This is a topic that attracts a lot of lively discussion and we thank Debbie Skyrme for her insight.
Yesterday I received two unsolicited nominations for wedding awards. Should I be nervous of a marketing scam, over the moon at professional recognition of my abilities or simply milk the advertising potential? Let’s take a closer look at the value of wedding awards.
How valuable are wedding awards and qualifications?
In a country where the wedding industry is unregulated, anyone can call themselves a wedding industry professional organisation.
And without a recognised kite mark of quality, anyone can create an “award”.
So what is the value of a wedding award to the supplier and what do these awards actually mean to the client?
National Occupational Standards
In the very early days of the internet, I was a small part of establishing National Occupational Standards for the evolving world of information technology.
The road map was COMPETENCIES => STANDARDS => QUALIFICATIONS => TRAINING
Once the competencies were understood, qualifications at different levels could be created.
With competencies and qualifications in place, training could then be written that mapped to the standards required at the different levels.
Only when this road map was in place could officially recognised professional organisations create their own awards.
The evolving wedding industry
In the UK, the wedding industry is quickly evolving and moving positively towards an era of formally recognised standards which will enable independent celebrants, for example, to officiate legal weddings.
However, until a full range of government accredited standards are mapped to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or its European counterpart the EQF, many wedding focussed organisations and training companies remain without formal comparison.
It is currently hard for wannabe celebrants for example, to know the best training route to take.
It is equally tricky for potential couples to know the actual value of the accreditations and awards advertised by working celebrants.
Wedding industry awards
In a country where the wedding industry is currently unregulated, this means that there is no singular de facto awarding body.
We must look at each wedding industry award on its own merits and ask questions:
- Do they charge a processing fee?
- Do they charge an attendance fee for the awards event?
- What is the nomination process?
- What is the voting process?
- What is the judging process?
By asking nominees to campaign for votes for example, some wedding industry awards are cleverly tapping into every nominee’s network of clients, family and friends. Cynics might say what a great way of marketing and getting your name out there to a focussed audience!
What about wedding awards issued by more generic organisations?
Wedding awards from commercial marketing companies
Many wedding and lifestyle magazines, both online and in print, offer their own wedding awards with opportunities for wedding suppliers to self-nominate in different categories.
There is sometimes a “processing fee” for your nomination which is no doubt a way for the company to make money.
There is usually a free profile offered in the small print and an “opportunity to upgrade” to a more visible profile.
In return, nominees receive badges promoting said company which they are encouraged to splash all over their social media and website to celebrate themselves becoming a nominee/finalist/winner (delete as appropriate)
So what is the value of any of the above types of awards?
Using wedding awards for your own benefit
We all invest time and money in promoting our wedding supplier businesses, right? Well wedding awards can be a superb way of raising your profile and promoting your business.
- If you are in a country with an unregulated industry like that of the UK, accept any award nomination for what it currently is: a superb marketing opportunity.
- Be aware of any charges incurred along the voting path and think of these costs as advertising expenses.
- Post your nomination and winners badges with justifiable pride – especially if voters have gone out of their way to spend time voting for you.
- Give clients the chance to know more about the issuer of the award – link your awards badge back to the page that names you as a recipient.
A colleague recently posted about their refusal to accept any award that required payment – and yet had they read the terms and conditions they would have realised that they were being offered a free profile listing.
As we know, links from a high ranking websites back to your own website are considered good SEO (search engine optimisation).
The most successful social media posts are those that encourage engagement and this person’s post about their award prompted a flurry of congratulations despite the fact the post was tantamount to refusing the nomination. So in actual fact although they thought they were posting about a negative, they were having nothing but a positive experience!
Wedding reviews and testimonials
Wedding awards that “judge” you on reviews and testimonials from your clients are great as long as the kind words about your product or service are genuine.
One less than generous colleague once suggested that, “Any Tom, Dick or Harry could write your reviews!” But they were right.
With enough different email addresses an unscrupulous supplier could soon create some fabulous positive feedback in a variety of names.
Wedding awards that require you to submit photos of you delivering your product or service are great too – but sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between a “real wedding” and a “styled shoot” isn’t it?
In conclusion, I still firmly believe that one of the best ways to judge a wedding business is by personal recommendation from someone who has already used your services.
And I also believe in trust and common sense.
I trust my potential clients to check out the “awards” that I have received. And if they want to speak directly with any of the Tom, Dick and Harrys who have written my testimonials, then I am delighted to connect them.
Thanks again to Debbie Skyrme Celebrant for this fascinating expert advice. Check out more from Debbie Here > • The Wedding Industry Journal
Author bio: Debbie Skyrme is an award winning celebrant in Spain, helping destination wedding couples’ dreams come true by officiating elopements, weddings and vow renewal ceremonies in the Spanish sunshine. Unauthorised publishing of the text or image content in part or in full is strictly forbidden.