» Stay Productive, Purposeful and Profitable During the Off-Season

Stay Productive during the Off-SeasonWebinar recap!

Many pros use the first few months of every year, often considered as the “off-season” to regroup before the upcoming wedding season begins in the Spring. While it’s great to use this time to refresh your business, it is important to maintain a sharp focus and use this time effectively to leverage your impact during the ongoing engagement season, and to set yourself up for a profitable year ahead!

In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon shared his perspective on how to stay productive and maximize your business impact during the off-season.

Here are a few of Andy’s tips focused on improving your profitability:

  • Grow your professional network: Join or attend a local networking group or industry event, and make new industry connections with pros you admire that you can leverage to connect with more clients in 2016, and in turn recommend their services to your clientele.
  • Calculate your gross wedding income: Make sure you take the time to find out how successful your 2015 year was for your business by determining your gross income. To find this number, determine your overall wedding revenue in 2015, and divide that by the total number of weddings you serviced. That will show your overall income per wedding. Set a goal for your gross wedding income for 2016 and evaluate how you will get there— an expanded team, more booked weddings, higher prices?
  • Compute your marketing expenses: Take the time to track your marketing expenses to determine your overall spend, and apply that to your marketing plan for 2016. Expenses include association membership, online advertising, print ads, wedding shows, continued education and more. Review your overall spend, and determine how you will use it effectively in 2016 to help reach your business goals.
  • Determine your variable cost per wedding: How much do you spend per wedding on average? This amount impacts your overall revenue, and should factor into your prices. To find your variable cost per wedding, add up the cost of good, travel and delivery expenses, payroll per event, and any additional costs you may need to consider. Then, simply divide that number by your total number of weddings last year.

For more great tips on staying productive and profitable, watch the full webinar! Plus, all past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime, on topics including marketing, sales, client communication and more.

» Facebook Advertising: Getting Started

Facebook Advertising: Getting StartedIn addition to advertising partners like WeddingWire, you have many online channels available to your business – email, website, social media, search, just to name a few – so it can be hard to keep up with all the options to know what you could be missing! But when it comes to easy-to-use platforms that work with a wide range of budgets, Facebook Advertising is definitely an option worth noting.

Using Facebook Advertising, you can reach your audience as well as friends of those in your audience. There are several ad types to meet a variety of needs, and you don’t need a large budget to start testing. You’ll be able to see exactly how your ad is performing with access to advertising metrics for each ad you create. Below we share everything you need to know to get started with Facebook ads!

Creating your ads

Creating your ads on Facebook is a fairly simple process, but it does require some forethought. Do your research by taking note of any ads you see that got your attention, and think about the combination of words and imagery that made the ad so successful. It’s easy to find inspiration from other ads – even those that are not related to the wedding industry – if you pay attention!

To create your ad, you have two options for the ad creative – the images or videos you use:

  • Use existing post: Did one of your posts perform well? Put money behind it! You can select an existing post to promote to your desired audience instead of starting from scratch. Just remember that you can’t change the link destination of your post, since the post was previously published with that link.
  • Create new ad: Create something new and unique for your Facebook ad! Combine a great message with photos or videos of your work to attract new clients. Use the text box to write up to 90 characters above your ad’s image. Use the headline (25 characters) to lay out a clear call-to-action for those who want to learn more about your ad. You also have a link description box beneath your headline to write up to 30 characters more about your business. For images, you have the following options:
    • Single image: Select a single image to make a splash and get attention. If your image has text, be sure that the text doesn’t cover more than 20% of the image or your ad will likely be taken down. To make sure you’re following guidelines, use Facebook’s grid tool.
    • Multiple images: If you’d like to feature several photos of your work in your ad, select the carousel ad format. Showcase 3-5 images in your ad that all direct to your website. This is a great way to feature several products or service types in a single advertisement.
    • Video: Video is all the rage on social media these days, and now you can incorporate video instead of images in your advertisements. It’s great if you have professional videos or clips at your disposal, but it doesn’t have to be fancy – try recording a short video and posting it organically on your page to see how your audience reacts before you spend money on it.

For a full description of all the ad types available on Facebook’s platform and their design/text requirements, check out the Facebook Ads Guide!

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» Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?

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.

Frequently, the first question an engaged couple asks a wedding vendor is: “How much does (your service) cost?”

Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?The question, followed by a brief discussion or debate about what the ‘business down the street’ charges can leave a wedding professional flummoxed. This post will suggest different strategies for explaining value and price, making every effort to stave off a snarky exchange.

Wedding professionals’ frustrations about pricing chatter are rooted in brides and grooms who do not have a thorough understanding or appreciation for the value of your services. This should not be shocking; this condition has become the norm. With the wide range of professionalism, design, style, talent, and experience, it’s no wonder many couples need more guidance.

Setting your pricing structure

The biggest problem I see with most pricing structures is when a business provides a price per hours of service. A wide variety of wedding businesses present pricing within the framework of time in direct service with the client, which can be really detrimental. Time alone does not constitute quality or a good result; as such, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding and/or reception drastically understates your total service time!

It’s a rare client that actually knows how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, track down obscure music, travel to the event, or a host of other event-specific tasks.  Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your efforts.

To convey this point, it’s not enough to show video clips of successful events or an entire wedding video to a wedding couple and expect an instant understanding. The degree of difficulty and necessity of special talents, developed over time, are hard to factor into price for the inexperienced. Ask yourself: What is the most misunderstood element of your category of business, or your company, specifically? Do you duck the topic or have you developed away to communicate key sales points?

Explaining the scope of your service

Another key factor in price discussions with your clients is scope. Similar to the issue with setting your price by hours of service, couples don’t understand the differences in the level of service you provide in comparison to your competitors. If you don’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, buttercream icing, menu options for special dietary needs, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out.

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» Five Business Resolutions That You Can Keep

It’s two months in to 2016. Have you kept up with your business resolutions?

If it is time to re-evaluate your resolutions, or if you have not even set any for your business this year, it’s not too late! Check out these top five business resolutions that you can keep from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg to get you started so this year can be your most successful yet.

For more great tips, watch the full webinar here!

Business Resolutions You Can Keep

» Wedding PR: Communicating Change

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.

If January is the time to shake things up with your PR and marketing, then February is the time to focus on execution.

	Wedding PR: Communicating ChangeLast month, my friend and fellow WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm challenged the bridal bias in the wedding industry and it made me really think about change and how overwhelming it can be for the wedding pro juggling a million tasks at once.

Fresh off of my own re-brand, I can’t help but feel pangs of empathy when discussing the challenge with clients and colleagues eager to make a change in their own business – whether it be their name, brand or a combination of the two.

The good news? If you take it step-by-step and bring in the right team, the return on your efforts can be considerable. Sow how does one get started?

First, do your due diligence. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the to do’s that come with making a change, especially if you’ve decided on a new company name. The US Small Business Administration does a great job outlining the steps here.

Next, assemble your team. If making a name change, then you’ll want to connect with legal and financial counsel quickly. The right branding company can help guide you on your overall look – from your logo and marketing materials to your online presence.

In the midst of the above, you’ll also want to really start thinking about the message you’d like to craft and disseminate about your company’s changes. Ask yourself – why are you making this move and what would you like others to know about you as a result?

When communicating the change, you’ll want to think carefully about your target audience and the best channels for reaching them.  In addition to your prospective clients, you’ll need to consider your current and past clients (remember – the latter are still in a position to refer you!), colleagues you work with regularly and the media.

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» Congrats to the 2016 Weddi Awards™ Winners

Weddi Awards 2016

We are pleased to announce the 2016 Weddi Awards™ winners!

The Weddi Awards™ is WeddingWire’s annual award program distinguishing exceptional businesses and individuals in the wedding industry in the categories of Professional Achievement, Customer Excellence and Innovation + Creativity. Review the full list of winners, and navigate to the award categories, then click on each award name to find out the individual winners.

All winners were announced at the Weddi Awards™ reception at WeddingWire World 2016 last week. Winners receive a trophy to showcase their win, materials to help spread the word, and bragging rights on the Weddi Awards™ website for the year!

Thank you to all those who participated in the Weddi Awards program this year through nominations, voting, judging and collecting great amounts of reviews, endorsements and traffic to great features on WeddingWire. We appreciate your commitment to success and integrity in the industry, as well as your support of colleagues and other Pros.

We look forward to continuing to evolve, expand and improve the program in the future. Stay tuned for details for the 2017 Weddi Awards™ program later this year via the Weddi Awards™ website!

» Streamlining Your Business with Policies and Procedures

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.

Time is money – we know this to be true because it’s one of the worst things you can waste as event professionals. But, what happens when we’re the ones wasting our own time?

Streamlining Your Business with Policies and ProceduresFrom disorganized routines to missed appointments, we’ve all found ourselves wishing there were 25 hours in a day. Chances are, there are a few minutes here and there that you can shave off of your current schedule with simple procedures – and those minutes can certainly add up!

Not only do policies and procedures put time back into your pocket, but they also make things much easier for you and your team. Your day-to-day processes will not require lengthy explanations once clearly mapped out. It’s also a great way to ensure quality control of the client experience, keeping your team consistently on brand.

While putting policies and procedures in place can seem like an intimidating task, it’s certainly manageable if you begin with baby steps. Start as early in the process as when a prospect reaches out to you and look through the different touch points of working with a new client.

Email drafts are a great place to start and are a key time-saver – they’re easily customizable so they’re still genuine, but you won’t have to worry about writing each email from scratch. So what to tackle first? Consider some of the following:

  • Responses to initial inquiries
  • Follow ups with inquiries
  • “Best of luck” emails if they book with someone else
  • Email to let someone know you’re already booked for a date
  • Email to let someone know if you don’t offer a certain service
  • Welcome email after booking
  • Out-of-office response
  • Post-event wrap-up email
  • Post-event review request

While planning ahead, think about how the inquiry process would feel if you were the interested client. What does the flow look like? How can it be improved upon? There’s no better time to assess how you’re doing than the present.

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» WeddingWire World 2016: Recap

WeddingWire World 2016Thank you again to all our pros for making WeddingWire World 2016 so great!

The entire WeddingWire team was thrilled to host our ninth WeddingWire World in just five years last week at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, DC. We had an amazing time learning, growing, and laughing with the nearly 2,000 wedding and event pros in attendance.

We were blown away by all the posts, comments, tweets, and memories shared at WeddingWire World 2016! Be sure to catch up on all the great activity by checking out the official event hashtag #wwworld on Twitter and Instagram.

In case you missed it, highlights from our inspirational and educational presentations included:

  • Special sessions to help you gain outside perspectives featuring representatives of other industries, including Shawn Johnson, Bethenny Frankel, and Frank Supovitz
  • Trends-based presentations to keep you in the loop from speakers like Sylvia Weinstock, Monte Durham, and WeddingWire’s Director of Market Insights Andy Whittaker
  • Breakout sessions that covered other business disciplines you may be overlooking, including legal concerns, accounting advice, sales best practices, and more
  • Panels and presentations aimed at bringing attendees up to speed on the LGBTQ community and how to move forward in support of same-sex couples looking to get married
  • Main stage and breakout sessions from our WeddingWire Education Experts, who went above and beyond in both their presentations and their conversations and advice for pros in attendance

All attendees will receive the slides for all presentations, so keep an eye on your inbox to keep the education and excitement flowing!

Other WeddingWire World 2016 highlights included:

  • The Marketplace, where attendees could learn more about our industry partnerships, featured associations, and educational resources
  • Our free t-shirt press, featuring multiple fun designs and colors for attendees to customize
  • Free professional headshots taken on-site by George Francis Jr.
  • The opportunity for attendees to meet with our Customer Success team members one-on-one to discuss their WeddingWire accounts
  • A Networking Night event following the first day’s presentations to offer additional networking opportunities and light refreshments
  • A special reception for VIPs and Weddi Award nominees, where Weddi Award winners received trophies and recognition from some of our top executives
  • The addition of Shop WeddingWire, where attendees could purchase additional WeddingWire branded swag items
  • Special prizes and giveaways throughout both days – an Apple Watch, FitBits, prize packs, and more

Finally, we’d like to extend one more big thank you to all the partners who made WeddingWire World 2016 possible: Tania Hossain Photography, Promovizion, DJ Jason Jani and SCE Event Group, Chauvet DJ, Open Air Photobooth, JerFilm Productions, George Francis Jr. Photography, Signature Talent, Snap Entertainment, Moo, and Hilton.

Again, thank you to all the pros who traveled from far and wide to join us this year. We’ve picked some of our favorite photos from WeddingWire World 2016 below, but you can check out the full album and our 360 degree video on our Facebook page!

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» WeddingWire World 2016: Day 3

WeddingWire World 2016: Day 3

It’s our first-ever day three of WeddingWire World! We’re thrilled to have spent so much time with our wedding professionals so far, and we’ve got some more awesome education in store in our sessions today!

Today’s sessions are all breakout sessions to accommodate as many speakers and topics as possible! We also added a fourth theme to our breakout tracks – our Discovery Track aims to help you discover some new ideas and open your eyes to some great advice from our experts. Today’s breakout tracks are:

  • Live Website Reviews: Turn Visitors to Clients by Alan Berg, Certified Speaking Professional®
  • Achieving Email Excellence: Subject Lines, Stats and Standout Messaging by Bart Thornburg, Senior Manager of Email Marketing at WeddingWire
  • What’s the Q? Best Practices in Language for LGBTQ Weddings by Bernadette Smith, Founder of 14 Stories & President of Gay Wedding Institute
  • Wedding Show Success Secrets: Face-To-Face Marketing in an Online World by Marc McIntosh, CEO of Wedding Experience
  • The Success Mindset: 10 Traits of Top Performers by Laura C. Cannon, Owner of Ceremony Officiants
  • The Importance of SEO by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire
  • It’s Raining Men (and Women)! Marketing Your Business to Engaged Same-Sex Couples by Bernadette Smith, Founder of 14 Stories & President of Gay Wedding Institute
  • Creating the Experience by Jeremy Brech, Owner of DJ Jer Events & Lighting Design
  • Leading Like A CEO, Managing Like A Pro by Jon’ll Boyd, CEO of Completely Yours Events
  • Instagram for Wedding Professionals by Natalie Franke, Owner of Natalie Franke Photography & Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society
  • Wedding Trends for 2016: What Couples Are Liking, Loving, and Leaving Behind featuring Kim Forrest, WeddingWire Editor & Sarah Zlotnick, Washingtonian Bride and Groom Editor in Chief
  • Pro Panel: Destination Weddings, featuring Joann Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, Destination Wedding Planner Maria Lugo, Vanessa Velez of Vanessa Velez Photography, and Marilyn Cairo of AskMeWeddings
  • Industry Networking: Developing Powerful Relationships that Fuel Referrals by Andy Ebon, VP of Marketing at Wedding University
  • Blog Like It’s Your Business! by Jennifer Reitmeyer & Kyle Bergner of WeddingIQ
  • Top Highlights from WedInsights by Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire

We’re also happy to host Sonny’s Marshmallow Challenge at the end of our fourth round of breakouts, which is a fun and interactive group session aimed at helping you improve team communication.

We’ll also be adding photos to our Facebook page this week, plus a full event recap next week with all of the important details!

» WeddingWire World 2016: Day 2

WeddingWire World 2016: Day 2

Yesterday we were blown away by the great speakers, main stage presentations, breakout sessions, and crazy amount of attendee social media activity of WeddingWire World 2016 – and that was just day one!

We’re even more excited to begin day two of WeddingWire World today, and we’ve got even more great education and surprises in store. In the main exhibition hall, presentations include:

  • Traditions to Trends: What’s Old is New Again by Monte Durham of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and Bridals by Lori
  • Tim Talk: Entrepreneurship by Timothy Chi, CEO of WeddingWire
  • What To Do When Things Go Wrong by Frank Supovitz, President & CEO of Fast Traffic Events and the Former Senior Vice President of Events for the NFL
  • Chef to CEO: Turning Simple Ideas Into Extraordinary Results by Bethenny Frankel, Creator of Skinnygirl Lifestyle Brand, Reality TV Star, and Best-Selling Author
  • The Evolving Tech Landscape by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire

We’ll continue tomorrow’s schedule with even more breakout sessions, including:

  • Business Accounting: Make Your Finances Work for You by Michael Klipper, Principal at ENGAGE CPAs
  • Win the Hearts of Couples with Social Media by Kyle Mihalcoe, Associate Director of Customer Success at WeddingWire
  • Business Etiquette: Strategies to Impress Clients & Build Successful Relationships by Laurie Hartwell, Founder & CEO of The Bridal Society
  • Work Harder and Smarter…Growing Your Business by Bethel Nathan of Ceremonies by Bethel & Elevate by Bethel
  • Branding & Boundaries: Attracting Your Dream Clients & Managing the Nightmares by Jennifer Reitmeyer, President of My Deejay and Founder of WeddingIQ & Authentic Boss
  • Panel: Leading Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage moderated by Kathryn Hamm, featuring Bernadette Smith of Gay Wedding Institute & Journalist Steven Petrow
  • The Importance of Add-On Sales & Services by Brian Lawrence, Founder of BrianLawrence.com
  • Mythbusters: Decoding Common Couple Misconceptions by Marty Kaufman, VP of Customer Experience at WeddingWire

Below are a few photo highlights from Tania Hossain Photography of our day one sessions so you can catch up on all the fun! And don’t forget to keep tweeting your own takeaways and follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter and Instagram, where @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting and responding to feedback and more, plus check back tomorrow morning for information on day three.

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» WeddingWire World 2016: Day 1

WeddingWire World 2016: Day 1

Today’s the day! We’re kicking off our biggest WeddingWire World yet with thousands of dedicated wedding professionals in Washington, DC. Since our first WeddingWire World event in 2012, we’ve been building our educational conference to help our community of wedding pros get the resources and tools they need to take their businesses to the next level.

Over the next three days, WeddingWire World 2016 attendees will hear from a variety of featured speakers, industry experts, and skilled entrepreneurs with tons of wisdom to share! Today’s exciting main stage presentations include:

  • Top Pro: 10 Steps to Success by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire
  • Building Your Brand from Scratch by Sylvia Weinstock of Sylvia Weinstock Cakes
  • Ready, Set, Network: Building Your Business through Your Buddies by Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting LLC
  • Dream Big and Keep a Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson, Gold Medal Olympian
  • Listen Up … and Sell More! by Alan Berg, Certified Speaking Professional®

We’re also excited to feature a number of breakout tracks throughout the conference that focus on a particular theme! Follow one track to learn more about running your business, marketing your business, or managing your clients, or select the presentation that best fits your interests – breakout sessions today include:

  • Legal 101: Setting Up Your Business by Caroline J. Fox, Esq. of The Creekmore Law Firm, PC
  • The Brain Behind the Business by Natalie Franke, Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society
  • Understanding Your Clients: Having Empathy in Sales by Andy Ebon of Wedding University
  • 5 Tips to Get More Reviews by Mike Walter of Elite Entertainment
  • Panel: Advice from the Engaged & Newly Married moderated by Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire
  • Productivity & Time Management Hacks to Build Your Business by Amanda Miller Littlejohn, PR Strategist and Personal Branding Coach
  • Same-Sex Couples and the Modern Market by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com

Below are a few other helpful day one notes for WeddingWire World 2016 attendees:

  • Get answers to your account questions and advice to help your business succeed at our Customer Success Station in Baltimore 4-5, open today from 12pm-5pm.
  • Stop by Baltimore 3 to have your professional headshot taken (for free!) anytime between 12pm-6pm today.
  • Purchase WeddingWire swag and learn more about our speakers and partners at our Marketplace, open today from 12pm-5pm.
  • Tweet your own takeaways and follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter, where @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting and responding to feedback and more!
  • Foster the new connections you’ve made throughout the day at our Networking Night reception following the day’s presentations in Eastern Shore.

Check back tomorrow morning for additional day two information! We hope all our Pros enjoy day one!

» WeddingWire World 2016 is Almost Here!

WeddingWire World 2016 is Almost Here!We are so excited that WeddingWire World 2016 is this week! If you’ll be attending, be sure to review these key details below so you’re prepared for an awesome two and a half days of education, networking, and fun.

Travel Details to Get You There

The conference is being held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. If you are driving, on-site parking at the Gaylord is available, or park a block away at the St. George Garage. For additional information, review the full travel details.

Event Reminders and Recommendations

Come prepared for a great day! Breakfast and coffee is available for purchase at the hotel and at restaurants around National Harbor. We encourage comfortable business attire for the event. Wear walkable shoes and bring a sweater in case it gets cool. Don’t forget your business cards for networking!

There is a forecast for minor snowfall and potential accumulations affecting the Washington, DC area from Monday night into Tuesday. We are planning to proceed with the conference on schedule, but will be in touch with any updates via email and the website should they arise. Please travel safely, and allow for extra time if needed.

Save Time and Visit Registration Early

Early registration will be open today from 3:00-6:00pm, and registration opens tomorrow at 7:00am before the day starts at 9:30am. Registration is located outside of the main event space, Prince George’s Exhibit Hall D on the Atrium level. Look for WeddingWire World signage in the Gaylord National Resort® hotel to direct you.

Special Opportunities for VIP Guests

Take advantage of your VIP ticket holder benefits:

  • Breakfast will be provided to VIP guests on Tuesday in the Eastern Shore room from 7-9AM
  • Use the VIP ticket holder priority seating section in the main event space for a great view
  • Join the Weddi Awards™ ceremony and VIP reception for light fare and drinks Wednesday evening from 6:30-8pm in the Woodrow Wilson Ballroom
  • Pre-schedule your time to meet with a Customer Success Manager and discuss your account.

Don’t forget to share your favorite takeaways and moments with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @WeddingWireEDU using our official hashtag #wwworld! We’ll be reposting a few of our favorites for some special prizes (and bragging rights).

We can’t wait to see you all this week! If you haven’t attended a WeddingWire World event with us before, be sure to check out last year’s recap to see what to expect.