» WeddingWire Networking Night St. Louis

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Randall Gallery for WeddingWire Networking Night St. Louis!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a historic venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of 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 latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the enjoyable evening below.

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

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Deb from Artistry Crowning Beauty!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Highland Manor for WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a historic venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about email etiquette tips to help you turn leads into bookings from WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, CSP.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the enjoyable evening below.

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

Check out the photo strips from the event here!

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Michael from October Oaks!

» Wow Your Clients with Our Custom Snapchat Wedding Filters

Chances are, your clients are often seeking new, creative ways to personalize their big day and create a unique experience for their guests. According to WeddingWire’s 2017 Newlywed Report, nearly 50 percent plan their wedding around a specific theme, and almost 25 percent create a signature cocktail for their reception.

snapchat filters custom weddingsKnowing the popularity of social media and the importance of personalization in the wedding planning process, WeddingWire has joined forces with Snapchat to allow couples to personalize their Snapchat wedding filters, schedule start and end time, set their geofence and pay conveniently all in one place. Couples can now create artfully designed, custom wedding Snapchat Geofilters for their wedding events directly on WeddingWire.

We put together a brief guide so that you can share this new feature with your clients to help them personalize their wedding and delight their guests.

 

Quick Guide to WeddingWire’s Customizable Snapchat Geofilters

  • How do you make a custom geofilter? Simply visit the Snapchat Geofilter page on WeddingWire.com and follow the steps to start building a custom filter. Each filter design includes customizable text fields and fonts allowing couples to make the filter their own.
  • What designs are available? In addition to dozens of signature WeddingWire designs, WeddingWire has also partnered with leading brands such as Lilly Pulitzer, Paper Source, and Tuckernuck, allowing couples to choose from a variety of themes and styles.
  • snapchat filtersHow do the geofilters work? Geofilters are available in a select location, for a limited time, based on the couple’s specific event details. The couple designs and purchases the geofilter between 1-90 days before the event. During the event, guests pull up their Snapchat app, take a photo, and swipe right to add the filter!
  • How much do they cost? Pricing is variable: Snapchat sets the filter cost proportional to the desired length of time and selected size of the geofence. As you enter your selections in Step 3, the price automatically updates accordingly.
  • How can I use this tool in my business? You can tell your clients about this tool as a creative idea that they can incorporate into their wedding and/or other celebratory events; they’ll be delighted that you shared this with them! What’s more, anyone can create a custom geofilter, not just the couple! You could also offer to create a custom filter for the couples you serve – just be sure to run the design by them before purchasing it.

Head on over to the Snapchat geofilters page on WeddingWire to check it out for yourself!

» Summer Reading List for Wedding Businesses

It’s summer and that means you’re in the midst of peak wedding season- who has time to read? Hear me out! When it comes to business development, you don’t want to fall behind no matter how packed your weekends are and reading the latest and greatest in business books is an easy way to stay ‘in the know.’ That way, you can hit the ground running when winter hits and you find yourself with more time on your hands. So, grab your sunscreen, some iced tea and relax outside with one or more of these bestsellers!

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

A fun fact about me: back in the day, I was once an intern at the Nike headquarters outside of Portland! So of course, the moment Phil Knight released this book I jumped at the chance to read it. It’s filled with tons of great stories about the early days of Nike, how he set himself apart from the competition, ignored the nay-sayers, and ultimately created a $30 billion company. For me, personal stories are the most effective way to inspire, and Knight’s story does just that.

Superbosses by Sydney Finkelstein

As business owners, we all have different styles when it comes to being a leader. Finkelstein’s book dives deep into what makes someone not just a good boss, but a superboss. Creating an effective master-apprentice relationship, the cohort effect, and how to say goodbye when the time is right are just a few examples covered in this must read. I am constantly searching for new and innovative ways to improve my leadership skills and this book has been a phenomenal resource.

The Power of Broke by Daymond John

As a fan of the show Sharktank, I was very excited to pick up Daymond John’s new book. In it, he talks about starting what would eventually become FUBU with just $40 in his bank account, as well as the out-of-the-box ways he promoted his products. John points out that desperation can drive your passion and push your creativity, efficiency, and innovation to the limits. If you like to run a lean business (I do!), then this is the book for you.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, you’re a business owner, but working in the wedding industry means you’re probably also a creative at heart. Elizabeth Gilbert has been a long time favorite writer of mine and, in her newest book, she’s sharing her views on how to live a more creative life by being curious, braver, and more open-minded. Gilbert’s style will have you not wanting to put this book down and thinking about it long after you’re finished.

Enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation this summer in between weddings with one of these great books- you won’t be sorry!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

 

» 4 Ways to Optimize Your Lead Replies

In the competitive wedding industry, everyone wants lots of high quality leads – but how you reply to each lead plays a pivotal role in determining if you will successfully book the client. These quick tips will help you optimize your lead replies so you’re more likely to receive a positive response and ultimately win the business!

Don’t forget to be personal

Clients know you’re busy, but responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. About 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value. Take an extra minute to include in your reply some details from their message, such as wedding date, style, or venue, or to add a personal comment. This effort makes a human connection and helps you stand out in their crowded inbox.

Keep it short and simple

Many couples check emails primarily on their mobile devices, and short emails are more likely to get a reply. Start with a brief subject line and get to the point quickly, since lengthy emails often go unread. Avoid long paragraphs by adding line breaks and use bullet points or numbers where possible to highlight important details. Come up with a few sample responses to keep on hand so you can quickly add in a bit of custom information based on the inquiry and hit ‘send.’

Answer any questions they asked

Many pros make the mistake of not responding to directly asked questions, which can frustrate couples because they’re often reaching out to a number of pros and may have specific questions or criteria they need to know to move forward. You can prepare ahead of time by coming up with a list of answers to common questions such as price range, packages, and availability – but be sure to address any specific questions they asked in your initial reply. These answers are important in determining if you are a good match – nd will ultimately save you time!

Use their preferred contact method

Our research shows that 48% of couples express frustration when a vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. Get off on the right foot with potential clients by contacting them in the way they prefer!

Couples can give you their phone number and indicate their preferred contact method for your response. The couple’s preferred method will be shared with you in their message details saved on their client information card within your account. If they choose to provide a phone number, it will also appear within their client details for easy reference.

Check out the change on your Storefront now >>

» Wedding PR: The Art of Managing Press Expectations

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Between print deadlines and calls for submissions, it can seem tough to navigate the waters of media relationships. It’s exciting to begin a press campaign for your company but with that, it’s imperative to understand press expectations so you can best determine if your efforts are successful.

Below, you’ll find our top things to keep you mind (and keep you going!) when managing press expectations as you represent yourself:

Patience is a virtue

PR takes time – it’s not a one-time overnight fix; it’s a continuous process. While it may be tempting to shoot out emails to every media outlet you think of, the best approach is a carefully calculated one. Take your time to properly research the media outlets that best fit your brand and create a media list based on your findings. From there, you can craft up a pitch to send along that shows how you can be of value to each outlet. With that said, keep in mind that not every pitch will get picked up but if you offer yourself as a resource and successfully engage with the editors, you can still consider that a job well done.

Print vs. Online

With the wealth of online media outlets and blogs that are available to us, it can be easy to overlook the value in a print feature. While it may not be your primary target, magazine placements can speak volumes about your company. When it comes to print, however, the pitching process tends to be quite different than that of online press. When we submit our features to an online source, we expect to hear back within several weeks and, if picked up, we expect to see it within a few weeks. Many magazines, on the other hand, are published quarterly, bi-annually, or even annually and come with strict deadlines, meaning you may need to hold on to that gorgeous wedding or shoot if you don’t pitch by the deadline.

Continue reading

» How Big Should Your Wedding Business Get?

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.

I’ve had several conversations recently with established wedding professionals that were reconsidering their business size. Rather than looking for ways to get bigger, they were downsizing – on purpose. The most recent business was an entertainment company downsizing from a staff of 6 down to just the owner. I’ve heard this from planners and photographers, and other wedding pros. There are many reasons feeding this particular DJ’s decision, from wanting to simplify his life to being able to spend more time with his family. It’s what’s right for him and his family.

How Big Should Your Wedding Business Get?What’s right for you?

The only vision of your business that matters is yours. From however many weddings and events you do to how much money you make, the goals and targets you set should be your own. There’s no magic number that’s right for everyone in your market and category. Just as with the example above, there’s more to your decision than just money. I once had a wedding pro tell me that he wanted to do 250 weddings per year. I asked him why 250? He said that he felt it would present him as more successful to his peers. The problem with his strategy was that he was taking on lower-dollar, lower-profit business to increase his volume. While his total number of weddings was going up, his bottom line wasn’t. He’s since backed away from that and is happily doing fewer weddings.

Too many people try to model their businesses after others they see or, as with the previous example, they try to chase an arbitrary number. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring for more, just be sure to do it for the right reasons and get all of the facts. From the outside, other businesses often seem smoother and more successful than they really are. A common analogy is of a duck, gliding smoothly across the water, while it’s paddling like mad under the water. That happens a lot on social media, as we see a skewed view of people and businesses. Their triumphs are plastered for all to see, while their failures never make it to their posts and tweets.

business weddingWhat’s the right number?

If you’re currently doing 25 weddings per year and you want to get to 50, how are you going to get there? If you only want to personally do 25 weddings, who’s going to do the rest? Are you already getting so many leads that you’re turning business away? If not, then you’ll need to get more leads, which means increasing your marketing, advertising, and networking efforts. If you’re getting multiple leads for the same days, then you can’t double your number of weddings unless you staff-up. One person can’t be in two places at once.

I was consulting with a DJ company who told me he wanted to get from his current rate of 200 weddings per year up to 500. I told him that getting more equipment was easy. Getting more DJs, since he was already a multi-op, was a little harder – but still doable. The questions he needed to answer included:

  • How much could he afford to increase his marketing budget to extend his reach?
  • What were his plans for a new website?
  • How was he going to get enough leads to be able to close 500 weddings per year?
  • Who was going to handle the thousands of leads he’d need to close 500 weddings?
  • Who was going to oversee all of those new DJs and jobs?
  • What affect would that have on his family life?

Find the balance

What each of us needs to do is find the balance between size and profitability. Doubling the number of weddings you do may feed your ego, but if it doesn’t also feed your family, what’s the point? The key is to build a stable, sustainable business model, while also having time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Don’t build someone else’s idea of your business. Build the one you can not only be proud of, but the one you’re going to want to run, day in and day out.

Now that my kids are grown, I’m grateful that this industry has afforded me the time to spend with them when they were younger. I’m also grateful that we’re in a recession-resistant industry. While things change every year, people are still choosing to get married – and if they’re choosing to have you be part of their wedding, you should be proud, and grateful, too.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» How to Have Better Client Conversations

In the life of a busy wedding professional, sometimes the majority of your day will be spent communicating with clients. Whether you’re responding to an initial inquiry or going back and forth on the little details of an event with an existing client, take note of your tone and approach to communication at every turn. Even though you may have a million other things to do, it’s important to make every client feel like a star through the entire process!

To help you have better client conversations from start to finish, we put together a few tips:

Connect from the get-go

While you might have many appointments during the course of a regular day, each client needs to feel a personal connection with you and your business. Before you start going over the details of the couples’ wedding or event, you’ll need to establish a connection with the couple. Getting to know them a little more can inform your decisions throughout the rest of the conversation (pro tip: find out early on what communication methods they prefer, and follow suit!). You should also take the time to talk a little about yourself so they understand more about you and why your business best fits their needs.

Take it slow

This tip goes hand in hand with the point above; don’t rush into your sales pitch or make an client feel like they’re interrupting your day. Give yourself enough buffer of time for every conversation, and allow them ample time to talk about themselves and the event. Listen carefully to what the couple says so you can remember the little details, and repeat some of those details to them in the course of conversation so they know you are paying attention.

Anticipate Indecisiveness 

We all know that couples are often indecisive when it comes to making choices about their wedding, and they have every right to be – they’re dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. Don’t take it personally if they want time after a conversation to think about it, or if they send you more questions or request a change in product or service. Take it one step at a time and remind them that you are always here to help.

Clarify next steps

At the end of any conversation, be ready to articulate your plan of action and/or clearly outline next steps to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Repeat the items you are responsible for, and remind them of anything they need to provide you to keep the process moving forward. Send a follow-up email to recap your conversation and show them that they will always be able to depend on you to follow-through and keep things organized.

The “Golden Rule”

The “Golden Rule” for successful client communications is the old adage, treat others as you would like to be treated. Most people don’t like to be hounded by a salesperson or relentlessly emailed or called. People want to do business with other real people that they can connect with. By following the tips above, you’ll be more personable in your client conversations and you’ll maintain that connection throughout the whole wedding process. Every happy client is another chance for a 5-star review, so start making your clients happy by putting your best foot forward!

 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» Email Etiquette – Revising Your Signature

Email is a marketing channel that large businesses and small businesses alike use an average of 50 times per day. It’s the most common form of business communication, used to connect directly with future, current, or past clients all day long to relay certain messages. However, we often spend more time worrying about what we say in the body of the email, and give little thought to how we sign off at the end.

The truth is, your email signature is equally as important, as it’s the last bit of information you leave with a client. It’s the part of the virtual connection where you tell your client how best to reach you and what the next step should be. If you haven’t put much thought into your email signature up till now, fear not! It’s never too late to start using these tips to create an informative, professional, and catchy email signature:

  • Simplicity and consistency. The key to successful branding is consistency and simplicity. When it comes to your email signature, this holds true. So while we know it’s tempting to choose a different color for every email signature you write, consider this tip to stay professional. Color can be a great way to highlight your contact information, but you don’t want to go overboard by using crazy colors or wacky fonts. If you do choose to incorporate color, stick to one or two that match your business’s logo (or have some relevancy to your brand).
  • Create a hierarchy. Odds are, you have more than one phone number or email address that you’re currently using. Instead of including all of that information at the end your emails, only use the best ways to reach you. Direct your clients to the best number at the top, to next best, and so on. You don’t need to include your email address (unless you also sometimes use a different email) because that ultimately wastes space.
  • Use icons. Include social media icons that link your email signature to other accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Doing so will increase visits to those pages by making them easier to access and follow, plus potential clients can get a feel for who you are as an individual and as a professional. However, be cautious about which accounts you link to – for instance, if you haven’t uploaded to your business’s Instagram in several months, don’t include it in your signature. You should only include the networks you update the most so you don’t look outdated!
  • Leave some room. You want your email signature to be legible and organized since it includes a lot of important information. Make sure you leave enough space in between lines and numbers so the words don’t clump together and look messy. 
  • Show your free time. Allow people to access your calendar within your signature to book a time to speak with you. This will not only keep you organized, but will make the process of acquiring new clients seamless on both ends! Customers will love how easy it is to see your availability right from your email. Free tools like Calendly integrate with your calendars so appointments that your prospects book will show up with all your other important meetings.
  • Be mobile-friendly. The world operates almost entirely on-the-go, so your emails—including your signature at the end—have to look just as good from a mobile device as they do on a desktop. Try a couple practice tests before sending any emails to prospective clients.
  • Include a CTA. Include a call to action at the end of your email signature that keeps your clients interested. However, be careful not to make it sound too “pitchy,” or self-promoting. A good tip is to include a link to your blog or LinkedIn, where people can go to learn more about you and your business.

Understanding just how important email signatures are as a marketing tool will take your business emails to the next level. By using these tips, you can increase leads and grow your brand with each email you send!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» 5 Ways to Market Your Business in the Busy Season

Now that summer is upon us, wedding professionals across the country face an extremely busy time of year: wedding season! While we know that the most popular months to get married are June, September, and October, it’s critical to remember those couples who are only just getting started planning a winter wedding. Here are a marketing strategies your business can use to keep new clients coming in despite all the rushing around you’ll be doing in the busy season.

1. Keep gathering reviews

With all your weddings and events happening in the spring, summer, and early fall, it’s important to gather as many client reviews as possible. Each review is another chance for your clients to spread the word about your business, and each review is valuable for potential clients who are researching your business and other professionals in their area. Plus, recency is still a big factor when couples are evaluating your wedding business, so it’s essential to continue collecting them even if your calendar for the next few months is full!

2. Tailor your content

Blogging is a great marketing tool no matter the time of the year! Continue creating great content about your business with an off-season twist – think about where your potential clients are in the planning process and try to appeal to them with the right content for that stage. Are there things couples should know about your business when they first start planning? Is there a particular time period couples should focus on your business category versus others in the planning process? Gain more readers by targeting them with the right message at the right time.

3. Offer off-season deals

Take advantage of those couples who are engaged but not getting married during the busier months by offering discounts or deals for the slower times on your calendar. Remember there are still a significant number of engaged couples who choose not to get married in the warmer months, and they’re still doing their wedding planning while others are taking their trips down the aisle. Think about popular off-season dates like Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day and provide special offers, discounts or free add-ons now that help make your business stand out as the perfect choice for their winter wedding needs.

4. Boost your social

One of the best ways to stay top-of-mind even when your workload is full is to continue being active on your social networks. Use social media to offer special discounts, collect reviews and testimonials, share your own content, and run contests or promotions. Your posts will appear within your followers’ social streams, and if you’re creating and posting engaging content, they’ll be more inclined to share your posts with their own networks. Plus, with all the weddings on your calendar, you’ll likely have a ton of real wedding photos and details to post! When their wedding date moves closer, you’ll be the business they remember.

5. Focus on other events

If your business works on more than just weddings – corporate events, sweet sixteen parties, baby showers – ramp up your marketing efforts for those events when the wedding season slows down. By decreasing your marketing budget for promoting weddings and compensating by increasing your budget for promoting your events services, you’ll be able to focus on events that tend to happen all year round. Balancing your efforts in this way will be easier on your budget and help you boost your conversions in your secondary lines of business.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Denver

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Baldoria on the Water for WeddingWire Networking Night Denver!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an waterfront venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned from a panel of their peers on the challenges and opportunities in the Denver wedding market, moderated by Regional Sales Director, Lee Hagen.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the evening below.

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

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Valen from Pink Floral and Events!

» How to Respond to a Negative Review

Negative reviewsReviews are key to your online reputation, and it can be frustrating to receive a review that you may not be satisfied with or feel you don’t deserve. Although you may disagree with the review, it’s important to be professional in your response. Here are some suggestions for responding to negative reviews you may receive on your WeddingWire account:

  • Never write a response while you’re still upset. Take a few hours or even a day before responding to a negative review. Your response is public, so you want to make sure you don’t say something that you will regret later. When you’re calm and ready to address the issue, then you can carefully write your response.
  • Check and re-check your response. Before posting the response, have someone else read it as well just to make sure it does not come off as defensive. Try reading your response from the perspective of a potential client– you want them to see that you are open to feedback and always professional in your communication.
  • Don’t play the “He Said, She Said” game. Remember, the customer is always right (even when they’re wrong!). Apologize for any mishaps you may have caused, or that even may have been outside your control, and point out your other great reviews as proof of your other satisfied customers. Always let them know you value their business and that ultimately your goal was to help create a fantastic event.
  • Keep it simple. Try not to post a long response; leaving a short 3-4 line response is best! Address the reviewer’s concerns, apologize and leave it at that.

What’s the best way to move on after a negative review? Keep collecting more reviews! The more recent reviews you receive, the lower that review gets pushed on your list. Use our Review Collector Tool to keep collecting positive reviews, and you’ll soon forget all about that negative review. Remember, a less than perfect review every so often also adds to credibility, after all, no one is perfect 100 percent of the time!

Pro tip: Don’t forget to respond to positive reviews, too! Let your reviewers know that you appreciate them taking the time to respond to them and return the compliments. Responding to both positive and negative reviews helps show potential clients that you listen to your clients and want to help them have the best experience. It also shows you value the time they took to write the review after their event.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.