» When People Pleasing Becomes a Problem

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. Her newest venture, Authentic Boss, is an online learning resource for business owners seeking to work and live more authentically. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

When People Pleasing Becomes a ProblemBusiness ownership can be confounding for a lot of reasons, a big one being that we often find our personalities in conflict with our priorities. Sometimes, our natural traits can be a hindrance, both to our financial success and to our well-being as business owners. For example, we all have times when we get frustrated or angry with a client, yet obviously we can’t express the sentiments that may be going through our head (at least not verbatim!).

There’s another trait that’s just as detrimental to business as an anger management problem, but far more common: an addiction to people-pleasing. Sure, empathizing with others and wanting to make them happy are good things in our uniquely sentimental, emotion-driven industry. However, constantly putting clients first, at the expense of your business, can quickly cause you to go under. The ability to honor your own standards, set boundaries, and maintain your bottom line are all essential to your company’s longevity.

If you’re a kind, thoughtful, chronic people-pleaser, here are three mistakes to avoid as you operate your business:

Agreeing to things that put your business in jeopardy. Selling our products or services often feels like selling ourselves, and it can be intimidating. When a client seems ready to hire us, but just wants us to make a “few” changes to our contract or modify our policies, it can be tempting to go along with their requests just so that we’ll make a sale. This is a dangerous risk to take, however. For instance, when a client is asking you to strike a clause holding them or their guests liable for damage, they’re essentially asking you to assume that liability yourself. It would be crazy to accept that, right? Well, sure, when you’re thinking about it theoretically – but when a client is putting the pressure on, it’s easy to rationalize that a worst-case scenario will never happen, you’ll accommodate them just this once, blah blah blah…All well and good, until something does happen. If nothing else, you’ve demonstrated to the client that you’re a pushover, and they’re bound to keep pushing. Instead, hold firm to your contract and to any other terms you’ve put in place, and do so with the confidence that you’re giving the client the benefit of being served by a protected, established business.

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» Social SEO in 5 Minutes a Day: Part 2

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

Welcome to the second installment of my tips for boosting your rankings and getting your brand in front of more prospects by investing just 5 minutes a day on social media. If you’re just joining us, start with Part 1 and continue on below!

4. Link Love

If you’re new to SEO, let’s get you up to speed on a critical ranking factor: links to your website. Also known as “backlinks.”

When quality websites link to your website, it’s kind of like receiving a vote for the value or authority of your website. It sends a signal to search engines that other online resources and real people feel your website content is valuable and worth sharing.

In other words, getting backlinks helps your website rank higher.

And based on recent comments from Google and Bing, it sounds like social sharing may affect your website authority, and subsequently your ranking, in a similar way.

While Google doesn’t come right out and confirm that having your webpage links shared across social media can help your webpages rank higher, they certainly hint strongly at it:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it then we can return that in our search results.”

In the same interview, Google also said that a link does carry more weight depending on the person who shares it on Twitter or Facebook.

And Bing echoed Google’s statements with this:

“We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.“

These statements suggest two things:

  1. If one of your webpages or blog posts is shared on Twitter (and likely other social platforms as well), Google and Bing can see this and possibly list it in their search results or, at the very least, recognize that your page is gaining in value because it is being shared on social media.
  2. When your website pages or posts are shared often and by influential users on Twitter, it increases the weight, or perceived importance, of your website page, giving it a ranking boost. The more these activities, or signals, add up, the more chances your page has to rank higher.

This means that if a major industry influencer on Twitter retweets your website link, it could give your domain and that specific page a little SEO boost, helping it to rank higher over time.

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» Don’t Miss the 2016 WeddingWire WinterBook!

2016 WeddingWire WinterBook coverIt’s that time of year once again – our 2016 WeddingWire WinterBook is here and we can’t wait for our pros to see it!

Our seasonal e-magazines feature the latest wedding advice and inspiration for your clients, showcasing the work and experienced opinions of our community of talented event professionals. The new WinterBook is full of the hottest ideas to keep your warm during the cold winter months!

Top stories in this issue include:

  • Expert tips in response to the most-asked budget questions
  • New wedding trends straight from industry experts
  • Creative (and not to mention stunning!) winter real weddings
  • The latest beauty and fashion ideas for couples in 2016
  • Top wedding ideas currently trending on WeddingWire
  • …and more!

Plus, throughout our WinterBook, we’ve highlighted our 2016 Couples’ Choice Award-winning wedding professionals by placing a blue star next to their names! Be sure to check it out and share it with your clients on Facebook and Twitter to help them achieve their dream wedding vision.

Cover photo by Milton Photography

» Social SEO in 5 Minutes a Day: Part 1

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

You can snatch up more rankings and get your brand in front of more prospects by investing just 5 minutes a day.

In this article, I’ll show you how to do so even if you’re not a technical SEO jedi.

Every week I hear from wedding and event professionals who are putting off their wedding SEO altogether because they think they have to ‘get it perfect’ before it will work.

Listen, even my SEO is not perfect and yet Google is my #1 source of traffic.

There are hundreds of SEO strategies we can employ in our business, but we only need to start with a few simple ones to reap the rewards.

So why not begin with an activity you’re already doing? Social media networking!

By simply leveraging the social media accounts you’re already toying around with each week, you can get your company more visibility in both search engines and within the social networks themselves.

All you need to do is view your social activity like an SEO strategy and invest 5 minutes a day.

So let’s dive into Part 1…

1. Dominate Google with Your Social Profiles

A few years back a wedding photographer called me in a panic because competitors who shared her business name in the same geographical area were outranking her in the search engines.

She was losing business left and right to fresh prospects who recently heard of her, but were landing on someone else’s website!

She might not have had that problem at all if she knew how to dominate Google’s first page for her brand name.

Kind of like this…

ocial-profiles-in-search-results

Yes, your social media accounts can rank in search engines too.

When people search for your company name, personal name or even your profession on a local level, they can stumble on one of your social media profiles, not just your website.

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» Wedding PR: Time to Shake Things Up!

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.

January tends to be a natural time in the year for wedding pros to plan for the year ahead. We set goals, refresh our brand, and finally cross off all of the lingering to do’s on our never-ending list.

Wedding PR: Time to Shake Things Up!In years past, I use my first post of the year as a not-so-gentle reminder to get organized before wedding season sneaks up on us yet again. But what if you are already there, armed with your standard operating procedures, and you’re still seeking that “something different” that will fulfill that missing spot? Luckily, there are a number of ways to mix things up and start off your next venture.

Go Offline

That’s right – log off and smell the roses! It’s understandable if the majority of your marketing efforts are online, as millennials are constantly connected. However, it may be time to diversify and devote some of your time to going offline – from magazines to television, it never hurts to branch out and build your brand through different mediums. Start off with one new approach that reaches your target audience and fits in with both your company’s goals and your skill set.

Consider Podcasts

Beyond hits like Serial and This American Life, podcasts are a great tool for marketing your wedding business. There are podcasts for nearly every niche out there and they can be considered a media on-the-rise. Not only are they very popular with Gen Y, but they come with the added bonus of being great practice for those interested in speaking (see next point!). Unlike online and print features, podcasts allow for your target audience to get a glimpse of who you really are and how excited you are to talk about weddings.

Speaking Engagements

While public speaking may not be everyone’s specialty, it’s hard to argue against the fact that it’s great for getting your brand out there. If you’re ready to take the plunge, start small and work on developing a platform based on your expertise. Start out in your region and look into local networking groups or industry events. Consider reaching out to nearby universities’ hospitality departments and inquire about guest lecturing. Find a way to include guest participation and be sure to ask for feedback afterwards. It’ll only take a few practices before you start feeling like a seasoned pro!

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» 4 Simple Steps for Wedding Vendors to Get More Traffic From Pinterest

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.

Pinterest and weddings are a perfect marriage; brides and grooms need a place to gather and share ideas and Pinterest provides that perfect, pretty, organized platform.

But as wedding professionals, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Whether you’re a photographer, florist, planner, or any other wedding vendor, you’ve probably all had clients send you links, saying, “I want something that looks like this,” with a link to a board they created. So how do you take advantage of this situation to drive traffic to your website? For our photography studio, Lin and Jirsa, we receive around 12% of our traffic from Pinterest, as you can see in the screenshot of our Google Analytics below:

Lin and Jirsa Pinterest analytics

Here are the 4 simple steps to getting more traffic from Pinterest (modified from our book, Photography SEO and Web Marketing):

Step 1:  Upload Images to Your Blog or Website

Pinterest can drive a ton of traffic to your site because the images on Pinterest are linked directly to the site from which it is originally pinned. So, the first step is to upload images featuring your work on to your blog or website. Do not upload images directly to Pinterest, because then you lose the link value.  

Step 2: Add The Ability to “Pin” Directly On Your Website  

If your website is on WordPress, there are plugins like Pinterest Pin It Button. If you’re on Squarespace, follow these instructions here. Every content management system should have an easy solution.  If you can’t figure it out, hire an expert – this is an investment worth making. Continue reading

» 3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your Business

WedInsights

	3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your BusinessWhen it comes to closing the deal and signing on the dotted line, many wedding professionals unintentionally end up delaying the final sale due to outdated processes surrounding contracts and payments. As a result, engaged couples can become frustrated trying to find the time to meet in person or find a printer or fax machine.

In today’s digital age, millennials expect to do most of their wedding planning and vendor communication online. Using an online contract can not only help you close the deal faster, but also reflects well on your reputation as a tech-savvy wedding business! Below are some compelling statistics about the use of online contracts from Volume 8 of the WedInsight Series:

Over 60% of couples are required to sign a contract by meeting in person or by printing, signing, and sending the contract back.

Fax machines and scanners are no longer a household device, so why force your clients to spend time tracking down these devices to deliver you a signed contract? Plus, businesses that require their clients to fax a contract back take 1-2 days on average to receive a signed contract. Today’s couples prefer to use online methods, so use it to your advantage to make closing the deal as convenient as possible.

When given the choice, a couple’s most preferred method for signing a contract is using an online contract platform.

Using antiquated, offline methods could have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. The majority of couples perceive businesses that require contracts to be signed and sent back via fax or snail mail to be outdated and not tech savvy – which could give couples the same perception about your business. Make sure this same perception doesn’t carry over to your professional work by staying up-to-date with modern technology to show that your business is able to adapt.

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» How Setting Boundaries can Save Your Sanity (and Your Business)

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

As business owners, it can be difficult to maintain a happy work-life balance and we often find ourselves feeling stretched too thin (which is just a few steps away from burnout, if not managed properly).

setting-boundariesThe truth is that burnout is not only bad for your mental health, but it can damage your business if you’re not feeling motivated to keep up with everything. Saying ‘yes’ may get you a lot of places, but an occasional ‘no’ is necessary for happiness and stability. Setting firm boundaries is the key to finding meaning in life and rediscovering a healthy balance, but the eternal question is where to draw the line.

We’ve all experienced those clients who expect the world (and more!) from you – whether it’s a panicked 2 A.M. call or a last-minute “urgent” meeting, some people will expect you at their beck and call and just won’t understand that you have family, as well as other clients, to attend. This is why you must set limitations ahead of time for both your clients and yourself.

At Taylor’d Events, we’re clear with our clients from the beginning of our relationships that it’s their responsibility to schedule appointments with me in advance, as well as choose the meeting location. They understand that I’m responsible for being there on time, as well as attentive to the situation. Before we start working together, we also make sure that both parties are on the same page for coordinating the Big Day so there are no lingering expectations that go unmet because they weren’t initially set. For example, our team is responsible for ensuring that all guests make it onto the last shuttle, but it’s important that we’re not liable for those who wander away from the venue. When boundaries are established from the get-go, you’ll know how to exceed expectations while your clients will be realistic when it comes to your time and attention.

Now, my boundaries may be different from all of my industry peers’ boundaries and that’s entirely fine. The limitations that you set within your business (and your life) are based upon who you are as an individual, how your business is structured, and what you value in life.

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» Share Your Story for a Chance to Attend WeddingWire World 2016

Share Your Story for a Chance to Attend WeddingWire World 2016Are you brand new to the wedding business? Do you value education and continued learning, but find that finances are too tight? Looking for a bit of good luck to kick off 2016? We’re here to help!

We believe that WeddingWire World has the power to make 2016 your most successful year yet, but we know that an industry conference can be a big commitment. That’s why we’re pleased to announce new WeddingWire World scholarships to assist our most deserving pros!

We’ve saved a select number of tickets for pros that are unable to attend because of circumstances beyond their control. Tell us what attending a top educational conference for wedding pros would mean to your business and why you feel you are deserving of the scholarship for your chance to attend WeddingWire World 2016 on us.

Fill out the form below and a limited number of entrants will receive up to two free tickets to join us at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, DC on February 9-11, 2016, while supplies last. See Official Rules for more details.

You could receive up to two tickets to access the latest industry education from top wedding and business speakers, with brand new presentations and themed breakout session tracks, networking opportunities, and fun surprises! Regularly-priced standard tickets are $499 each, so don’t miss this great opportunity to attend.

Good luck, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Having trouble viewing this form? Try entering here.

Last year’s event sold out – guarantee your seat and buy your ticket today!

» Meal Companion Networking: Who, How & Why

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.

The art of face-to-face networking is not a random event; it requires time and dedication to get the most out of the events or groups you attend. If you are a member of an association or networking group that features a seated meal at meetings, there are a number of unique strategies to help you build a one-to-one relationship over a meal.

meal-companion-networking-tipsThere are several options on choosing your meal companion; each with different rationale.

  1. Sit with random people you don’t know.
  2. Sit with friends and/or people you do know.
  3. Choose to sit with one or two people you would like to know more about, and perhaps do business with.
  4. Sit down at an empty table, letting random friends, peers or strangers join you.

All of the options are completely acceptable, but I recommend choosing option three. The most effective way to expand your professional circle is to invite one or two specific people to sit with you and engage with them.

Who: Selecting which members to get to know

An ideal strategy for planning to build a new connection is to find out in advance which people have RSVP’d for the event. Even if an RSVP list is not available to you in advance, be the first one to arrive and review meeting badges on the registration table.

Prior to the meeting, select four to five people who you would like to get to know. Think about why those people may be important as part of your circle of business contacts. Connect with them during cocktails, chat a bit, and ask one or two of them to join you for the meal. If not already committed, one of them will likely accept your invitation.

How: Learning more about other members

With the popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, bios or profiles are usually published for members of each platform. Most often, people do elect to make their profile ‘public’, with minor or no limitations on access. Therefore, no one should be shocked if another businessperson reads a profile to learn a little bit more about them.

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» Announcing the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016

Announcing the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016

We are pleased to announce the winners of our eighth annual awards program, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016!

The honorees represent the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire local vendor community who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism. This year’s list of winners is made up of the nation’s top local wedding professionals, covering over 20 different service categories including wedding venues, florists, wedding photographers, and more.

Our Couples’ Choice Awards winners are chosen solely based on the quality, quantity, consistency, and recency of the wedding reviews each professional received from consumers through the 2015 calendar year. Our program is meant to serve as an indicator of legitimacy and reliability for engaged couples when selecting their team of wedding professionals. According to Lynn, a WeddingWire user from Michigan:

“This award absolutely made a difference when I was picking vendors. If a vendor had that seal, I knew that enough engaged couples liked their services that I would, too. It helped me decide between two DJs that were otherwise equal.”

We are proud to feature these award-winning professionals who also understand the impact reviews have on their successful wedding businesses! Winners were notified via email on January 6, 2016. Recipients also received the official WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards 2016 badge within their WeddingWire account, along with access to a suite of marketing tools to showcase the award.

Congratulations again to all the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards 2016 winners! We’re thrilled to celebrate such a high-caliber, committed group of professionals for the Couples’ Choice Awards’ eighth year.

» 4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Clients

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

When you have respectful and kind clients, working with them is not only easy, but fun! When you have a good, positive relationship with the people you work with, it makes you want to work hard for them. However, this isn’t true for every client relationship. Sometimes you receive unfriendly emails, rude calls, and impatient people who make it difficult or downright unpleasant to do your job.

4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult ClientsIf (or when) that happens, here are my four tips for dealing with difficult clients:

  1. Be kind. Working with difficult or high maintenance clients can be exhausting and can cause you to mirror their language and actions. With these clients, it’s especially important to fight fire with water. In times of disagreement or high tension, take the high road – make your clients feel valued and heard. Often times, that’s ultimately what they’re really looking for.
  1. Communicate often. I find when my clients don’t hear from me for a period of time (even though I’m still working hard for them!), it causes them anxiety and sometimes causes them to think, “Well what is she even doing for me?” Take a few extra minutes to send them an email with a quick update or put a more formal update process in place to send over recaps. Open communication ultimately builds trust.
  1. Be present. When you’re on a phone call or in a meeting with a client, be all there. Turn your phone on silent, only use your computer to take notes, and give them your undivided attention. Multitasking can come across as frazzled or un-invested, which only creates more tension.

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