The LBB Offering…Much More Than a Listing

When we decided to bring Style Me Pretty back we thought long and hard about what it meant to be a Little Black Book member.  We talked to vendors and industry professionals and tried to do a lot of competitive research.  Of course, while we were doing all this, the world changed about six times.  Zola raised one hundred million dollars.  Wedding Wire had a Private Equity exit and then took The Knot private.  Joy raised their series A round.  Print publications in the wedding space started running into trouble.  All the while, I kept getting more confident that there was a place for SMP… if it went back to its roots. 

That brings us to the concept of a Vendor Guide.  When Abby was starting SMP and sitting on our couch in Charlestown, MA she told me she was launching the Little Black Book: a hyper curated guide of the best wedding vendors. I told her she was crazy. Vendor guides were outdated. It was September 2008.  Of course, I was completely missing the point.  The guide served vendors and brides in more ways than I could ever see at that time.  Curating great vendors saved couples – who cared more about quality than price – valuable shopping time.  Tying a directory to a publication showed off the best work of these vendors.  This all led to allowing featured vendors to grow their businesses and defend their prices in a very competitive industry, and in a way that felt intentional and meaningful. 

So 10 years later what are we doing relaunching a vendor guide? After all, vendor guides serve a very small interaction in the life of a vendor and bride. By the time a couple is looking through a guide that couple has been to many weddings, seen millions of pins and scrolled through more Instagram posts than anyone could care to count.

We get that. The truth is, a listing in the vendor guide itself is a small part of what we’re offering with the Little Black Book.  Our attitude at the end of 2018 is, sure, listings serve a purpose – but vendors deserve more.  So what exactly can you get if you’re a wedding vendor in our Little Black Book?

Over the last 6 months, we have spoken in great detail to a cross-section of vendors and venues with different business models who served different markets. Here’s what we came up with for goals for our 2019 LBB Offering:  

  1. First, Curate.  We heard from some of you that the book wasn’t as curated as it was in the past.  Many vendors we talked to only wanted to be listed next to the best of the best.  This helps you to defend your prices, it helps to validate your position in your market and it celebrates your work alongside like-minded peers. 
  2. Get LBB Members out of their listing and the directory itself and into Posts, Pins, Instagram Photos, Videos, etc. The places and spaces where our brides and grooms spend the most time and where SMP’s daily content carries the greatest clout.
  3. Publicly and enthusiastically market LBB vendors to brides and grooms planning their weddings. Give LBB Members the marketing collateral they need to explain why their LBB Membership makes them best in class.
  4. Simplify. Make it easier for LBB members to share their work with us. Every one of you understands that we can’t feature all the beautiful weddings you send our way. But we can streamline and simplify the whole process. Freeing up YOUR time in 2019 is a huge goal for us. 
  5. Build a community of the best vendors in the world and facilitate conversations that will help them grow their businesses.

Some of these goals are achieved by the services SMP has traditionally provided.  We produce content for vendors today and work very hard to distribute this content on social at all hours of the day and night. We actively market the LBB as the best vendors in the world. We help vendors promote themselves and their membership in the book as a stamp of approval.

However, if we truly want to achieve all the goals above, we have to strive for more.  We have to be willing to perpetually research, build, and deliver products and services that help you focus on your craft and let us focus on everything else. Let me introduce a few of those features we’ve added or will be adding shortly to the 2019 Little Black Book Offering:

Quick Submissions: Pre-Submission Reviews Built Right into the Submissions Server

We rebuilt our submissions tool to allow Little Black Book members to have their work reviewed before submitting.  Starting in January, when you log into our submissions page, you’ll see a new option to send a “quick” submission that consists entirely of a Title and an Image Gallery URL (Dropbox, Pixieset, your own on-line proofing gallery, etc.).  When using this process, LBB members won’t need to upload photos, provide credits or a description unless the submission is accepted. Saving your time is one of our major 2019 initiatives.  

Guaranteed Social and Editorial Promotion

Many vendors we spoke to wanted to know that they were getting some social coverage with their listing.  They didn’t want to go through a submissions process and wonder if their work would be published. After doing this for ten years, we feel very strongly in SMP’s ability to curate vendors, work with them to find their best work and present it to the world.  Therefore, many of the new LBB plans come with guaranteed ‘spotlight’ Instagram features or on-site posts sprinkled throughout the year. These are promotions that will focus on you and your business, essentially a profile piece.

A Community Platform for the Best of the Best

We pressure tested the idea of an online community with the many people we spoke to. Most vendors liked it.  Some told us they’d be too busy to use it.  We’re going to try to win everyone over. 

Here’s how: by leaning into many of the same problems vendors have.  By actively structuring our business to meet challenges head on that vendors can’t avoid – marketing in a competitive world, building an effective content strategy, publishing on social media, diving into local SEO.  We spent the first six months of SMP’s reboot finding the right resources to go out and win at these very things. We’ll be bringing those learnings and those resources into our newly launched forums to connect with you.  SMP team members, including Abby and myself, will hold office hours in forums. 

We’ll try to bring topics into the forums relevant to growing your business.  We think vendors will benefit from a place they can interact with their most successful peers. Those we’ve spoken to, are often unsure if they should pay attention to that up and coming new social network. They aren’t sure if they should be spending money on social amplification or services claiming to help with local SEO.  They don’t know how to vet a freelance developer. We study this stuff daily and regularly hire people to help us with it. We’ll bring the knowledge from our own experiences into the forums directly, sharing what we’ve learned in a way that can help you make informed decisions for your business. 

Early rejoining LBB members will get a say in helping us choose the right platform for this group.  The forum will go live on 1/15/19, once all complimentary listings have expired.  

Rebuilding Posts and Portfolios to Emphasize LBB Members

We are redesigning the way that vendor credits within posts are listed on desktop and on mobile. With this new design, couples planning their weddings will be able to see, at a glance, which vendors are members of the LBB network and will be able to easily interact with them directly from the post. These are ALMOST ready but may not launch until Q2 of 2019.  We want to get these really right and need more vendor feedback.

Give People a Chance to Invest in What They Really Want

If you just want to be an LBB member and chat with a community of like-minded peers it shouldn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  We have options for rejoining LBB members that start around $40 a month (billed annually). If you simply don’t want to spend time on lengthy submissions, there are options for you.  If you want us to do the heavy lifting for you – from guaranteed social and onsite posts, to handling your paid amplification and marketing – there are options for you. Point is, we understand that each one of you have different business needs and goals and this can’t be a one size fits all program

So, that’s the start of our relaunched Little Black Book offering in 2019.  You can read about the full list of benefits here.  We’ll continue to add to this throughout 2019.   If you are an LBB member who is re-signing up with us, thank you so much for your support. If you need more time to decide, we totally get that. It’s been a long and very personal journey getting SMP going again. We wanted the LBB at the center of this journey.  We promise we will do our very best to help make you even more successful in 2019.


Tait Larson

President, Style Me Pretty

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