» How to Stay Motivated After the Busy Season

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

Zig Ziglar famously said, “Motivation doesn’t last, but neither does bathing. It is required daily.”

I have seen many people who need a boost after the busy season, so this week I thought I would write about the positive signs being seen in the market. Working with others in different markets throughout the country, I have a broad view and things are looking up – conditionally.

How to Stay Motivated After the Busy SeasonWhen I say conditionally, I mean that the conditions apply to those working their businesses. One motivated wedding professional can outshine an unmotivated wedding professional who may offer a lower price, a better product or more. The motivation of the individual has much to do with the success of the business.

As self-starters (most of us are owner/operators or in a leadership position), we are required to be self-motivated. At the end of the day, would I write myself up or would I praise myself for the work that I accomplished? I am careful not to set a standard of perfection as I would be disappointed day after day.

The key to motivation in top performers is maintaining the right attitude. If there are customers out there and your competition has somehow gotten a hold of them, your competition did something right that can be duplicated. The key to “realistic thinking” is that you need to truly understand that the business is out there. The challenge then becomes finding that business.

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» Should You Try Mobile Opt-in Marketing?

Should You Try Mobile Opt-in Marketing?By now your wedding business should be aware that mobile marketing is on the rise. While you know it’s something your business should be doing, it’s another thing entirely to start up a mobile marketing campaign or program! You can mobilize your website, Storefront and emails, but those are not your only options for reaching engaged couples on their mobile devices.

If you’re interested in sending immediate information on a more personalized basis, here’s a brief introduction to mobile opt-in marketing!

What it is

Traditional marketing tactics do not require your target audience to opt-in because most traditional marketing tactics are 1-to-many – meaning that one business is communicating with many people with one message. Traditional marketing tactics include print advertising, direct mail or radio and television ads. With the social media revolution, social networks opened up two-way communication with their audience. Now users can “like” your business’ page on Facebook and interact directly with your business. This change caused other changes in marketing strategies to shift from sending a mass message to crafting more relevant and timely messages based on behavior.

Opt-in marketing means that users have given your business permission to send them information on a 1-to-1 basis. The best and most popular use of opt-in marketing is email marketing – if you don’t have explicit permission to email a given person (whether they opt-in through your website or establish a business connection with you) you’re likely to be marked as spam and suffer other penalties.

Mobile opt-in marketing is very similar to email marketing, except that instead of giving you permission to send them emails, users are giving you permission to send them voice, text or other mobile messages to their smartphones or cell phones. Mobile opt-ins go beyond being able to interact with your business via smartphone; the user is giving you permission to push messages directly to their phone number.

How to do it

If you’ve ever opted-into an email newsletter list for a publication or individual business, you’ve seen how easy it can be! You’ll need to create a form to collect the phone numbers as well as some simple legal language to lay out your terms and conditions. These terms will explain in detail what you are and are not allowed to do with the user’s phone number. CTIA – The Wireless Association and Mobile Marketing Association have some great best practices for messaging consumers in the U.S.

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» The Top 5 Wedding Dress Trends from New York Bridal Fashion Week

The WeddingWire Team just returned from New York Bridal Fashion Week, and what a whirlwind it was! The team attended 86 shows and appointments over six days, and all agree that this was one of the strongest showings we’ve seen in a while! We saw lots of new designers, fresh ideas, and some interesting new wedding dress trends. Check out the styles we’re sure brides will be clamoring for in 2015!

Crop Tops

If this season’s Bridal Fashion Week had a theme, it would be “showing skin.” And designers found lots of ways to do just that. We saw two-piece wedding gowns featuring crop tops on many runways. While these styles aren’t for everyone, they’re certainly modern and fresh.

Crop Tops

Gowns (left to right) by Reem Acra and Hayley Paige. Photos by Dan Lecca

Deep V-Necks

How low can you go? Well, when it comes to necklines, pretty low, apparently. Designers were bringing necklines nearly down to the navel in many cases. However, if the rest of gown is kept fairly demure with a classic silhouette and perhaps, sleeves, the overall effect isn’t too scandalous.

Deep V-Necks

Gowns (left to right) by Dennis Basso and Inbal Dror. Photos by Dan Lecca

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» Refresh Your Storefront This Engagement Season

Refresh Your Storefront This Engagement Season!With wedding season coming to end, we are moving into the height of engagement season. Between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, over 40% of couples get engaged and begin their planning their weddings. Now is a great time to make sure your WeddingWire Storefront is going to attract as many couples as possible.

Below are three tips to help you get set up for success this engagement season!

1.  Add updated photos and videos to your Storefront

Make sure you take the time to collect photos and videos from the events you’ve done this year and add them to your Storefront. Couples want to see recently updated content on your Storefront since both photos and videos help them establish a mental connection with your business’ products and services.

Pro Tip: Be sure to introduce yourself to other Pros working your client’s wedding so that later you feel more comfortable asking for photos from the event that you would like to feature on your Storefront or website. Just remember to always give proper credit to each Pro’s work you’ll be featuring!

2.  Reach out to your recent clients for reviews

Remember to reach out to your couples from 2014 for reviewers sooner rather than later! Having recent reviews is important to potential clients and each review you collect helps build your online credibility. Each review you collect during 2014 will count towards your eligibility for our annual Couples’ Choice Awards, which are awarded in January!

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» Today is WeddingWire World Houston!

Today is WeddingWire World Houston!WeddingWire World Houston is the fourth of five stops on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014!

Today, at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown, wedding professionals from the Houston area will learn about the latest in the wedding industry and how to keep their businesses on top of all the most important channels, including sales, reviews, marketing, business management, networking, and more!

Attendees will hear from leading wedding industry professionals and special guest speakers, in addition to visiting with our Customer Success team that will be available for on-site consultations to answer questions and help our members take advantage of everything their WeddingWire account has to offer.

Below are a few other helpful notes for WeddingWire World Houston attendees:

  • Check-in and start the day at 8am – our staff will be ready and waiting to assist you!
  • Catch up and create new connections with your fellow Wedding Pros at our Networking Breakfast from 8am-9:15am.
  • Earn raffle tickets throughout the day to be entered in our drawing to win an iPad Mini, $100 Amazon gift card or tickets to WeddingWire World 2015!
  • Tweet your own takeaways and follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter, where @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting and responding to Pro feedback and more! We’ll also post some behind-the-scenes photos on the WeddingWireEDU Instagram account.

Be sure to check back later this week as we continue to share photos and highlights from the event.

Thanks to all the Pros joining us today!

Not in the Houston area? There’s still one stop left on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014! We invite our west coast Pros to check out the schedule and register today for WeddingWire World SoCal on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by visitinghttp://weddingwireworld.com/socal.

» MONDAY: WeddingWire World Houston

Win Tickets to WeddingWire World Houston!

We can’t wait for WeddingWire World Houston on Monday!

The 2014 WeddingWire World Tour officially kicked off in June with WeddingWire World Miami andWeddingWire World DC, followed byWeddingWire World Chicago in August. We’re excited to bring our full day conference to the next city on the WeddingWire World Tour – Houston!

WeddingWire World Houston will feature main stage presentations from our industry experts and guest speakers, including WeddingWire’s own CMO, Sonny Ganguly, plus Education Experts Alan Berg, Kathryn Hamm and Andy Ebon. We’re also excited to feature Traci Brown, Body Language and Persuasion Expert, who will speak about the importance of body language for the success of your wedding business.

Attendees will also have time to meet 1-on-1 with our Customer Success Managers as well as several opportunities to network with other local Pros at our Networking Breakfast in the morning and Cocktail Reception following the day’s presentations!

WeddingWire World Houston will also feature several breakout sessions, including presentations on the following topics:

  • Blogging and how it can help your wedding business succeed
  • Everything you need to know about serving same-sex couples
  • Proven success strategies from other industry Pros to help you build your wedding business
  • Reaching, attracting and impressing potential clients with WeddingWire tools

Don’t forget that you can still follow along with the fun by searching the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter! @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting all day with key takeaways, Pro feedback and more. You can also see some behind-the-scenes photos on the WeddingWireEDU Instagram account.

Your wedding business will be joining hundreds of other wedding professionals for a full day of education and networking to help grow your wedding business.

For full details about WeddingWire World Houston, including full schedule and session locations, please visit http://www.weddingwireworld.com/houston.

» Optimizing Social Descriptions for SEO

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.

Search engine optimization is a moving target, with your SEO strategy within your website as the anchor. Your website is the preferred destination for engaged couples looking for a business like yours. However, there are also whole host of social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.,) that serve as information conduits for prospects to find your business and direct them to your website.

Optimizing Social Descriptions for SEOHaving an active social media presence on one or more platforms often results in additional listings in search engine rankings. One area that wedding businesses often overlook is the description for each social network, which can be optimized for search just as your website content.

Social networks will often offer multiple length options (measured in words or characters). A social description is the first strip of text seen when the page or site comes up in a search.  These social descriptions can be short or long, depending on the network. Below I outline how you can optimize these descriptions to help boost your off-site SEO.

Short Descriptions

A short description for a social media page is written much like those embedded in a website. This description is usually written as a complete sentence, but that is not absolutely necessary. Google, for example, skips over prepositions and conjunctions, only considering nouns and relevant adjectives. A short social description might read like this:

Music Man is a San Francisco based mobile music service offering DJs, Emcees, and specialty lighting for weddings, parties, and a wide array of special events.

If the description shown above is too long for a network’s social description, it could be edited for brevity, like this:

Music Man, San Francisco mobile music service. DJ’s, Emcees, specialty lighting for weddings, parties, special events.

It’s not as smooth as the full version, but it clearly includes keywords describing the where and what of the business.

Long Descriptions

Often 3-4 sentences, these may include more detail about company history, the owner(s) bio, awards, and so on. Not as tightly search engine specific, long descriptions combine targeted keywords with company details like overview and personality.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Welcome Kits, Marketing Advice 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: Welcome Kits, Marketing Advice and MoreWhat’s in your welcome kit?

Do you provide a welcome kit for your clients? If so, what’s in it? Pros discuss the value of creating these kits for new clients, and what is seen as important to have versus nice to include.

Give your thoughts >>

Advice for invitations Pros

A Pro is looking for creative and out-of-the-box ideas to help propel her invitations business forward in this changing world of predominantly online shoppers.  Jump in and join the debate!

Join the debate >>

Feeling a little burnt out

What do you do at the end of a long season when you’re feeling completely burnt out? Pros discuss the feeling and their tips for rest and rejuvenation into the next season!

Share your tips >>

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» Pro Tips: Auto-Reply Email Best Practices

As engagement season ramps up and couples start the first stage of wedding planning, your business is likely about to see an increase in wedding inquiries. For many wedding professionals, an email auto-reply is the simplest (and quickest) way to respond.

However, nothing shouts “auto-reply email” more than the typical “Your email has been received” response. Email is not a new channel, so it’s assumed that when a person sends an email that the recipient receives it. It’s nice to let him or her know that the email was received, but it’s important that that’s not the only message you include in the email. You need to add value right at that first touch.

Below are five Pro tips for auto-reply email best practices that will help you immediately add value so you can convert more of those initial wedding inquiries into paying clients!

Pro Tips: Email Auto-Reply Best PracticesSet expectations up front

If you know that you spend most of your days out of the office or performing tasks that take you away from the computer, use an email auto-reply to set expectations for the potential client to hear back from you. Be specific; don’t simply state that you’ll reply “soon.”  It’s implied that if you want their business, you’ll reply “soon.” Give a specific time period where they can reasonably expect to hear back from you – and be sure to respond within that time period!

Provide everything they need

If you want to suggest that they call for faster service or for more pressing requests, provide your business’ phone number right there in the email. They’ve already gone through your business’ Storefront and website to find your email or submit a contact request, so don’t make them do it again! You can also add your business’ address and hours of operation to make it easy for them to know how and when to reach you if something should happen with their email.

Don’t regurgitate your website

While you want to provide everything they need, don’t regurgitate your website. You don’t need to fully describe your services or go through your business’ mission statement in your auto-reply email. You want to find the sweet spot where you’re providing helpful, valuable information but without repeating everything they’ve already read on your website. A good way to decide how much information to include would be to put yourself in the potential client’s shoes and go through the contact process from finding your business to email. That should inform you about what information they’ve already seen and what information they still might not know!

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» Introducing the WeddingWire Education Guide

WeddingWire believes in the power of education to keep your business ahead of the competition so you can new clients. We’re excited to announce that the 2014-2015 WeddingWire Education Guide is here, full of tips and strategies for growing and improving your weddings and events business!

The WeddingWire Education Guide provides lots of great content to answer your most pressing business questions from how to get more reviews and marketing strategies that work to the top client advice, networking suggestions and much more.

Check it out today!

Education Guide

» Becoming a Wedding Expert

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

In the eyes of an engaged couple it’s best to be seen as “the” expert in what you provide. People like to do business with experts, not novices, so it’s important for your wedding business to be seen as the foremost authority in the wedding industry.

Becoming a Wedding ExpertThere are specific steps you can take to becoming this resource to your couples that will help further your businesses growth. There will be some homework assignments that will be given, so get a pen a paper!

Evaluate your audience

The first thing I want you to do is to find the 10 most popular services that most couples book. There are 10 services that 90% of all couples will book – I know what these services are, but I ask you to do the work to find out, so you will own that information. Knowing what these services are is important for two reasons:

  1. If you know the ten services, you can then become versed in what the couple is looking for in these services. In this role you can be their expert advisor.
  2. You will be able to figure out what makes sense from a networking point of view. There are some services which are naturally at the forefront of the planning and will be first in the couple’s agenda and others which come later. If you are a later service, you can start to build relationships with the services that come before your service. You must first know what order you fall in the chain of events before you can start this networking strategy.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes

After you find out what the ten primary services are, I want you to become versed in those services. Do research as if you are a bride or groom by doing web searches on the various topics associated with wedding planning. By doing these searches, you will be privy to the same information that consumers see in their searches. For example, if you were trying to research buying wedding flowers, you can search “buying wedding flowers in [your local area].” Read the articles you find on the subject, then write your own report on “How to _______” (hire a florist, find the flowers you want, etc.). You will find that you quickly become well versed in the subject that you write about.

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» Best Practices for Real Wedding Submissions

One of the most crucial aspects of developing strong wedding PR for your business is getting published. Whether you’re a DJ, florist, venue, caterer, wedding planner or any other wedding Pro, getting published will expose your business to an even wider audience. WeddingWire’s real wedding features are a great place to display your work and share your amazing weddings with our network of engaged couples.

Check out our latest infographic for five best practices to get your business published through real wedding submissions from WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely.

Best Practices for Real Wedding Submissions