Continuing on from our previous post regarding the importance of including same-sex couples in your marketing offers...
Following the UK Wedding Conference, hosted by Guides For Brides, in November of last year, Guides For Brides approached us and asked if we could write a guide, for businesses, in how to market to LGBTQ couples and be inclusive of same-sex couples. We were delighted to have been asked and have our feature published by them. For your interest (and hopefully helpful for you) we have duplicated the original post.
Often businesses find marketing to LGBTQ couples a bit of a minefield – they don’t want to cause offense or patronise potential couples. What we need to remember is that it is not a ‘gay wedding’, it’s just a wedding. We’ve been speaking to Elaine Cripps, founder and Managing Director of Pink Wedding Venues, a showcase directory of wedding venues across the UK who welcome and support same-sex weddings, who’s given us her top tips for ensuring your business supports the LGBTQ community.
For hundreds of years now, men and women have been getting married, but only for the last 3½ years have same-sex couples legally enjoyed the same entitlements and rights of marrying the person they love. Although legally any business can’t discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, sadly we still hear of stories where couples aren’t being met with positivity or an understanding of their needs. As we all know, marketing isn’t just about getting response or making sales – it’s also about winning trust for your brand in different market places.
Polling evidence from YouGov has found that 3 in 5 lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to buy products or services if they think a company is gay-friendly – those that are open and welcoming to all members of the LGBTQ community and supportive, respectful and non-judgmental of their relationships.
I’m often approached by venues who want to consider and include same-sex couples in their marketing and promotions but are either not quite sure how to or are nervous about how to approach their marketing in fear of getting it wrong. You won’t be seen as ‘getting it wrong’ if you’re seen as giving consideration to the audiences you want to attract with.
This is probably the quickest and easiest thing to start with. Most venues, for example, have pages dedicated to weddings. Some have one or two pages dedicated to all types of weddings and some have dedicated pages to same-sex weddings. Either is OK as long as the message is clear – you welcome everyone!
Your content/copy: Does your copy sound inclusive? Does it mention “The Bride and The Groom” singularly? Do you mention the “Bridal Party” or “Bridal Suite”? Simply changing a few words on your copy can go a long way to include all of your audience. Same-sex couples will be reading your content – if it doesn’t sound inclusive or gender neutral then it will turn them off. Why not use some of the following:
- Wedding Party
- Wedding Suite
- Brides and Grooms, plural (indicates you are inclusive to bride/bride or groom/groom)
- The Happy Couple
- Gay-Friendly – a perfect phrase to include in your copy. Just by reading those two words, couples get what you’re about. This phrase will help your own website SEO when couples search for “Gay Friendly Wedding Venues” and gives the assurance you have considered the LGBTQ community.
- Same-sex weddings/same-sex couples – good “key phrases” to include which will also help your own website in terms of SEO
- Using the acronyms LGBT or LGBTQ
- Refrain from using the phrase “Gay Wedding(s)”. It’s not a gay wedding, it’s a wedding.
- If you write blog posts for your site, write a few posts showing you welcome and support same-sex weddings. This could simply be by using inclusive terminology such as ‘couples’ or ‘partners’, or why not feature a “real” wedding from your venue.
Your Images: What are your images saying about you and who you are targeting your business towards? If you only have one or two pages marketing your weddings, what images are you using? More often than not we see a “Bride and Groom” looking longingly in to each other eyes. This isn’t a bad thing - it's lovely! But, if we only see white men and women across your website, other communities can find this off-putting.
- If you’ve already had same-sex couples use your services, ask if they and their photographer would be willing to share their images and allow you to use them on your site.
- If you haven’t hosted a same-sex wedding, there are many images available on “stock image” websites which you can download, such as Unsplash or Pixabay.
- Approach a photographer you know – they may have worked with a same-sex couple and would be willing to share their photos, or help to arrange a shoot with you to meet your requirements.
When considering your marketing plans, think about what other marketing opportunities are available which could be targeting LGBTQ couples.
- Your brochure – It’s an additional expense but one which could pay dividends. Recently we spoke to one of our venues who have two wedding brochures; one aimed at straight couples and the other aimed at same-sex couples. Depending on the enquiry, they send out the relevant brochure. How inclusive will your business look when a same-sex couple receives it?
- Your local LGBTQ organisations – perhaps you have LGBTQ groups in your area. Research and find these groups and you may find some advertising opportunities amongst them.
- Most counties/cities have an annual Pride event. They are held all-round the country (mostly in the summer) and attract a huge LGBTQ interest and audience (If you’ve never been to a Pride festival, we can highly recommend going along for a fantastic and colourful day!) As well as groups being able to enter floats into parades, Pride organisations are charity funded and tend to produce a programme for the day. There are so many sponsorship and advertising opportunities at these events where you can get your brand highlighted to your local community.
- Both online and offline there are many publications, websites, magazines and newspapers aimed solely towards the LGBTQ marketplace. Have a look and perhaps request a media pack to see if advertising in these publications would be good to get your brand publicised.
- There are a few same-sex wedding directory sites in the marketplace. If you’re advertising your business on traditional wedding sites or publications, why not submit your business to sites which reach out to same-sex couples?
- Obviously we’re biased but, if you’re a wedding venue, Pink Wedding Venues is the only directory in the UK where the sole focus is on recommending and showcasing “gay-friendly” wedding venues!
There are a few things to consider In-House when working with same-sex couples which will make everyone feel a heap more comfortable.
- Enquiries – if you’ve received an enquiry don’t be assumptive in your response. It’s not always obvious whether the couple are bride and groom, bride and bride or groom and groom. Simply ask for the “partners” name rather than the bride or grooms.
- Contract forms – the signature area on most forms asks for the “Bride” and “Groom” to sign. Change each section to read “Partner 1” and “Partner 2”, or “Bride/Groom” – this allows you to delete as appropriate.
- Your staff – with all the will in the world, people do have their own opinions and beliefs surrounding same-sex marriage and couples do notice if there’s any tension. If you know or suspect a member of your staff either doesn’t agree with or believe in same-sex marriage or feels uncomfortable, then simply don’t let them be a part of it. Equally, don’t become over-excited about it – it’s no different to any other wedding enquiry and shouldn’t be treated so!
- Your recommended suppliers – ensure your recommended suppliers are also gay-friendly and supportive of same-sex marriage before you recommend them to same-sex couples who want to work with you. Make sure you’ve spoken to and understand their beliefs. It could come back at you if you’ve recommended a supplier who is less than welcoming.
- Your front desk – this is applicable for all weddings and their guests. Many of us who are in a same-sex relationship have encountered the “awkwardness” of booking in to a hotel to find the receptionist apologising as they have booked a double bed! They then ask if we’d prefer a twin or two single rooms, which then becomes awkward when we have to explain we are a couple and would rather a double bed. Just a simple confirmation of the booking will suffice. If there’s been a mistake, we’re sure the couple will let you know!
- If you are lucky enough to have a male member of your wedding team, a nice touch and consideration is to have a male wedding planner working with two grooms. It’s not a necessity by far but one of our featured venues has a male wedding planner who works with grooms and a female working with brides.
- Same-sex weddings sometimes don’t have the same “traditions” as straight-sex weddings. Often the two brides or two grooms will walk down the aisle together. They may prefer to exchange watches rather than rings. It’s important (as with all weddings) to speak to your couples and see if they have had any ideas on how they want the day to work.
In the great scheme of things, same-sex marriage really is quite new. It’s growing and, in time, will be accepted as “the norm”. We have come a long way in the past decade and the UK has seen an enormous shift in attitude, but we’re not there yet. With consideration to marketing and promotion and being seen as diverse and inclusive, these businesses will win over those who aren’t making the change.
Elaine Cripps | Managing Director | Pink Wedding Venues | www.pinkweddingvenues.co.uk
Pink Wedding Venues is designed to be a resource for same-sex couples to choose the wedding venue, of their dreams, safe in the knowledge the venues appearing are not only considering this emerging market but are reaching out to appeal to them.