The following case study describes how one business who completed our Marketing Catalyst Program benefited from our services.
Marketing Catalyst Program Helps Bridal Salon Increase Sales
Caryn’s Bridals, Formals, and Tuxedos is a full-service bridal and formalwear salon that has been serving customers in central Virginia for over 30 years. In addition to bridal gowns, the salon sells bridesmaids dresses, prom gowns, and formal gowns for a variety of occasions, and also rents tuxedos.
Caryn’s Bridals is well-known in the area and attracts customers from throughout the state of Virginia. The salon provides all customers with a personal consultant to help them find the perfect dress, and has won several awards in recent years for outstanding customer service.
Like many small businesses, Caryn’s Bridals did not have a well-defined marketing plan, resulting in very reactive and disorganized marketing. No clear marketing message was communicated to prospective customers, and the branding elements of the business were not coordinated. Little attempt was made at tracking the return on investment from money spent on advertising, and leads were not being followed up with. In addition, many elements of the Caryn’s Bridals online marketing (website, social media, etc) were not being utilized to their full effectiveness. Although her business was growing, Caryn Kayton, the owner of Caryn’s Bridals, knew that she was leaving a lot of money on the table due to a lack of a marketing strategy.
After meeting with Kevin Jordan, owner of Redpoint Marketing Consultants and an Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, Caryn enrolled in the Duct Tape Marketing Catalyst Program. The 8-month program is designed to help a business create and define a marketing strategy, and then build a set of tactics to serve that strategy. The program addresses all seven steps to small business marketing success identified in the Duct Tape Marketing System.
Read on below to see how Caryn’s Bridals applied the seven steps to their business with the assistance of Kevin Jordan and Redpoint Marketing Consultants.
Step 1: Strategy
Key Result: Created consistent marketing message and graphic look for the brand.
After interviewing some of the salon’s best customers, Kevin helped Caryn and her staff create detailed biographical profiles of her two main customer groups—brides and prom customers. He also helped them identify several core competitive advantages they had that appealed to their ideal customer, including the high level of personal attention they gave to each customer and the fact that they offered on-site alterations which were capped at $195 (competitors either didn’t offer alterations at all, or started them at over $300).
Using that information, Kevin helped create a new marketing purpose statement, core marketing message, and tagline for Caryn’s Bridals, Formals and Tuxedos:
Marketing Purpose Statement: Our purpose is to make the experience of shopping for your gown personal, relaxing, and fun.
Core Message: We make the experience of finding and fitting your perfect dress easy, stress-free, and fun!
Tagline: “The perfect fit, for your perfect day.”
A graphic designer incorporated the new tagline into Caryn’s logo and created a new graphic look for the Caryn’s Bridals brand that could be applied consistently across all marketing materials, which was a stark contrast to the wide variety of color schemes and themes used simultaneously prior to the start of the Catalyst program.
Step Two: The Marketing Hourglass
Key Result: Added content to build trust with prospective customers.
As is the case with many small businesses, prior to starting the Catalyst program Caryn’s Bridals had many gaps in their marketing hourglass—that is to say, they did not have content in place at every stage of the customer buying cycle (know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer).
To address that problem, the following items were added to the Caryn’s Bridals marketing hourglass:
- Like and Trust: A special offer was created in which brides could enter to win an “exclusive after-hours appointment” at the salon, and prom customers could enter to win a “prom party package”.
- Like and Trust: Two bi-monthly email newsletters were created (one for bridal, one for prom) and sent to people who signed up for the respective offer.
- Try: More “trunk shows” (special events at the salon where extra gowns are brought in from the designers) were added to the schedule and promoted in the email newsletters
- Repeat/Refer: “Happy Anniversary” cards were created to be sent to brides on their 1-year wedding anniversary to help keep the salon top-of-mind (to help generate referrals).
- Refer: Referral programs for bridal and prom customers were established, with special gifts for both the person doing the referrals and the person being referred
The effectiveness of the new marketing hourglass was dramatically demonstrated at two bridal shows in which Caryn’s Bridals was a vendor. Traditionally, the staff of the salon attempted to get brides who stopped by their booth at the shows to book an appointment on the spot. If they didn’t, they were simply given some information about the salon and allowed to walk away. This approach usually resulted in a handful of appointments being booked; however many brides didn’t even show up for their appointments.
Using the new special offer to win an exclusive after-hours appointment, the staff of Caryn’s Bridals was able to capture over 300 leads at two back-to-back bridal shows (including name, email, phone number, and wedding date). These leads were then added to the email newsletter list and invited to a trunk show at the salon shortly after the bridal shows. The result was a dramatic increase in the return on investment from the bridal shows.
Step Three: Educational Content
Key Result: Creation of marketing kits to use in the lead conversion process.
To assist in the process of building trust among prospective customers, Kevin wrote two marketing kits for Caryn’s Bridals—one for prom customers and one for brides. The kits included frequently asked questions, customer testimonials, the story of the salon, and a description of the steps involved in buying a gown and getting it altered. The kits could be given to customers who came in for an appointment or handed out to strategic partners.
Other types of educational content Kevin helped create for the salon include:
- Marketing videos, including a virtual tour of the salon and a video of Caryn telling the story of how the salon was established
- A blog for the website with articles containing tips about how to shop for gowns
- Two bi-monthly email newsletters—one for brides, one for prom customers
- Press releases to help publicize an upcoming event at the salon
Step Four: Create a Total Web Presence
Key Result: Website re-design reduced bounce rate by 25% and increased leads generated online.
When Caryn’s Bridals began the Catalyst program, the design of their website was out-of-date and not optimally designed to capture leads, incorporate social media, or be viewed on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The site also did not include a blog, which is an important part of keeping the content on a website fresh. Lastly, the design did not match any of the printed marketing materials used by the business such as letterhead, business cards, etc.
With Kevin’s guidance, Caryn and her staff worked with a web design company to build a website using the popular WordPresscontent management system. The site included a blog, and incorporated strong calls-to-action on every page prompting visitors to make an appointment or sign up to win one of the special offers created for the marketing hourglass. It also used a responsive design so that it could be viewed equally well on a wide variety of devices. The colors and theme of the website matched the design of the new printed marketing materials to help with the branding of the business.
The new website was an instant success. The day the website was published, the bounce rate (the percent of visitors to the site who leave the site immediately without looking at more than one page) dropped from 27% to 1%, and on mobile devices that number dropped from 40% to less than 1%.
In addition, on average the site captures two leads per day from visitors who sign up for Caryn’s email newsletter by entering to win one of her promotional offers. Customers may also use the site to book appointments on-line, a feature that was previously unavailable.
Step Five: Lead Generation
Key Result: Introduced strategic partnerships to increase referrals.
While Caryn’s Bridals, Formals and Tuxedos had been doing some advertising prior to beginning the Catalyst program, they were not tracking the results at all and had no idea how effective it was. They made little use of the other parts of the “lead generation trio” advocated by Duct Tape Marketing: public relations and referrals.
With Kevin’s assistance, Caryn and her staff made the following adjustments to their lead generation system:
- Newspaper and radio advertising were eliminated after determining that those methods were not effective, thus saving money.
- Online advertising using Google Adwords was introduced to target people who were actively searching for bridal salons, and thus further along in the buying cycle.
- Several articles from the local newspaper featuring Caryn’s Bridals were printed to include in the marketing kits, and framed copies were used at bridal shows in their vendor booth.
- Referral programs for bridal and prom customers were created.
In addition, Caryn began reaching out to other wedding-related businesses to form strategic partnerships and generate mutual referrals. These partners will be featured in blog posts on the Caryn’s Bridals website, as well as in the email newsletter. This strategy has resulted in an immediate increase in referrals from those businesses.
Step Six: Lead Conversion
Key Result: Implemented new lead conversion system that increased close ratio by over 10%.
Because every customer at Caryn’s Bridals is assigned a personal consultant when they come in for an appointment to try on gowns, it was important that a large percentage of customers purchase a dress during that first appointment in order to keep costs down and get a good return on the investment made in lead generation efforts. Unfortunately, prior to beginning the Catalyst program, the consultants at the salon were not trained in sales techniques or given guidance in how to communicate key information to customers during their appointment.
With Kevin’s help, the Caryn’s Bridals staff created a script for consultants to use during appointments to make sure the customer experience was consistent and that all important information (such as the core differences vs the competition) was communicated. Several training videos were then produced using managers as “actresses” to demonstrate to the consultants how to use the script during appointments. The marketing kit was incorporated into this process as well to help educate the customer.
Within two months of implementing this lead conversion system, the close ratio for first-time appointments had increased by over 10%.
Step Seven: Live by the Calendar
Key Result: Created list of daily, weekly, and monthly marketing tasks that must be completed.
With Kevin’s assistance, Caryn and her staff developed a marketing calendar that laid out exactly what tasks had to be completed on a daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal basis to run their new marketing system. This included a publishing schedule for social media and blog posts, a suggested agenda for a monthly marketing meeting, and scheduled reminders about upcoming events so that the staff wouldn’t be caught off guard.
Thanks to their completion of the Catalyst program, Caryn’s staff is much more organized and better equipped to complete necessary marketing tasks in a methodical, systematic way, rather than simply reacting to events as they occur. In addition, she has a well-developed brand for her business that makes it more marketable to prospective buyers.