As editor in chief of VOWS, I’m constantly asked, “What makes a bridal store successful?” While there isn’t one simple answer to this complex question, here are six things I’d recommend all retailers do:

Join Instagram pronto! This mobile photo-sharing site is increasing in popularity at lightning speed with both brides and prom girls. While it’s never a good idea to sign up for more social-media sites than you can realistically manage, in terms of priority, Instagram should currently be at the top of your list.



Differentiate your social-media accounts. Posting the same content on every site is a no-no; each has a unique purpose and should be treated as such. While there is a certain amount of overlap, the general rule of thumb is: Facebook is best for starting conversations and telling stories; Twitter is great for sharing interesting links and commenting on trends; Instagram is THE place to spotlight photos; and Pinterest is best for showcasing inspirational themes.




Incorporate traditional marketing methods. It’s easy to get so caught up in the social-media wave that you forget things like print/TV/radio ads and in-store brochures/events exist. The most effective marketing plans combine traditional advertising strategies with social media to engage brides on every level.



Tap into the power of praise. Sincere, personalized compliments go a long way toward boosting your employees’ morale and motivation. The most successful storeowners are generous and frequent with their praise.



Educate your brides. You must inform customers about the dangers of counterfeiting. Ideally, this campaign should occur both in-store and online. The American Bridal and Prom Industry Association is one excellent group to join. It’s been successful in federal court taking down thousands of counterfeit Web sites and promotes those manufacturers, retailers, reps and media supporting the fight.




Participate in #SmallBusinessSaturday. If there were ever a perfect holiday for independent retailers, this is it! Held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (that’s Nov. 29 this year), #SmallBizSat receives worldwide media attention, offers a plethora of free marketing resources to stores who participate, and – best of all! - supports the very cause you so passionately believe in. #shoplocal #shopsmall #winning