» Big Business Ideas for Small Businesses

Last Tuesday, WeddingWire’s CMO, Sonny Ganguly, discussed Big Business Ideas for Small Businesses as part of our monthly webinar series. Each one hour webinar for upgraded WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry trends and give you the tools you need to grow your business. This week Sonny discussed how to efficiently and effectively reach clients and stay on top of a changing market.

Don’t worry if you missed it, past webinars are added to Education Center and available for all upgraded Pros. In May Sonny will discuss the 7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Web Analytics Data, helping listeners learn which online metrics matter and how to improve your online performance.

» HOW TO: Make FAQ’s Less Frequently Asked

How many times when speaking to a potential client do you answer the exact same questions over and over again? Take a couple minutes today and fill out the FAQ section on your WeddingWire Storefront so instead, engaged couples can find the information before calling to inquire. You can even direct someone requesting more information to this page as a good starting point to get more information about your products or services.

Simply log in to your account and click on the FAQ tab under My Storefront. You’ll notice information is broken into three main sections:

Business Details – here you can enter general information about your business, such as how long you have been in business, how many employees you have, and what type of payment you accept. This is also where you can link your WeddingWire account to social media pages. Just paste the URL for your YouTube or Flikr account into the corresponding sections and click Save.

Frequently Asked Questions – provide details about your available services. This will also help prospective clients find you based on offerings they are looking for. There are both multiple choice and open-ended questions that vary based on your service categroy so that you can be as specific as you desire!

Other Information – this section allows you to select what other types of events (i.e. anniversaries, corporate events, birthdays) you service as well as any specific cultural events. There is also an open ended HTML capable section for you to add anything else you would like.

» Read Your Clients

Client interaction is an important part of your success as a Wedding Pro. From your first impression with a potential client, to the day of their wedding, and even beyond their honeymoon, your actions can positively or negatively affect the outcome of your relationship. While you know to put your best foot forward from the start – how do you know if you are well received?

As you pitch an engaged couple and begin to develop a rapport, take note of things like eye contact, willingness to sign a contract, and their tone of voice. Usually you will be able to tell from your first meeting the likelihood that you will book a couple by monitoring their behavior and reactions. As you move through the planning process, keep these signals in mind and you should be able to tell if the couple is satisfied and if they will leave you a glowing review on your WeddingWire Storefront and recommend you to their friends and family!

If you are winning someone over, they are likely to:

  • Mirror your movements
  • Smile slightly
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Raise their chin to the same level as yours, not higher or lower

If someone is turned off or unhappy, they are likely to:

  • Raise their chin up or move slightly down protecting their throat
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Nervous gestures
  • Lack of response

Taking note of your client’s behavior and body language will let you know where you stand and help you to gauge future interactions. Be sure to maintain your relationship throughout the entire process by checking in and following up with your clients. Even if you can’t answer their questions right away, let them know you received their message and give an estimated time you can get back to them.

» Want to Be WeddingWire Rated?

If the answer is yes – make sure you request reviews from your past clients! WeddingWire Rated is annual program that awards Wedding Pros with 3 or more recent reviews. When the time comes, make sure you are eligible by getting reviews now!

Read this past article to learn why reviews are so important and how they can boost your business.

» Get More Referrals

In the wedding industry networking and referrals are an important part of your business. Follow the tips below to help ensure your past clients refer you to their friends and family.

Meet Up. Take the time to meet with your clients one-on-one. This will help you form a stronger bond and build your relationship so they are more likely to feel a connection and refer you to their network.

Say Thanks. Don’t forget to say thank you after the wedding! Whether its with a card or a small gift, make sure you do something and wish the newlyweds well in their new life together.

Check In. Keep your relationship strong for years to come by checking in on anniversaries. Use this time to wish them well, while reminding past clients of what a great job you did for them and could do for others!

Share the Love. If you are booked on a certain date, keep a list of other Wedding Pros you know will take care of the client you can refer them to. Usually they will return the favor – expanding your reach and exposure!

Endorse Others. Use WeddingWire to endorse other Wedding Pros you know. It’s simple – just log into your account and search for their business. The majority of the time, the other Wedding Pro will be sure to vouch for your business as well.

What has been the best way for your to receive referrals in the past? Leave a comment below to let us know!

» Educate Yourself

Take advantage of the Education Center, available within your WeddingWire account to gain industry knowledge and tips for small businesses to grow. We continue to add new and up to date articles for your reference. Organized by category, learn more about Marketing, Sales, Finance, Business Tools, Innovation, and Trends & Stats.

Leave a comment below and let us know what you’d like to learn about!

» Connect With Your Fans: Facebook Questions

You may have noticed a small change from Facebook recently. They have added the capability to survey your social network by creating open answer and multiple choice questions. Facebook Questions help Page Owners interact with their audience in a way that hasn’t been possible before. The best part is, you can post a question and those who want to answer can do so quickly and easily while you wont bother or aggravate those who don’t want to answer.

When creating a question you can select if you’d like respondents to have a few options or write-in their own. This new feature will help you engage and interact with your audience as well as gauge their feedback in a way that was previously unavailable. Additionally, when a Facebook user responds their answer will be posted on their own wall so that they will help you to spread the word about your page. Not only are you harvesting a relationship with your current consumers, you are branching out to create new ones. Facebook also makes it easy for you to monitor your response with built-in, real-time metrics.

Since the feature is relatively new, there will be some trial and error associated but it is clear that the new questions feature will allow you to start a conversation with your clients and a fun new way. Click here to learn more.

Have you tried asking any questions yet? What kind of response did you get?

» Forget Your Business Cards at Home

How many times have you met someone new that would be a great connection or even a potential client but realize you forgot your business card at home?

Eventually technology may completely eliminate the need for paper business cards. Companies such as CardCloud, Bump, and Hashable aim to do just that by allowing users to share contact information quickly and easily using just their mobile phones.

CardCloud allows you to connect by email address with anyone (regardless of if they also have the app) and share information normally not collected with a traditional business card – including meeting location, social networking information, and a vCard that can be imported into the recipients contacts list. Though CardCloud is currently only available on the iPhone, they reported to being releasing apps for Android and Blackberry very soon.

Check out the video below to see how it works:

To learn more about this upcoming trend, click here.

What do you think – will paper business cards soon become extinct?

» Getting Ready for Tax Day

April 15th. You know its coming every year but somehow it still manages to sneak up on you. Atleast this year you have a few extra days to prepare (the deadline extended to April 18th). As you get ready to submit this year’s returns, take a look at the recommendations below and then get started for next year with some suggestions to keep you on track.

Claim What You Can

  1. Make sure you list all business expenses. Though it may not be listed by the IRS code, any expense that is “common in your industry” and typical for your line of work should be listed as an “ordinary” expense.
  2. Credit card and other interest is tax deductible as a business expense.
  3. Check if your business qualifies for any credits for healthcare, bonus depreciations, and retirement plan contributions.
  4. Double check that you listed any charitable donations from the past year.

Plan Ahead

  1. Review your financial statements on a regular basis, quarterly if not monthly. Then you will be sure everything is organized and save yourself time down the road.
  2. Get an accountant (with a CPA) that will back you up. Make sure you select someone reputable who you can ask questions when necessary.
  3. If you know you wont be ready, file for an extension! Just make sure your taxes are paid on time.

For more information and tips, read this article from OpenFORUM.

» HOW TO: Show Your Associations

Are you part of a wedding association? Make sure you list it under your WeddingWire Storefront by adding them to your network. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Login to your the My Network tab of your account

2. Click on the Associations tab

3. Use the search bar (seen to the right) to find the associations you are a part of

4. Click the “Request to Join” link

It’s that easy! After you are approved as a part of your association it will appear on your Storefront. You can also use this opportunity to connect with other Wedding Pros in your association.

» Augmented Reality? Not Yet, But Just As Cool…

This post written by Tim Chi, CEO of WeddingWire. Follow him on Twitter @wwtim. Tim first developed the concept of WeddingWire shortly after getting married in 2005 (to his lovely wife Tracey). As an experienced entrepreneur, Tim sought out to assemble a team and build a technology that would help both engaged couples and vendors in the wedding industry.

At WeddingWire, we spend a good deal of time following the latest trends in technology…not because we have to, more so because we love to.  Last year, we started to see the first batch of Augmented Reality applications deploy in the iPhone and Android marketplaces.  For those not familiar with AR, here’s a quick definition:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real-world with a simulated one.

source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality

Two examples of this are the Yelp App for iPhone and the Google Goggles application for iPhone and Android.  In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

1) You start up the application, which enables the camera on your phone
2) You hold your phone up to the street that you are on
3) Based on your geo-location and the internal compass, the application overlays customer reviews on top of the image that you are viewing, bringing together the real-world image AND the digital consumer reviews.
4) As you walk down the street, new data appears!

Pretty cool right?  And while it hasn’t taken off just quite yet (still in “technology enthusiast” mode as Geoffrey Moore would say), the concept behind meshing real world and computer generated data is powerful indeed.

So while we are all waiting for this to become mainstream, here is an app that recently got coverage that isn’t Augmented Reality, but I would argue, just as cool and immediately applicable.  It’s called Pixelate and here is the quick synopsis.

While its not magic, it’s close to it – Pixelate 2.0 landed in the iTunes store today. The app, which is yet another step towards the future, allows you to try out colors of paint on your walls, or clothes or what ever you’d like to change the color of by selecting an image, selecting a color and and gradually using the UI to paint one color over the other.


Give it a shot!

» Print Ads – Dead or Alive?

The New York Times recently asked the question, are people really still investing in print advertising? If so, is it just out of habit or are you really getting a return? In this article, a furniture store owner shares his experience with advertising in print versus online. With the invention of the internet and SEO, he notes “it was apparent that Google was far more efficient and effective” after spending much more to be featured in a print campaign than online and receiving marginal profits he no longer runs promotions in any print materials.

A major drawback to print advertising for the author was that the opportunity for repeat business is limited. Similar to the wedding industry, how many times is someone going to get married? Instead, he replaced the traditional print ad with a well designed website and start using Google Adwords, resulting in a “higher spend but much higher yield.” One major benefit of online advertising is the ability to target your customer more directly on a local basis.

While some have some note print ads still work for their business, typically nationally known brands (and those with a much higher advertising budget) perform better. It seems with the evolution of social media, it is best to invest your time and energy online while being sure to build and manage your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

What have you experienced? Do you think it differs for those in the wedding industry? Let us know your thoughts and experiences below!