» 5 Keys to Sail Through Wedding Season

Are you ready to sail through wedding season?

Late spring means that busy season is here for the majority of wedding professionals! While this is an exciting time to see your clients getting married and their perfect day coming to life, it can also be a stressful time to try to balance workload and client expectations  all while maintaining your business’ day to day operations!

April’s webinar for premium members hosted by Jennifer Reitmeyer, WeddingWire Education Expert and founder of WeddingIQ and Firebrand Messaging, focused on helping you stay sane and productive during the busy months ahead.

Check out the five keys to keeping your sanity during wedding season:

Sail-Through-Wedding-Season

» What to Do When They Don’t Respond

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

If you’ve watched the webinars, read the blogs and/or have seen me present on sales at WeddingWire World, then you should be well versed in how to reply when you get an email inquiry. When it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. It makes sense when you think about how many are doing some or most of their planning from work, or late at night. It’s not only convenient; it’s very natural for these ‘digital natives’.

	What to Do When They Don’t RespondBeing first gives you an edge

Whether it came through your WeddingWire storefront or directly through your website, replying quickly is your first step in getting them closer to a sale. They expect a reply within 24 hours of when they send it to you. Over 70% of engaged couples find vendor responsiveness to be one of the most important characteristics to look for while researching professionals. Unfortunately, 40% of couples say that they aren’t hearing back within five days! In today’s digitally-connected world, that’s an eternity.

Now consider the fact that WeddingWire’s data shows that if you respond to a client within 5 minutes, rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to connect with a qualified lead. If you’re worried, thinking you’re already a slave to your email and now you need to be constantly connected, I want to give you hope. Weddings pros just like you are finding a balance or solution to this reality.

What’s a wedding pro to do?

So, let’s say you do respond quickly, certainly within the 24 hours that they expect, but they still don’t respond to you. What happened? There are a few possible explanations for when they don’t respond:

  1. Someone got back to them faster. While the first one to reply certainly has an edge, if you’re the second and reply in a way that connects with them better, you’ll still be in the running. As I’ve been saying for years, reply as quickly as you can, without ignoring your family or current customers.
  2. They never received your email. Maybe it went to their spam/junk folder. Try replying the next day if you still don’t hear back. Say something like “Hi Dale, I got your inquiry yesterday and didn’t hear back, so I wanted to make sure you received it, as I know how excited you must be as excited to find out more about having [insert your outcome-based value statement here – packed dance floor, creative floral design…], as we are to hear about your wedding vision.”
  3. They did receive your message, but they can’t reply now. We know that a huge percentage of couples are doing some of their wedding planning from work. What you may not know is that many of them get in trouble for doing so. Some could even get fired! Give them a day to get back to you, then reply as suggested above and see if they reply.
  4. They received your email but it turned them off. Yes, even if you reply quickly, it still has to be a good reply. The short answer is to make it a personal reply, keep it to fit on one screen of their phone, don’t answer questions they haven’t asked and end with one question, not a statement. Saying “Let me know if you have any questions” will not get a reply. Asking “What other questions can I answer for you?” will get a reply more often.
  5. Don’t force the phone call/appointment. If they wanted to talk to you on the phone, they would have called you. If your initial reply asks them to schedule a call, or appointment, and that’s not what they had asked, you’re likely getting more not responding than you should. Let the conversation evolve so the call or appointment is the next, natural step for them.

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» Celebrate Marriage Equality With #WeDoLove

Celebrate Marriage Equality With #WeDoLoveOn June 26, 2016, WeddingWire and our sister site, GayWeddings, will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling, a decision that paved the way for marriage equality nationwide. It was an important victory for love that impacted all of us.

We know the support of wedding professionals like you means the world to engaged couples and newlyweds. So we’re teaming up with GayWeddings to create a fun, celebratory video including your #WeDoLove moments in support of marriage equality.

#WeDoLove celebrates weddings for all couples, and the outpouring of love and support, teamwork and togetherness for everyone who helps bring two people together. We salute the village it takes to plan a wedding from family and friends to LGBTQ-friendly wedding pros.

Want to submit? Simply upload a short video telling us why you “do love” in support of marriage for all! We’re looking for self-filmed videos between 15 and 30 seconds that discuss some of the following themes:

  • What word(s) comes to mind when you think about “marriage equality?”
  • How has marriage equality changed your life?
  • What does the one-year anniversary of the ruling mean to you?
  • Why is marriage equality important?

By adding your unique perspective to #WeDoLove, you’ll help us create an inspiring video to commemorate the one-year anniversary of marriage equality, and to stand behind love. Upload your video now, and tell us why you do love!

Submit your video now >>

» Help Your Clients Win $5,000!

Help Your Clients Win $5,000!If you’re one of the 77% of wedding professionals who has a goal of collecting more online reviews to increase your credibility, we’re here to offer a few thousand more reasons to request reviews from your clients.

For reviews written on WeddingWire from now until May 31, 2016, your clients will be entered to win $5,000 toward their wedding expenses! Invite your clients to review you all month long and they could win money just in time for the summer months ahead.

79% of wedding pros say online reviews are critical to their business, but 48% say collecting online reviews is difficult. Our review contest provides you with another reason to reach out if you’ve already sent a request, and it’s a great incentive for those clients who are still paying off their balances.

Since we know prospective clients like to read reviews to learn more about your business from past couples who have used your services, collecting more reviews helps your online reputation and helps other couples searching for vendors like you.

Easily share this contest with your clients on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or add a note in your emails. Remember, each review counts as one entry – so spread the love by letting them know they could win some major moola!

If you have any additional questions regarding our latest reviews contest, please see our Official Rules.

» Sailing Through Wedding Season Without Losing Your Sanity

Sailing Through Wedding Season without Losing Your SanityWebinar recap!

Busy wedding season is here (or very close!) for many wedding professionals. Along with this exciting time of the year often comes long days, needy clients, and plenty of unexpected surprises along the way.

It’s important to not lose your sales and operations momentum while you are hard at work executing your events so you can keep your business thriving year-round! In this month’s one hour webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer shared tips to manage your business, your clients, and even your stress-levels like a pro!

Here’s the five keys to stay sane during wedding season:

  • Take stock of your business as it is right now. Get real about your business, and take stock of where you are in the important areas of sales, marketing and operations before things get too busy.
  • Create a plan. Determine how you will get all business-related items done while you are also executing lots of events. By setting a basic weekly routine, deadlines, and creating helpful resources such as an event prep list, you will stay organized and efficient.
  • Embrace (and communicate) your boundaries. Most client and vendor-facing issues can be avoided by simply setting expectations. Make your boundaries clear on items such as working days and your service process, and communicate them clearly to each new client.
  • Assess and re-asses. Remember that every good plan is flexible. Set aside time each month to check in with yourself and your business. Ask questions like “Am I continuing to make time to sell new clients?” or “How are my weddings going? Am I upholding to my standards and promises made, or do I need additional resources?”
  • Treat yourself with the same respect and consideration with which you’d treat others. Make time for yourself or you will burn out! Schedule time off, set aside time to do the things you enjoy on a weekly basis, prioritize your sleep, and maintain your physical health. You will stay happy, and so will your business!

For more great advice, watch the full webinar, and be sure to check out Jennifer’s blog all about the business of weddings, WeddingIQ.com!

Don’t forget that your clients also get stressed during the wedding planning process up to the big day! Do you have any expert tips you would like to share with WeddingWire couples? Submit your tips here, and they could be included in an upcoming consumer campaign!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta

Earlier this week, wedding professionals gathered at Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead for WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta!

At the Networking Night, Atlanta pros had the opportunity to enjoy the stunning venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to an educational presentation by WeddingWire’s Associate Director for Customer Success, Kyle Mihalcoe.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our newest issue of WedInsights, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta board in the Pro Forums.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack – congrats to Jae of JaeBelle Photography!

WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta
WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta 2016 Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal Brand

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

While you may be familiar with big brand names (think Apple and Nike), ask yourself what you’re doing to build your own brand. That’s right – a personal brand captures your personality and tells people you are an expert in a certain area.

Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal BrandThe stronger your personal brand is, the more you’ll be respected as an industry leader, which certainly has a direct impact on a business if you’re an entrepreneur. That being said, you don’t need to own your own business to build a personal brand – all you need is a good idea of who you are and where your values lie.

First Things First

Before anything, you’ll have to ask yourself a few questions to really get an idea of how you want to portray your brand. What kind of adjectives would you use to describe yourself? How do you want to project yourself to other people? What are some of the things that you view as most important in your life?

Keep in mind that the answers to these questions will define the parameters for your branding, so it’s best to give them a lot of thought rather than to skim over it.

Know Your People

Ask yourself: Whom are you trying to reach? What are you trying to share with them? Understanding your target audience is the key to crafting a brand that will draw in the right kind of people.

Plan It Out

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” The only way to ensure that your personal brand not only fits your personality but is also targeted to your ideal audience is to plan, plan, plan. After you’ve determined whom you’re trying to reach, figure out what channels you’re going to use to get in front of them. For example, if you’re trying to reach female millennials, Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start.

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» Five Business Tweaks to Make Before Busy Season Hits

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Her newest venture, Authentic Boss, is an online learning resource for business owners seeking to work and live more authentically. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Five Business Tweaks to Make Before Busy Season HitsSpring is here, and with it starts the craziness of wedding season. Because executing our events and delivering our service or product becomes our number one priority, it’s easy to let slide some important parts of marketing and operating our business.

In the interest of saving your sanity when you’re in event overdrive, here are five things to do now, before busy season truly hits:

  1. Make sure your marketing is up-to-date. While most of us do a pretty good job of maintaining the essential information on our website and social media, it’s easy to forget little things like adding new awards and keeping your team members’ bios current. Updating our listings on other sites, including WeddingWire, is also often overlooked. Before you get swamped with weddings, take a few moments to ensure your information is consistent across the web – your professional image will only benefit.
  1. Take care of the housekeeping. I use “housekeeping” to describe all the un-glamorous, yet truly important, parts of maintaining your business – things like renewing any professional licenses or certifications in your field, keeping up with your insurance coverage, and making sure you’ve maintained the equipment or supplies you need to do your job. Double-checking these things now will keep you from scrambling later.
  1. Rally the troops. It’s a great idea to evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses now, so you can provide any necessary training before you’re super busy. (Bonus: this will help them help you when wedding season strikes.) You can also use this time to boost morale and get everyone fully on board with your brand, so they’ll reflect well on you when they’re working at events.

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» Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal Landscape

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

One of the hardest aspects of our long walk to marriage equality was, for me, hearing nationally broadcast comments from those who have never met me declaring my life and relationship to be “immoral” or “wrong” or “not right with God.”

How would they know me, my spirituality, and my life? Those who do know me would say the exact opposite.

My values have, after all, been crafted in the careful curation of a family and community that embraces compassion, commitment, service, and integrity. And these values are the hallmark of my 23+ year relationship with my spouse.

I had hoped that the marriage equality breakthrough granted to us by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 would mean that my marriage (spiritually-bound for so many years, until we received this long-overdue, important civil right) would no longer be subject to the abject pronouncements by a small vocal group, and fueled by the members of their community who remained silent in fear of the repercussions for speaking up or revealing a change of heart.

But, here we are, even with marriage equality settled in all 50 states and over 85% of wedding professionals nationwide saying that they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples, and the backlash is well underway. The conversation, though, is now being tried actively as one of religious freedom in both the court of public opinion and the court of law.

From The Headlines

Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal LandscapeKim Davis, a clerk in Kentucky, was the first high profile example of protest when she refused to sign the marriage license of a gay male couple that appeared in her office to apply. After a few short days in jail for refusing to do her civic duty and her ongoing resistance to fulfill the duties of her elected office, Gov. Matt Bevin altered the licenses allowing Davis and other dissenters not to sign. Kentucky then went on to attempt to pass a “separate-but-not-equal bill” that was ultimately rejected (and notably, not even supported by Davis).

More recently, after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill to shield marriage equality opponents, the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi waded into these controversial waters. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into a law that banned “anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and requiring transgender people in government buildings and public schools to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.” And, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a broadly-worded bill into law allowing individuals and institutions to deny services to the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.

The result in North Carolina? Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in protest. PayPal withdrew its plan for a $3.6M expansion in Charlotte, NC, an economic repercussion not unlike that faced by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after his push for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have allowed for denial of services to LGBTQ couples. An additional 120 companies also signed an open letter for repeal of that law. In Mississippi, singer Bryan Adams cancelled a concert and eight companies, including Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Choice Hotels Corp, Inc., have signed an open letter to Gov. Bryant to repeal the bill, HB 1523. With such vocal and consistent support for the past few years, it remains clear that Fortune 500 companies recognize that supporting LGBTQ couples and families is good for business.

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» Infographic: Listen Up… and Sell Even More

The ability to listen is one of the most important sales skills a pro can learn. It sounds simple (and it is!), but listening more than you talk during appointments can help you ask better questions in order to learn more about your prospects and tailor your sale to the custom needs of each couple.

Our March educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. Get Alan’s top 4 tips in our infographic, below!

Infographic: Listen Up and Sell Even More

Don’t forget that all past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» Wedding MBA 2016: Special Savings for WeddingWire Members

Wedding MBA: Special Savings for WeddingWire MembersDon’t miss three exciting days of education for wedding professionals at Wedding MBA this October 3-5th in Las Vegas!

Did you know you can save extra on your ticket just by being a WeddingWire member? Register with this special link to save an extra $20 on the current ticket price (your discount will be applied when you complete checkout).

What will you experience at Wedding MBA?

  • Great education to boost your business’ success. Attend the event for 100 seminars focused on business, technology and trends in the wedding industry. This year, there are category-specific tracks the first day in addition to all the industry relevant main presentations to look forward to.
  • Presentations from industry leaders. Experience inspirational and action-oriented presentations from top industry speakers including WeddingWire CEO Timothy Chi, CMO Sonny Ganguly, Education Experts Alan Berg, Andy Ebon, and Kathryn Hamm, and many more. View the Wedding MBA website for all speakers and sessions!
  • Networking and celebrating with industry friends. Make new friends while attending the daily educational seminars, the annual much-anticipated WeddingWire Party, the WeddingWire Happy Hour and more. Plus, meet with members of the WeddingWire team to discuss your account and see what fun surprises we have in store at our Lounge this year.

Check out our highlights from last year’s event for an inside peek at the conference, and get your ticket before the next price increase. We hope we’ll see you in Vegas this fall!

Audience Sonny and Tim in Uniform Julie Blair Selfie Stick in Lounge Alicia with vendors

» WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland

Earlier this week, wedding professionals gathered at The Club at Key Center for WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland!

At the Networking Night, Cleveland pros had the opportunity to enjoy the stunning venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to an educational presentation by WeddingWire’s Regional Manager for Customer Success, Megan Hayes.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our newest issue of WedInsights, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland board in the Pro Forums.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack – congrats to Meg of Meg Bowman Photography!

WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland 2016 Continue reading