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I'm Ali Rae and I love building brands.
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Seika Dong of Seika Harp is a harpist in the southern California area. She is a harpist at weddings and private events, and she also offers lessons to harp students. She is looking to break into the luxury wedding market and had some unique ideas on how to do that, but didn’t quite know how to execute those ideas. I do have a particularly deep knowledge of the wedding industry, so I was able to help Seika in multiple ways. She preferred having the majority of her income from weddings, so we really focused on how to promote the event side of her business throughout this analysis
First, I am going to break down on where she was and where she wanted to be. Then we will dive into the strategies I gave her to bridge that gap.
Regardless of the brand and who we are marketing to–we always want consistent technical branding (brand colors, brand fonts, and logos). This consistency breeds familiarity and, thus, trust!
I could not clearly pick out Seika’s brand colors and fonts as I was combing through her online presence. This is a [relatively] quick fix that gives an immediate result of cohesion across platforms and marketing materials.
Seika Harp’s website was relatively simplistic. There were some general usability errors, mainly with the contact form. Any time there is a usability error on a site, it deters potential customers from being able to say YES to the business/service/product, so it’s important to make those priority when fixing things.
Additionally, her website did not feel polished, which was in direct opposition to her pursuit of breaking into the luxury market.
Seika has incredible social media experience. In fact, she scaled her cat’s Instagram account to over 550k followers!!! So admittedly, I was feeling a little insecure with giving her advice on how to market herself on social media; however, there is certainly different strategy for marketing services for sale!
Client experience is KEY in luxury market. She had a solid start to her client experience, but this is a great way to differentiate oneself in this market.
Her main UVP (unique value proposition) was that she actually dresses in an ornate gown in the color palette of the couple’s wedding, essentially making her a fixture or decoration of the event. This differentiates her because it elevates the couple’s wedding/event and makes her stand out compared to the standard all black “uniform” that most musicians wear.
Each brand development client receives a Marketing Plan that first begins with “Brand Analysis Takeaways.” Next, I will break down each part of said Marketing Plan.
These are the main items that I took away from my deep dive brand analysis. All of these were discussed on the phone, so when the Marketing Plan was presented, none of this was new!
Seika Harp’s main takeaways were:
From there, we dove into her ideal client description and brand adjectives. Her ideal client was described as: Brides with disposable income to devote to their dream wedding. A custom, unique experience is of the utmost importance to this brides. She has a wedding planner through whom most communication takes place. She values simplicity in systems, so she can enjoy extravagance in other places in her life-like walking down the aisle to her favorite song being played on a harp.
Her brand adjectives are ethereal, inspired by her ornate gowns that make her feel larger than life, and luxurious because with her presence, she creates a one-of-a-kind event for her couples.
A SWOT analysis dives into the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats posed to a business. Strengths and weaknesses are internal–they’re items the business owner has control over. Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, come from external sources that the business cannot control (think the economy, war, etc). For each of my brand development clients, I do a quick SWOT analysis.
Professionalism and musical experience put Seika at the forefront of the harpist community in southern California. Her 25 years of experience make her skill unmatched. Additionally, she adds an ethereal feel to any wedding day through making herself a “fixture” by adorning dresses that match the decor of the day.
The administrative tasks take away from Seika’s ability to practice and further elevate the client experience. With a clunky “back end” of business, it is difficult to focus on the custom experience she wants to deliver. Time management is huge for her and she would like to spend any extra time marketing her business, not organizing it.
Because her service is very specialized, she has the opportunity to differentiate herself in the market by making her value proposition clear-her ability to become a work of art herself is a gap in the current southern California market.
Perceived value of her skills and service(s) may not match the real value of her skills and service(s).
As previously mentioned, client experience is paramount in the luxury wedding space. This luxury space loves two things: simplicity and custom experiences. Elevating the client journey through seamless communication and exclusive experiences will help with word-of-mouth marketing in the future, which gives business owners, especially those in a service industry, the warmest leads.
In order to make the process simple, I encouraged Seika to prioritize putting automated systems into her business using Dubsado.
For a custom experience, she was already offering that during the wedding day in the option to customize her outfit to match the couple’s wedding decor. However, I wanted to customize it even more! I suggested she upsell the client at the end of the experience with a recording of their processional/recessional composition.
Seika had an existing pricing strategy in place; however, I proposed she tweak how she does her pricing and include the opportunity to upsell throughout the booking process.
We developed a referral strategy for her clients, as many of her clients are 1-2 time clients. We also developed a strategy to increase her rates as she continued to gain event experience.
Included in the Brand Analysis is a website audit. Often times, business owners set their website up and then forget about it, never to be updated in years! Naturally, businesses evolve and ideal client also changes. However, if the online storefront doesn’t attract the customers that you’re trying currently trying to target, then it’s working against you!
For this portion of the Marketing Plan, I go page-by-page and give pointers on how to improve the site.
We needed to make it clear the main service offering is weddings! I suggested doing this by including testimonials and ending with a call to action that leads to an inquiry form.
We want to include more emotion-driven copy due to the industry Seika is in. Weddings are an emotional time of life! I wanted couples to see a picture of what it would be like to have Seika play as they walk down the aisle.
We changed the “Event FAQ” page into a Wedding services page. This page will include the process a client will experience, testimonials, and starting investment for your services.
We updated contact form to have fewer intake questions, removing those that can be verified later in the process. There was also a slight usability error, so we removed the scroll function to be able to see the entire contact form.
Seika Harp is currently on Instagram and TikTok, but would like to increase and improve presence on both. In order to execute this strategy, I told her to email photographers that she has worked with on previous weddings to gather real wedding content. As a photographer, I am always sure to tell clients to give the photographers appropriate credit when using their images. As she is combing through the images, she should use images that match Seika Harp’s brand adjectives: ethereal and luxurious.
Here are a few strategies that are quick and easy to implement:
Additionally, I create a list of general content buckets that will simultaneously market the business and appeal to the ideal client. These were Seika’s content buckets:
Seika Harp did not currently have an email marketing strategy in place, but expressed the desire to have one, so I outline a simple, easily executable strategy that felt manageable as she plans to grow her business.
Seika Harp was looking to focus on acquiring wedding clients, so I included some wedding-specific marketing tactics and strategies, including:
All of these are very industry-specific and can even be niche-specific, targeting the luxury wedding market. Strategies were included with each of these tactics.
After compiling all of this information and presenting it, some items came to the surface as priorities. One of which was creating systems in her business to simplify the backend business stuff (proposals, contracts, invoices, emails, etc). I recommended a systems expert that she could hand off her Dubsado workflow implementation to.
Additionally, I included a resources that speak to the planning and execution of a successful bridal expo in order to get her in front of her ideal client and one that gives her insight into planning a styled shoot that can reflect her brand.
Andddd, that’s a wrap! 👏🏻
Needless to say, the Brand Development Program (which consists of the Brand Analysis and Marketing Plan) is extremely comprehensive and extremely personalized. I love being able to dig deep into businesses and their existing brands in order to bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be.
For Seika, she is well on her way to establishing herself as THE luxury wedding and event harpist in the southern California market and beyond if/when she wants to. I am so excited to watch her business grow and can’t wait to see how her brand develops! Go give her a follow at @seikaharp and follow along!
If this service sounds like something you need for your business, please get in touch! It is literally my life’s mission to pour back into other small business owners, so give me a shout!
Also, if all of this sounds great but overwhelming…don’t worry–I help with execution of these updates too, if you’d like. 😊
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