» Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?

Photo by Blueflash Photography

You’ve been hearing it over and over, engagement season is just around the corner! But what does that mean for you? This is the ideal time of year to strengthen your Storefront, website and communications to stand out to newly engaged couples when they start searching for their wedding team. Education Guru Alan Berg recently shared his best tips for tuning up these areas to help you connect with more couples in the coming months.

Here are the top four ways that you can take action now and strengthen your website:

Choose images that are aspirational

Using aspirational images is a top tip for Storefront improvements, but it is also equally true for your website. Your goal is to find images that invoke an emotional connection between the couple and your business. A couple’s first reaction should be, “Wow, I want to be just like that couple!” Remember: the head has a budget, the heart does not. So find photos that touch their hearts.

Take action:

  1. The key to building an emotional connection with a couple is showing them what they could look like on their big day. Assess your website images and see if you are showcasing happy couples. If you aren’t, then change your photos or add in new ones! For some categories this can be difficult, but try to show couples interacting with you or your service.
  2. If your options are limited for this type of photo, feature a mix of photos of ideal couples you have worked with and photos of you or your best work.

Make sure the text matches the aspiration of your photos

When a couple comes to your website, it’s because they are coming to learn more about you and the service you provide. If the feeling you portray in the words on your website doesn’t match that of your images, it can feel disjointed and may not inspire them to reach out.

Take action:

  1. To match the feeling that couples see when first come to your website, you need to narrate the results and outcomes of what they will receive from you. If you’re a photographer, talk about the emotion that your couples feel the first time they see their photos. If you’re a caterer, talk about how guests rave for weeks and weeks about your food. Those are the outcomes couples want, so that’s what you need to talk about.
  2. Do the “you test”. When you use the word “you” on your website you are automatically allowing the couple to visualize themselves working with you. To do this test, go to your current website then on the taskbar click edit, then find, then type the word “you” and hit search. The more times the word “you” pops up, the better! If the current number is low, reread your text and find the appropriate places to insert the word “you”. Remember: You want to talk to them about them, because that’s who they care about!
  3. Read all of the text on your website out loud. This may seem a little silly, but it’s a great way to catch yourself if you are using language that you typically wouldn’t with a couple or have outdated information on your site. Question every sentence to make sure that you are describing your business accurately and using language that connects directly with the couple reading it.

Include social proof of your capabilities

Engaged couples want to hear about you and your capabilities, not from you, but from other couples that have experienced what it’s like to work with you. The best way to incorporate social proof into your website is by utilizing testimonials and reviews. The more you are able to incorporate these things into your website, the more engaged couples will be able to see the consistency of your work and how other couples felt about working with you.

Take action:

  1. Add a reviews section to your website. Include reviews with specific praise and strong emotional keywords. Make sure this is an actual part of your website and not a widget. Those keywords are great for your SEO!
  2. Choose the best reviews to feature on your website. You should still provide a link to your WeddingWire storefront where they can read through all of your reviews, but on your website you should highlight the reviews that reflect your ideal client and convey how much you care about your clients.

Create specific calls-to-action

Once you have an interested couple on your website, your biggest mistake would be to leave them wondering what to do next! Just as you’ll guide them through the wedding planning process with your business, guide them through your website with very specific and straightforward calls-to-action.

Take action:

  1. First, if you don’t currently have any calls-to-action on your website think about the specific actions you want a couple to take. Do you want them to call you? Reach out via email? Read your reviews? Look through your photos? Each page will probably have a specific action tied to it. Make sure to think these through to ensure they are clear and not misleading.
  2. Once you’ve determined a strong call-to-action, incorporate it into each page! Whenever possible, create the call-to-action as a button rather than a “click here” in text or an arrow.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks for engagement season tune-up tips about client communication strategies. Be sure to check out Alan’s Storefront tune-up tips, too!

» 5 Instagram Must-Haves for Engagement Season

instagram

Photo by Clay Swanson Photography

Engagement season is quickly approaching, and one of the first places couples will research vendors is on Instagram! To prepare, you should make sure your profile is in tip-top shape so that couples feel drawn to you when they come across your content. Once you draw them in, you should also make sure to prompt them to visit your website or send you an inquiry.

Here are five things that your Instagram profile should have in order to stand out to couples this engagement season.

Make your bio shine

When couples land on your Instagram profile, one of the first things they will see is your bio. Instagram bios can be a max of 150 characters, so you must make every character count. Here are a few things to remember to include when writing your bio:

  • Succinctly explain what you do and who your ideal client is
  • Show your personality
  • Include a call to action

Read more about how to write a social media bio that attracts couples here.

Create a clear call-to-action

Just like you should have on your Storefront or website, a call-to-action on your social media channels is a must! You’ve captivated a couple so don’t let them leave without giving them direction to head to your website or contact you. There are two great places to do this on your Instagram profile:

  1. Your Bio – Give couples an instruction in your bio. For example, you might say, “Click below to see my full portfolio!” or “Message me to learn more!” or “Have a question? Let’s chat!”
  2. Your Link – When you click to edit your profile in the Instagram app, you will see a field where you can enter your website URL. Use this strategically by linking to your About Me page, a lead magnet landing page, or a portfolio page. This will give potential clients the most important information about your business and motivate them to contact you.  

Post quality content daily

After making sure that your profile is captivating and providing direction to incoming couples, make sure that you are staying top of mind! One of the best ways to stand out from your competitors is to have a fresh,  up-to-date Instagram feed. This will help showcase your work as for couples that follow you and ensure that you  continue to pop up in their feed.

Don’t forget that Instagram is a visual platform, so when posting regularly,make sure that you are posting visually appealing and inspiring content. You want to post aspirational content that makes a couple stop and think “Wow – I want to be THAT couple.” Apply these tips for curating Storefront photos to your Instagram feed.

Show your personality

You may be using Instagram to market your business, but remember – couples also care about the person behind the business, too. Every so often, post photos that tell a bit about you and show your personality. You can share selfies, photos of your work space, photos taken with past clients, or even just photos of things that make you happy throughout your day. This will help you create a connection with couples and attract more ideal clients.

Optimize for engagement

There are two kinds of Instagram engagement that you should focus on. The first is on your profile itself. Couples want to see that your posts have likes and comments. To increase engagement, include relevant hashtags and ask questions in your captions to encourage people to comment.

The second is your engagement with other profiles. Avoid only logging into Instagram to post your own photos. Instead, make sure to spend a few minutes each day browsing through your feed, liking and commenting on others’ posts. You can also search for hashtags that local couples may use in their posts, then engage with their posts. This will grab their attention and encourage them to click through to your profile.

» Why You Shouldn’t Cater to Only One Type of Client

Photo by Cassie Madden Photography

This post was written by Megan Hayes, Regional Manager, Customer Success at WeddingWire.

One of the most common challenges in the wedding industry is the lack of diversity and representation of all types of couples in the media. While society has led us to think a certain way based on what’s typically portrayed in media outlets, such as magazines and television, the reality is that today’s couples come from all backgrounds and lifestyles.

Just think: How many times have you seen a young bride standing alone on the cover of a wedding magazine and thought, “Wow, she really represents all of my clients”? The short answer is you probably haven’t!

Whether it’s your business website, your social networks, or ads in wedding magazines, only catering to one type of client could mean that your website (and marketing materials) could be turning away potential clients. According to this WedInsights fact sheet, 40% of straight grooms and 50% of brides and grooms of color say it is challenging to see themselves reflected in the content and imagery of magazines and online resources. Additionally, same-sex couples and those with lower household incomes are more likely to say they also experience this lack of representation in media.

It’s important to remember that all types of couples are looking for inspiration and relevant resources to help them with their decision-making needs throughout the wedding planning process. If couples can’t relate to, or identify with your work, this might deter them from considering your services. Conversely, our data shows that representing more diverse audiences can actually benefit your business. According to our 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, 98% of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral.

In preparation for engagement season, take a second to think about the couples you’ve worked with in the past year. Now take a look at your advertising. Does your advertising display the array of body shapes, ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, or even personal styles of the couples you service? Are all of your recent clients reflected in your marketing materials? If your answer is no, here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate diversity into  your website, WeddingWire Storefront, and other marketing materials to make underrepresented couples feel welcome:

  • Display an assorted representation of couples you’ve worked with through visual content on your Storefront such as your main image, photo albums, and video content.
  • In your About Us section, use inclusive language (i.e. use “couples” in place of “brides” wherever possible) and convey that you embrace diversity and welcome all couples.
  • Utilize photography that showcases diversity in your blog posts, social media channels, and on your website.

Remember: Small changes can go a long way towards helping all types of couples feel comfortable reaching out to you and booking your business.

 

Megan Hayes is a Regional Manager of the Customer Success Team at WeddingWire. As a client-facing customer advocate with 7+ years of experience in both account management and online advertising, she’s now taken her experience and travels nationally speaking on topics to empower small businesses with industry trends. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a Public Relations concentration from James Madison University.

» Ask for the Sale and Book More Weddings

ask for the sale

Photo by BHP Imaging

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP.

I’m just getting back from another great Wedding MBA, and my last presentation there was a WedTalk called “The Closer.” The underlying theme of this 15-minute presentation was these four words: Ask for the sale. While it seems obvious, this is the place where many, if not most, wedding and event professionals drop the ball. Even if you’re listening well, presenting the outcomes and results of choosing you, and showing the value of paying your price, you still have to finish the job. As we are approaching engagement season, there’s no better time to brush up on your sales approach.

You’re already on their short-list
By the time you get to have a conversation with them, whether digital, on the phone or in person, they already think you’re a good fit. They’ve seen your storefront, seen your photos and videos and read your reviews. These steps were all buying signals. Then they sent you a message through WeddingWire messaging, or went to your website, liked what they saw, and messaged you from there. This, too is a buying signal, and the first one you saw.

After continuing that conversation with you, at some point you need to ask for the sale. If they weren’t interested, the conversation would be over. As long as they’re still sitting in the chair, or talking on the phone, or replying to your emails and texts, they’re still interested. They need ‘what’ you do. That’s why they started their search for someone in your market and category. They did their filtering and you made the cut to get an inquiry (that’s the short-list). You should be assuming that they will buy from you.

When and how to ask for the sale
You should be asking for the sale at the points where you see, and hear, the buying signals. If they were referred to you, by another couple, or another wedding professional, that’s a great indicator of interest. However, just because their friends loved you, doesn’t mean you’ll make the same connection with them.

Ask them: “When we do the flowers (or music, ceremony, food, photos, video, etc.) for your wedding, what would you like to be the same as your friends, and what would you like us to do differently?” Notice that you should ask ‘when’, not ‘if.’ If they start to passionately describe what they want, you can continue with: “That sounds great, I can’t wait to start working on those details. Should we get your date reserved, so we can move on to choosing your (colors, menu, package, etc.)?”

Answer their objection, then ask for the sale
If they pose an objection, address it, then ask for the sale. Objections are buying signals, because if they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t present an objection, they’d just leave, or go radio-silent on you. For example, what if they say: “You’re the first one we’ve seen.” To me, that’s a statement, not an objection. Here’s what you might say:

“I totally understand. A lot of our couples make us the first stop, because of our reviews, reputation, and recommendations from friends and other wedding professionals. They, like you, already think that we’re the right fit, before even coming in. Once they see, like you have, how great we can make your wedding, many of them decide to make sure we’ll be available to do their weddings by reserving us. And, there are so many other vendors to choose, that all need to have your actual date. Should we get your date reserved so you can move on to the other decisions?”

Here’s another example: “That’s more than we wanted to spend.” You might reply with:

“I know how things can add up quickly for a wedding. We see it all the time. For the particular services/products that you want, to make your wedding everything you’ve imagined, and more, this is the best price. Should we get that reserved for you now?

Help them buy
Customers want, and need you to help them buy. As I said earlier, they need ‘what’ you do, or you would never have gotten the inquiry. You need to show them that they were right to put you on their short-list. You need to help them see the value in choosing specifically you, and your team. And then, you need to help them get the results that only you can provide, by asking for the sale.

alan berg

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

» 3 Key Ways Millennial Couples are Different from Past Generations

millennial couples

Photo by Anna Simonak Photography

Millennials (also known as Gen Y), whose current age ranges from 16-34, account for roughly 25% of today’s US population – making them the largest living generation. As of 2017, U.S. Millennials are estimated to spend roughly $200 billion annually, make up 75% of the workplace and comprise the majority of the consumer market within the next 10 years.

Why does this matter for your business? The Millennial generation is at the age where major life events are taking place, like graduating, buying a house, and getting married. In fact, more than 80% of WeddingWire couples are Millennials! Knowing where they are in their life stages is key for understanding how to communicate with this important group.

Millennials are willing to spend more to personalize their weddings

Over the past 10 years we’ve continued to see overall guest count decrease, regardless of age, whereas the total spend per guest is on the rise. Couples are willing to spend extra on each guest in order to really personalize their big day and make it memorable and unique. On average, millennials spend $31,000 on their wedding, whereas GenXers spend $24,000 on fewer guests. A few other points of differentiation between Millennials and their older counterparts:

  • Engagement Length: 13 months for Millennials, 11 months for GenX
  • Number in Wedding Party: 10 for Millennials, 7 for GenX
  • Number of Vendors Hired: 11 for Millennials, 9 for GenX

87% of Millennials report having their smartphones on them at all times

Millennials are the “mobile generation” — everything they do or want to do can be done on-the-go, so a non-existent or poor mobile website can be an instant deal breaker for this group! Make mobile a priority by doing a full sweep of your online properties from your mobile website to your emails, and make sure the content is easily digestible (and layout is responsive) on smartphones and tablet devices.

Nearly all (89%) of Millennials report using social media

Millennials spend about 5 ½ hours on social media daily, most of the time via mobile devices, so it’s important for your business to have an active presence online. Make sure to post interesting, relevant content that will grab their attention. Keep your content visual and whimsical by incorporating useful videos, tips or advice! Use hashtags to focus on key topics and don’t forget to interact with followers, prospective clients and other industry professionals.

Remember: Just because we’re focusing on Millennials, these tips and tricks are relevant for ALL of your customers. Thinking about age and generation is one helpful way to think about where you customers are in their life stage and how can you best serve and meet their needs!

» Engagement Photography for Same-Sex Couples

photography considerations

 

 

Photo by Kat Ma Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

Ten years ago, few same-sex couples were considering public ceremonies, and even fewer had access to legal partnership recognition. When couples did forge ahead into uncharted territory, most of their energy was spent finding gay-friendly vendors and worrying about whether or not family would show up. Engagement photography sessions were not yet a gleam in the collective LGBTQ eye, let alone the reality that they now are in the blogosphere.

Preparation Is Key

As same-sex weddings have become more widely accepted, more couples have begun following the traditional marriage prescriptions: engagement on a bent knee (or Jumbotron), engagement parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding showers, weddings, and big receptions. You know, the works. These changes require that photographers take a deeper look at their skillsets, and the services they offer same-sex couples.

Couples, too, should become more knowledgeable about the kinds of skills, style sense, and creative talents available to them when hiring an engagement and wedding photographer.

A Dry Run

If used well, an engagement session can provide fruitful inspiration for wedding day planning. The initial meetings and conversations offer a chance to get better acquainted with the couple, establish a connection, and build rapport, so that you and your clients can become a team working toward a shared set of goals and clear expectations.

In-person meetings with both partners offer the best opportunity to get acquainted and consider any observable differences that will impact the session, such as height, body type, or other physical differences. Equally important is the chance to learn more about how each individual expresses him/herself most comfortably (especially with regard to gender expression), how each partner relates to his or her beloved, and how their “coming out” experiences have impacted them and their family relationships.

The engagement session also offers a low-risk time to take chances, unlike the wedding day, which generally has a tight time-schedule and compulsory shot list. It’s a good time to try out new concepts, poses, or lighting scenarios, and figure out what works (and what doesn’t) with your clients.

Five open-ended questions to ask LGBTQ couples as you plan their big day:

  1. Was there a proposal? If so, who proposed to whom?
  2. What are you going to wear?
  3. Will there be a wedding party? What are they going to wear? What are you calling your attendants?
  4. Will you be getting ready together or separately?
  5. Tell me about your ceremony. What are you most excited about? Is there anything that concerns you?

This post is an excerpt from The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (by Kathryn Hamm & Thea Dodds; Amphoto Books, 2014), where you can find even more photography tips and examples for those who wish to work with LGBTQ couples.

kathryn hammThis 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 PhotographyFollow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Baltimore

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Grand Baltimore for WeddingWire Networking Night Baltimore!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an art deco event space while networking over light fare. Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and insights on working with millennial couples in the wedding industry, presented by WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Megan Hayes!

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. For additional photos from the night, check out our gallery!

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

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Alison of Alison Harper & Company, LLC!


» Wedding Community Comes Together for Wedding MBA 2017

Photo by What Em Sees Photography

It has been difficult to find the words for the tragic events that took place in Las Vegas last week, but it was humbling to witness the outpouring of love and acts of kindness throughout the Las Vegas community and beyond. We are grateful for the wedding community of professionals who came together to turn a time of tragedy into a week of uplifting unity and support. Despite the unfortunate events, the community of wedding professionals at Wedding MBA came together to connect, learn and celebrate unity.

The week was filled with educational presentations, networking, and plenty of selfies (with confetti!) at the WeddingWire booth. WeddingWire Education Experts and WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly held nine educational sessions covering a wide variety of topics from tech trends to social media to closing sales and more.

Photos by What Em Sees Photography

The WeddingWire booth was enjoyed by all, featuring a large LED screen displaying real-time Instagram posts from conference goers using #WeDoWMBA. Selfie and boomerang booths were set up in front of fun backdrops with bubbles and confetti galore. The hoodie and t-shirt giveaways were a hit, in addition to one-on-one meetings with Customer Success Managers, a coffee bar, a beauty bar, and so much more!

Photo by Jake Klein Photography

In the spirit of unity, WeddingWire partnered with The Knot to turn our scheduled parties into one joint fundraiser in support of the Las Vegas victims and community. The fundraiser was held on Tuesday, October 3rd at Jewel Nightclub at the ARIA Resort and Casino. WeddingWire and The Knot each donated $5 per attendee totaling $16,000 given to the Las Vegas Victims’ fund on top of the suggested $10 donation for attendees.

A very special thank you to our amazing partners: Jason Jani of SCE Event Group and DJ Brian B for DJing our party, DJ Jer Events & Lighting Design for lighting up our booth and making it pop, Montell Jordan for the throwback entertainment, Ella Gagiano Studios for the in-booth headshots, Bobbie Pin Beauty for the pre-fundraiser makeovers, and The Photo Booth Group or the selfie/boomerang stations at our booth and party.

To see more photos check out the full album here. For more event takeaways and to stay up-to-date on all the latest WeddingWire happenings for wedding professionals, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU on Instagram.

To help the victims of the Vegas tragedy, you can donate to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund at http://wed.li/helpvegas.

» How to Prep Your Press Page for Engagement Season

Scott Aleman Photography

Photo by: Scott Aleman Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Meghan Ely.

As the holidays begin to approach you can almost feel it coming…engagement season is just around the corner. Happy couples excited about launching into their wedding planning will be discovering you daily through your online presence. So you must ask yourself: Is my press page ready?

One of the best tools at your disposal to capture press about your company and promote it long after the publish date is a press page that features links to your recent mentions and serves as testimony to the recognition you have received.

You work hard year-round to keep your PR strategy on track and your name in front of the right audience and you don’t want to let an out of date press page weaken your overall publicity strategy. So, gear up for engagement season and prep your press page now.

Audit Your Online Footprint

Before couples start to search for your services, take a long, hard look at your press page and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your page current? It’s easy to let things slip in the busy season, so make sure you’ve collected your press from the last year.
  • Is it easy to navigate? Your press page should be simple, yet impactful. It should showcase your top press with links to the coverage as appropriate. Don’t make couples hunt and peck to find what you want them to see.
  • Does it highlight my top press? It’s a common mistake to put the page in chronological order, but that’s not ideal. You need to include a mix of press, with the majority of features from the past year and with your very best press near the top. Prioritize highly trafficked sites and those that will impress prospects the most.
  • Is it consistent with the couples I want to attract? Another mistake is to believe that you must include every single press mention you’ve ever received. At a minimum, you need three features on your page, but you can certainly include more. When deciding what to use and what to trim, focus on the press that will attract your target prospects and help convert them to booked business.

    Do all of the links work? This is the time to test them out!

Review Your Social Media Press Promotion

You should also evaluate how you promote your press with social media. Different platforms have their own specific press pages, such as:

  • Facebook: Create an album dedicated exclusively to press about your business. Upload screenshots and scans or links to magazine features and credit the sources accordingly. Also, tag the wedding day team that helped the day come together.
  • Pinterest: Create a board dedicated to pins of your press.
  • Instagram: Consider a branded hashtag that relates to your company and press. Use your phone and take a screenshot of online features or take a photo of print pages and share them in a post.

Make sure that prospective clients can easily find an up-to-date and powerful representation of the press you’ve worked so hard to receive. Review your press page now and make any necessary updates and upgrades before engagement season begins.

Haven’t yet focused on press for your business? Here are some tips to get started.
Easy Peasy PR Tips for Small Business Professionals
Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal Brand
What Are the Best Media Outlets for Me?

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.

» Social Media Insights: Use These 3 Platforms to Book More Couples

It’s challenging to stay on top of the latest social media sites and trends — especially while you are busy running a successful business. However, social media doesn’t need to require a ton of time to make a big impact and expand your client reach.

To start gearing up for engagement season we recommend evaluating your presence on the ‘big three’ social media sites that your clients are loving — and determining where you need to be active this engagement season.

Here are a few of our key insights:

  • Visual sharing on social is key. This is part of the reason that Instagram has risen to popularity so quickly! Billions of photos and videos are shared on social media everyday. Don’t miss an opportunity to show off your work on a regular basis!
  • Your clients love social media. The majority of today’s engaged couples are Millennials in their twenties and early thirties. 86% use social media and 56% report that they would only consider booking vendors they can find on social media.
  • How do they use social while planning their wedding? First, they turn to the virtual pinboard site Pinterest to get inspired. Next, they move to Facebook to learn more about vendors they are interested in, then they turn to Instagram to see your aesthetic and style.
  • They follow the wedding pros they’re interested in. 61% of couples ‘follow’ or ‘like’ the professionals they want to learn more about. Why? To get inspiration for their wedding, see the quality of your work and get more info about your business.
  • Where should you invest your time? The top three sites to invest your time and connect with your clients today are: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can cut back time on Snapchat, Twitter, Google+ and Tumblr due to a lack of interaction with your clients or general sharing traffic on those sites this year.

For more tips on social media and how to freshen your social media sites in preparation for engagement season check out these articles:
Social Media Bios That Attract Couples
Social Media Marketing: What Not To Do

» How to Run a Facebook Contest This Engagement Season

Walking Eagle Photography

Photo by Walking Eagle Photography

Running contests and giveaways is a great way to get engagement and visibility for your Facebook page, but it’s important to be aware of the  promotional guidelines you must follow to ensure a successful promotion. Before running a Facebook contest or giveaway this engagement season, we recommend brushing up on Facebook’s guidelines in order to avoid your account being flagged or shut down. Here are three of Facebook’s rules that you may not have known about before.

You cannot ask for shares or tags as a requirement for entry

“Share this post and tag a friend in the comments to enter!” is a common line found in contest posts on Facebook, and it makes sense, right? Shares get you in front of more people and if someone tags a friend who is engaged, it can get you in front of more potential clients – plus, everyone asks for shares and tagging in the comments! It can’t be that bad…right?

As innocent as it may seem, asking for people to share your post or tag a friend violates Facebook’s guidelines. The official Facebook rule states, “Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions.”

This means that you cannot ask for people to: share your post to their page, share your post to a friend’s page, tag friends in the comments, or tag friends or themselves in a photo in order to enter your contest.

However, you can ask people to like the post or comment in order to enter. You can even encourage tagging a friend in the comments or sharing the post to spread the word, as long as it is not a condition to enter the contest.

You must state the official terms and eligibility requirements for your contest

Your post should explain the rules of the contest or giveaway. Make sure to include minimum age, location, or other requirement for entry, along with how the winner will be chosen and any other terms that you would like to include. If you have longer terms and conditions, you can always link to a web page that outlines them.

For example, if you are a wedding photographer hosting a giveaway for a free engagement session, you may want to state that all eligible participants must be engaged, living within your state, and must be getting married within a certain timeframe.

You must state that Facebook is in no way affiliated with or sponsoring your contest

Facebook requires that you make it clear that they are not connected with your contest whatsoever. The easiest way to do this and cover all your bases is to pull directly from Facebook’s official contest guidelines and add a line to the end of your post stating that your promotion “is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”

Now that you know three important Facebook contest guidelines to follow, here are some ideas for contests and giveaways:

  • Ask for couples to share their wedding date in the comments, then randomly select one couple to receive a discount off a package or a free service.
  • Post a photo that relates to the couple (photo of them, their wedding, their invitations, etc.) and state that if you get a certain number comments or likes on the post, the couple will get a discount or bonus while working with you.
  • In a post about engagements, have couples comment with their engagement story or location, encouraging photos and details. Then randomly select an engagement story from the comments to win and be shared.

» How to Get On Preferred Vendor Lists (and Stay on Them)

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

The illustrious preferred vendor list is something that, as business owners, we all strive to be on. The exclusivity and third party validation is very appealing, not to mention the leg up it can give you against competition. So the question is, how do you get on it and stay on it? I’m sharing some of my best practices when it comes to approaching the subject.

Never ask immediately

Asking a fellow creative partner if you can get on their preferred list right out of the gate is probably the biggest mistake you can make. Would you want someone you just met five minutes ago asking you for a favor? No, probably not.

As I like to tell people- it’s not that far off from dating. You need to go in with the mindset that things take time. So how do you develop a relationship over time?

  • Attend industry events. Take the time to revisit what options you have in the area- be it WIPA, NACE, ILEA or organizations. Mark your calendar accordingly and make note of who attends. Better yet- if one of your targets is hosting or sponsoring a meeting make it a priority to be there.
  • With the above in mind, consider leadership and volunteer roles within the organizations. It’s one thing to attend and network, but the ROI will be far more considerable if you carve out time to give back and get to know your industry peers in more intimate settings.
  • Include them on your mailing list. We love celebrating obscure holidays with our clients and creative partners so add them to your mailing list for the next time National Scallop Day rolls around.

Once you have gotten to know them more on a professional (or even personal) level, bring the subject up in a more general way. For example, ask them how they choose who to put on their list, or how often they refresh it. That way you are getting the intel you want without directly asking them to consider you.  

Be open to feedback

I’ll never forget when I met one of the top caterers in town for the first time. I was new to the industry and didn’t know what I was doing at networking events- and it showed! I approached my newfound colleague and she was quick to give me a laundry list of things I needed to work on- all the way down to the baseball cap I needed to stop wearing to events.

She was well intentioned so I took her advice to heart and over the next year, I implemented many of her thoughts. Over time, we built a strong partnership and that very caterer has since become one of my top referrals.  

Get to know the other creative partners

Sit down and take a look at the list(s) you want to be a part of, and take note of the other creative partners on it that you may already know or would like to get to know. The local events community is a small one, and your relationships with people can make all the difference. If you’re close to someone that is well connected, and they respect your reputation, they may recommend you the next time a vacancy on a preferred list comes up. This has been my secret weapon for years.

One of the best ways to stay connected is online, especially as wedding season ramps up. We make a point to highlight our colleagues in an ongoing feature on our blog, in which we interview creative partners from around the region. We make it easy by creating a simple form, and the response has been positive.

Remember the key time to shine

It’s easy to forget in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an event that how you interact with other creative partners is key. Treat it like a job interview. Above all, be a team player and don’t be demanding. Help out where you can and be a problem solver. Follow up after the event and ask for feedback. Ultimately, it comes down to being the type of wedding professional that people want to recommend.

Don’t take it for granted

If and when you are added to the preferred list, don’t get too comfortable. Several places will update theirs at least once a year, and if they barely remember who you are or have been in close contact with someone else, you can easily be replaced. Small gestures can be a fun and creative way to keep your business at the top of their minds.

We love to implement the surprise and delight strategy by sending funny notes and trinkets to our creative partner friends that will put a smile on their face. Last summer, during a particular hot spell, we even traveled around delivering popsicles to many of our colleagues.

Don’t let the idea of trying to get on a preferred vendor list scare you. With the right approach businesses will be adding you in no time.  

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a past national president for WIPA.