» Top 10 WeddingWireEDU Posts of 2015

Top 10 WeddingWireEDU Posts of 2015The end of the year is a time of reflection for all types of businesses. As we look into the New Year, it’s important to reflect on what areas were successful and what areas could use improvement. We always hope our posts are helpful, but we take the time at the end of each year to see which articles our readers enjoyed the most!

Check out our countdown of the top WeddingWireEDU posts of 2015 based on your views, comments and shares:

10.  Social Media Marketing: What Not To Do

Even if you’ve started using social media for your business, it’s easy to get stuck in the same pattern of not knowing what to post or posting the same type of content over and over. We’ve got some of the biggest social media marketing don’ts so you can know what to avoid and how to put your best foot forward.

9.  Objection Overruled! 4 Ways to Handle Sales Objections

One of the most misunderstood parts of the sales process is objections. Many pros see objections as road blocks to getting the sale. WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg explains how to shift your mindset to see sales objections as buying signals and outlines some top strategies for handling them.

8.  5 Steps to Executing a Content Plan

Writing high-quality, educational content can help you book more business, and the best way to start is by coming up with a content plan to help you walk people through your sales process. Easier said than done, right? Check out our five steps to help you start a content plan and maintain it in 2016.

7.  Responding to Leads: Response Time, Method, and Style

Engaged couples send out dozens of inquiries during the planning process, so how you respond and the speed of your response can make a big difference. We share insights to help you understand the impact your response time and communication style have on your business’ likelihood of booking wedding clients.

6.  5 Ways to Market Your Business in the Busy Season

In the warmer-weather months, wedding businesses across the country face an extremely busy time of year: wedding season! We list a few ways your business can continue executing your marketing strategy to keep new clients coming in despite all the rushing around you do during the busy season.

Continue reading

» What’s Hot for 2016: Top Wedding Trends

Kim Forrest is one of WeddingWire’s editors. She manages content creation on both WeddingWire and EventWire. Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been quoted as a weddings expert in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and more. 

2015 was a groundbreaking year in weddings—from the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage to the nuptials of such celebs as Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, and many more. We are looking forward to seeing what’s to come in 2016—and want to share some of our picks for the top wedding trends for the New Year!

GIF Booths

Of course, we all love photo booths at weddings—it’s a fun activity for guests and provides a personalized favor. GIF Booths are an extension of that—creating short moving clips for guests to share on social media.

Flowers and Greenery Hanging from Ceilings and Covering Walls

Floral creations aren’t just for reception tables anymore! We’re seeing floral arrangements in unique places—including hanging from venue ceilings and covering walls to create a memorable photo backdrop (remember the famous photo from Kim and Kanye’s wedding?).

Flowers and Greenery Hanging from Ceilings and Covering Walls

Photo by The Big Affair

High Ballerina Buns

While many brides are still loving the loose, romantic look, we’re also seeing more and more brides wearing their hair in more structured ballerina-inspired updos. We love how this style keeps the hair out of the face all night long!

Doughnuts

Of course, we love any sweet treat, but we think doughnuts will be the dessert of the moment in 2016.

Doughnuts at weddings in 2016

Photo by Joie De Vivre Photography

Expanding Social Media Presence

2015 was the year of the wedding hashtag, with couples asking their guests to use a special hashtag when sharing wedding photos on social media. In 2016, we predict social media expanding even further with couples and guests using Snapchat and Periscope to document the day.

Continue reading

» Social Media Trends: 2015 Year in Review

What's Next in Social Media

Social Media Trends: 2015 Year in ReviewIf you’re just now deciding whether or not to start a new social media marketing strategy, make sure you catch up on the latest social media news and updates before you start planning for the New Year. Check out our 2015 year in review to see the overarching social media trends that defined the year!

Video

2015 was a big year for video. With live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope launching early in the year, other networks worked hard to integrate those capabilities or create their own version (see Facebook’s Live product for public figures). In late June, Facebook announced that it will take into account video actions such as turning on sound or playing the video in full screen to prioritize videos in the News Feed. Pinterest even took steps to join the video game, though not quite as far as Facebook; user testing showed that Pinterest users found auto-play ads interruptive, so instead they released animated Cinematic Pins to take advantage of the full-motion trend.

What this means for you: Make it a priority to create more video in 2016. Statistics show that 73% of all U.S. adults are more likely to purchase a product or service after watching an online video. Don’t let your wedding business fall behind – use our infographic to learn the six keys to video marketing success from our video partner, Animoto, so your business can start creating and sharing more videos.

Personalization

After releasing a few minor updates to the balance of friends and pages in April, Facebook announced in July that would be giving users more control over their News Feeds by allowing users to select friends and pages they’d like to see first. By allowing users to self-select what they’re most interested in, Facebook can serve up more personal and relevant content. In an effort to get more men using the female-dominated social network, Pinterest followed suit on personalization by updating its internal search feature to display personalized results based on users’ gender selections.

When Twitter launched audience insights in May of this year, advertisers gained access to additional targeting methods for reaching demographic groups. In July, the network began to allow businesses to apply those demographics to their ad campaigns and tailored audiences. A new persona targeting feature was also added to enable brands to target shorthand categories of audiences, including Millennials and small businesses.

What this means for you: Social media is getting closer and closer to becoming a one-to-one channel, where your business can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time in their decision-making process. Think about how you can segment your audience to start taking advantage of these new features. Perhaps you know that couples tend to book you within the same time frame during the planning process, or that certain regions/cities tend to book one of your services over others. Use whatever data you have to deliver more personalization marketing messages!

Continue reading

» Happy Holidays from WeddingWire!

Happy Holidays from WeddingWire!

Happy holidays from the WeddingWire team! We wish you health, happiness, and success this season.

Want to join in spreading the holiday cheer? It’s not too late! Send one of our custom holiday e-cards with your own personal message to clients, colleagues, and friends.

Send Season’s Greetings >>

» 5 Tips for Running Your Business During the Holidays

How to run your wedding business during the holidaysFor many small business owners in the wedding industry, taking time off around the holidays can be extremely difficult to do. There’s a constant anxiety that you’re missing something important or forgetting about a client, so it can be hard to “check out” and enjoy the season. Yet if the holiday season is important to you, you should make every effort to reserve time for yourself.

No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, these tips will help you keep running your business during the holidays!

Communicate time off clearly

Because the holiday season has become such a big part of our culture, it’s expected that your business will not be available at all times during the month of December. As long as you notify your prospects and clients of your holiday hours early, they’ll know ahead of time when you absolutely won’t be available. You’ll find that as long as people know what to expect with plenty of time to make adjustments, closing for a few days shouldn’t be a problem!

Take care of loose ends before checking out

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to respond to any remaining emails, phone calls, or inquiries before the holidays. Especially if any of your correspondence is urgent, make sure you’ve covered off on those things before you take your time off. Or, if you have essential employees covering for you, make sure they have what they need to keep things moving in your absence.

Schedule/automate where possible

Emails, social media posts, and auto-response emails can be scheduled ahead of time, so take advantage! If you send email campaigns, consider writing, building, and scheduling a happy holidays email before you leave the office for the holidays. Write your social media posts and use a platform like Hootsuite to select when you’d like them to publish over the coming days. And don’t forget to add your vacation time to your auto-response emails – that way your clients will be reminded of your schedule.

Continue reading

» How to Position Your Professionalism (Without a Sales Pitch)

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

When communicating with potential wedding clients, it’s easy to fall into the trap of giving a “pitch” to sell your services. Applying that technique may succeed from time to time, but it can easily become a crutch that is not a highly effective method of communicating or selling. Worse yet, the words “sales pitch” bring to mind the image of an unprofessional used car salesman; someone who will say anything to make the sale, whether it’s the right decision or not.

How to Position Your Professionalism (Without a Sales Pitch)The problem with a single sales pitch is that it’s a one-way pattern of providing facts and features about your business, with little or no customer input, failing to explain specific benefits. The essence of a sales pitch can be seen in a bad print ad – you’ll see cliché phrases and hyperbole, like these examples below:

  • You dream it we’ll do it
  • Perfect – i.e. Your Perfect Day Starts Here
  • Vague terms such as: Full Service
  • A Day to Remember
  • Amazing, Fabulous, Unique
  • Simply The Best

Another way that the typical sales pitch is similar to a bad print ad is that you’ll often list a bunch of features which are often mostly unclear or not relevant to the prospect, such as:

  • Square footage of a ballroom, rather than number of seats and dance floor capacity
  • Number of songs in a music collection or repertoire, rather than process of getting client input, reading the audience, and pacing the event
  • Listing of inventory items or company services, rather than understanding their needs first and making recommendations accordingly

Translated into presentation form, we find ourselves rattling off a long list of features without truly engaging the prospect. Whether at a wedding show, on the phone, or by email, this won’t be effective.

Position Your Professionalism at the Point of Sale

Instead of crafting one sales pitch and using it for every couple, I contend that these alternative, more customer-based selling approaches have the capacity to be more successful:

  • Consultative selling: Listening first, then crafting your selling strategy to address their specific needs
  • Identifying pain points: Anticipating and solving problems, insulating the client from unneeded anxiety and stress

Price questions aside, it’s far better to engage the prospective client by asking about their wants, needs, fears, and anxieties. Sometimes a couple will ask for a specific approach, which may seem strange to you, but is likely based on previous experiences that they may not fully understand. Learn what they want to accomplish, and you will be better able to connect with and serve them.

Continue reading

» Challenging Bridal Brand Bias in 2016

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.

Having celebrated two major milestones in 2015 – full marriage equality recognition and the acquisition of GayWeddings.com by WeddingWire – I found myself in the position of asking if my work toward LBGT inclusion in the wedding market was complete.

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

One might make that argument. It’s easy to say that there have been many advances. We have:

  • Full marriage equality for same-sex couples in all 50 states and at the federal level, thanks to the June 26, 2015 US Supreme Court decision.
  • Representation of some level of training and education embracing LGBT couples at all of the major conferences for wedding professionals.
  • Attained a participation milestone of more than 120,000 wedding professionals in the GayWeddings.com LGBTQ-friendly directory of wedding professionals.
  • Realized an absolutely breathtaking, near-perfect count of 90% of wedding pros stating that they are ready, willing, and able to serve same-sex couples.
  • Enjoyed recognition by all mainstream wedding sites and a majority of vendor websites that prominent inclusive language and images matter.
  • Seen notable shifts in the inclusion of “grooms” in the media. According to Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, in six of the largest national and urban papers (both online and in print), there has been a general increase of usage of the term “groom” in articles since 2007, and a decline in the ratio of usage of “brides” to “grooms” in articles since 2011.

For as much ground as we’ve gained since 1999 when my straight mom opened the doors to her online boutiques and began our work, however, there remain some important blind spots in the wedding industry. Thus, there is some remaining work around ‘bridal bias’ to be done.

For some, there is a feeling that the LGBT market is one to be avoided due to its smaller size (4-7% of the U.S. population is estimated to identify as LGBT) or a conflict of belief systems. For others, especially where legal marriage equality is only months old, it’s a matter of ongoing education and exposure. There are also those who merely wish to stand on tradition and habit, and, of course, those who face a very real dilemma about updating a company brand identity that is recognized, has a strong URL and SEO presence, and seems to be working for the many brides seeking resources.

Continue reading

» Infographic: 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

Reviews are a great way to showcase your business, all from the mouths of happy past clients! Beyond just collecting reviews, make sure you make your reviews easy to find, and consider adding them to all your marketing collateral including emails, websites, materials and more.

Our latest infographic highlights 10 creative ways to use your reviews to boost your business from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, who presented on the topic during a recent webinar for premium members.

Nov_Webinar_Infographic_10CreativeWaystoUseYourReviews

Ready to get started? Check out and manage your WeddingWire reviews, request reviews from past clients, and showcase your great reviews!

» Wedding PR: How to Prepare for a Crisis

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.

Crisis: Not necessarily the first word that comes to mind when you think of the wedding industry. Sure, the buttercream could melt off of a cake on a hot summer day, and on occasion, the event itself may cancel. But for the majority, the wedding industry is a relatively low-key place to hang your hat.

Creating a plan for dealing with a potential crisisThat said, things can and will pop up. Unhappy clients or vendors could blast you on social media. You are preparing to announce a major shift in the company but word gets out before you share it.  A former employee decides to go out on their own without telling you. Photos from your portfolio are taken and used on someone else’s site. Sound familiar? I have no doubt that either you or a friend has experienced at least one of the above.

It’s all the more reason you should put a crisis plan in place – with the hopes that you never have to use it. So how do you go about preparing for the worst?

Outline the scenarios

Now is the time to ask yourself – what could actually go wrong? Carve time out of your schedule to start listing potential scenarios and revisit it every six months. Find yourself coming up short? Ask employees and trusted colleagues to chime in. Some common situations include:

  • Poor review from unhappy clients
  • Negative public backlash from a fellow vendor
  • Employees (former or current) who receive negative press as a result of something that’s not even connected to your company
  • Accusations regarding business practices from a competitor

The list goes on and on and varies depending on your offerings. This step is absolutely essential to the process because it gives focus to what you should be preparing for.

Continue reading

» 6 Ways Photographers Can Make Wedding Vendors Happy

Pro to Pro Insights

Christopher Lin, Lin & Jirsa PhotographyThis post was written by Christopher Lin. Chris is the co-founder of Lin and Jirsa, an award-winning Los Angeles wedding photography and cinematography studio founded in 2006. Chris has used his marketing, SEO and business expertise to help build Lin and Jirsa into a company that shoots over 300 weddings annually serviced by over 30 talented creatives. Along the way, Chris and his two business partners also created SLR Lounge, where an international team of writers and photographers share their education with the community.

Having consistent referrals from wedding planners, florists, DJs, videographers, makeup artists, and other wedding vendors can make a huge impact on your photography business. In fact, it’s not uncommon to encounter photographers that rely solely on the referrals from two to three wedding planners for most of their bookings.

How do these photographers establish such a strong, beneficial relationship? It starts by making all the professionals involved in the wedding happy; and here are 6 ways that wedding photographers can do just that:

1. Provide Images Immediately. Preempt the other professionals asking for images by sending them out to them as soon as they are ready. At Lin and Jirsa, we have our blogger personally call each one to let them know that the images are on the way. The feedback from this method has been overwhelmingly positive, since the other pros can better plan their blog posts, real wedding submissions, and more.

Lin & Jirsa Photography

Lin & Jirsa provides watermarked images to all vendors as soon as they are ready within one month of the wedding.

2. Give Social Media and Blog Credit. When we first started out 8 years ago, we didn’t think much of giving credit to the vendors involved when posting to social media or our blog. It takes a lot of work hunting down every vendor, and we were very understaffed at the time. However, since we’ve started taking the time to find each vendor and mention them on our blog and social media, our shares have increased as well as our referrals. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of each vendor’s Facebook URL, Instagram handle, Twitter handle, and email address – it will come in handy! As a photographer, you may have done an excellent job capturing the details of the wedding, but these other vendors made that possible with their artistry and hard work. A shout out goes a very long way, and a failure to mention someone can even be seen as a sign of disrespect. Continue reading

» Mobile Matters! Create a Winning Business for All Devices

December-Webinar_MobileMatters!_TileMobile Matters!

Today’s couples are planning their wedding while on-the-go. Does your business make a great impression, and stand out on all devices? Thinking ‘mobile-first’ creates an exceptional brand experience from phone to tablet to desktop, and impresses your target audience!

During this one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly shared his tips for how to best engage with mobile-friendly couples, his top ‘mobile mantras’ for your business and the best 15 apps of the year.

Here are Sonny’s seven mobile mantras to set your business up for success:

  1. Mobile first: When designing your website and emails, think ‘mobile first’ with an easy to read and navigate core design, that you can build upon and modify as devices get larger and for desktop.
  2. Mobile end-to-end: Set the goal to make all your communication and campaigns a strong experience from end to end from all devices. For example, if you create a great email, make sure it works just as well from a mobile opener as a desktop!
  3. Mobile conversion: Make sure you add a simple and easy to use contract from to your website for mobile visitors. The form should be large enough to type easily from phones, and not ask for unnecessary fields which will cause drop-offs in your leads.
  4. Mobile mail: 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices, which means your clients are opening your emails on the go as well! Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly by always testing them on a mobile device with clear calls to action for the greatest engagement.
  5. Mobile payment: Accept payments from your mobile devices to close more sales quickly. Devices such as Squares plug right into your smartphone, and with new apps for payments such as Apple Wallet – mobile payments are only going to continue to rise.
  6. Mobile audience: Prepare your business for your clients and store all their important event information in one easy to access place by using WeddingWire Client Sites, available in premium accounts. Both you and your client can log in any time, and from any device to finalize payment, track contracts and add event info.
  7. Mobile me: Mobile devices are becoming even more personal and easy to use. Smartphones, watches and assisting systems such as Siri are getting to know and remembering your preferences, and are more able to be tailored than ever before. Stay ahead with the latest tech!

» Voting is Now Live for the Weddi Awards™!

Weddi_Award16_logo_stacked-teal-black-TMThe Weddi AwardsTM, WeddingWire’s latest awards program for distinguishing exceptional service in the wedding industry, has now launched the voting pages for all Weddi Award nominees!

Earlier this fall, we launched the program and accepted submissions from Pros and peers to honor exceptional work in the industry through a variety of awards in the professional experience, customer excellence and innovation + creativity categories.

To vote, visit the website and click through the award pages to find out what Pros you know have been nominated, and vote for your favorite entry for each voting-based award. Each individual can only vote one time per award (per device), so pick your winner carefully!

The top three nominees with the most votes per award will move on to the final stage of the competition, and will win a free ticket to WeddingWire World 2016 and a special invitation to our Weddi Award reception at the event where the ultimate winner as determined by our panel of 11 industry judges will be announced!

If you or an industry friend has been nominated, share the news! Email, post, and tweet with a  link to their award’s voting page and ask your audience of past clients, colleagues, friends and family to vote from now through December 23, 2015 when voting closes at midnight EST. All nominees will be contacted to learn if they are in the top three per award by December 31, 2015.

For more information about the Weddi Awards™, please read our press release here.

Additional questions? Please refer to the Weddi Awards™ FAQ page, or you can reach out to us directly at weddiawards@weddingwire.com.

Good luck to all the nominees!