» Choosing the Right Small Business Tech Solutions

man and plan concept on wallAs engagement season continues in full swing, many Wedding Pros are receiving an influx of inquiries and an increase in bookings! If you’re feeling inefficient and overwhelmed, it may be time to look at the technology your business is using to manage these clients.

Premium WeddingWire Pros have access to all the tools necessary to run their businesses, from client management tools to secure client websites to marketing solutions. If you’re considering upgrading your membership with WeddingWire or even looking for other small business tech solutions, consider these four factors!

Accessibility

The tool or solution you choose should be accessible by multiple people from a variety of places. Gone are the days where software had to be installed on one computer, for one person. Your technology should allow you to do what you need to do, when you need to do it, or delegate to another member of your staff. You should also consider mobile capabilities when choosing a solution, as mobile devices and tablets are quickly phasing out desktops.

Security

Related to the point of accessibility, security is a very important consideration when choosing technology for your business. Any client data, financial information, or employee information should be kept safe and secure within your platform. If you choose a platform that is through a partner (like WeddingWire!), your information is often more secure than choosing a standalone software, as those systems will take extra precaution when provided a secure system.

Customer Service

Another important consideration when deciding on your small business’ tech solutions is customer service. If you should have a problem, it’s reassuring to know that someone will be available to answer your questions. The technology you choose will be a very important part of your business and will help you tremendously to improve your productivity, so you’ll want to make sure that the relationship with the provider is strong.

Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Planning Your Year

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 as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Wedding PR: Planning Your YearAs the clock strikes midnight and we usher in a New Year, it’s inevitable that one may feel the urge to make plans for their wedding company. We set goals, cut away what isn’t working and we streamline our processes to start accomplishing big things.

January is the perfect time to start laying out your wedding PR campaign for the year. Historically, this is a quieter time (event-wise) and you may still have a handful of swoon-worthy weddings from 2013 that could be eligible for submissions.

So how does one effectively begin planning for wedding PR in the coming year? Below are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Set measurable goals. It’s easy to simply declare that you’d like to have more press in 2014, but now is the time to get more specific. After all, there will be no way to measure the success of your strategies if you aren’t setting goals that can be measured. Where, for example, would you like to see your work? Do you have a preference to online versus print features? Are you more focused on gaining press in your region or would you like national coverage? How many features would you like to have?
  2. Research. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to begin gathering magazines and adding targeted blogs to your reader. There is simply no way to truly understand the content needs of a particular media channel, unless you’ve taken the time to get to know them.
  3. Create a media list. As you begin poring over blogs and magazines, take the time to note the contact in which to submit, as well as any submission guidelines and editorial deadlines. Take the extra step to add any editorial deadlines to your work calendar, which will further assist you with staying on track in 2014.
  4. Review your 2013 portfolio. Once you’ve had had a chance to lay the groundwork for a successful year, revisit your 2013 weddings to see what weddings could potentially be a fit for your targeted media outlets. Remember– striking images, fresh details and a great story rule the roost and you’ll want to make sure the wedding is less than a year old and has not been featured elsewhere.  Continue reading

» Networking Events: 5 Quick Tips

Networking Events: 5 Quick TipsIt’s a new year, which means you’re probably planning all of the wonderful industry events you’d like to attend in the coming months! Networking events are a great way for you to meet other Wedding Pros in your area, but it can be exhausting to keep up with a busy calendar, and make the most out of each event. And, for those who are more introverted, meeting a lot of new people at one time can seem daunting.

Whether you’re a networking pro or need a little coaxing when it comes to putting yourself out there, these 5 quick tips will help you master networking events in 2014!

  1. Clear your mind before entering the event. Many networking events take place in the early evening, after you’ve most likely had a long, arduous day at work. Be sure to check your negative energy at the door, or others might sense it! Even if you feel so tired you wish you could back out, go in with an open mind. Focus your mind on the task ahead of you – meeting new people and establishing relationships. If you can, try to give yourself a bit of alone time prior to the event to re-charge whether this is listening to your favorite music driving over, or stopping for a quick coffee prior to the event and enjoying it while checking out some blog posts or recent news from the day.
  2. Talk to people who are standing alone. Ever feel a bit awkward at a networking event? Everyone has at one point or another! If you see someone standing alone, strike up a conversation. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to, plus you won’t have to worry about breaking up a group’s conversation by approaching multiple people mid-way through and introducing yourself.
  3. Repeat your contact’s name. While you’re speaking with someone, repeat their name back to them a few times during the conversation. It helps you to demonstrate that you’re paying attention to what your contact is saying, and you’ll remember names better that way. Two or three times per conversation should do the trick!  Continue reading

» The 2014 Marriage Equality Landscape

Question of Where to Get Married Means More Than a Venue Decision To Same-Sex Couples

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.

Those of us who support marriage equality tend to describe 2013 as nothing less than a banner year. Though we have enjoyed significant milestones over the course of the past fifteen years, this past year surpassed them all with a giant leap.

Those of you following the headlines know that the biggest gains came courtesy of two dramatic decisions made by the Supreme Court: marriage equality was returned to California and the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” was struck down, allowing same-sex couples to receive federal recognition and benefits, even if they live in non-marriage equality states. With the recent surprise additions of New Mexico and Utah*, seventeen states and the District of Columbia offer marriage equality, with marriage equality briefly recognized, but now on hold in Utah, pending appeal.

But what does all of this mean for you as a wedding professional?

Well, that depends on what you do and where you do it. I’ll be talking more specifically about this question in depth in future posts, webinars and conferences, but wanted to make sure that you get a basic start as we embrace 2014.

Regionally speaking in the U.S.:Same-Sex Couples Stats

If you work with couples in a marriage equality state, you need to take your services beyond gay-friendly if you want to be competitive. This is especially true in markets where marriage equality has been around for a fair share of years. It is essential that you update the language on your website, marketing materials, vendor listings, and contracts to be inclusive of all brides and grooms. Now, more than ever, same-sex couples have choice so you need to showcase your industry skill set and gay wedding competence. Also be sure to request Reviews from past same-sex couples to get their valuable feedback on your services and show other couples searching for their wedding day team that you have experience in serving all kinds of couples and happy past clients!

If you work with couples in the southeast, chances are marriage equality and other partnership rights are not recognized. Even so, if you are in a market like Atlanta or in parts of Florida, you can find a strong community of couples who need your help. Many may be looking to access federal marriage equality and will pursue a legal elopement, but are likely to have a reception and/or spiritual ceremony at home. You have an opportunity to adjust your language, contracts, packages and marketing materials to let them know that you are available to provide services to same-sex couples, while also setting yourself up to be prepared for the eventuality of marriage equality (of note, the Human Rights Campaign has set a goal of full marriage equality in the US by 2018).

If you work with couples in the midwest, chances are your couples are choosing legal elopements and are finding their way to states like Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota or perhaps picking destinations like New York City, the District of Columbia or San Francisco. Updating your marketing & contract materials, while also developing fluency in what’s involved for a couple who will make a trip (by car or plane) for a marriage license and then to return home to celebrate will serve you well.

Did you know? According to our recent survey of recently wed same-sex couples, 46% of couples wed in their home state and 65% of couples ventured to the closest state that recognized marriage equality. Learn more in this infographic about the changing landscape of same-sex wedding planning! Continue reading

» 4 Tips to Prepare for What’s Next in Tech

When it comes to technology, the only barrier is imagination! This makes it hard to know what may come next, and technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Feel overwhelmed? These four tips provide some insight into what is to come next in technology this year and beyond that will impact Wedding Pros like you. Stay ahead of the latest updates and see into the future of your business with our latest infographic, 4 Tips to Prepare for What’s Next in Tech.

» WeddingWire Love. Write. Feed: The Results!

WeddingWire Love. Write. Feed: The Results!Late last year, you may recall that we announced our holiday giving program, Love. Write. Feed. For every vendor review written about one of our Pros on WeddingWire, we donated $1 towards a warm meal to feed those in need during holiday season!

The donations went to one of our five food bank partners within the region where the vendor is located. With over 42,000 reviews received during the campaign, we reached our goal! We were able to donate 41,600 meals across our food bank partners! Here’s the breakdown of how the meals were donated:

Of course, we could not have reached our goals without the help of all our Wedding Pros, who helped us by providing their clients with an experience worth reviewing, as well as the wonderful WeddingWire users who wrote the reviews. Thank you all so much for helping us make a difference in the lives of people across the nation!

Many of our Pros even took the initiative to match their own reviews with donations to charities of their choice! Thank you to those generous businesses who contributed through their own efforts.

Thanks again to all our Pros, couples and food bank partners for making the WeddingWire Love. Write. Feed. program a success!

» How SEO and Social Media Work Together

How SEO and Social Media Work TogetherSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex process that involves many moving parts. Our Search Engine Optimizer helps you to optimize your Storefront for search engines by researching keywords and incorporating them into your website and Storefront, but that’s just part of the battle for top placement.

In recent years, Google has also gotten better at weeding out those websites that are chocked full of popular (unrelated) keywords or those that use plug-ins and other technologies in an attempt to trick Google into giving them higher placement. As a result, more legitimate businesses are gaining back their deserved SEO traction.

How does SEO work? Google’s algorithms take many elements into account when evaluating your website. Yes, keywords are important, but what many businesses might not realize is that social engagement is a key factor in how search engines determine your search placement!

As search engines like Google become more focused on fresh, quality content, they’ve begun to acknowledge that your brand’s website is not the only place where you have a presence online. Your business likely has a presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and now search engines are placing an increasing amount of importance on how your social conversations influence your brand.

Check out our suggestions below to determine how your brand can make SEO and social media work together!

Start conversations on your business’ Facebook page.

Stimulate engagement with your Facebook fans by posting interesting content often. You can ask questions, provide information or even just post information that is relevant to your brand, like photos from your last event or service. Think of your Facebook page as a community, where you interact with your fans. This will help you to start conversations with your audience and boost your online reputation.

Boost your Twitter activity.

Search engines are looking for your Twitter account’s activity, not just your number of tweets. Your tweets should be written in a way that encourages clicks, retweets, favorites and mentions. Search engines are looking for indications that your brand deserves a high ranking; other users interacting with your tweets shows that your brand has a lot of social clout.

Continue reading

» Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014: Hear from the Winners!

WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards 2014 Last week, we were thrilled to announce the winners of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014!

Our annual awards program, formerly known as the Bride’s Choice Awards, recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Unlike other awards in the wedding industry, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards are solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with their wedding professionals.

We are so happy to recognize this group of Wedding Pros for their impressive achievements! There’s no better way to start 2014 than by honoring the hard work, commitment and success of these top-rated wedding professionals on the WeddingWire Network.

Below is some of the feedback we received from several of our wonderful winners who have seen how their WeddingWire reviews have helped grow their businesses:

1930 Grande Room - Winner of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014“We are honored to be selected for WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards 2014! As a new venue in our market, our reviews on WeddingWire help us stand apart.  Real couples expressing their experience to future brides and grooms only helps them make a more informed decision when planning for such an important day.”

– Jennifer C. Sanschagrin, 1930 Grande Room, Tampa, FL


Perfect Planning - winner of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014The reviews on WeddingWire communicates to couples who we really are. Since, joining the WeddingWire Network this has been the best decision for my business. WeddingWire puts me in front of the client; and as WeddingWire grows to higher heights, they take my business on the journey with them.

 

– Tara Melvin, Perfect Planning, Washington, D.C.


Nature Coast Entertainment - Winner of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014“WeddingWire reviews are at the core of our business. We use the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards 2014 as a marketing tool to show potential clients that we are a company that they can trust. These awards are in almost all of our communications, as well as our social media pages. We strive to exceed our client’s expectations in all that we do, so that when they do review our services, a 5 star score would be the only rating possible for us!”

– Michael Greenberg, Nature Coast Entertainment, Tampa, FL

For additional information, read the full press release. Congratulations again to all our 2014 winners!

» How To: Update Your Facebook Cover Photo

When was the last time that you updated your Facebook Cover Photo? This image is one of the first things that potential clients see when visiting your Facebook account. It is important to have a great cover image to make a good impression! Stand out with a beautiful and engaging cover photo that expresses the personality of your business.

Tips for a stellar cover photo:

  • Update your cover photo frequently! A fresh image is engaging. Make it relevant for potential clients seeking services like you but updating based on the season, an image that expresses business personality and matches your logo, or use an image from a recent favorite event (with attribution to the photographer).
  • Always include a photo description with your cover photo and a call to action to visit your Storefront, business website or to contact you directly to learn more about your service with a link to your contact form.
  • Coordinate your cover photo with your profile photo to make it a great visual experience for your visitors and convey a consistent brand message.

Facebook Page Designer

Not sure how to update your cover image on Facebook? Use the step-by-step guide below.

  1. Log in to your Facebook account, select your business account under your ‘Pages’
  2. When viewing your Timeline, hover over your cover photo
  3. Click the edit icon, ‘Change Cover’
  4. Pick one of the options from the pop-up menu (ex: Upload photo, Chose from Photos)
  5. Select the photo or image of your choice,  drag to reposition as needed
  6. Save your changes

What tips do you have for an eye-catching cover photo?

» WeddingWire Among Wedding Market Nominees for 2013

WeddingWire Among Wedding Market Nominees for 2013WeddingWire is thrilled to be included in the Wedding Market Nominees for 2013 as potential industry favorites in several categories!

Wedding Market, an online community for engaged couples and the wedding industry, has asked its social media followers to vote for their favorites in a variety of topics, from wedding celebrity of the year to the best wedding trends of 2013.

We’re excited to have been nominated in the following categories:

  • Favorite Wedding Industry Blog (for Wedding Pros): WeddingWireEDU
  • Must Follow Wedding Industry Expert: @SonnyG
  • Best Wedding Industry Conference: WeddingWire World
  • Best #WeddingMarket Chat Guest for 2013: @SonnyG
  • Best Wedding Industry Conference Speaker: @SonnyG
  • Favorite Digital Wedding Magazine: WeddingWire

Vote for your favorites now!

We’d also like to congratulate WeddingWire Education Experts Alan Berg and Christine Dyer of BridalTweet for making the list of nominees!

Thanks, Wedding Market!

Update: We won! Find out the results of the WeddingWire Awards here!

» 10 Must-Do Resolutions for Wedding Vendors in 2014

WeddingWire Education Expert

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 14,000 Facebook fans, 44,000 Twitter followers, and over 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.

2014 is off to a great start – especially since January and February mark the high season for when couples get engaged and begin to plan their weddings! That makes this the perfect time for wedding vendors to reflect on areas where we can improve our businesses.

10 Must-Do Resolutions for Wedding Vendors in 2014Here are 10 resolutions that I believe every wedding professional needs to make to get this year off to a great start:

  1. Differentiate yourself Some days it can be overwhelming to think about how many wedding professionals there are in the industry, but don’t be discouraged! My advice is that you should create a short list of things that make you unique and present that list to potential wedding clients before even discussing your services. You can also survey your clients and ask them how your business can help them the most. Then, focus on selling what brides actually want – and not what you think they need. These tactics will help you to stand out!
  2. Provide valuable information – To get today’s couples’ attention, be sure to look at the world through their eyes. Ask yourself: what do they want and what do they need to know during the various stages of wedding planning? You are the wedding expert, so providing your advice in the form of a wedding blog can showcase your work and provide planning tips.
  3. Go above and beyond – Look at unique, special touches that can be offered to your wedding clients. These don’t have to cost a lot but that extra effort will go a long way in terms of client satisfaction. In addition, handle all customer service issues as soon as possible to build loyalty and increase the likelihood of future referrals.
  4. Don’t lower your prices – Have confidence in what your business offers and don’t sell yourself short! Focus on prospects in your target market – couples who value the problems that your business can solve for them.
  5. Say no – especially to Bridezillas – Many wedding professionals feel that they need to work with every single client, but you have to make sure your client relationships are mutually beneficial. It is OK to come to terms with the fact that not every client is a good fit for your business! The time you waste on clients who aren’t the right fit translates into money that you could have been using to drive new business.  Continue reading

» Get Published in Our WeddingWire SpringBook!

Get Published in Our WeddingWire SpringBook!With the frigid temperatures here at WeddingWire HQ, spring seems pretty far away. But the Editorial and Design teams are already hard at work on our WeddingWire SpringBook – and once again, we’re looking for real wedding submissions for our exciting and inspiring interactive magazine (if you haven’t seen our WinterBook, check it out!). We are actively searching for spring real weddings that meet the following criteria:

  • Weddings must have taken place in the spring (late March – early June) within the past two years.
  • An abundance of creative details (bouquets, centerpieces, stationery, food, favors, and more!)

  • Submission must include at least 75 photos – mostly color, if possible
  • 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. Engaged couples are loving our interactive magazines, so a published real wedding is a great publicity opportunity 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 SpringBook. 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. We also accept submissions via Two Bright Lights.

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. And please disclose if the wedding has been or will be featured in another publication. All submissions are due by Friday, January 24th.

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 Candace Jeffery Photography