So you’ve started a wedding invitation business. Or maybe, you’re in the process of starting a stationery business. But you’re not making a ton of invitation sales yet. Today I’ll teach you how to get over that hump and start selling stationery by better marketing your invitation business.
First of all, are you ready to market your wedding invitation business? If you are still in the process of setting things up, learning how to design invitations, etc. then you should check out From Start to Suite. It’s a one-of-a-kind roadmap course that will get through setting up your business legally, learning how to work with clients, and of course designing, printing and producing high-quality wedding invitation suites.
But if you’ve already got the business set up and are looking for more marketing techniques to use, this article will cover all my favorite ways to market invitation sales.
Summary Points, if you’re short on time!
Before you can market your invitation business, the best thing to do is to narrow down who you’re marketing towards. Think of Coca Cola’s marketing – they want to reach every human in the world, so their marketing is really generic (Santa? The sound of the drink opening? Beyonce, sometimes?). There’s not a really clear message here. It never feels like the Coca Cola polar bear is speaking directly to you.
On the other hand, if you think of Gucci’s marketing, they’re speaking to a pretty specific person. Luxury, class, good looks, fashion-forward – just a few of the words that come to mind.
As you’re starting a stationery business, you probably want to be more like Gucci. A company like Minted can afford to serve everyone. But you likely can’t at this point, or don’t want to. And if you try to talk to everyone, you’re not going to be speaking to anyone directly.
One of our strengths as small business owners is being able to connect with people on an individual level. So use it here in your marketing to direct your messaging. What I like to do is characterize my ideal client as a single person, the one person I want most to work with in the world.
Here’s a worksheet that can help you with that!
Now that you know who you are trying to attract, the key to attracting them is to be where they are. This can be figurative or literal. Once you know who that ideal client is, it’s easier to determine where they will be:
I’m not lying when I say I’ve literally joined organizations with the end goal of meeting clients. The larger your network is, the more likely you are to find clients. You don’t have to market your business in person, but it is a good option if that appeals to you.
If you aren’t ready to be marketing and networking in person, then you can meet your clients online. There are often Facebook groups about wedding planning in different geographical areas, or on various subjects, where you can contribute knowledge and in turn gather some potential leads.
Basically, be in the places that your ideal clients are. Not only will that allow you to talk to them, but it will also give you insight into what they need, how they act, what they’re looking for, and how best to reach out to them.
So let’s talk about some of the common places your wedding invitation clients are!
It depends on what type of invitations you offer, but most people who are hiring a custom or semi-custom invitation designer have a certain budget. They are also willing to pay money for people to take work off of their plate.
You know what these two things mean? It means that they will likely hire a wedding planner. And most importantly – they will likely hire a wedding planner before they hire a stationery designer.
So instead of trying to find 20 new clients this year, you can form relationships with 5-10 wedding planners who send you a few clients each. This is why wedding planners are one of the top ways to market your invitation business.
What’s the best way to form a good relationship with wedding planners? Here are my top tips!
If you can form a good relationship with a planner who has ideal clients for you – it’ll pay off tenfold. They’ll basically do all the marketing work for you.
One thing I often see is stationers afraid to ask for business from planners. Here’s the thing, and from a former wedding planner. Wedding planners need new vendors. Most planners try to find 3 vendors minimum for each category to present to the client. That’s a lot. So they need you to reach out. Their entire job is based around having the right vendor to recommend for a client. You reaching out with who the right client is for your work actually helps the planner do their job.
You should stop seeing this as a begging, pleading, “please give me business almighty wedding planner” relationship. Start seeing it as a working partnership between two professionals, and they’ll see you that way too. If you can articulate how you’ll make that planner’s life easier – even better.
Wedding planners aren’t the only vendors who can refer you new business, either. Basically any vendor that the client hires before you can help you out in this way. Of course, wedding planners are the ones who usually get those questions. But it doesn’t mean they’re the only option.
I find venues and photographers to be the next best opportunity for new business. Both of these are typically hired before stationery designers, and they have a big role in the wedding.
With a venue, the best thing you can do is share work that’s perfect for this venue. Make invitation samples that list that venue, and tag them in it. When clients are getting married at that venue, they’ll search for it, and see your beautiful invitations pop up!
You can also form relationships with venues wherein they’ll recommend your work because it matches the style of the venue well. If you create a custom venue illustration or venue painting, then the venue may share that with their booked clients.
Photographers are a little tougher to crack, in my opinion, but not impossible. A lot of people use a photographer kind of as a planner if they’re not hiring a full-on wedding planner. Thus, the photographer will have a bigger say in everything that’s going on. Fun Fact: Good invitation photos are more likely to get a wedding album featured in a blog! This is a good reminder for wedding photographers as to why they should refer a solid invitation designer for their clients.
Whichever vendor you’re trying to work with, the key is that they are now your client. How can you make their life easier? How can you help them? How can you make them look good to their client? Make those connections, and they’ll be chomping at the bit to refer you!
So where do you meet other wedding vendors?
The first place to meet wedding vendors is at networking events. There are tons of events within the wedding industry, although they are often virtual these days. Here are a few that I have enjoyed:
But once you’re at the event, how do you form connections with other vendors? These are my favorite tips for marketing at a networking event:
So the goal of the event is to just meet people, and perhaps form a small connection with them. You don’t need to move mountains at the event – that comes later, at a more private meeting.
This biggest thing with other vendors is that these are relationships that form over time, so don’t expect to meet someone for 5 minutes and then get 20 clients from them. They’ve been doing their work this far, which means they have other vendors. You’ve got to form a positive relationship over time.
One of the best ways to form a relationship with other vendors is by doing a “styled shoot” together. But what is a wedding styled shoot?
A styled shoot is basically a mock wedding. Wedding vendors all participate, generally donating their time and supplies, to create a fake wedding scene. In return, vendors get marketing photos of their work, form relationships with other vendors, and get to explore new creative design ideas.
The best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to styled shoots is research. Research the photographer and planner before you offer or accept a styled shoot. I have seen countless stationery designers so upset after a styled shoot didn’t yield the incredible photos they were hoping for. So here are some tips for getting good photos from a styled shoot:
Now, I also like to consider the entire point of a styled shoot. If you’re doing it just for marketing photos – you’re honestly better off hiring a photographer for those. Styled shoots, in my opinion, are really more about the relationships you can form with vendors.
Going to the styled shoot will get you the best result, and allow you to feel like you’re really working with the planner, photographer, venue manager, etc. But if you can’t, then I’d recommend taking your own photos of the work before you send your pieces off, and not worrying so much about the photos.
Use the styled shoot as an opportunity to network with these vendors, instead. Stay in contact with them throughout the process leading up to the shoot. Make sure you’re sending them a good luck message on the day of the shoot. And then of course continue to stay in touch with them afterward.
Always send a follow-up email to the planner, photographer, and venue manager, thanking them for choosing you to be a part of it, and reminding them of your ideal project/client. It can be as simple as “I am looking forward to working with you on some real weddings this year! Let me know if you have any clients who love letterpress and custom watercolor maps as those are my jam!”.
My last note on styled shoots is about publishing. A lot of planners and photographers really want their styled shoots to get published in wedding blogs. The big kahunas in this collection are: Style my Pretty, The Knot, Brides, Martha Weddings, Green Wedding Shoes, and maybe a few more. There are also lots of local publications (blogs and magazines) where you could get a feature.
Now, I’ve been featured in all of these and more. And let me just say that I have never, ever, not even once, gotten a client that saw my work on a blog or in a magazine and reached out because they had to hire me based on that.
I have, on the other hand, had plenty of clients show me work they liked from other stationers’ features and ask to copy it or use it as inspiration. Think about that for a second.
I’m not telling you features are all bad. I have the badges on my website, and I do think that lends some credibility to my business name. But what I’m saying is that features aren’t everything. So if your styled shoot doesn’t get featured – that’s okay.
You can still share the images, you can still get real paying work from the other vendors, and you still got to create something new and interesting. Take the focus off of the publication a little bit – I promise, it’s not worth fretting over.
At the beginning of your journey, creating a website may seem daunting. We’re stationery designers – not web designers – after all. But your website can be a really great source of traffic as well, especially if you understand some key search engine optimization, or SEO, concepts.
A lot of invitation designers aren’t using SEO properly, so it’s a good place to start. However, SEO is a long game, not an overnight marketing channel, so keep that in mind.
I have a ton of articles on this blog about SEO, and some videos on my SEO playlist on YouTube, as it’s a big passion of mine.
The biggest thing will be going ahead and getting started. Watch this video for 8 things you need on your business’s first website – it might be a little simpler than you think.
Should you sell invitations directly on your website? That depends. Custom invitations aren’t likely to be purchased directly without a customized proposal and consultation. However, pre-designed or semi-custom wedding invitations are great for selling directly on your website.
If you want a built-in e-commerce platform, then I recommend using Shopify or Squarespace to build your website! Keep the options simple as far as paper choices, print methods, etc. and make sure it’s really easy for clients to use. I’d also recommend including contact information on every page and listing, so that they can reach out if they get confused!
To make this even easier, you might want to consider selling on Etsy. Again, it’s not the best site for fully custom invitations, but will work well for semi-custom or pre-designed invitations. Downloadable invitation templates also work really well on Etsy.
If you want to sell on Etsy, you’ll want to make sure of a few things. Here are my favorite tips to help you sell invitations on Etsy:
What I love about Etsy is that the audience is already there. Sure, a ton of other sellers are there too. But no one is leaving Etsy to go find your website – if they want something, they’ll find it on Etsy. So in my opinion, I want to be there with them. Remember – be where the clients are. And lots of great clients for my business are on Etsy!
Lastly, of course you can market on social media as well! My favorite social media platforms for marketing your invitation business are Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and of course TikTok!
In general, you should choose the platform where your ideal clients are. Facebook tends to be an older audience, and TikTok tends to be younger!
Here are my favorite brief tips for marketing your invitations on social media platforms:
Tips for marketing wedding invitations on Instagram:
Some favorite tips for selling invitations on Pinterest:
For most of us, Facebook is a slightly older audience, but the best place to market invitations on Facebook is in groups! There are groups for everything – if you can find local vendor groups or local engaged couple groups, you will be able to share your work with people who are qualified to hire you.
Just make sure you check the group rules and try to offer help and advice more than you try to sell. This is the best way to become a trusted adviser and get people to start sending you leads.
One tip for this is just to search the groups for words describing what you offer. Search for “invitations” and comment on any relevant posts that come up. Even if they’re old – you never know when a client will make that same search and find your comment as the most recent!
TikTok is an interesting place, because there’s not a lot known about the algorithm at this point. But it’s really easy to get a lot of new eyes on your work if you do it right.
I’ve got a video below with 10 easy ideas for TikToks or Reels for artists – try some of those out and let me know what you think!
…and most of all, you’ll have great luck if you’re able to re-use different content amongst multiple platforms! So if you make an Instagram Reel, you can repost it on TikTok (and vice versa). You can also share your Instagram posts to both Facebook and Pinterest fairly easily. That way, you’re getting more audience with only a little more work.
Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.