My Facebook news feed is being littered with photographers today announcing from their soap box that they won the 2012 Bride’s Choice Award thereby putting them in the Top 5% of their industry. Some may call it an award, I call it a deceptive marketing scheme.
According to their website, The WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards™ recognizes the best local wedding vendors from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate quality and service excellence within the wedding industry. Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the organization, the WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards™ are determined by the quality, quantity, recency, and consistency of reviews from over 1.2 million WeddingWire newlyweds. The 2012 award recipients represent the top five percent of WeddingWire's vendor community, which consists of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the US and Canada. “Every year, WeddingWire looks forward to celebrating the success of the top-rated Wedding Professionals within the WeddingWire Network,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Now in its fifth installment, the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program continues to recognize the elite Wedding Professionals who exemplify quality service and professionalism. These vendors were chosen by our bridal community for their responsiveness and dedication to clients. We are honored to recognize the 2013 winners for their impressive achievements and unwavering commitment to providing quality service within the wedding industry.”
First, let me start by saying that when I first got started shooting weddings back in 2010 I saw photographers sharing they won the “Bride’s Choice Award” and I really wanted one. I decided I was going to do everything possible to earn one since I thought it would be great for my business. I’d click on the award banners displayed on photographer website and be promptly taken to the WeddingWire.com site. At first I was impressed. Lots of information, articles and links to wedding vendors. I immediately signed up as a vendor and after following the instructions given I became a recipient of the award in 2011. Excitedly I shared my award with my Facebook fans and just hoped they wouldn’t realize that practically every photographer in town was sharing the same thing.
In short, WeddingWire bills itself as the “Yelp of the Wedding Industry.” Their ultimate goal is to drive as much traffic as they can to their website so they can sell advertising. Which takes us right back to the “awards” they are giving out each year. Is this award based on skill? Nope. Is it based on a system of votes from industry peers? Nope. Is it based on the merits of the award winner? Nope. The way a person “wins” this “Bride’s Choice Award” is by getting 5 positive reviews on their vendor listing on the site. While the idea is that the reviews would come from brides, ultimately who would ever know if my mom, my sister, my aunt, my brother and my wife left me positive reviews.
I will admit the company is remarkably innovative in the way they are driving traffic to their site and for this innovation they have grown tremendously since starting up in 2007. Their business model is fantastic and not a week goes by that I don’t see a photographer in one of the many forums or groups that I belong to ask if they should purchase a marketing package from WeddingWire so they can have one of the better listings there. I applaud the company for their growth and service they are offering vendors and brides to connect.
However, to call a spade a spade this award is nothing more than WeddingWire driving traffic to their site and we all are their puppets excitedly posting their banners with links back to them all over our websites, blogs and Facebook. So tomorrow, January 9, 2013 when WeddingWire officially sends out the banners to this year's “award” winners and they get plastered in Facebook news feeds and thousands of blog posts of people patting themselves on the back, the one thing that will be certain is that WeddingWire will be receiving a record number of hits tomorrow on it’s website. Exactly what they planned for!