» Pro Forum Buzz: 2015 Pet Peeves, Closing Sales Emails, 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, wedding professionals 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 WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Biggest pet peeves for wedding professionals2015 pet peeves

Pros blow off some steam by venting about their biggest pet peeves of 2015 so far. Complaints include grammar mistakes, awkward requests, and drunken bridal party members. Share your biggest pet peeves or check out what other Pros are saying!

Join the conversation >>

Tips for closing sales emails

One of WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg’s best sales closing tips is to always end your email with a question to keep the conversation going. Do you use this tip? What questions do you use at the end of your emails? Pros offer their best practices.

Share your techniques >>

Mentoring a potential competitor

Where do you draw the line between mentoring someone and potentially giving away your hard-earned industry experience and trade secrets? A photographer shares her experiences with a colleague who is new to the industry, and seeks advice for how to handle a tricky situation.

Offer your advice >>

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» Growing Pains for Small Business Owners

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.

Entrepreneurs are a unique bunch. For those of us with “business in our blood,” the exhilaration of forming and operating our own businesses is addictive. Unfortunately, as exciting as it may be to become your own boss, the ugly truth is that, per Bloomberg, 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. What a terrible statistic, right?

Small business growing pains for wedding professionalsWedding professionals aren’t exempt from the odds, but we also have some special qualities that can help us beat them. For one thing, most of the wedding business owners I know are super invested in what they do. Unlike, say, someone who distributes widgets (are those a thing?), people who choose to work in the wedding industry seem especially passionate about their service or product. They also, for the most part, seem to truly care about their clients. We all know how important our couples’ wedding day is to them, and we want to make it perfect.

So, how can we leverage that passion, that investment, and succeed as business owners? I’d say the magic formula lies partly on the “outside” – your branding and marketing, your selling techniques, and how you perform your services on the day of the wedding – but, perhaps even more, on the “inside.” Success comes from your head and your heart. It’s balancing being ambitious with being realistic. It’s anticipating the challenges ahead, and having a game plan to overcome them. It’s mustering the discipline to keep going when the business isn’t fun anymore. It’s finding ways to make it fun again.

It’s treating the growing pains.

We all deal with them – no one is immune. Paying attention to them, learning the lesson that comes with them, and adapting your business for the better are what will keep you going long past that 18-month lifespan of most new businesses.

Here are some typical types of growing pains for small business owners, and the treatment:

What Hurts: The thrill is gone. You were so driven when you started, and you were so energized by the whirlwind of the startup: naming your business, ordering marketing materials,  and sharing your excitement with those around you. And now, your business has been around a while, and it feels like all you do is sift through emails, answer the same old client questions, and pay bills. It no longer interests you.

The Rx: There are a few things you can do. You can figure out ways to work with more of the people you like, and weed out people you don’t. Working with “your people” automatically makes anything you do more rewarding. You can look for opportunities to expand or refine your services to renew some of the sense of challenge and excitement. You can seek new sources of inspiration: a great book or blog, a mastermind group, a session with a business coach. You can focus on other areas of your life – sure, work takes up a lot of time, especially for business owners, but it’s not (or shouldn’t be) all you do. Maybe there’s a new hobby you can pursue, or an old one you can pick up again. Maybe there’s a great cause that could use some volunteer help. Diversifying your interests can go a long way toward addressing entrepreneurial ennui.

What Hurts: Your brand feels stale. You perceive that your competitors’ marketing is sharper, cooler, prettier or more effective than yours. Those beautiful business cards you were so excited to hand out? Now you’d rather leave them in the bottom of your bag. You don’t feel motivated to try to drive more traffic to your website, because frankly, you don’t really want any more eyes on it than necessary. Even your business name doesn’t sound right any more, and you find yourself wanting to skip over it when you’re networking with new people.

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» What’s Next in Social Media: September 2015

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 September 2015:

Find out about Facebook's plan for business pagesFacebook announces new plan for Pages

In addition to the news that a dislike button is coming soon, Facebook announced this month that the social network will open up two new sections for business pages – shopping and services. These sections allow businesses to feature their products and services directly from their Facebook pages. The original social network expanded these features as part of its plan to help small business owners connect with customers and communicate easily through the platform.

What this means for you: Potential clients can find your business on Facebook, and now they can contact your business or purchase directly through the social network. If your business has already dabbled in Facebook advertising, now is the time to take full advantage so you can start building up your audience in preparation for the upcoming shopping/services section.

Read the rest on Mashable >>

Twitter experiments with polls

This month, Twitter revealed that it has begun experimenting with embeddable polls in tweets. The polls, currently available to those with verified accounts, offer only two responses for users to choose from when answering. After participating in the poll, Twitter users can see results in percentage points to understand how their responses stack up. The new polling feature is anticipated by many brands who would be able to use native polls to survey followers.

What this means for you: Want a quick opinion on which bouquet looks best, which cake flavor is most popular, or which songs wedding guests will be most requesting this season? Twitter’s poll function (when it’s out of testing!) will allow your business to get quick feedback from your clients and followers. Look out for the news from Twitter when they decide whether or not to open up polls for unverified Twitter users.

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» Take Your Business to New Heights: Reach Expert Status

September-Webinar_Take-Your-Business-to-New-Heights-Reach-Expert-Status_TileWebinar Recap!

Do you consider yourself an expert in your field? In our September webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely shared her tips for packaging your skills, experience and knowledge to become a recognized expert in your industry. After all, building your reputation helps you stand out from your competition, increase your value, and boost your brand!

Find out some top highlights from the webinar below.

  • First ask yourself: What am I an expert in? Some considerations include: regional knowledge, destination weddings, LGBTQ, Indian weddings, Jewish weddings, Persian weddings, Elopements, second marriage and more!
  • Before submitting a real wedding, you must first: do your research, focus on your target audience, study the submission guidelines and be mindful of editorial calendars. You can submit real weddings to WeddingWire at RealWeds.com!
  • If you are interested in guest writing, be sure to: research the top and best fit outlets for your expertise, select your top outlets to approach, outline the submission guidelines and follow them, craft a list of topics and only then make the pitch!
  • To help your business get press, here are some great tips: learn to think like the media – what content and help do they need? Make it easy on them, make your outreach about them and their success and not too self-serving, treat them like a client and act professionally, and be prompt with deadlines and organized in your follow up.

For more details, be sure to watch the full webinar!

Interested in learning more from Meghan and her team at OFD Consulting? Until this Friday, 9/25/15 at midnight, all WeddingWire webinar registrants can save 40% on products such as a Real Weddings Submission kit with promo code: weddingwire at checkout!

Did you know that all of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for premium Pros to view at any time? Check it out for some great education and inspiration on important topics for your business from sales to client communication, marketing and more.

» How to Be the Experienced Wedding Pro (Without Sounding Old)

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

I’m just back from another great conference and I had the privilege of speaking about a touchy subject… getting older. Why is it a touchy subject, after all aging is inevitable? As a matter of fact getting older beats the alternative! The reason it’s touchy is because in our industry, wedding pros, like you, get older every year, while your target market, engaged couples, stay about the same age. In my over 25 years around this industry couples have only gotten about 5 years older, while I’ve added those 25 years to my total (that’s not fair, but it’s true). I have a survey about this topic, so if you’d like to have your voice heard you can take the short survey here.

How to market your wedding experience without sounding oldSo, what’s the problem?

Actually I don’t think there is a problem, but for many wedding pros it can become an issue. At a certain point you find yourself the age of the parents of your clients, while you need to relate to the couple and understand their needs. Any of you who have children know that relating to your kids is not as easy as relating to people your own age. And therein lies the issue, or does it?

As with many other of life’s issues there are many ways to see this.  Do you need to be the age of your couples to relate to them? I don’t think so. You just need to work to understand their needs as it relates to your business and service. You also need to constantly adapt to the way they want to do business.

Technology changes all the time

One of the most fundamental ways our market has changed over the past 10 years is the advent of email. For many, if not most of you, getting a prospect on the phone is your preferred first method of contact. But we all know that doesn’t happen these days and email is, and will continue to be the way they reach out to us for the foreseeable future. It’s not up to us to try to change them, it’s up to us to adapt. A basic rule of business is to communicate with your customers using their preferred technology. If they email you, email them back. If they call you, call them back.

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» Announcing WeddingWire Editors’ Picks

Announcing WeddingWire Editors’ PicksIntroducing WeddingWire Editors’ Picks – a new program recognizing ceremony and reception venues across the U.S. and abroad!

The WeddingWire editorial team spends a great deal of time looking for the brightest stars in the wedding community, so we launched our Editors’ Picks program to highlight some of our favorite wedding venues across the country.

The first set of winners fall into our first two categories: Colleges and Universities and Farms and Barns. We will showcase two categories per month and update categories once a year. Categories are chosen based on the time of year (seasonality and popularity of that particular style in a season) and the interest of our users in order to maximize engagement. Up to 20 venues are selected to feature per category, per year.

Want to be an Editors’ Pick? While there’s no way to apply for our Editors’ Picks program, our editorial team regularly reviews Storefronts on WeddingWire and look for the following:

  • Updated Photos of Your Venue: Ensure you have high-quality, professional photos of your venue from the past year. Photos should highlight what sets your venue apart, features, different wedding styles, etc.
  • Accurate and Updated Venue Information in Your Profile: What makes your venue unique? Explain specific features and services you offer that set your venue apart.

Our Editors’ Picks program is not related to or impacted by our premium advertising options. We encourage you to keep your Storefront photos up to date to catch the attention of our Editors; your business could be picked for one of our upcoming categories!

Find out more about this program and check out the first round of winners on the WeddingWire Editors’ Picks website.

» Highlights from Wedding MBA 2015!

The WeddingWire team had a great time at the annual Wedding MBA (Wedding Merchants Business Academy) 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada last week!

From lots of education to having fun with Pros, below are some of our favorite highlights from the conference! Plus, check out this awesome video recap from our friends at Big Dream Entertainment.

Great Education:

Our team enjoyed all the great educational presentations for Wedding Pros, which included four WeddingWire sessions hosted by WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly and CEO Timothy Chi. Additionally, WeddingWire Education Experts Alan Berg, Andy Ebon, Kathryn Hamm and Meghan Ely all shared their expertise with engaging sessions throughout the conference.

Top Pro from audience

Also, don’t miss our brand new WeddingWire Education Guide for our best educational content in one easy place! From infographics, to our top blog posts, free webinars and WedInsight Guides, the Education Guide will help boost your business’ success.

Meeting Pros:

Industry conferences such as Wedding MBA and WeddingWire World are a great opportunities to get to meet some of the fantastic wedding and event Pros we work with in person! Attendees stopped by WeddingWire’s Lounge for one-on-one account support sessions, to say hello and meet team members, have some fun and collect some awesome swag, and learn more about WeddingWire.

Alicia with vendors

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» This Just In: The 2015 WeddingWire FallBook is Here!

Check out the 2015 WeddingWire FallBook for seasonal wedding inspiration!We’re thrilled to present our newest digital wedding magazine…the 2015 WeddingWire FallBook!

We’re particularly proud of this issue, as it includes helpful advice and inspiration not just for engaged couples and wedding professionals, but for wedding guests as well! You’ll find the work of many wedding and event professionals from around the country in the book, too.

Here is a sampling of the top stories from this issue:

  • A fall-themed styled shoot, produced by the WeddingWire team, and featuring the work of talented wedding professionals.
  • Four unique fall real weddings – including a fun destination event in Costa Rica!
  • The “Guest Guide” – a section for engaged couples to share with their guests. It includes a wedding guest timeline, gift and attire ideas, and much more.
  • Bridal fashion ideas for pre- and post-wedding events
  • Registry advice, engagement ring tips, and much more!

Enjoy our 2015 FallBook! Interested in being featured? Visit RealWeds.com for more information on submitting real weddings to our editorial team.

» Wedding PR: Pitching Styled Shoots to Vendors

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.

Styled shoots. Wedding Pros either love them or well, they despise them with every fiber of their being. There really is no in-between. In my ten plus years in the industry, I’ve never seen one topic divide the industry as much as the topic of styled shoots.

Coordinating a wedding styled shootAs I’ve mentioned before, styled shoots can be a wonderful way to showcase your talents, work with new vendors and potentially enjoy a bit of press. But with the steady increase in shoots, comes the challenge of getting your vendor friends and colleagues on board.

What was once a novel marketing idea has now become as common as mason jars paired with burlap. Wedding professionals are constantly being inundated with requests so the question that begs to be asked – how can you convince your colleagues to come on board for your styled shoot? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you start pitching styled shoots to other vendors:

Have a vision

While a styled shoot often stems from a particular moment of inspiration, there are a quite a few steps that need to be taken before reaching out to your colleagues. Take the time to map out the vision- scout locations and collect images to help tell your story. Your chances of getting that “yes” are far more likely if you can share a concrete vision for the shoot.

Connect with heavy hitters

If you have a great idea, then there is no reason you can’t connect with well-respected national companies to pitch your idea. There are a number of products that could elevate your shoot – whether it is candles and lighting, silk ribbon or even those cake stands you’ve been eyeing.  Aligning yourself with well recognized brands would give you that added credibility before approaching your targeted list of area wedding professionals.

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» WeddingWire at Wedding MBA 2015

WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly presenting at Wedding MBAToday kicks off the first full day of presentations at Wedding MBA 2015, and WeddingWire is so excited to be attending again this year! We’re looking forward to all the great education and industry tips, plus plenty of time to mix and mingle with all our Pros.

Here’s an overview of where to find the WeddingWire team and some of the fun events we don’t want you to miss this year!

Relax with us at the WeddingWire Lounge

There are fun surprises in store at the WeddingWire Lounge. Come by during Expo hours to pick up awesome swag, play special games, charge your devices, check out new technology – and, of course, to meet the team for a one-on-one consultation or to the chance say “hello.”

Learn from the best in our presentations

WeddingWire CEO Timothy Chi and CMO Sonny Ganguly are giving four great presentations full of tech, social media, mobile, and business tips. Plus, attend sessions hosted by our Education Experts Alan Berg, Kathryn Hamm, and Andy Ebon. Review the Wedding MBA schedule now to plan ahead!

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» Updates to Your WeddingWire Account: September 2015

New WeddingWire account updates and features in September 2015

Today we rolled out some exciting new additions and improvements to your WeddingWire account. Read more about our September 2015 updates below!

All mobile everything

By now, we all know how important a good mobile experience is for your business! Because of that, we’ve updated WeddingWire mobile (also known as m.weddingwire.com) to properly display all Storefront videos across all mobile devices. Video is a great way to engage potential customers and set yourself apart from the competition.

Upload new videos »

Learning more about couples

As the wedding industry continues to evolve, we’re learning and growing right along with it. To stay ahead of the curve, we launched a new optional Q&A after a user submits a review. Through these questions, we’ll be able to better understand couples’ wedding experience and continue to provide the best service to keep them coming back to your Storefront when they search for their wedding team.

Always improving

We are continuously working to best serve you, which includes updating existing features, as well. Recently we’ve updated proposals to prevent clients from requesting changes after you’ve converted it a contract, added functionality to allow you to upload a .csv in the Review Collector, and much more! As always, please share your feedback and needs with our team at pros@weddingwire.com.

» Wedding Planning on Social Media: 5 Statistics

WedInsights

Five statistics about how couples use social media for wedding planningSocial media isn’t something that existed for your wedding business as recently as seven years ago. It requires time and effort, and making sure it’s at least a small piece of what you do every day is no easy task for a busy wedding professional. Have you ever wondered just how important social media is to the wedding planning process and whether or not it actually affects your bottom line?

Check out these five statistics from Volume 5 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out how couples are wedding planning on social media and how you can maximize your business’ presence.

74% of internet users are active on social media and 89% are between the ages of 18-29

There’s no doubt about it: data shows that your target demographic is on social media. Due to the significance of social media during the planning process, not having a social presence on these sites could negatively impact your brand’s reputation.  In fact, 62% of couples say that vendors who are not on social media seem “outdated.” If you have not yet created a social presence for your wedding business, now is the time to start.

34% of couples say they’ve contacted a vendor though social media

Many social networks have become curated content streams for consumers to keep a pulse on the people, topics, and products they care about. Instead of flipping through magazines, today’s couples are scrolling through online feeds to find vendors for their big day. This is your chance to stand out and wow potential clients with content that appeals to your audience. Try posting examples of your work, aspirational photos, useful advice and tips, or interesting and funny links.

61% of couples ‘follow’ or ‘like’ a vendor’s page so that they can see the quality of their work

If a couple wants to learn more about your business, they’re likely to visit your Storefront or website. But what about those other factors that may not be easily seen through your own marketing materials? Social media allows for a more personal experience and should be a place for your clients to get to know you. Your customers want to work with people they enjoy being around, so show them a little bit of your personality!

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