Kinsey Roberts took her passion and knowledge for marketing and SEO, paired it with “accidentally” getting into the event venue business, and has created a successful business from the ground up.
By making personal connections in her niche, she has been able to turn that into a successful podcast aimed at helping to share valuable ideas and strategies around achieving success in the wedding and event planning space. Her desire to consume information is rivaled only by her desire to teach and educate.
Rich: Kinsey Roberts is the co-owner of Vista View Events at Open Heart Ranch, a wedding barn in Colorado. She’s also the host of She Creates Business, a podcast for wedding pros where she interviews industry entrepreneurs about marketing, social media and growth strategies.
When she’s not immersed in the business of weddings, you can find her with her family, usually with a book or a cup of coffee nearby. Kinsey, welcome to the show.
Kinsey: Thank you very much, Thanks so much for having me.
Amber: Thanks so much Kinsey for being here. I love your story because it’s kind of similar to mine and why I started Streamline, so I feel like we’re already kindred spirits. Can you tell me how you got started in the wedding industry?
Kinsey: I sure can. I’ve been in marketing since 2010, so I’ve kind of run the gamut of SEO, and marketing agencies, and things of that nature. And my husband and I lived on our family ranch – which is Open Heart Ranch – and we moved away for a couple of years and in late 2015 we were actually coming back to the ranch for good. My sister-in-law – who is also my business partner – she has said for years and years that a wedding venue somewhere on the ranch would be awesome. And not just a wedding venue in her mind, but an event venue, because we really do have this private amazing space and part of it is waterfront and it’s just absolutely phenomenal.
So I was coming back and I left my corporate job and I told my husband that I really needed something to do while we’re there because it’s a small area and there’s not a lot of jobs I marketing. And I mentioned his sister is always saying this great thing about a venue, I’ve worked in the hospitality industry and I think it would be great, I feel like I have a lot to bring to the table from a marketing standpoint. So I talked to her about it and we decided to do it.
So at the beginning of 2016 we started immersing ourselves in the process of building a venue from the ground up, which takes a lot from permitting to deciding how we’re going to launch our social media presence and our digital assets, and really truly launching something from nothing. And that’s how I got started.
Rich: And then you took that but you didn’t just stop with doing a wedding venue, you said I’m also going to create a podcast. What was the impetus for creating a podcast that focuses on the wedding industry?
Kinsey: That’s right. So in mid-2016 I went to the Creative at Heart Conference – which was my first creative conference – and in the creative community there’s a lot of conferences and summits popping up as well where women entrepreneurs are attending. And Creative at Heart happened to be coming to Denver, and I thought it was really close to where I live so I’ll give it a shot because I wanted to meet other women in the industry. Because while I was in Facebook groups and an avid listener on podcasts, I decided to go to that conference because it was started by wedding planners, so even though it has really branched out in all creative businesses, there’s really still a heavy focus on the wedding industry.
I headed to that conference in July 2016 and made insane relationships and met a bunch of incredible women and wedding planners who are planning 6 and 7-figure weddings, people who ae just getting started, and everybody in between. And we’re all kind of in the same boat, we all started with we don’t know what we’re doing but we’re going to give it our best effort. And we’ve all surprised ourselves with how much we can actually do.
So off of that conference I had always said to myself I’d love to have a podcast and host a show, because I have a background in journalism, but I never knew what I wanted to podcast about. Once I wen tot that conference and I was in the wedding industry, I knew right away. I thought this was the perfect niche because it is a niche, I’m not just going to interview anyone I’m going to interview women who are specifically in the wedding industry. And I launched my podcast exactly 2 months later off the back of that conference.
Amber: That’s great. So do you feel like the two businesses kind of mesh with each other? Is your podcast able to promote your venue, or is there another reason besides that, or is it sharing other women in the wedding industry and learn from them? Or is it also a way to promote your venue, do you feel?
Kinsey: I don’t really feel like it’s a way to promote my venue because the audience for the podcast isn’t brides, it’s not couples. I should rephrase that and say it’s not a direct way to promote my venue. I do mention many times that I am a venue owner so they can make the connection of why is this person hosting a podcast like this.
But what it does to indirectly is connect me with other wedding industry professionals who have the ability to refer couples my way. This actually just happened. I have had a wedding planner out of Denver on my show – and I’m actually having her back on to talk about Facebook ads – and she actually just referred me my first couple. So while I don’t typically interview local entrepreneurs – I just haven’t gotten into that space yet – but there’s another planner in Arizona who said her sister would love to get married in Colorado and she really loves the mountain rustic feel. And so there’s another opportunity. So no it’s not directly marketable for my venue, but I believe in an indirect way it certainly serves some purpose.
Rich: Sure. And obviously if you’ve got a website in your podcast and you’re linking from your podcast over to your wedding venue website, then there’s going to be some SEO benefits there as well.
Kinsey: That’s exactly right. And I link to my podcast, and my podcast website, and Instagram from my “About” page on Vista View Events, which is one of our most highly trafficked pages on our website. So I do get a lot of back and forth as well, and I think I do build a little bit of credibility because as I give tours I’ve had a few couple say they listen to my internet show -because they don’t really know what a podcast is.
Rich: Yeah, and even if they don’t really listen to it, they must view you as an authority in the space if you’ve got your own podcast.
Kinsey: Right, exactly.
Rich: So you’ve obviously interviewed a lot of people for your show, what are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve taken away from your interviews?
Kinsey: I think one of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that no matter what level of entrepreneur that I interview, everybody is still struggling with marketing, mostly. And specifically everyone is still struggling with paid marketing.
And the second thing that I’ve learned is we all kind of get started because we are creative and we like the industry, and we’re excited about planning wedding and helping people get married, and the really pretty aspects of the industry. But we kind of forget all of those logistical business pieces until it becomes a problem, such as developing an LLC.
So those have been the main two things that I’ve learned is that marketing is still a struggle for some people, and we all kind of skip that part of all those legal pieces of our business.
Amber: You are exactly the opposite of me. See I started without any marketing background but just really good at planning weddings. And then I realized I had to run a business, and so I had to teach myself. I’ve been self-taught in all this until I met Rich, so it’s kind of fun. You took a different avenue with your background in marketing and being immersed in the wedding industry, and I did the opposite where I was immersed in the wedding industry and had to learn marketing. So that’s really cool.
Kinsey: Thank you.
Amber: So people must come to you with questions all the time, where do you turn for advice and resources?
Kinsey: Have you guys ever read, The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell?
Rich: I have. Have you, Amber?
Amber: No, that sounds like a marketing book.
Kinsey: It is. In chapter 2 they talk about those three personality architypes; the connector, the maven..do you know what I mean?
Kinsey: So I feel like I identify as a “maven” because I’m always ready to consume information, and it doesn’t matter who it’s from. Not that it doesn’t matter, because I want to be interested, but I think one of the best things I’ve done for my business is not consume a bunch of wedding people information – which is kind of how I find podcasting – but I consume outside of the industry. Which is how I know Agents of Change and all that, because I consume that kind of content. Social Pros Podcast, Agents of Change, Social Media Marketing Examiner’s Podcast. And I take that and I insert it into our business and how can we apply it into our industry. And I think that helps me stay creative and not looking at what other people are doing all the time.
And then the other thing is, I get a lot of inspiration from the relationships that I’ve built. I cannot tell you, it’s just been an amazing force – I know that word is often used – but it’s just been really incredible to meet all the women in the wedding industry that I’ve been able to meet. I’ve been able to learn from them, and instead of reading blog posts, we can sit down and have one on one conversations. And that’s where I really pick up and learn and say, “Can I apply this to my business?”
So a combination of those one on one relationships with people in the industry, but then also taking myself out and seeing what people are doing in those big businesses that really have it going on.
Rich: Well I like to hear that, Kinsey, and not just because you mentioned Agents of Change. But besides that reason, I think that’s a lot of the reason Amber came to me and said let’s create something because I think there’s something missing in our industry. So many wedding professionals get into the wedding business because they love weddings, and then all of a sudden they find themselves having to do a lot of things that they don’t find nearly as interesting.
Now it sounds like you have more of a passion for marketing. It comes more naturally to you, you find it interesting, and that’s not always the case. But I do think for the people that are listening at home now that want to learn more, this is the reason we put this together as Streamline Marketing Workshops. But the resources that you just mentioned are really important and it’s excellent to go outside of the industry because it’s much easier to steal from somebody outside of our industry. You can get great ideas and like you said, apply them to what you’re doing in your business and watch your business grow.
Kinsey: Yes, absolutely.
Rich: So what is something you wish…? I mean, you haven’t been at this too long, but what is something that you wish you knew then that you know now?
Kinsey: When I first started at the end of 2015 I really wished that I had a better handle on the fact that there is a community of wedding entrepreneurs that are so accessible. I guess at the end of 2015 that might not have been as common, but now there’s all of these amazing small workshops and conferences and that’s a great place to go. Facebook groups, of course, which I feel are really hitting their peak now but are still really valuable. And just bring able to connect with all of those women who really are doing the same thing.
I wish I would have just had a better handle on that so that I could have asked them questions when I was going into it. Just simple things like, “Should I have people sign a venue agreement for vendors coming in?” from their perspective. Because not being in the industry, I didn’t know photographers, or wedding planners, or calligraphers, or florists, or floral designers. So finding those people and being able to ask things from their perspective just would have been a huge help at the very beginning.
So I didn’t get in the game too late – mid to late 2016 – but its super helpful as we were really talking through our venue idea in 2015.
Amber: I have a question for you. So we’re just starting in this too, this whole podcast thing. How do you grow your audience? How have you found if someone else listening decided they loved this idea and wanted to do a podcast, too, how do you start growing your audience and getting more and more people engaged and joining into your community and the fun of your podcast?
Kinsey: I think the main thing that I have done goes back to my guests. So when I mentioned earlier that I launched my podcast off the back of a Creative Heart Conference. So my first 8-10 guests were wedding entrepreneurs directly from that conference. So they saw my face, they knew who I was, we absolutely had a one on one conversation at some point, and so that’s really the strategy that I kept throughout these last 10 months of podcasting.
Getting to know my guests, keeping my ear to ground and knowing if they have something coming up, what are they promoting, what are they interested in, what are they really good at. And then I approach them with a specific topic instead of just asking if they want to come on my show. And what happens there is they are more than willing to share my show, and they are also more than willing to come on my show because I care. I want them on my show because I care about what they’re doing and it’s very clear.
It’s very authentic. So when they come on the show they’re very open and very giving to my audience. And then they share their episode, which I listened to a lot of other podcasters and they said they really have a problem with guests sharing the show. I don’t have that problem. I have almost 70 interviews and only 1 person has not shared their episode.
And that’s how I grow my listenership, because I start with my guests. If the show isn’t good, if the content isn’t good, then no listener is going to come back. But if the show is good and I can make my guests feel comfortable so they share that really good information, then it’s all kind of just a snowball.
Rich: Cool. So we talked about earlier, you’ve obviously listened to and interviewed a lot of these experts. You mentioned earlier that wedding professionals maybe aren’t so great especially around paid marketing. How do you create your own marketing choices? What channels are you using, what are you finding most effective when you’re marketing the barn?
Kinsey: The first thing that we did was decide, we are not on every social media channel.
Rich: You’re not on every social media channel?
Rich: So what did you choose to be on?
Kinsey: The wedding industry is highly visual, so I chose to be on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. And that’s what we’re doing right now. When I first got started I actually did set up a Twitter for us and I was like this is ridiculous, brides are not on Twitter. At least our brides are not, they’re not trolling Twitter for a wedding barn in the mountains of Colorado. That doesn’t make any sense.
And so I deleted Twitter, and I don’t feel bad about that. I have a Twitter account for my podcast but not for the venue itself. So we are on the most highly visual platforms; Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Even though we’re not creating a lot of our own content – we’re just curating on Pinterest – but we see a lot of traffic from Pinterest because of our highly curated boards.
So we use social media in that way and get comfortable with those platforms. And then if we want to move onto other ones depending on who our clients are for these first couple years of business, then we will. But I think it’s important not to get too invested in 10 social media platforms because they could go away. I mean Instagram Stories almost killed Snapchat. But everybody was like, “Get on Snapchat or you’re going to die.” Some people are doing Snapchat and they’re ignoring Instagram Stories, and that’s ok with them.
I really feel like social media is not “one size fits all”, so right now focus on those three highly visual platforms because I’m in a highly visual market.
Rich: And are your efforts there all organic or are you also spending serious coin?
Kinsey: I am not spending serious coin. I am spending right now on Facebook $35/month using their ongoing website promotion. They will automatically place your ad and guarantee you a certain amount of clicks, 35-74 clicks a month I believe, for $35 a month. I’m running that right now and I’m on day 35 and I’ve seen 107 website clicks and 2,000 people reached. Of the 107 I’ve had 6 leads from Facebook.
Rich: That’s really amazing. How are you qualifying a lead? Is that just somebody that fills out your contact form or picks up the phone, or is it another way?
Kinsey: It’s someone that fills out my contact form on my website and schedules a tour.
Rich: So if you’re playing at home and you don’t realize this, to get 6 leads for $35 in the wedding industry is pretty insane. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t be tripling your buy right then if you could fill up as many slots as you wanted to.
Kinsey: I agree and I think that the one thing that I feel about Facebook – especially in the creative community and wedding industry – I don’t understand a ton about Facebook. I just did an episode on this. I don’t want people to learn Facebook ads from me. You need to go and find someone else who is way more knowledgeable, but what I do want to know is I want to get comfortable in their ad platform. I want to get comfortable in their online publisher and in their insights platform. And for $35/month I’m willing to spend that. And, they wouldn’t be constantly putting that option in your face if they didn’t want you to try it.
I really believe that just do what the social network wants you to do, and you’ll be rewarded. That’s why I only use the native Facebook scheduler. I don’t go out to Post Planner or across social. I use their native scheduler because they put it there for a reason. And I have no proof of this, but in my mind I feel like it has helped us with our reach and our marketing efforts on Facebook.
Rich: Well there is definitely evidence that if you use a third party tool like the ones you mentioned or Hootsuite, you get less views, period. There’s no two ways about it. Primarily on Facebook more than any other platform, but they definitely reward people who are using the tools that ae within Facebook.
Kinsey: Awesome. Validation. Thank you.
Rich: And I just want to follow this thread to the end. So they click on the link, they go to your website. Are you sending them to the homepage, are you sending them to a special landing page? How are you handling this traffic?
Amber: I’m sending them to our wedding page. We have two events pages, so we have our wedding page and we have a special events page. We’re sending them specifically to our wedding page because right at the top of that page is an opt-in. So I don’t have my pricing directly listed on my website, but I also don’t make them contact me to get it.
I actually have an opt-in there, it’s a 3D image of a book called, The Wedding Experience Guide, and it says, “Download this and learn what your wedding is going to be like at Vista View Events, including pricing”. So that’s right at the top and it takes them to that page. So in addition to those people scheduling tours, I also have quite a few opt-ins from those 107 clicks because it’s right at the top of that page.
Amber: Awesome. So where can we find you online?
Amber: I just friended her.
Kinsey: Thank you, Amber.
Amber: You’re welcome.
Rich: Kinsey, thank you so much for your time today, I really appreciate it.
Kinsey: It has been my true pleasure, thank you so much.
Building a business from the ground up can be full of frustration. But for Kinsey Roberts, her background in marketing has helped her create business success through a little ingenuity, creativity, and know-how. Check out her informative podcast where she taps the minds of industry pros to find out how they spell success for their businesses. You can also find her creativity and inspiration on Instagram.
Amber Small makes wedding dreams come true. Make sure to reserve your spot now for the Streamline Marketing Workshop Conference that she – along with Rich Brooks of flyte new media – have created specifically targeted to wedding professions, with the goal of helping them reach, connect & engage with their best customers.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve big success. You can also head on over to Twitter to check him out, and he just added “author” to his resume with his brand new book!