» Top Ways to Maximize Your Marketing Budget

Top Ways to Maximize Your Marketing BudgetWith the end of winter in sight and the busy season right around the corner, now is the time to start preparing your business for success! You’ll want to use all your time to work on upcoming weddings and events, which means your marketing activity may fall by the wayside. Even if your calendar is full, it’s vital your marketing efforts are still driving couples to find your business.

We know that a marketing budget can quickly disappear if you’re not careful, but there are ways to maximize your existing budget to get the most out of your efforts. The best practices below will help you manage your marketing strategy without breaking the bank!

Decide on your goals

Before you start spending time or money on a specific marketing tactic or channel, decide on your business’ goals. If your marketing budget is limited, it’s extremely important to align all marketing activity with a certain goal. Do you want to book more weddings, or do you want to make more money on each wedding? Those goals are very different, so the marketing tactics and channels you should target are very different.

Evaluate your current activities

What marketing activities is your business currently engaged in? What’s working? What’s not working? Having a good understanding of the answers to these questions will help you evaluate where your needs are. Then, once you have you’ve decided on your business’ goals, you can evaluate your current activities as helping you to reach those goals. This will help you figure out which areas you’re weak in and how you can improve!

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» Twist In Alabama’s Effort To Delay Same-Sex Marriage

View More: http://carlyfullerphotography.pass.us/kathryn-amy-weddingThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com. You can follow her on Twitter @gayweddingscom. GayWeddings.com is the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999, and a partner in the WeddingWire Network. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography.

In perhaps one of the most surprising twists along the road to marriage equality, Alabama’s state officials have outpaced even South Carolina officials on the resistance to accept marriage equality scale.

A federal judge in Alabama recently overturned its marriage ban, paving the way for same-sex couples to marry. The decision was stayed, pending appeal, but the Supreme Court of the United States refused to uphold the stay, thus allowing couples to marry.

Even so, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, an established controversial figure in the conservative moment, refused to budge. He introduced confusion into the state asking probate judges not to marry same-sex couples. The result was that some counties did; some didn’t; and some didn’t issue any licenses to any couples.

But, Alabamans who do not support marriage equality weren’t done yet. On Tuesday, two anti-LGBT groups filed a complaint in hopes of putting a stop to marriage. The response of Justice Roy Moore and his benchmates?

According to Freedom to Marry, “the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling in an ‘emergency petition for writ of mandamus,’ brought by two private groups who oppose the freedom to marry in Alabama. In the ruling, the Court ordered a temporary halt to probate judges in Alabama from issuing marriage licenses, aside from probate judge Davis in Mobile, who was specifically ordered to stop enforcing Alabama’s harmful ban on marriage between same-sex couples.”

The ruling, from which Justice Moore has recused himself, left folks scrambling today to understand whether or not same-sex couples could apply for licenses.

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» 8 Best Practices for Displaying Your Reviews

8 Best Practices for Displaying Your ReviewsBy now, it’s clear: Reviews and testimonials are extremely important for wedding and event professionals. Your WeddingWire Storefront already features your reviews prominently to help engaged couples evaluate whether or not your business is a good fit, but it’s important to extend those reviews beyond your Storefront to feature them on your website, blog or other branded online sites.

We offer awards for the quantity and quality of your reviews through annual programs like the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® and WeddingWire Rated, which both include badges you can proudly display on your website. In addition, premium WeddingWire members can highlight one review to be featured at the top of their reviews on their Storefront, but you may have a ton of great reviews that you want to show the world! If you want to start displaying your reviews in other places online, use these best practices to get started.

  1. Select reviews from customers who best represent your ideal prospect. You know your ideal customer: that bride or groom who loves your services and sees the value in your expertise without having to negotiate. Those customers are often the easiest to please and would therefore be more likely to write you a stellar review. Put your best foot forward by featuring this type of review!
  2. Select reviews that include specific details about your service. Reviews that detail how nice or professional you are can still be valuable, but when featuring reviews on your website or blog it’s important to select those reviews that go into specific detail about your business. This gives web visitors and prospects a better idea of what to expect, and lends more credibility to the reviewer.
  3. Feature several short reviews instead of a few long ones. If you have limited space, it’s best to display several shorter reviews instead of one or two long reviews. Short reviews will make it easy for those who like to skim through the list, and featuring reviews from multiple clients shows that your business is able to satisfy a variety of clients with different needs and budgets.
  4. …But don’t be afraid of long reviews. If you’re featuring reviews on multiple pages of your website or blog, you can leverage one or two longer reviews on each page. For example, if you have separate pages for your DJ services and lighting and décor services, feature a review that mentions specific details about your DJ services on the DJ page and a review that mentions specific details about your lighting and décor services on the lighting page.
  5. Include names, titles and locations when possible. While reviews you receive on WeddingWire may not include the full name of the reviewer depending on his or her privacy settings, that doesn’t mean your business can’t use names if you have permission from the client. If you have a good relationship with the client, feel free to reach out for approval on using more details about them on your website.
  6. Feature the reviewer’s head shot. When you reach out to your client for permission to use more identifying information to accompany the review, why not ask for a recent head shot? Visual confirmation that the reviewer is a real person can be extremely powerful when combined with an already favorable review.
  7. Don’t forget the quotation marks! This may seem silly, but quotation marks are a huge visual indicator that the review is unedited and straight from the reviewer. Forgetting to include them may indicate to visitors and prospects that you’ve made edits or changed the review in some way. Always include quotation marks to ensure readers know that the review is a direct quote.
  8. Be consistent in formatting. Though you should never edit a review, you can make sure that the name, title, location and/or headshot formatting is consistent across all the reviews you display. Also think about the styling of the review – you can use big block quotation marks or italic text to distinguish the review from the rest of the page. However you choose to style your reviews, keep it consistent so that the reader can easily follow and understand what the reviews say about your business.

Displaying your WeddingWire reviews on your website or blog is a great step towards using what your customers say as part of your sales process to help manage your online reputation! These best practices will help your business convince more visitors that your business is the right choice boost conversion rates on your contact forms.

Don’t have that perfect review yet? Keep collecting reviews! Start here.

» Make Pricing Information Available on Your WeddingWire Storefront

Florists, Videographers, Bands, DJs, Wedding Planners, Ceremony Musicians/Bands, Officiants, Beauty & Health professionals or Lighting & Decor businesses may notice new pricing-related questions within the FAQ section of your WeddingWire account.

Make Pricing Information Available on Your WeddingWire StorefrontThe answers to these basic pricing questions will display on your Storefront and provide important information to engaged couples evaluating your business. Many wedding professionals already provide general pricing information on their business website to set better expectations with consumers, ultimately allowing them to pre-qualify their inquiries and focus on prospective clients who are serious about booking their business.

As you add your pricing information, be sure to check out Alan Berg’s tips for handling pricing questions with potential clients, including:

  • Shift the conversation to focus on your service quality. Couples who ask about price don’t necessarily think price is more important than quality. They’re buying something they’ve never bought before, so use pricing questions as a starting point for a deeper conversation.
  • Make it clear that you’re on their side. Explain that you don’t want them to pay any more than they have to in order to get everything they want. Sharing general pricing information ahead of time means that couples will have a better expectation of your cost and will be more ready to start discussing how they can customize their plan.

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» Blogging for Wedding PR

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 and NACE Education Chair for 2014-15. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

When I mention blogging to just about anyone – client, colleague or all-around wedding buddy, I’m generally met with the same reaction: groan. I’ve come to expect it, in fact – even from those like myself who actual enjoy writing.

Blogging for Wedding PRAnd I get it – blogging takes time out of an already busy day. The idea of having to sit down, come up with a topic and then actually write isn’t terribly appealing. But, just like those not so fashionable yet oh-so-practical shoes you have to wear on event day, blogging is a necessary evil. This is particularly the case if you have an interest in increasing your press in 2015 and beyond.

First and foremost, it’s an undeniable fact that the media seeks out sources online. If you haven’t started chasing down the key words in your market for your area of expertise, then now is the time to make it happen. There are a number of factors that affect your Google rankings, and a regularly maintained blog with the appropriate key words is one of them. If there is a local editor looking to interview a wedding photographer, for example, then they’ll start searching online and you absolutely want to be on the first page of results to increase your chances of being contacted.

So what should be on your to do list? It’s time to either start studying SEO 101 or consider hiring an expert in the field. You’ll need to identify what key words are most popular in your market and then begin incorporating them as organically as possible within your blog posts through the tags, the title, the image descriptions and the body of the post.

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» WeddingWire Workshop Phoenix

Earlier this week, local Phoenix Wedding Pros gathered at the Hotel Valley Ho for WeddingWire Workshop Phoenix, an event focused on managing your business!

At the WeddingWire Workshop, Pros gathered for a comprehensive presentation on the tools available within the Clients Tab of a premium members’ WeddingWire account. In addition to learning these tips, attendees also enjoyed a Peer Insights Panel discussion, met their local WeddingWire representatives, and networked with other local Pros during a closing reception.

WeddingWire Workshops are the newest addition to our variety of educational events and networking opportunities created for Wedding Pros, which include our annual user’s conference WeddingWire World, networking events such as WeddingWire Mix & Mingles, WeddingWire Networking Nights and more. We look forward to hosting more local WeddingWire Workshops in the near future!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop, including our panelists from Brilliant Bridal, ASU Kerr Cultural Center, Bamboo Bakery and DePoy Studio. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Workshop Phoenix board in the Pro Forums!

We’re excited to share some highlights from the event and additional resources including access to our Clients tab Quick Start Guides, the WeddingWire Education Guide for more business tips, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

Finally, congrats to Charles of Redstone at Oak Creek Country Club, the winner of the WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop Phoenix

WeddingWire Workshop Phoenix

WeddingWire Workshop Phoenix

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» Welcoming Wedding Planner (Bodas) to the Family!

Welcoming Wedding Planner (Bodas) to the Family!We are thrilled to announce that WeddingWire has acquired Wedding Planner, S.L., the largest operator of online wedding sites across Europe and Latin America. Today’s acquisition now makes us the global industry leader powered by a team of over 650 talented employees.

Over the past eight years, we’ve worked hard to establish ourselves as the number one resource in North America that connects engaged couples with trusted wedding professionals. The acquisition of Wedding Planner accelerates our international expansion across 12 countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Mexico and Brazil. We have market-leading brands, including Bodas.net, Matrimonio.com and Casamentos.com.br, that create the largest global resource for online wedding planning from Washington D.C. to Honolulu, and now also from Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro.

WeddingWire will continue to provide the same great service that our wedding and events professionals are accustomed to – there will be no change for businesses on WeddingWire. Our team remains focused as a partner in success to deliver business to our community.

We hope you’ll join us in taking a moment today to celebrate this union and welcome all the new members of our family!

For additional information, please visit global.weddingwire.com.

» New Employee Onboarding Success Tips

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

New Employee Onboarding Success TipsThe hiring process, from start to finish, can feel like a daunting task. And with so much work going into identifying and hiring that perfect new employee, it’s easy to forget that your job isn’t over when the contract is signed!

New employee onboarding is not often a skill that most wedding professionals have in their realm of experience, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be learned. Use these new employee onboarding success tips to set yourself (and your new hire) up for long-term success.

Get a head start

Onboarding a new employee should start before he or she even arrives! The new hire will need to know when to arrive, where to park, how to dress and what to bring on the first day. Make the situation easier for the new hire by providing all this information prior to the first day. Maintain an open and consistent line of communication in the days or weeks leading up to the employee’s first day, and make sure your team is ready internally.

Cover all the basics

In addition to all the HR forms you and the new employee will need to fill out, there are a number of basic steps to take when onboarding a new employee. Even if you have a small store or office, don’t skip the office tour! You’ll need to point out important things like break areas, rest rooms and emergency exits. It’s also important that you go over any emergency procedures with the new employee to keep them up to date on workplace safety. If you have enough employees that it might be confusing for the new hire, provide an organizational chart to show who to report to with questions or issues.

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» Customer Success Profile: Shayna D.

Did you know that all premium WeddingWire Pros have access to a dedicated Customer Success representative?

Our Customer Success Team is there to share ideas and tips to help you get the most out of your account. No matter if you have a specific question or you’d like recommendations on best practices, the WeddingWire Customer Success team is dedicated to helping you grow your business.

In our Customer Success Profile series, we interview a member of our Customer Success team each month. Get to know your Customer Success representative and learn more about how they can help your wedding business!

NCustomer Success Profile: Shayna D.ame: Shayna D.

How long have you worked for WeddingWire?

3 years and 2 months

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

My favorite part of my job is getting the opportunity to talk to so many different Pros each day. I really feel like I am helping them grow their businesses and I love when I hear about their success with WeddingWire. I recently moved into my market and I really enjoy being able to make a stronger connection with my local Pros, but I’m also excited to see how I can become more of a face in the local wedding community!

What’s your favorite tip to help Pros?

I always share with my vendors how important reviews are. People today use reviews to evaluate everything, from a restaurant to a dentist to a plumber. Weddings are the biggest day in a couple’s life, so they are going to want to read reviews to find out what to expect. Even if your business gets a lot of bookings through word of mouth, couples are still going to go to search your business name and expect to find reviews.

How do you keep up with technology trends?

I read blogs all the time. I am big on business and tech blogs such as TechCrunch and Mashable. I think we live in a tech-focused world and it’s great to see what is new.

How do you keep up with trends in the wedding industry?

I love Pinterest and Instagram. I think both platforms are great for inspiration but also to see what’s trending!

If you’d like to learn more about the WeddingWire Customer Success Team or find out who your Customer Success representative is, please email pros@weddingwire.com!

» What’s Next in Social Media: February 2015

What's Next in Social Media

Social media is constantly changing. Each network has its own strategy and features, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest news. Never fear! We’ve got your monthly update, all in one place, so you can be prepared for what’s next in social media!

Here’s what you need to know about what’s next in social media from February 2015:

Announcing new Product Ads on FacebookProduct Ads on Facebook

In addition to Facebook’s existing ad products, the social network has announced new Product Ads, designed to help businesses promote products or product catalogs across all devices. These ads allow businesses to highlight their products to specific audiences, or let Facebook display the most relevant products to people. These are a great way to link directly to your products and offer discounts.

Read more on the Facebook for business blog >>

Twitter launches Curator

Twitter’s latest tool, Curator, helps media outlets and businesses figure out which topics are popular and where. Curator allows you to search through tweets, Vine videos and other data with filters to narrow down the results by location, word count, sentiment and more. Users can also select tweets from the search results to present them together in relevant groups.

Continue on Mashable >>

Pinterest’s new spam-fighting tool

Stingray, a spam-fighting service widely used at Pinterest, can identify inappropriate and unwanted behavior on the social network in real-time. Since many social networks rely on manual moderation to keep spam posts under control, Stingray balances automatic detection and manual intervention. Rather than block the spam account, the service makes it so that the spammer’s posts are invisible to others.

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» The Surging Necessity of Your Mobile Presence

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

No matter what industry your business operates in, you must be aware of the new platforms and tools used by your audience. I live by the simple rule that when more than 5% of your audience is using a certain channel or medium to find your business, you should invest in that channel or medium. In the case of the wedding industry, you can no longer ignore the mobile trend; you must have a mobile presence to reach potential clients where they’re already spending their time.

The Surging Necessity of Your Mobile PresenceThe main age demographic for the wedding industry is 18-35 (your local area may vary). Just four years ago, 5-10% of that age group was using mobile devices to search. Today, the same age group uses mobile devices 65-75% of the time. No matter how they find your business, whether through an online wedding directory, online search engine, or countless other choices, a mobile website is mandatory.

When a visitor attempts to access your website from a mobile device, the mobile browser reads the code on your website and determines whether it should show the prospect a full desktop version or a mobile-friendly version of your site.

If you take a look at Google Analytics for your website, you can view what percentage of your audience is visiting your website on desktop or mobile. Drilling deeper, you will be amazed at how many different formats access your website. It is not uncommon to see 25-40 different computer screen sizes and 50-100 mobile resolutions.

There are a number of ways to make your website more mobile friendly, so below I’ll explain the two main strategies for mobilizing your website.

Responsive Design

A website built using a responsive design or format automatically changes the layout and/or content of your website based on the size of the user’s screen. For example, your website on a desktop will display your full site navigation in a horizontal bar, but your website on a mobile device will stack those navigation elements or change to offer drop down menus to accommodate the slimmer screen size. Rather than designing two separate versions of your website, your business can create one website with one experience, no matter the screen size.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Reasonable Pricing, Contact Forms and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Reasonable Pricing, Contact Forms and MoreThe word “reasonable”

When a client uses the word “reasonable,” what do you understand that to mean? Pros talk about the best way to communicate with clients who want to lower your price, and how to help them understand what is actually considered reasonable in the wedding industry.

Add your thoughts >>

Adding contact information

Where do you post your contact information on your business’ website? On a topic fresh from this month’s educational webinar with Alan Berg, Pros discuss best practices for contact forms to help get more qualified inquiries.

Join the discussion >>

Joining area Facebook Groups

Do couples in your market participate in local Facebook Groups to discuss wedding planning? Pros talk about how these groups are a new trend among couples and vendors alike, and how some vendors are trying to advertise or argue on these pages in an inappropriate way. Continue reading