» Wed We Can: How to Stand Out to Same-Sex Couples

Webinar  Recap!Wed We Can: How to Stand Out to Same-Sex Couples

To kick off Pride month this coming June, our webinar this month focused on how to stand out to same-sex couples for wedding pros who are serving all types of loving couples. This month’s webinar taught our listeners important updates on the changing legal landscape of gay marriage, the do’s and don’ts of presenting your business to same-sex couples, and how to maximize both your WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com accounts.

As usual we invited our premium members to listen to our webinar, but we also invited our lite members who have opted in to being listed on GayWedding.com. Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, and Sonny Ganguly, Chief Marketing Officer at WeddingWire, hosted the webinar on how to better serve and reach same-sex couples for LGBTQ-friendly Pros.

What you should do:

Understand the couple and their needs. The LGBTQ community is a powerful community and you want to make sure you understand their culture and politics. Know the difference between the evolving labels and be familiar with the evolving legal landscape in your home state.

Maximize your WeddingWire and GayWeddings account. For starters, make sure that you have opted in to be listed on GayWeddings’ vendor inventory. Next, make sure you customize your GayWeddings account photo with an inclusive profile image. This should be an image of same-sex couples, an image that showcases your services like a venue or favorite cake, or a marriage equality image such as the Wed We Can badge.

Use inclusive language. Be mindful on your website and marketing materials to address all types of couples. As mentioned before, WedingWire uses the word couple rather than bride or groom to be inclusive.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Payment Plans, Difficult Clients 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, Pros 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 Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Payment Plans, Difficult Clients and MoreBridal show value

Are bridal shows worth it? What are some questions you should ask to qualify a particular bridal show? Pros discuss strategies for getting the most value out of bridal shows and how to determine which shows to attend.

Share your knowledge >> 

Client payment plans

Do you accept payment plans from couples? Pros discuss which pain points they’ve experienced and how to best accommodate clients while also staying within their contract terms and covering their expenses.

What’s your strategy? >>

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» When is an Email Reply Not an Email Reply?

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/.

Auto-responders. Email replies. Out of Office messages. We get them every day. Some of us send them every day. But are they providing a good experience to the recipient? Does the person receiving these messages feel better about the interaction? Do any of us really need another email in our inbox?

I speak and consult with countless wedding and event Pros each year and I know that many of you like your auto-responders. You have them set up to reply to inquiries. You have them set up to reply whether you’re in the office or out. So, let’s turn the tables on you and see what experience you’re actually providing. When you’re the customer and you email a company you’ve never done business with, and you get an almost immediate email reply that says something like “Your message is very important to us. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” How does that make you feel? Do you feel like they’ve actually responded? Or is it just a validation that their computer has received your email?

When is an Email Reply Not an Email Reply?Where’s the value?

My simple philosophy on auto-responders or out of office messages is that they should add value to the recipient. Telling me that you’ve received my message adds no value for me. Saying that you’ll get back to me as soon as you can is a statement of the obvious. I hope you’d get back to me as soon as you can and not make me wait any longer than necessary.

What I’m looking for is information that I didn’t have before I sent you my email, or filled out your contact form. I only use an out of office reply when I’m out of my office for a full day, or longer. It states when I’ll be out, where I’ll be, gives information on my availability and how to get a message to me when it’s urgent, including my cell phone number. I’ve seen way too many messages that say to call for more information or faster service, and they don’t include the phone number. It also includes my full email signature with all of the included contact information.

Are you listening?

What about auto-responders that send information to whoever completes your contact form? Unless your system is sophisticated enough to only send what they asked for, and nothing more, then I’m not a fan. If you’ve heard me present on sales on a WeddingWire webinar, or at a live presentation, then you know that I’ve said not to answer questions they haven’t asked, and don’t send information they didn’t request. Your marketing materials can’t qualify a prospect, only you can. They’re already interested or they wouldn’t have made the inquiry. Show them that your company provides real, personalized customer service by actually replying, instead of reactively sending the same information to everyone, regardless of their need.

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» Instagram Tips and Tricks

Instagram Tips and TricksAs your business continues into the busy season this summer, you’ll be out and about and away from the computer for a lot of your time. Social media is likely not a priority when you get back to your desk after a long day, but you don’t have to allocate alone time specifically for a network like Instagram!

Because Instagram is mostly a mobile social network, it’s easy to manage and post while you’re out of the office. It’s a great network for brands to post behind-the-scenes photos and videos, as well as product or service photos at events. If you’ve never used Instagram or you’re struggling to get started, use these Instagram tips and tricks to boost your account’s performance!

Spend time exploring

If you don’t use Instagram personally, spend some time exploring Instagram before you start using an account for your business. Like most social networks, the majority of users are individuals. Instagram is fairly informal, so pay attention to the way others are using it – how they use captions, what hashtags they use and any other trends you spot that would be good for your business’ use. The better you understand how individuals and brands are using Instagram, the better you’ll be able to reach potential clients and interact with them in a native way.

Use hashtags

Hashtags used to be only for Twitter, but not anymore! Hashtags are extremely popular on Instagram, as they’re used to explore certain topics and help accounts gain followers. Check out some of the photos in the Explore tab to see what hashtags people are using and if any of them are a good fit for your posts. It’s a good idea to use popular hashtags so that your account will be found by the people searching those hashtags, but you can also create a few branded hashtags of your own. Creating a hashtag with your business’ name or some other identifier can also help set your business apart and establish your branding within Instagram. Even if you forget to include a hashtag in your original caption, you can always comment on your own photo to include more.

Mix in photo and video

While Instagram was created to share photos, it has also expanded to include short video clips as well. Be sure to experiment with both and mix up the content you’re posting. Posting photos is easy as long as the image can be cropped into a square, and there are a number of filters and other photo effects you can use to give your posts a distinct look. You can create a video on Instagram using live video or a video already on your mobile device – or a mix of the two! Instagram will also allow you to pick the thumbnail that appears on Instagram for users to watch, and you can add filters to videos as well.  It doesn’t take a lot of time or work, so make sure you try both post types.

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» WeddingWire World Miami: Meet the Speakers

We can’t wait for WeddingWire World Miami on Tuesday, June 3rd in Miami, FL! With only one week until from the event, we’re excited to share some recent additions to our lineup of great presentations from industry experts. From their sessions, you will walk away with tips, tools, and resources to grow your business. Meet the speakers of WeddingWire World Miami below!

Sonny GangulySonny Ganguly

CMO, WeddingWire

Sonny leads WeddingWire’s B2C/B2B marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and community development. Today, WeddingWire is the leading marketplace connecting consumers with event merchants, with an audience of over 40 million visitors each month across its network. Additionally, Sonny is a widely acclaimed speaker, giving over 50 presentations across the globe each year on technology, marketing and strategy.

Alan BergAlan Berg

Founder, Wedding Industry Leaders Conference

With more than 20 years in wedding and event related sales and marketing, Alan Berg is uniquely qualified to help event and wedding professionals achieve their goals. Alan spent 11 years at The Knot, most of them as Vice President, overseeing the Sales, Education and Training of the local sales team and local wedding pros around the country.

Silvia CampsSilvia Camps

President & Founder, Brand Development Group, Inc.

Silvia is the President and Founder of Brand Development Group, a strategic marketing firm focused on providing business and branding solutions to help small- and medium-sized companies build remarkable brands and profitably grow their businesses. She is an accomplished marketer and strategist with over 15 years of experience assisting brands including Google, Target, SELF Magazine, TracFone, Pernod Ricard and Univision.

Kathryn HammKathryn Hamm

President, GayWeddings.com

Gay and lesbian wedding innovator, Kathryn Hamm is the President of GayWeddings.com, the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Since its founding, GayWeddings.com has supported thousands of same-sex couples and LGBT-friendly vendors; as an interactive planning resource, GayWeddings.com offers a community forum, free planning articles and “Wed Pages” for couples, and offers the most comprehensive wedding vendor directory available to same-sex couples.  Continue reading

» Networking Events: 5 More Quick Tips

With the start of the WeddingWire World Tour in Miami, FL just around the corner, we’ve got networking on the brain! We know that the networking opportunities at WeddingWire World are part of the big draw for our Pros, and with five events on the World Tour, we’re ready to help facilitate those important connections.

We offered some tips for attending networking events in our first post – below are 5 more!

Be selective about your events

Choose networking events where you know you’ll have something in common with the other people attending. Many local networking events may not be industry-specific, so try to filter out the events that are most worth your time. Check out the WeddingWire World Tour schedule to see if we’ll be coming to a town near you, or be on the lookout for an email from us when we’ll be near you for a Mix & Mingle, Networking Night or Workshop!

Networking Events: 5 More Quick TipsMake the first move

If you’ve been to a lot of networking events, you’ve noticed that attendees tend to polarize. Some people are extremely social and will spend the whole time proactively making conversations with others. The other types of people tend to sit alone, waiting for other to approach them. They’re often on their phones trying to look busy. Approach those people and make the first move! You’ll be helping them break the ice and begin a conversation. It’s great for your network, and it’s a kind deed you can do for others to ease their tension.

Be yourself

Although you’re at a professional event, don’t be afraid to show some personality! It can be stressful and draining to keep up an overly-stiff façade while at networking events, and as a result it can make the whole ordeal much more unpleasant than it has to be. Honesty and authenticity are great traits, and they’ll shine through if you’re being yourself. Don’t worry about trying to keep your personal life separate (unless you want to!). Be yourself and you’ll make both friends and professional contacts.

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» How DIY and SEO Can Live Happily Ever After

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

Creating your SEO strategy can feel utterly overwhelming. Sure, hiring an expert could make things a lot easier, but then you would want someone who knows the industry, understands exactly what will work for your website, and whose services fit within your budget. How DIY and SEO Can Live Happily Ever AfterWhy can’t SEO be DIY? Does it really need to be so difficult? As it turns out, SEO could be DIY once you understand a few key elements. Here are the oh-so-easy-to-do secrets of a happy DIY SEO relationship which, if you implement, will leave you feeling empowered and knowledgeable!

Beauty sleep, aka NAPtime Make sure your business contact information is consistent anywhere it’s visible. At a minimum, your contact information should include your business name, address, and phone number – or NAP, abbreviated. That means that the NAP information on your website, Storefront and Facebook business page should all be exactly alike.

Be yourself, but don’t be full of yourself Be unique when it comes to your SEO DIY blending. On your website’s homepage, include information that explains exactly what your business does, in three hundred words or more. Do share where you are, what specifically you do, and some relevant keywords. However, do not overload your website with so many keywords that you sound like a wedding industry dictionary. Known as keyword stuffing, this method is a huge turnoff to search engines that are savvy to this kind of jargon. Continue reading

» New York Pros: Revolutionize Your Business with Alan Berg

New York Pros: Revolutionize Your Business with Alan Berg

Revolutionize your wedding business and be ready to tackle the busy summer wedding season!

WeddingWire is proud to sponsor the Buffalo Bridal Association’s one-day workshop, featuring WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg on Tuesday, July 8th at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.

The day will be full of eye-opening educational sessions on a variety of topics, including creating an exceptional customer experience, having better email conversations and making the most of bridal shows. The workshop will end with a post-dinner power-packed evening session titled, “Bride’s Buying Signals – How Wedding Pros Can Close More Sales, Today!”

Powered by WeddingWire and led by Alan Berg, this is a “can’t miss” workshop for New York area Pros! Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet members of the WeddingWire team.

Register today to receive special May pricing and reserve your seat at either the afternoon sessions, evening session, or both.

Register now >>

» WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

Tuesday night, Wedding Pros gathered at Label House 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 more exciting events and locations to come this year!

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). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Greater Charlotte Facebook Community!

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

Finally, congrats to Tess Woods of Inspiration & Design Photography by Debrah (Tess) Woods, CPP , the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

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» Hiring Summer Employees

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Hiring Summer EmployeesNow that your wedding business has likely had a few busy weeks of events so far, you may be wondering if it’s time to get some summer help! Luckily for you, your busy season coincides with one of the best times of the year for hiring. But even with time on your side, hiring summer employees can still be a tough process.

Maybe you need a summer intern to help with some of the smaller tasks, or maybe you need a full-time employee to assist at events. No matter who you’ll be hiring, use these guidelines to get the process started!

Decide what you need before getting started. Do you need a summer intern, part-time or full-time employee? Is there a possibility of keeping this person after summer ends, or is it strictly a temporary position? Make these decisions up front so you can make sure you’re following all the rules. Interns are different from independent contractors, and independent contractors are different from employees. Do the research to find out which type best fits your business’ needs.

Write your listing and decide where to advertise. Be as descriptive as possible when writing your listing so you get more qualified applications. Your perfect candidate is out there – they just need to know you’re looking for them! A well-placed “Help Wanted” ad can drive a bunch of applications, whether it’s in your local paper or in an online directory. Word of mouth is usually effective for smaller regions, so mention your opening to clients and friends in the industry. Be sure to also list your job opening on your website to catch any applicants who happen upon it!

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» What’s Next in Social Media: May 2014

What's Next in Social Media

Social media is constantly changing. Each network has its own strategy and features, and 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 in social media!

Here’s what you need to know about what’s next in social media from May 2014:

What’s Next in Social Media: May 2014Facebook to expand messaging capabilities

According to rumor in the tech industry, Facebook is building a video-messaging app to rival Snapchat. The supposed app, called Slingshot, would allow users to exchange short video messages with friends. After reportedly trying to buy Snapchat for $3 billion last year, it appears that Facebook is not ready to abandon the idea which would help them re-engage with younger users. If the Slingshot rumors are true, Facebook may be releasing it as early as this month.

Continue reading on PC World >

Twitter adds “mute” feature

Last week, Twitter announced its latest feature – mute! This new feature allows you to choose not to see tweets and other activities from the muted user, though the user will still be able to interact with your activity on Twitter. Muting users on Twitter is similar to hiding users from your Facebook News Feed; it’s an alternative to unfollowing the user. You can easily control the content you’re consuming with this new feature, which makes Twitter one step closer to Facebook’s News Feed.

Read more from Twitter’s Blog >

Is Google+ being phased out?

Google has begun testing a new “Sign in with Google” option to replace the Google+ icon for third-party developers. The Google+ sign in functionality has been in use ever since Google began requiring Gmail and YouTube users to register for Google+ to use those services. While many users created an account at that time, many claim that they don’t actively use it. Although the swapping of the sign in buttons is new and may just be a test, it may signal the end of the Google+ era.

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» The Right Way to Expand Your Wedding Business

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 Pros at this time of year, considering whether to expand your wedding business is a very real decision. The opportunity for more potential profits can lead even the most experienced of Pros astray, into new territory where they shouldn’t be. One of the best ways I’ve heard used to describe the right way to expand your business is to “stay in your lane.” What a great, succinct way to point out what’s been going on in our industry.

The Right Way to Expand Your Wedding BusinessAs I see it, there are two kinds of expansion: that which makes sense (even if I wouldn’t make the same choice), and that which dilutes your brand and diminishes the quality of your core service.  Decor companies offering lighting makes sense to me.  Florists offering candy buffets, venues offering invitations, and DJs offering photobooths, not so much.

(I’ve actually thought about which makes less sense — a vendor offering two completely different services, or those huge clearinghouse companies that practically offer a “wedding in a box.”  That’s probably a subject for another post, though.)

I’m not totally against expansion.  As an entrepreneur at heart, I’m actually all about business ventures that are smart, logical, and executable.  What I am against, though, is business owners who, rather than closely examining the deficiencies in their primary service, choose to try to move in on someone else’s.  (On a side note: I hope that the businesses who keep expanding their reach are at least considering the effect of lost referrals when they turn their business allies into competitors.)

Focusing inward is hard.  It’s especially hard when you’re working harder than you want to be and making less money than you need.  Harder yet is when you feel like you’ve honestly been doing your best and you’re still not as successful as you’d hoped.  I think it’s probably natural to choose instead to chase that new-venture exhilaration and keep adding on services and products in hopes that they will be the silver bullet your business needs.  When, in reality, that’s more often the last thing you should be doing.  If you aren’t effectively managing your core service well, that’s probably a good predictor of how well your “add-ons” will go.

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