mentions, we are here to talk about planning for the unexpected and what can be done to make sure your investment into a giveaway is worth it - even if the couple decides not to use your product.
Here are a few strategies and action steps for planning for the unexpected
- Take photos and videos throughout the bouquet creation process. You can and should turn these into reels, stories, posts and blogs starting right away but you can also use them later on to make sure that content goes a long way! Some ideas of pics and videos are - choosing the flowers and greenery, dyeing/hand painting/airbrushing the flowers, building the bouquet, wrapping the handle, packaging it up (if getting shipped or to show how it will look when being received locally)
- Be sure to take some amazing final product photos! You never know if those will be the best or only photos you have of the finished pieces.
- Remember: content opportunities are a vital part of your business (and a great “consolation prize” if things go wrong). If you can walk away from this or any experience with chances for content creation, that’s absolutely a win.
Outreach to Local Vendors
- If your giveaway doesn’t turn out as you expected, like mine was, you’ll probably still be checking up on social media to see how everything turned out. When you give your product and your time freely, let’s be honest…you’re invested! When photos start to be shared, you will probably see a few vendors being tagged. It can’t hurt to introduce yourself as a wedding (or other type of) vendor in the area. It can be a great way to meet other vendors, especially in your area!
- Don’t worry. I didn’t reach out to the florist. That would be a bit much :)
Turn the Failed Experience into a Positive!
- Sometimes a failed experience can be a really positive step for your business. It requires you to look deep into your processes, your communications and to evaluate any changes that need to be made!
- For example, I should have asked this bride what her plans were on the rest of the florals for her wedding. Not doing that is 100% on me and likely would have created an order that would have offset the cost of the free bridal bouquet. Or, I could have asked her when she picked up the bouquet if it would be okay for me to share her wedding photographs when they were published (again, I’m friends with the photographer so I would have asked her as well). If I had done that, maybe I would have known she intended for them to be a keepsake and not actually for her wedding.
- Hindsight is a good thing when it is used to better your future practices.
Now, we started this blog talking about a giveaway that went a little sideways for me. But that’s a-okay! I had actually created a blog while building the bouquet and this experience turned into a great sharing opportunity with all of you!
Missteps aren’t fun but they are a great learning experience. So keep your heads up and do the dang thing! We’re in this together.