Marketing our ceremonies

September 20th, 2013

By David Hewitt

Having given up a management consulting career to take up celebrancy, I was pondering the other day the differences and similarities, especially when it comes to marketing and promotion.

I’m not sure it applies to all management consultants, but as celebrants we are mostly modest; not pushing ourselves forward, letting our ceremonies speak for themselves.  But while we might have begun the ‘penetration’ (I obviously haven’t completely lost touch with a previous life!) into the funerals space; we are woefully under-represented in namings and weddings.  It’s understandable to some extent for namings.  Non-religious families, who don’t want a christening, just opt out of the ceremony altogether; but with weddings on the increase, we surely need to widen our appeal – without waiting for a change of law to do the work for us!

Word of mouth of course was generally how it worked in management consulting, and remains a powerful tool for ceremonies, especially namings and weddings.  And modest though we all are, the testimonials pages on some of our personal websites are glowing tributes to the work we do; the service we provide couples and families.

The question is how do we exploit these glowing tributes in a wider way?  How do we move from the individual celebrant to the wider network and so spread the message from Hampshire to Yorkshire or from Kent to Cumbria?

I have never actively sought a testimonial in all my time as a celebrant; and certainly never sought more general promotional material – until recently.  Responding to Isabel’s request to find a couple for the BBC film accompanying the recent Marriage Bill vote in Parliament I approached the couple whose wedding I was conducting that weekend.  They had expressed a strong connection to the notion of ‘promoting’ Humanism.  In the end the proximity of the filming and the perceived lack of editorial control scuppered the request – though they have subsequently created material to be shared with a couple of wedding blogs.

I think they faced the same tug we celebrants face; the same tension between keeping a highly personal event, well personal and not ‘showing off’.

But it seems to me that we need to do something that bridges the individual marketing we do: you know visiting Funeral Directors, exhibiting at wedding shows, giving talks to NCT or WI groups, presenting glowing testimonials, with the general stuff that BHA HQ is doing: adverts in trade journals, the central website, raising the profile of Humanism.

What might fill the gap?  Photos of baby namings?  Videos of weddings?  Wider/more regular appearance in blogs or wedding magazines?  How have you done it?  Any suggestions?