» The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral List

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.

Many wedding venues maintain their own referral lists of preferred vendors, and getting on those lists can feel like finding the proverbial “golden ticket” when it comes to more inquiries and more sales. As a bonus, when a venue you love is sending business your way, you get the pleasure of returning again and again – you know the layout, the load-in procedures and the staff, and that makes your job that much easier.

The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral ListSo what’s the secret to getting on a venue’s referral list? Here are some secrets that have worked for my business, and should work for yours, too:

Start where you already have a foothold. Take a look at your calendar – which venues have you worked at recently, and where are your weddings taking place over the next few months? Those venues are a great starting point, because you’ve either had or are about to have the opportunity to do your very best work and make a great impression. It’s always easier to approach a venue contact about referrals if you’ve just done a great job at that site.

If you are flying blind, choose venues for which you’re well-suited. Consider your branding (is it classic, modern, edgy, sophisticated, whimsical, something else?) as well as your target client – do these align with the branding and target client of the venue you’re soliciting? Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but using my own segment of the industry as an example, I wouldn’t expect a five-star historic hotel to be too excited to refer a DJ whose website blared loud party music upon loading, or whose DJs wore glittery bow ties to every event. By focusing your efforts on venues for which you’re a good match, you’ll increase your chances of earning their referrals.

Be respectful of the venue, always. This is so important, and something on which I train my entire team. Virtually every venue has rules – some stricter than others – and you need to follow them if you want the contact person to refer you. When you work an event, make sure you’re loading in where you’re supposed to,  you’re not causing damage to the venue by placing tape on delicate surfaces, you’re no standing on furniture and – by all means – you’re not rude to the staff. Continue reading

» What’s Next in Social Media: October 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 October 2015:

 Pinterest Place Pins Now Allow Customers To Contact & Find Local Retailers

Image via Marketing Land

Pinterest to add location information to Place Pins

While Pinterest Place Pins are not new, the social network announced its plan to add more and more information to the pins themselves. Location information like a map preview, address, phone number, and hours of operation will now become available on Pinterest, meaning that users operating the network from their phones will be able to take action without switching to a new app (like Google Maps, for instance). Place Pins are currently powered by Foursquare, meaning that the location’s information must be updated there to provide the most accurate information.

What this means for you: In addition to your business reaching potential wedding clients who are looking for inspiration on Pinterest, your business can now connect with those potential clients without them having to leave the site or app. This is especially valuable for wedding venues, since couples can now essentially tour your venue virtually and then call to schedule an appointment in one click. By simplifying the information-gathering process, Pinterest is shortening the time it takes for a potential client to connect with you.

Continue reading on Marketing Land >>

Facebook unveils Instant Articles

Earlier in the month, Facebook rolled out its latest product, Instant Articles. Currently only available for iPhone users, the new feature allows media companies like The New York Times and The Huffington Post to publish articles directly on Facebook instead of driving traffic back to their own properties. Instant Articles provides a smoother and faster experience for readers, making it easier for companies to reach new customers on Facebook.  Continue reading

» Group Rates Available for WeddingWire World!

Group Rates Now Available for WeddingWire World!We know that conferences are more fun with friends, so get a group of your colleagues, industry contacts, or friends together to attend WeddingWire World 2016! Not only will you be able to reconnect and learn together as a group, but you can also save on the cost of your ticket.

The more the merrier – and the more you can save! Check out the group rate offerings:

  • BUDDIES: Purchase 3-4 tickets at once to get 10% off standard ticket price
  • TEAMS: Purchase 5-9 tickets at once to get 20% off standard ticket price
  • SUPER GROUPS: Purchase 10+ tickets at once to get 25% off standard ticket price

What are you waiting for? Reach out to your colleagues, industry groups, and even your social networks to get a group together and register now!

No group? No worries! Individual tickets are available, too. Join us »

For WeddingWire World 2016 related questions, please email events@weddingwire.com.

» Two Gay Wedding Experts, One Lively Conversation

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

The last few years have been a whirlwind for those of us specializing in same-sex weddings and LGBTQ market trends. In the past 20 years, our once closeted community has quickly become one that is recognized, not only with full marriage equality, but also with feature motion picture releases (like Milk, Stonewall, and Freeheld) and nationally celebrated brand campaigns like Marriott’s #LoveTravels, Honeymaid’s “This Is Wholesome,” and Oreo’s Pride rainbow-themed cookie.

WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm chats with Bernadette Smith of 14Stories and the Gay Weddings InstituteNow, more than ever, we are your boring next door neighbor. So, as the majority of our community assimilates into mainstream culture and the wedding industry moves to serves “brides and grooms” rather than just “brides,” what should we expect next?

My like-minded colleague, Bernadette Smith of 14Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute, recently hosted a virtual summit, Over The Rainbow: How To Truly Understand The LGBT Wedding Market. I had the pleasure of helping her to kick off the first installment in the five-part series, which included other professionals like long-time LGBT community market expert, David Paisley of Community Marketing, Inc. and top-rated WeddingWire officiant, Bethel Nathan.

Our segment, which was the most popular interview of the series, can be enjoyed in its entirety below.


In many respects, this conversation is an extension of one that Bernadette and I started ten years ago. Bernadette had placed an order of cake tops with TwoBrides.com, one of the groundbreaking online boutiques my mom had started in 1999 and, in the process of my fulfilling that order for her, we decided to meet for coffee when I was in Boston, where she was based at the time. That conversation led to our joint effort to lead gay wedding planning seminars in Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC, and I worked with her to develop several destination wedding packages that we featured in the GayWeddings.com boutique.

Continue reading

» Webinar Recap: Delight, Don’t Fright! 10 Dos and Don’ts from Couples

October-Webinar_Delight-Dont-Fright!-10-Dos-and-Donts-from-Couples_TileWebinar recap!

Engagement season is upon us, and soon you will be interacting with many newly engaged couples searching for their wedding professionals. Are you ready to make a great impression and quickly earn their business?

During this month’s one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire’s Customer Success team leaders Marty Kaufman and Ashley Conway shared the top dos and dont’s for Pros – taken right from the couples’ themselves!

Here are 10 key takeaways for your business:

  1. Acknowledge and understand their point of view. Be approachable, helpful, and avoid surprises later on by asking and answering all questions up front.
  2. Respond quickly and professionally. Try to respond within 24 hours, and stay responsive through the planning process.
  3. Provide pricing. Share pricing information when asked, and consider adding it to your website and Storefront. Be direct and provide education around pricing, and avoid scoffing at their initial budget.
  4. Communicate professionally. Make sure you have a professional email address, and use easy to read fonts in your communication. Don’t forget to spell check!
  5. Get to know your clients. Focus on getting to know the couple, or all decision makers – not just the bride! Provide inclusive language and acknowledge that both partners getting married and planning their day.
  6. Educate your clients. Get to know your client’s wishes, and provide helpful suggestions or tips as necessary. Don’t brush off their ideas too quickly, but politely share your expertise as needed to help create their perfect day.
  7. Make a good first impression. Avoid pre-judging couples, being presumptive, or jumping into business too quickly. Instead, ask a few key questions about the couple, be open-minded with their ideas and interested in their vision.
  8. Respect your competition. Do not trash-talk your competitors! It will only reflect badly on your business and character. Instead always be respectful of the industry, take the high road, and make helpful suggestions to make a great impression and remain professional.
  9. Stay humble. Despite your many successes, try to remain grounded and approachable to connect with your clients. You don’t want to see too expensive, hard to reach, or busy for them to want to book with you. Instead, showcase your quality with great past work and reviews.
  10. Respect their opinions. Overall, the wedding is their day! Your job is to work to try to bring their vision to life and give helpful recommendations along the way. Avoid projecting your own taste or opinions too much, and be sure to ask for feedback throughout the process so you know they will be happy with the end result.

For more details, watch the full webinar!

Plus, all our past webinars are available in the Education Center for premium Pros to view at any time. Check it out for some great education on leading important topics for your business’ success.

» Submit Your Business for the Weddi Awards™!

The Weddi AwardsTM is WeddingWire’s latest awards program for distinguishing exceptional service in the wedding industry. You can submit your business or industry colleagues who deserve recognition to win!

Honor extraordinary work by submitting your business or a peer for a Weddi AwardTM in the main categories of Professional Achievement, Customer Excellence, and Innovation & Creativity. Business’ with the most total wedding reviews on WeddingWire in the US, Canada, by region, and by category will also win. View all awards on the Weddi Awards™ website, and see some highlighted awards below.

Weddi_Award16_logo_stacked-teal-black-TMYou could win:

  • Best Real Wedding
  • Most Creative Use of Social Media
  • Most Total Wedding Reviews by Category
  • Most Effective Branding
  • The Rising Star Award
  • Most Helpful Mentor Award
  • Most Charitable, Wedding Related
  • And more!

The top three candidates for each award will receive a complimentary standard ticket to WeddingWire World 2016, where candidates will be invited to a special awards reception where winners will be announced awarded with a custom trophy (and bragging rights!). Be sure to purchase your WeddingWire World ticket now before our next price increase, and any tickets purchased by winners will be refunded.

Applications close after November 18th, 2015, so don’t wait! You can submit to as many awards as you would like, but you can only submit once per award, per business.

Submit Your Business for the Weddi Awards™!

Learn more and start submitting today!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis

Earlier this week, wedding professionals gathered at International Market Square for WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis!

At the Networking Night, Minneapolis Pros had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to a brief 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, our newest issue of WedInsights, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to Anne of The White Room!

And finally, don’t forget to email events@weddingwire.com if you’d like to take advantage of your WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis discount for up to two tickets to WeddingWire World 2016!

WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis
WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis
WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis
WeddingWire Networking Night Minneapolis Continue reading

» 5 Types of Wedding Video Slideshows

How to create wedding video slideshows out of your photographyCreating videos to complement your wedding photography is a quick, inexpensive way to market your business, add value to your packages, and create anticipation during sales sessions. Animoto, our video partner, put together this list of wedding video slideshows that wedding photographers can easily create using our Video Builder tool.

Try out one of the video slideshows below to wow your clients!

Engagement video

An engagement video can impress clients during a sales session and also create anticipation for the wedding itself. Focusing on a couple’s personalities when building engagement videos creates a connection with clients and makes for some amazingly shareable content.

Save-the-date video

A save-the-date video is often a little shorter than an engagement sales video, and therefore more shareable on social media. However, if you have a shorter engagement video, it can easily sub in for a save-the-date.

Same-Day video

While a same-day video is a lot of work on a short timeline, it’s a great way to showcase your work during the wedding reception! All of the couples’ family and friends will be in attendance to see your work, and they’re more likely to pay attention there than they are to see it later.

Continue reading

» WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus

Last night, wedding professionals gathered at Franklin Park Conservatory for WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus!

At the Networking Night, Columbus Pros had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief 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, our newest issue of WedInsights, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to Alisha Pittman of Alisha Marie Events!

And finally, don’t forget to email events@weddingwire.com if you’d like to take advantage of your WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus discount for up to two tickets to WeddingWire World 2016!

WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus
WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus
WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus
WeddingWire Networking Night Columbus Continue reading

» 5 Things Couples Look for in Your Wedding Reviews

Understand what couples look for in your wedding reviewsBefore reaching out to a wedding professional, brides and grooms like to read wedding reviews to get a better understanding of your business. In fact, our data shows that 83% of searching couples like to hear what they should expect, not from the vendors themselves, but from past customers who’ve been in their position.

We’ve compiled the top five factors engaged couples look for in your wedding reviews to help you understand the frame of mind your potential clients have when evaluating your business:

Responsiveness

One of the biggest things couples look for in your past reviews is whether or not reviewers comment on your responsiveness. Since research shows that most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours, your ability to respond quickly and effectively is a huge consideration during the planning process. On average, 10 wedding vendors are involved in a couple’s wedding, so they’re constantly communicating back and forth with multiple pros. They need a professional who won’t make them chase him or her down to get an answer to a question or sign a contract.

Consistency

When looking at all your past reviews, couples are most interested in pros that have consistently positive reviews. They’re looking to see if most of your clients had a similar experience, and reading the comments your clients have made to see what patterns may emerge. While consistency is key, it’s okay to have a few less-than-favorable reviews scattered throughout your review history. Survey data suggests that 72% of consumers find a variety of opinions to be valuable when reading through reviews. Couples understand that feedback is subjective and having a few imperfect reviews does not necessarily prevent a customer from contacting you!

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» Infographic: How to Reach Industry Expert Status

Are you looking for ways to take your business to new heights and reach industry expert status? Building your reputation as an industry expert will help you stand out from the competition and increase the value of your personal brand.

This infographic shares top tips from our September webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely, and reveals the key factors for leveraging your talents to become an industry expert and gain brand awareness for your wedding business. To learn more, watch the full webinar here!

Sept_Webinar_Infographic_TakeYourBusinesstoNewHeights

Want more great education? Sign up for upcoming webinars here!

» 3 Ways Displaying Pricing Information Generates More Leads

WedInsights

Statistics from WedInsights Volume 6Couples spend a lot of time researching the perfect wedding vendors and one of the main things they look for before reaching out is the potential price tag – and no, it’s not because they’re price shopping.

44% of wedding professionals say their prices vary per customer, which is why they prefer to have a dialogue or meeting to collect more details before providing a price point. Although couples understand there may be a variance in price, they express frustration when they cannot get a general baseline and are more likely to continue a conversation with a vendor who willingly provides this information as a starting point.

Below we share some of the insights from Volume 6 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out how displaying pricing information can help your wedding business connect with more qualified couples online.

Stand out as a possible choice

Due to the importance of pricing information, many couples bypass vendors who don’t display pricing information and focus on those that give a price indication up front. In fact, 88% of couples want to see pricing before reaching out to contact a vendor. Couples simply don’t want to waste their time or get excited about a product or service only to discover it’s outside of their budget. Give prospective clients the information they need to send a lead by adding initial pricing information to your website and additional online listings.

Establish trust at the point of inquiry

Couples hate nothing more than to ask “how much” and in return get forced into having a conversation or sales pitch in order to get an answer. As much as we know that wedding professionals prefer to have a conversation to get all the details and provide an accurate price, couples just want to get a baseline. Don’t be afraid to answer the question and then ask to set up time to chat. And remember – despite budgeting and planning, 74% of couples come in over budget. Only 10% of couples report coming in right on budget and 16% under budget, indicating that couples are willing to be flexible, but they need to feel comfortable with your business before they can make adjustments.

Continue reading