» Inside WeddingWire: Happy Halloween 2013!

Yesterday at WeddingWire Headquarters, our team celebrated Halloween early! Every year, the full WeddingWire team looks forward to dressing up, decorating and celebrating with a few fun traditions we’ve established over the years, including:

  • All WeddingWire employees wear their costumes to work – group costumes are encouraged
  • Costume contest held to determine the Best Group, Most Creative and Funniest costumes
  • Competitive pumpkin carving
  • Candy and decorations around the office
  • Our annual after-work WeddingWire Halloween party

As our team keeps growing, our Halloween celebrations keep getting bigger and bigger! Check out a few photos from our Halloween 2013 celebrations yesterday. Happy Halloween!

WeddingWire HQ, Halloween 2013

WeddingWire Halloween 2013

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» What’s Next in Social Media: October 2013

What's Next in Social Media

Social media is constantly changing, so 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!

Here’s what you need to know for social media news and updates from October 2013!

Facebook Custom Audiences are Coming

Facebook’s newest ad product, Custom Audiences, allows marketers to import their own contact lists for targeting. The product is being rolled out to a limited number of U.S. advertisers over the next few weeks, with all advertisers having the import capabilities by the end of November.

Businesses can easily upload customer information such as email addresses or phone numbers and target users with ads for their business’s website, Facebook page or mobile app. The ability to use MailChimp lists with Custom Audiences will also be available for the first time.

Read more details on Inside Facebook >

What's Next in Social Media: October 2013Instagram’s Sneak Peek

Last month, we shared with you Instagram’s plans to add advertisements. This month, Instagram has released a sneak peek of what ads on Instagram will look like. Ads will be in the same format as photo posts on the social network, but you’ll know the photo or video is an ad when you see the “Sponsored” label in the top right corner of the image.

In addition to a look at the format of advertisements, Instagram also explained that you can hide an ad by tapping the “…” below the ad. This functionality takes a page out of the Facebook playbook, allowing users to have more control over the ads that appear in their accounts. The network is first testing these ads with a handful of brands that are already popular on Instagram.

Read more from CNN >

LinkedIn Gets Mobile Makeover

Based on mobile usage statistics, LinkedIn has decided that its future lies in reaching users beyond their desktops on mobile devices. The professional network is releasing five different apps that will cater to the varied needs of LinkedIn’s 200+ million users.

The first app, the main LinkedIn app, will be an extension of the experience on a desktop, with mobile-specific features such as the ability to press a button to instantly apply for a job. The other LinkedIn apps include a contacts app directed at sales people who need easy access to their contact lists; Pulse, a news aggregation app that combines LinkedIn news with news from other outlets; Recruiter, an app that addresses the needs of LinkedIn’s recruiters; and Intro, an add-on that routes a user’s email through LinkedIn servers to gather information about the sender from their LinkedIn profile.

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» Get Featured in the WeddingWire WinterBook

After the success of our Summer and Fall e-magazines, the WeddingWire editorial and design teams are hard at work on the upcoming WinterBook. We’re planning an issue full of inspiring décor ideas, helpful wedding-planning advice, and lots of real weddings. Interested in being featured in the WeddingWire WinterBook? We are actively searching for winter real weddings that meet the following criteria:
Get Featured in WeddingWire's WinterBook!

  • Weddings must have taken place in the wintertime (December – early March) within the past two years.
  • Inspiring and creative details (bouquets, centerpieces, stationery, food, favors, and more!) – and lots of ‘em!
  • Submission must include at least 50 photos, mostly in color
  • High-quality images with no watermarks

We’ll link to your WeddingWire Storefront, and the Storefronts of the other Pros who participated in the wedding. Our e-magazines are very popular with engaged couples, so it’s great publicity for your business and your fellow Pros!

To submit a real wedding, please fill out the Real Weddings Submission form here, and note in your message that you’re interested in being featured in our WinterBook. You may send a link to a blog post or gallery on a photo-sharing site so that we may see the images as clearly as possible. Please make sure you have the permission of the couple and photographer before contacting us – if your wedding submission is accepted, we’ll want to reach out to the couple for a brief interview. We’re on a tight deadline, so all submissions are due by Friday, November 8th.

Any questions? Post any questions in the comments section and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We can’t wait to see your real weddings!

Photo by Jen Yuson Photography

» Small Business Marketing: Are You Holding Yourself Back?

With the world becoming increasingly digital, there’s a website for almost any imaginable idea, event, company or person. In addition to a website, many entities expand their reach by setting up social networking profiles, mobile websites, and profiles on other industry websites and communities.

So how can it be that so many small business owners have not adopted modern technology to assist in their marketing efforts? According to a recent survey by Yodle, more than half (52%) of SMB owners do not have a website, or even measure the results of their marketing programs. Even worse, only 1 in 10 small businesses have figured out how to use social media or online advertising.

Small Business Marketing: Are You Holding Yourself Back?In this day and age, you cannot afford to hold yourself back by not having an online presence. Think about it from an engaged couple’s perspective: are you willing to hire a company who doesn’t have a website or has one of poor quality that is hard to navigate? How can you trust this service’s work without being able to do online research? If the company can’t afford a website, how can they be successful?

At WeddingWire, we’re constantly improving our services to be a true technology partner for small businesses. Wedding and event professionals like you should be able to focus on what you love to do, and we make that easy through our industry-focused business management and marketing tools. We make it simple and quick to build a strong online reputation with reviews, create a mobile site, set up and manage social media in one place, and more. WeddingWire’s suite of online tools, available to our premium members, help you easily manage your business and get back to doing what you love!

If your business is missing a website or other key online elements, here’s how WeddingWire can help:

1.  Create a Storefront. Your WeddingWire Storefront is a customizable area for you to describe your business services to prospective clients. Here you can upload photos, collect reviews, display your services and a include variety of other important aspects of your business! Your Storefront will be seen by engaged couples searching for wedding and event vendors in your chosen category and region. Continue reading

» Create a Press Page on Social Media

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

It’s a fact that press will only last as long as you allow it to, so it’s imperative to take the necessary steps to promote accordingly. A press page on your own web site is, quite often, one of the best tools you can use to leverage your recent features but thanks to the popularity of social media, you can take other creative measures as well.

As soon as you real wedding feature or other notable press coverage goes live, grab a screen shot of the blog and save it as either a jpg or png file on your computer. If your real wedding is in print, then try to obtain either the page in which it was featured, or the cover itself, keeping in mind that each publication has its own policies for sharing these things.

Then, it’s time to get to work.

An engaging Facebook Business Page is an essential component to most wedding professionals’ marketing campaigns, but very few people go above and beyond simply writing a post about their press. Consider creating a Facebook photo album dedicated to your real wedding features. Upload either the screen shot or magazine piece and be sure to credit accordingly. As a courtesy, don’t forget to tag the wedding day team who helped the day come together.

In a similar vein, create a Pinterest board that is devoted strictly to your press. Simply add the “Pin It” button to the top of your browser, and you’ll be able to add new features seamlessly.

Finally, Instagram has continued to grow in popularity, and the good news is that this too can be a platform to share your good news.  You’ll just need to visit the page on your smart phone, take a screen shot of the feature, and then share it in a post. Here, it’s not feasible to create a bona fide press page, but you can qualify it with a customized hash tag, that will allow you to keep track of your features with ease.

A real wedding feature or press coverage is always a great opportunity to sing the praises of your company and with social media being more prevalent than ever, you have plenty of opportunities to get the word out!

Image Source

» GayWeddings.com & WeddingWire Reveal Facts Behind Same-Sex Weddings

WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com - Network Partners

This week, GayWeddings.com and WeddingWire were excited to announce results from our recent survey of same-sex weddings in 2012.

The comprehensive survey asked members of the WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com communities to share the details of their recent wedding planning experience. Survey results indicated same-sex couples are expanding the ways they plan their weddings, just as the mainstream market is embracing them.

Check out some top findings from the survey:

  • Engagement is being signified by two rings: In the engagement phase, more than two-thirds of couples signified their engagement with two rings (one for each partner), rather than the traditional one ring for the female partner.
  •  Wedding essentials matter: Regardless of the legality of the union, 93 percent of couples budgeted for flowers and said venue, attire, catering and photography/videography are wedding day essentials.
  • Top planning resources: The top three planning resources for these couples were wedding websites such as WeddingWire.com, same-sex specific websites such as GayWeddings.com, and books or magazines. Additionally, 80 percent of couples reported that they preferred resources that were fully inclusive to all couples.
  • Smaller weddings are popular: Though same-sex weddings are growing in size, they remain smaller and more intimate relative to heterosexual weddings. Those same-sex couples surveyed reported an average of 80 guests compared to heterosexual couples who reported an average of 170 guests.
  • Language matters: Only 38 percent of couples described the marketing and client materials of their wedding professionals as fully inclusive. The large majority of couples indicated that inclusive language in these materials was very or somewhat important to them when selecting a professional.
  • Honeymoons happen: Post-wedding, more than 80 percent of couples went on a planned honeymoon, which comes close to the 86 percent of heterosexual couples who went on a honeymoon.

These new findings and statistics are important for LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals as you embrace all kinds of loving couples, and the growing community of same-sex couples tying the knot this year and in the near future! For more information, read the full press release here.

Want to learn more about serving same-sex couples or how to share your support of marriage equality?

  • Opt into the GayWeddings.com directory to get found by same-sex couples planning their big day! Simply visit your WeddingWire Business Details page, select “LGBT Weddings/Ceremonies.” Click “Save,” and your business will be featured on GayWeddings.com.
  • Join the Wed We Can movement for up-to-date information and resources for both wedding professionals and couples planning their wedding, and be sure to share the love on social media.
  • Get expert tips on making your brand language and marketing materials more inclusive, from President of GayWeddings.com and Education Expert Kathryn Hamm.
  • Check out the recent article published on the Huffington Post by Kathryn Hamm, End of an Era, about the changing same-sex wedding niche over the past decade.

» Enter the WeddingWire No Tricks, Just Treats Contest!

Enter the WeddingWire No Tricks, Just Treats ContestWe’re excited to announce our No Tricks, Just Treats Contest! Halloween is just around the corner, and we’re here to help you BOOst your business on the #1 Wedding Network – just in time for engagement season.

Enter by this Sunday, October 27th and you could win one of several great prizes:

  • 1 grand prize winner will receive a one year Featured WeddingWire membership
  • 2 winners will receive a 90-minute website consultation session with WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg
  • 3 winners will receive a pair of tickets to WeddingWire World 2014

What are you waiting for?! Fill out the form and enter for your chance to win today! Winners will be notified on Monday, October 28th. For official contest rules, click here.

After you have entered, be sure to share the news with other Pros on Facebook and Twitter!

» Mobile Apps: Don’t Worry, Be Appy!

Webinar Recap!

Mobile Apps: Don't Worry, Be Appy!Yesterday, we hosted our monthly educational webinar for premium members. This month, we focused on mobile technology and the best mobile apps to help you run your business! WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly gave the latest stats on mobile apps adoption and growth as well as shared a list of 41 apps you’ll love (since the average smartphone user has 41 downloaded apps!).

Communication has evolved rapidly over the past 50 years. We’re in the middle of a mobile revolution – mobile use will actually surpass desktops within the next 4 months! To keep up with the mobile growth, make sure you mobilize your website, emails, payments and your client experience. Also, don’t forget to mobilize yourself by investing in a smartphone and/or tablet if you haven’t already!

Check out some more interesting stats from this month’s webinar:

  • 82 billion apps have been downloaded in 2013
  • 1.5 billion apps are available in the Apple Store and Google Play
  • Revenue from apps in 2013 is projected to be $25 billion
  • 800 apps are downloaded every second from the Apple Store
  • 4.4 billion people worldwide will use apps by 2017
  • Within the next 9 months there will be more mobile devices than people on earth

Sonny also named his top 41 apps you should download today to help your business – you can find these and more on our Pinterest board, Apps to Make Your Life Easy!

One thing to remember: mobile is quickly becoming an all-in-one technology to which we’re constantly connected! Follow the tips in this month’s webinar to get ahead of the curve.

Want to watch this webinar? All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for premium Pros! And stay tuned for information on next month’s webinar.

» The Benefits of a Client Questionnaire

Many times, an engaged couple submits a number of inquiries to several potential wedding professionals when trying to determine who to select for their big day. These inquiries are a way for engaged couples to decide if you’re a good fit for them, but you can also use this as an opportunity to decide if the couple is a good fit for your services. You may find yourself needing more information about the engaged couple in order to best serve their needs, and determine if they are a match for your business.

The Benefits of a Client QuestionnaireGood news! WeddingWire recently added the Questionnaire feature to the Clients tab for upgraded pros, which allows you to create and send a questionnaire to potential clients before they sign a contract in order to gather some more information about their day and needs in a safe and custom Client Site. If you haven’t used this feature yet, below are a few sample questions, broken down by category, to include in your client questionnaire to help qualify potential clients:

Bands/Ceremony Music:

  • What is the time of your event?
  • Are you looking for any specific style?
  • Do you need music for ceremony, cocktail hour and/ or reception?

Beauty and Health:

  • How many people will need appointments?
  • Do you want hair and makeup done on-site or at the salon?
  • Are you interested in other services like airbrushing, waxing or extensions?

Catering:

  • How many total guests are you expecting?
  • Are you offering gluten free or vegetarian options?
  • Are you looking for buffet or plated meal?

Ceremony Venues/Receptions:

  • How many total guests are you expecting?
  • Are you looking for an indoor or outdoor wedding?
  • Are you looking for on-site coordinators?

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» WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Portland, Maine!

Yesterday afternoon, local Wedding Pros gathered at Inn by the Sea for WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Portland in Maine!

At the Mix & Mingle, Pros from the Portland 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 by WeddingWire’s Customer Success Manager, Brendan McClellan. Other WeddingWire networking events have been held throughout the country this year.

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including Brendan’s 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 afternoon possible:

  • The picturesque event space and delicious food and drink provided by Inn by the Sea

Finally, congrats to Lyndsey Maher of Cliffside Lodge, the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» Strategic Planning for the “Slow Season”

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

For many wedding businesses, the insanity of the fall wedding season and winter holiday parties leads to a much-needed slow period in the New Year. Of course we’re all grateful for an opportunity to rest and recharge, but keep in mind that January-March is the perfect time to conduct strategic planning to jump-start your business (and increase your income!).

Strategic Planning for the "Slow Season"Most of us know that a ton of couples become engaged over the holidays and Valentine’s Day, while couples who’ve been procrastinating often resume their planning after the New Year. While you’ll undoubtedly be busy fielding inquiries from these couples, you’ll probably also be executing fewer events in the first quarter, so it’s smart to use the extra time to do things that will positively affect your business all year long.

You’ll want to start by identifying your business goals for the year: quantitative goals related to revenue, number of events booked, and number of referrals earned, as well as qualitative goals such as doing more networking or earning an award in your field.

Once you know what you hope to achieve, you can then break down those goals into individual projects and tasks that can be completed during the first quarter.

Some examples:

  • Set aside time to review all your current processes and workflows. Are you spending your time on activities that increase your profits? Are there ways you could be more effective? Is everyone on your team contributing in a meaningful way? Are there tasks you’ve been putting off?
  • Create a strategy for enhancing your relationships. Relationships, and the referrals that result, are hugely important in this industry. Therefore, you’ll want to create a two-part plan for building relationships with both your clients (past and present) and with other wedding professionals. The plan might include outreach strategies (such as networking events, one-on-one lunch or coffee meetups, or site visits) as well as seasonal promotions (such as cards or tokens of appreciation). Continue reading

» Consider SlideShare to Gain More Customers

Interested in reaching new audiences and sharing content or resources you created?

Consider SlideShare, an online presentation website used by professionals throughout the world, with a rapidly growing network.

What is SlideShare? SlideShare is a website that allows you to create an account for your business and add your personalized messaging, links to your website and social networks and other brand elements, to share content created by your business with the world (and can be added to you blog, website, social media and more). SlideShare now ranks in the top 300 websites, so it may be the time for your business to consider creating a SlideShare presence. It’s easy to create a profile for your business and start reaching SlideShare users!

Consider SlideShare to Gain More Customers

Here are some reasons to your business may want to try out SlideShare:

Web traffic: With over 60 million unique visitors every month, SlideShare is one of the highest-traffic websites on the Internet today. This means that potential clients are able to find your content on the site, and learn about your business before they even realize they need your services. SlideShare gives you more exposure to your audience and boosts your search engine credibility.

Tell your story: Similar to the way you can tell your company’s story on social media, SlideShare allows you to show a bit of personality and establish a deeper connection with potential clients. Since users can also comment on your presentations, you can open a dialogue at any time. Focus on sharing content that your clients would find interesting, helpful or engaging (like wedding planning tips, steps for hosting a bridal shower, or seasonal event trends).

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