» Featured Pro Tweets

In our Featured Pro Tweets series, we highlight top tweets that we receive to @WeddingWireEDU. We love to share your insights, feedback and thoughts with other Wedding Pros!

Check out some recent tweets below and be sure to tweet at us and you could be featured next! Also, be sure you are following us on Twitter for the latest updates, industry news and tips just for Pros like you.
https://twitter.com/BookMoreBrides/status/338053244376977408

https://twitter.com/lemonlime_event/status/337636170517319680

https://twitter.com/bunndjco/status/337202638653386753

https://twitter.com/djbryang/status/336935088342323201

https://twitter.com/inclusivelife/status/336927358701416449

» Is it Okay to Use Forms to Qualify Prospects?

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.

In my 20+ years around the wedding and event industry I’ve seen many event Pros using forms and questionnaires at different stages in the sales process. I can certainly see the need for gathering information from your customers and prospects, but how and when is it appropriate to use them? Using them at the wrong time can, at best, alienate or de-personalize the process and, at worst, chase your prospect away.

So, when is it OK to use a form?

That’s a tough question, because the concept of using a form, or questionnaire is fine, but the execution is where it can all go awry. For instance, having an inquiry form on your website is great… but, if it’s too long, many people will choose not to fill it out at all. I know that some of you have longer forms and you often get inquiries who complete them. That may be true, but what you can’t see is all of the people who take one look at your form and just go away. The abandonment rate may be a lot higher than you think. If you have website tracking and can see how many visits there are to that page, versus how many inquiries you get, you’ll get some idea of how effective it is in converting prospects to inquiries.

What about using forms, or questionnaires, after you get an email inquiry? It may seem like a good idea to ask the couple to complete an information form so you have lots of details about their event. Before you do that, put yourself in their shoes. If you send an email inquiry to a company with whom you’ve never done business, do you want to get a form back to fill out, or do you want to start a conversation with someone from that company? Which is more personal? That’s easy. Regardless of how the inquiry comes to you, the prospect wants to have a real conversation with someone from that company. These days that conversation is more likely to begin via email than via a phone call.

Are forms and questionnaires a bad idea?

I’m sure that if you’re reading this you don’t want to commoditize your products and services and only have a conversation about price. That’s where using forms can actually work against you. Let’s follow the process two different ways:

  • Scenario 1: An inquiry comes in via email. You reply with a well thought out response, including a list of questions, or an attached form. The prospect replies with all of their details. You, having not had a chance to start a conversation, are compelled to reply with a price quote based upon their details. You may even pre-judge them based upon the list of “facts,” without getting a chance to even know if you’re a good fit for them.
  • Scenario 2: An inquiry comes in via email. You reply with a short, well thought out response and ask the same one, or two initial questions you would ask them if you were speaking to them on the phone, or in person. They reply with their answer and you reply with another question, gently probing for the data you need, while getting a feel for their event and personality. You go back and forth, having a real conversation, via email. It’s a very similar to conversation that you would have on the phone, only in writing. Does it take longer than sending a form? Yes, but your abandonment rate will be lower if you do this well.

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» Announcing Our Partnership with ADJA!

We are excited to announce a new partnership with the American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA), the nation’s largest trade association for professional disc jockeys!  ADJA members have access to a special discount on select WeddingWire memberships to power your business.

ADJA members can save up to $150 off select premium WeddingWire memberships to boost your online exposure on the #1 Wedding Network, with over 40 million visits each month across the leading wedding sites, including WeddingWire.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com, Weddingbee and Project Wedding. Additionally, premium members receive access to industry leading business management tools and educational articles, webinars and more!

ADJA also produces the annual industry event, The Las Vegas DJ Show. The event’s goal is for DJ’s to “boost your spirit, and boost your business,” and this year’s event will be September 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Learn more today!

» How to Make Blogging Work for You

This month, our monthly webinar series was all about blogging! WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, and WeddingWire Editor, Kim Forrest, presented ‘How to Make Blogging Work for You.’ Each one hour webinar for premium WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry tips, and give you the tools and education you need to Power Your Business!

Did you know there are currently 156 million public blogs in existence, and over 77% of internet users read blogs? Whether you are a blogging Pro, thinking about getting started in the blogging sphere, or looking for new ways to increase your online exposure – this blog gave insights on how to stand out in the wedding and event business and reach new audiences.

Check out some interesting take aways from this month’s webinar:

  • Blogs perform best amongst our core group of target audiences – readers aged 21-35 years old
  • The two largest blogging platforms have been Blogger and WordPress, but Tumblr is a newer platform and an easy way to create a blog with short posts on the go
  • Companies that blog get +97 percent more inbound links to their website, and 434 percent more indexed pages
  • Small businesses that blog get +126 percent more leads
  • Aim to keep blog posts between 300 and 700 words with an engaging, short headline
  • Get published on leading industry blogs – such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding and 2 Bright Lights! (Here is more info on getting published from Kim!)

All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for upgraded Pros, and stay tuned for information on next month’s webinar!

» LGBTQ Updates: More States, More Marriages

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

The tailwind that escorted same-sex marriage at the polls into a record-breaking three state marriage equality victory in the fall of 2012 (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) continues to blow.

In the past few weeks, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota all joined the ranks of states embracing marriage equality to bring the national count now to twelve (12) states and the District of Columbia. And, eyes have now turned to Illinois where efforts have increased to encourage its legislature to upgrade its Civil Union laws to full marriage equality as the fourth of four states to do so this spring. Meanwhile, Colorado also celebrated a recent victory when its legislature voted to recognized Civil Unions and ceremonies began on May 1.

Meanwhile, though more clarity than ever arises in support of marriage equality — as popular opinion continues to rise in favor of same-sex marriage and as more thought-leaders and politicians — some controversy remains.

Take, for example, the battle around religious exemptions in Washington State. There a florist turned down the wedding services of two long-time clients who got engaged as a result of the change in state law. They have since sued her and she is now suing the state, claiming that the state is violating her religious beliefs.

Across the country in Massachusetts, however, where marriage has been legal for all couples for almost ten years, Gov. Duval Patrick shares in a recent editorial how folks in his home state have realized that the “sky has not fallen” and that all that same-sex couples want is the chance to be “ordinary.”

I and other experts are now turning our eyes toward the Supreme Court, where it is expected that a ruling on California’s Proposition 8 and section 3 of DOMA, the law which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married, will be handed down in late June. The results could mean a wide range of things, but the Human Rights Campaign has created a simple summary to explain four likely categories of outcomes. It is seen as highly unlikely that the Supreme Court would rule in a way that would recognized marriage equality as the law of the land, but anything is possible.

More likely, is a result which reinstates marriage equality in California, followed by a slim chance of the recognition of federal benefits only to those couples who are legally married in states which currently recognize marriage equality. (Those states are: MA, IA, CT, NH, VT, NY WA, MD, ME, RI, DE, MN, and Washington DC.)

One thing for sure: it stands to reason that this year’s LGBTQ Pride Month in June will be one for the record books!

To kick-off Pride month this June, we will be doing a weekly blog series for LGBTQ-friendly Pros with exciting content and new resources! Check back soon for the next installment in the series!

» Just Announced: WeddingWire World 2013

WeddingWire is excited to announce our second annual WeddingWire World!

Save the date! The one-day conference will be held on July, 29, 2013 in Washington, DC. Come and learn about the latest trends & tools for your business from industry leaders, get one-on-one advice on how to grow your business, and network with wedding industry peers!

Be the first to know! Sign up to stay informed about WeddingWire World 2013 registration, and special access to early bird discounts.

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» WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

Last night, local Wedding Pros gathered at the Levine of Museum of the New South for WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Charlotte area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief educational presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with many more to come in 2013!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

Finally, congrats to Lisa Pleasant of Lisa Pleasant Weddings; the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» WeddingWire Happy Hour Raleigh

Yesterday evening, Wedding Pros gathered at the Solas for WeddingWire Happy Hour Raleigh!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! At the event, Wedding Pros from the Raleigh area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Other networking events have been held in Orlando, San Francisco, Miami, Phoenix, Boston, Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Providence, and more.

We’re excited to share photo highlights from the event below, and our WeddingWire Education Guide.

We would like to extend a special thank you to the fantastic partners who helped make the event possible:

Finally, congrats to Brian Mullins of Brian Mullins Photography, the winner of our drawing who will receive a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» The Social Media Revolution

How much time during your day would you say you spend on social media? Five minutes on your metro ride to work? 15 minutes during your lunch break? Or do you seem to be on some type of social media network all day? Working at a techonology company, I know I usually have my Facebook account open all day (and connect with clients online) and seem to search YouTube at least once a day.  According to a recent article on Slashgear.com, Americans spend over 2 billion hours on social media per month!

Clearly, social media has a definite impact on our daily lives — from catching up with friends and sharing recent updates and photos, to forming new relationships, promoting certain brands and companies, and sharing updates from our own businesses!

For some amazing statistics and insights into how we use social media and the internet, check out this installment from a social media video series, the Social Media Revolution: Social Media in 2013.

Here are just a few social media and tech highlights:

  • Social media has become the #1 activity on the web
  • There are over 1 billion Facebook users (making it the third largest country in the world!)
  • Each day 20% of Google searches have never been searched before
  • 1 in 5 couples meet online
  • Every second, two new members join LinkedIn
  • Every minute, 72 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube

Check out the full video, below! What are your favorite stats or what do you find most surprising?

» 3 Things to Never Do with Negative Comments

Christine Dyer is a social media expert and the founder of BridalTweet.com. Christine shares her social media expertise with the wedding industry through a series of free wedding marketing videos. As a testament of Christine’s social media success, BridalTweet now has over 10,000 Facebook fans, 37,000 Twitter followers, and 3,000 Pinterest followers. Prior to launching BridalTweet, Christine Dyer was the Director of Social Media Marketing at American Express where she led the development and growth of their Facebook fan pages, which had 1.6 million fans. Christine received a B.S. and M.B.A. in marketing from Fordham University.

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that I’m a huge advocate for using social media to grow your wedding business. But if you do that, then at some point you’ll have to deal with negative feedback. How you handle the feedback can go a long way toward either getting a new customer or driving away a potential sale.

Here are 3 tips to help you to handle negative comments appropriately and to keep your customers coming back for more.

  1. Don’t delete the comment. This shows your fans that you’re able to own up to the complaint and deal with it head on in a professional way. Plus, deleting the comment will only make your frustrated customer even more frustrated. The only case when you should delete a comment is if it is over-the-top offensive.  For example, if it includes profanity or if it is racist, etc.  In my opinion, comments like that don’t deserve air-time.
  2. If it is a rational comment, address it quickly and don’t be defensive. It’s best to be accommodating, polite and truly listen to the person complaining. First recognize the complaint, apologize publicly and then take the conversation offline to resolve the issue. Come up with a positive solution that directly addresses it. If the person isn’t satisfied with your explanation, you can try offering a business service or a discount to calm the situation and, hopefully, convert the complainer to a satisfied customer.
  3. If it is an irrational comment – ignore it. (Again, don’t delete it!). Trust me. Your fans will realize that this person is not in their right mind. And better yet – your fans might stick up for you. That would make the response even more credible.

Even if your business doesn’t have a dedicated social media presence, you still need to know what people are saying about your business. Type your company’s name into Google to see the comments that are out there. And set up Google Alerts to stay on top of the comments.  And keep your response positive, sincere and proactive.

Do you have any tips to share with our wedding community about handling negative feedback? If so, please comment below.

» Design a Business Card That Gets Noticed

Strong branding is an important part of establishing your business, and gaining recognition!

In an industry where your business revolves around meeting and winning over new clients all the time, and where networking is so critical to gaining word of mouth exposure, a great business card is important, and should convey the overall image of your business!

The color, wording and texture of our business cards have a lot to do with its appeal and its ability to convey your company image.Think about the colors of your logo, your target audience and your service of expertise and work to include these elements in a clean, easy to read way.

Ready to design a business card that gets noticed? Check out these top tips from a recent article on Entrepreneur magazine, and be sure to read the full article for more great business card advice!

Business card design tips:

  1. Use your logo as the basis. Make it the largest element on the card.
  2. Keep it simple. Do not cram too much information on the card.
  3. Do include the essentials — your name, title, company name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email and website addresses.
  4. Make sure the typeface is easily readable.
  5. Stick to one or two colors.

Once you’ve got business cards, make the most of them:

  1. Always give people more than one card (so they can give it to others).
  2. Include your card in all correspondence.
  3. Carry cards with you at all times, in a card case so they’re clean and neat.