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Make your offering stand out

These retailers suggest how colleagues in the industry can up their game in today’s volatile trading conditions...

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Make your offering stand out

“FOMO (the ‘fear of missing out’) seems to be the curse of the Millennials. So it’s time we shouted out to brides to let them realise how great we are,” says Rebecca Doyle of Isabella Grace.

“Social media is free and if you plan ahead, it can be done for the week in less than an hour. I diarise my social media planning for a Monday morning once I’ve cleared any urgent follow-ups from Saturday. People want to know about you, your boutique, your story and the services you offer. Why should they pick you? You need to engage with your brides. Encourage them to comment on posts, ask their opinions. Why not run a competition for an accessories voucher? Brides love to talk to other brides so get them interacting on your Facebook and Instagram accounts."

Andrew Pearce of Creatiques agrees that a good social media strategy is imperative, but believes that ‘old school’ techniques are also just as important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

“We ran a survey in the store over a four-month period to find out how brides discovered us. We learned it was not through Facebook, or Instagram, or even Twitter... it was through recommendation!” he says. “We email past brides and encourage them to send us their big day photos and be part of the real-wedding blog on our website. We post the same material on the various social media platforms, and many couples’ friends will add comments and this helps spread the Creatiques name and message. New brides who have registered at, say, a consumer show, will receive an email inviting them to visit our website to find out more about us, and to book into forthcoming events we have planned in the shop.

“How many retailers do events – whether in-house designer days or wedding shows? Through our website we can capture names and then send out personal invites to these events, via Eventbrite. This really works for us. Being part of the RBA is a plus point, too, and one that we promote – it gives brides confidence in what we offer and the way we work. This year, more than ever, our designers have had to listen to us and come to appreciate that we don’t want to flood our shop with too many samples that become dead wood. Who asked their suppliers about their social media campaigns? We did. We need the designers to promote us as stockists. Be brutal with them; they are with us!

“As for the ‘big shops’ opening up in our cities, we need to step up our game, offer exclusive appointments, dedicate a member of the sales team to each bride who has an appointment, make sure this service follows through from the time they walk through the door to the time they leave with a pressed dress ready for their wedding. Customer service has to be to the forefront of your business. We cannot, and will not, allow complacency. Brides are becoming increasingly demanding. If a bride says she can save £80 buying from a store that’s a 150-mile round trip, tell her to go ahead. Stay strong.”

Rebecca agrees: “When I set up Isabella Grace six years ago, I wanted to be different and to create an amazing experience for brides. We indulge them, treat them like VIPs, listen to them. David’s Bridal and Wed2be don’t provide any kind of experience AT ALL (unless you call ringing a bell an experience!) so offer something special that your competitors aren’t. You could serve up tea and coffee, cake, an extra-long appointment, VIP evening appointments, a welcome gift... just something to make that all-important impression. Remember, it’s always better to over deliver than under deliver!”

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