February is the month for lovers. Valentine’s Day starts the crush for couples wanting a romantic night out. It’s also the beginning of wedding and prom season. Will you be ready?
Whether they’re walking down the aisle to get married or walking onstage to be crowned king and queen of the prom, many couples look to limousine companies to help them arrive in style. For smaller operators, these special events are the “bread and butter” of their business.
Capitalizing on the wedding and prom markets is a surefire way to increase your income. For a successful campaign, knowing the ABCs of advertising combined with a little creativity can get your name noticed and get your business booming.
Before launching your marketing plan, you need to determine the typical wedding season for your area. Surprisingly, the months of May, June and July, which most people deem the most popular ones for tying the knot, are not always the preference for many brides-to-be.
Target your audience. Besides the traditional Yellow Pages ad, get the message out via your Web site, Internet advertising, consumer and wedding publications, and bridal expos.
Once you’ve spent your time and money on soliciting bridal business, you’ll reap the benefits of word-of-mouth publicity.
A Wedding Time Line
AAA Limousines in Oak Harbor, Wash., offers brides a Basic or a Deluxe Wedding Package, each covering every aspect of a bridal party’s transportation needs. Here’s an example of a time line for the company’s Deluxe Package (up to 12 hours):
8:00 a.m. Ladies to salon. 10:00 a.m. Ladies to photo site. 11:00 a.m. Ladies to ceremony site. 1:00 p.m. Wedding ceremony. 1:45 p.m. *Bride and groom to reception. 2:15 p.m. Bride and groom arrive at reception. 4:30 p.m. Family ride in limo. 7:00 p.m. Newlyweds off to honeymoon. 8:00 p.m. Limo service ends.
*After the service, the bride and groom are treated to a romantic limousine ride en route to the reception. This gives them a chance to reflect on the ceremony, re-energize and gaze into each other’s eyes in private, Ladwig says. “Offering this time alone is our way of giving back to couples,” she says. “As a chauffeur myself, it really makes my heart melt when I hear the sentiment in their voices.”
Unlike weddings, which can take place any month of the year, prom season is more specific, usually starting in late March and ending in mid-June. Contact local high schools in your area to find out their prom dates. Targeting teenagers requires a mode of marketing different than you use to attract adults. Teens are much more likely to search Yellow Pages ads and call around for price quotes. Advertising in high school newspapers is also a great way to get prom business.
Prom-Specific Web Site
For millions of teenagers across the country, prom night is the most anticipated event in high school. To help answer prom-planning needs, The Knot Inc., developers of one of the leading wedding Web sites (TheKnot.com), launched www.PromSpot.com in 2003, the first all-in-one prom-style planning site of its kind on the Web. Membership is free.
From prom dresses and accessories to flowers, limousines, after parties and more, today’s teens have a wealth of information at their fingertips when they log onto this comprehensive listing of prom-related items.
Included on the site is a section dedicated on how to book a limo, “hands-down, the coolest way to get to prom.” In its local listings section, consumers can search for limousine companies, restaurants and other prom resources in major cities and states. To advertise in this section, the monthly fee is $45. The biggest perk in doing so? Companies have access to an audience not available anywhere else, says Alan Berg, vice president of local sales for The Knot Inc., based in New York.
According to the 2003 PromSpot Member Survey, 99 percent of its trendy audience is female and fabulous and ready to spend a bundle on the big night. They’re young, hip and Web savvy. Fifty-seven percent are high school juniors or younger (median age is 16½), making them likely PromSpot members for two years or more; 50 percent shop online; and California is the state represented by the most members, followed by New York, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan.
In 2004, more than 154,000 new members signed up, according to the company. Overall, PromSpot.com logged more than one million visits, generating about 15.7 million page views during the 2004 prom season (January to June).
So whether you’re trying to target bridal couples or prom goers for business, a well-thought out marketing plan, execution of those plans and maintaining an excellent reputation in the industry will equal the formula for success.
For more on weddings and proms, see the February issue of LCT.