» A Fresh Look at the Legal Landscape for LGBTQ Couples

Photo by Hitched Photo

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

With the advent of marriage equality in June of 2015, the need for my “legal landscape” updates came to an almost complete stop. Gone was the need to help wedding professionals understand the nuances around the kinds of choices that same-sex couples were making when planning the weddings based on where they lived and where their unions would be legally recognized.

As 2017 comes to a close, however, there are a few important legal landscape updates to keep in mind. Highlights include: the recent same-sex marriage postal poll in Australia; the addition of legal marriage in non-U.S. locations like Finland, Malta and Germany; and the forthcoming Supreme Court hearing on December 5, 2017, Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Is Marriage Legal in Australia Or Not?

Australia has been engaged in a debate about same-sex marriage that has captured the attention of interested parties far beyond its shores. Its neighbor, New Zealand, recognized the opportunity for destination weddings and legal elopements when it recognized marriage in 2013. At last, the Aussies have begun to catch up and, in keeping with its political process, conducted a postal survey to gauge the interest of the general population. The results of that survey, after a high-profile and contentious months-long round of campaigning by those in favor of and against same-sex marriage, revealed that a majority (61%) of Australians favor same-sex marriage.

The vote-by-poll, however, is non-binding, and it is now up to the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, and the Parliament to convert the majority opinion into law. He says he intends “to make their wish the law of the land by Christmas.” Presuming that this does occur as promised, wedding professionals and the hospitality industry expect to see business expand as same-sex couples, including this couple of 50 years, look to get hitched in their home country in 2018.

Germany, Finland and Malta Celebrate Marriage Equality

In 2001, the Netherlands was the first to recognize same-sex marriage, and, since then, 19 additional countries have followed suit, including Germany, Finland and Malta in 2017. Our global WeddingWire family offers inclusive resources for same-sex couples regardless of legal recognition, but proudly celebrates marriage equality with same-sex couples in most of the countries WeddingWire currently serves, including Spain (2005), Canada (2005), Argentina (2010), Colombia (2016), Brazil (2013), France (2013), and Uruguay (2013); and those jurisdictions in the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Italy where same-sex marriage is recognized.

Masterpiece Cakeshop & The Question of Service Refusal

Though the Supreme Court may have settled the question of marriage equality on June 26, 2015, it did not create a right for LGBTQ individuals and couples to be free from discrimination in other areas of their lives.  While many states have statutes that prohibit discrimination in housing, education, employment or public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, etc.) on the basis of sexual orientation, many others don’t.  An attack on one of these state statutes is being carried out in the context of the simmering debate about whether or not wedding professionals should be compelled to serve same-sex couples if they oppose same-sex marriage.

Enter the case of Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States on December 5. Richard Wolf of USA Today wrote of the long odds of the “tight-knit fraternity” of “same-sex marriage foes” in this hearing as they attempt to argue successfully that they have the right to refuse to serve same-sex couples seeking products and services for their weddings. Experts point out that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act  is very clear that businesses cannot discriminate against a person based on sexual orientation.   And, “at issue,” says the Center for American Progress, “is whether the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise (of religion) clauses permit a business that is open to the public to refuse service to groups of people, in violation of laws prohibiting discrimination.”  It’s worth noting that arguments regarding free exercise of religion are not new, but the free speech argument represents a new approach.  Taken to its extreme, it means many businesses who claim that their work is “expressive,” including many in the wedding industry like photographers, would not be subject to anti-discrimination laws.

Beyond the consideration of this question in a court of law (the highest court in the land, no less) is its consideration in the court of public and industry opinion. Here, there is clear evidence that a majority of Americans (60%) do not think that wedding businesses should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples, including an even higher majority in the segment of wedding professionals (64%). The question, asked differently in 2016 by WeddingWire, found that the vast majority (89%) of wedding professionals said that they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples.

It is not surprising, then, that WeddingWire would decide to sign on to the HRC-led amicus brief, which argues that wedding businesses must be open to all. Said Timothy Chi, CEO of WeddingWire, “I wanted to clearly communicate WeddingWire’s position and underscore, in no uncertain terms, what we stand for as a company. WeddingWire opposes discrimination of any type. Love is love, and we support the right that all couples have to marry. Our company has a long history of supporting equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal treatment, with dignity and respect that is uncompromised. As such, WeddingWire supports the arguments of the respondents, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Charlie Davis and David Mullins.”  WeddingWire has also expressed its support for the Equality Act, a national law that would extend the protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides to offer as legal guidance to address the unfinished business of the 2015 Obergefell decision, engaged couples and wedding professionals will still have to lead the way in resolving this conversation.

And I believe it’s possible for love, compassion, and market forces to shape the resolution beyond the guidance the law offers us, and to pave the way for same-sex couples to enjoy both the freedom to marry and the freedom to be served.

 

» Who’s in Your Network?

Photo by Austin Stuart Photography

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

I just got back from presenting at a local wedding association meeting. This association opened the workshop to non-members, as a gesture to help educate the industry (and I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to try to drum up a few new members). As is the case at all meetings like this, many of the people who attended already knew each other. Many already get together, outside the meetings, either socially, or to network.

Is that a clique, or a network?

There’s a fine line between a clique and a network, but it’s often hard to see the difference from the outside. For me, the difference is whether the group is open to new members. When I say group, I don’t necessarily mean a formal association. At workshops and conferences, wedding and event professionals tend to cluster in groups. I’m sure a psychologist would tell us that this is natural, human behavior. Are those groups cliques? They can often feel impenetrable, because the body language of the group feels exclusive, as opposed to inclusive. Outsiders often don’t try to join the group, assuming, in advance, that they’re not welcome. Sometimes that’s the case, sometimes it’s not.

Who’s in your five?

Do you remember the cell phone ads, “Who’s in your five?” In this case, your ‘five’ is your inner-circle (which can certainly be more than five people). Who are the industry connections with whom you socialize? It’s been said that we do business with people we know, like and trust (credit to Bob Burg, no relation). When a couple asks for a referral to another service, or when you’re booked and want to refer a colleague, why do you refer those particular businesses? Is it just because they’re the best at what they do? Or, is it because they’re good at what they do, and you saw them recently, either at a wedding, or at a networking event, or over coffee on a Tuesday?

How can you expand your network?

First, remember that you weren’t always on the inside. Too often I see wedding professionals complaining about the new company in their market, whether they’re a lower-price, or a direct competitor. Weren’t we all the new guy (or gal) at one time? Weren’t our prices lower than many, if not most competitors, when we were new to the business? For many of us, the answer to those questions is yes. Rather than shun these newbies, why not welcome them into the fold? Wouldn’t it have been nice if you were welcomed that way when you were new? Or, maybe you were.

A rising tide raises all ships

Welcoming the new businesses, and helping them do things the right way, helps everyone. We all know that it only takes one person in your market and category, who has bad customer service, or who takes advantage of a customer, to make us all look bad. I would rather compete with someone who’s doing things well, is honest and well-respected. It makes me keep myself sharp, and keep my game up.

You can teach an old dog…

Another reason to widen your network with newcomers, is that they often have new ideas that can help you. Those of us who’ve been at our craft for a while can sometimes get set in our ways. Have you ever been caught off-guard by a newcomer who’s taking market share with their new approach? Baby-boomers and Gen Xers can learn from millennials and vice versa. You may like your way, but it’s not the only way. Regardless of age, none of us can learn anything new, if we’re not open to the possibilities. So, the next time you find yourself in a group, and you see someone you don’t know, try introducing yourself and inviting them in. You may make a great business connection, or even a new friend. Who’s in your five?

alan bergWeddingWire 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.

» How to Thrive in Our Visual Industry

Photo by Bellagala Photography

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

The wedding industry is a visual business. There are few other moments in most couples’ lives when the majority of consumers will spend top dollar to have professional images taken, or hire designers to handle décor and florals for a single event. The first thing a couple does when wedding planning is turn to a source of inspiration images, whether in a print magazine or on social media. Wedding professionals have no choice than to be visually oriented in order to thrive.

The quality of your visual marketing, its reach and accessibility are all important to how well your company is received. We’ve assembled some of our top tips for selling with visuals to help you take full advantage of your opportunities.

Take top quality images

Depending on your market, this could mean many things, but ensuring that you have excellent visuals to attract prospective couples is the first step. Develop relationships with photographers so you can get access to real wedding images in a timely manner, if possible. Take advantage of inspiration shoot opportunities. You can even hone your talents and take your own awesome images to use in your marketing. Smartphone technology allows us all to be better photographers than in the past, so learn how to use that to your advantage.

Make your business space visually-oriented

Our office is saturated with visuals. We keep large canvasses of our work on our walls and even in the bathrooms! 60” TV monitors constantly show a slideshow of our best work, and we hand each client an iPad when he or she walks through the door with an album of our recent events in their venue on the screen.

Be careful as you put together your own visual playground that you are able to keep your images updated. Over time, any photo will look dated and becomes irrelevant, unable to promote your new inventory. Create easily updatable formats for promotion like slideshows so your new clients see the most current options at all times.

Take advantage of social media

Use all available channels to share your work – and make sure that the majority of what you put out is, in fact, sharing and not overly “promotional.” Tell a story with your visuals that includes your products and services, but also inspires couples to see themselves in your client’s’ shoes. Brand your images not just with watermarks, but with recognizable inventory or moments that strongly remind your market of you.

A picture may, in fact, be worth a thousand words, so what is your visual marketing telling your prospective clients about you?

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the 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 previous national president for WIPA.

» Set Couples’ Expectations with Interactive Storefront Pricing

This new WeddingWire Storefront feature for venues uses your past client data to create a range of what couples can expect to pay based on event details like guest count and wedding date.

As an added bonus for Premium WeddingWire members, when couples use this feature you’ll receive more information directly in the lead notification – helping you to send a more personalized response and increasing your likelihood of booking.

Watch this quick video to see how it works or log into your WeddingWire account to get started!

» How Effective Are Your Email Responses?

Photo by Gawne Design Photography

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve shared some quick actionable ways to tune-up your Storefront and website for engagement season, and now it’s time to give your digital communications some love with these tips from Education Guru Alan Berg. Newly engaged couples will be reaching out soon – so keep these tips in mind to create powerful connections with potential clients.

Don’t rush to change the format

One of the biggest mistakes that wedding professionals can make right out of the gate is responding to an inquiry from a potential client in a format that is different than how they reached out. It’s likely that they were given the opportunity to contact you in multiple ways, and then they chose what worked best for them. According to WedInsights, 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type! So start with their preferred method, then once you have a back and forth going, you can ask them for a phone call, appointment, or another method that is necessary.

Respond quickly

70% of couples say vendor responsiveness is one of the top qualities they consider. It makes sense right? Most couples expect to hear from you within 24 hours, but they actually want that response right now! They are obviously in the frame of mind when they reach out, so ideally you want to catch them in that same state. The first vendor to respond will grab the couple’s attention and have an edge up on the competition.

Fit the first reply on a smartphone screen

When responding to a couple’s first inquiry, make sure that your response fits nicely on a smartphone screen. You should never assume that the couple will read your response on a computer and you don’t want to lose them in a reply. So make it easy for them. Email yourself one of your standard replies and open it on your smartphone. If it all fits, great! If it doesn’t, shorten it until it does. Also, make sure that the information is easily digestible by breaking into short paragraphs.

End the reply with one question

If you want to keep the conversation going, you must ask a question. Periods stop the conversation, but question marks open up a dialogue. Make the question something very simple and easy to answer. You don’t want them to have to think too hard or long to give a sufficient answer. Some examples are: “What other questions can I answer for you?”, “Are you planning on having your ceremony here as well?”, “Have you seen us at another wedding?” etc.

Don’t send attachments

Attachments are almost impossible to open and read on phones, even if they are beautiful. If it wasn’t formatted for phones, then we don’t suggest attaching it to emails. Instead you can put that information on a hidden page on your website. Then link to that page in your reply.

Auto replies should provide value

When was the last time you received a “Thank you for your message, someone will get back to you as soon as possible” and thought, “Oh great someone is going to get back to me!”? Probably never. That’s because you already knew, or assumed, that someone would get back to you. If you are using auto replies, make sure that you include information that couldn’t be gathered otherwise to add value to the inquirer’s experience with you.

Create a bank of testimonials

One of the greatest ways to show off your value is by letting a past client do it for you. Anytime someone says something nice about you or your business, copy it and save it. Whether it’s in person, through email, WeddingWire, Facebook, Instagram – anywhere, add it to a document with their name, city and state. Then highlight or bolden the statement that you want to highlight. When replying to an inquiry, find a relevant testimonial and include it!

» Get Ready for the 2018 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®!

The time is almost here — the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® winners will be announced in January! Each year we recognize the top 5% of WeddingWire professionals for their commitment to quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism in the industry through the reviews of more than a million newlywed couples.

To qualify for the 2018 award, you must have received at least 5 new reviews in 2017. You have until December 31, 2017 to collect reviews from this year’s clients!

See these 3 easy tips for collecting more reviews:

Start with gratitude

Email or write a handwritten note to your past clients congratulating them on their nuptials and letting them know how thankful you are that they chose you to share a part of their special day. Your sincerity will be appreciated and will reinforce why they selected your business. Be sure to invite them to leave you a review on WeddingWire, and make it clear that their feedback matters to your business and future couples.

Showcase your reviews

You’ve earned great reviews, so let your past clients help sell your business for you! Add your reviews to your website, printed materials, and social media to help set you apart from the competition. By showcasing your reviews, your clients will notice how committed you are to producing excellent work — and will be encouraged to leave you a review when their wedding is complete since it clearly matters to your business.

Make it easy

After spending months planning a wedding, sometimes couples want a break from their to-do list. Luckily, WeddingWire makes leaving a review easy for both you and your clients! Simply share a direct link to your personalized review URL, or send an automated email from the Review Collector to request reviews from your clients. Providing them a quick and easy way to share a few words about their experience with you greatly increases the chance they will write a review. After all, 1 in 5 couples will write a review when asked, and that number increases to 1 in 3 if they are reminded at least once!

Request reviews from your 2017 clients and set yourself up for more business in 2018!

» To Discount or Not to Discount?

Photo by Tracy Shoopman Photography

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

An often contentious topic among wedding professionals is discounting. Both sides of the debate dig in, deeply, when this question is posed on social media or in forums. Now, as engagement season begins, is the time to dive into this subject, starting with the difference between discounting and negotiating.

Discounting versus negotiating

For me, discounting is fine when it has structure and rules. Meaning everyone who buys the same products or services for equivalent dates will pay the same price and the rules are applied equally to everyone. For instance, if you have three packages and your higher packages, which contain more services, also have the highest discounts, that’s great. If everyone who buys that package pays the same price, then the rules are being applied equally.

On the other hand, negotiating means that two couples who buy the same products or services may pay different prices. Each customer’s ability to negotiate will determine their final price. The challenge with negotiating in today’s digitally connected world is that people can, and will, talk about their discount. If you can’t easily explain to one customer why they paid more than another customer for the same products and services – for instance, an in-season date versus an off-season date – then you’re negotiating, not discounting.

Discounting and negotiating can be part of a pricing strategy, negotiating is just less structured. There are times when I’ll negotiate to get the sale, but it’s the exception, not the rule. I recommend to my consulting clients to offer added value over a discount in price, as it helps to keep integrity in their basic pricing structure. If you’ve ever thrown in an extra product or service to get the sale, you’ve negotiated. Some companies do it on every sale. If you give the same or similar added value services every time, you’re really discounting, not negotiating. If the proportionate value of the added products or services changes with every customer, you’re negotiating.

Which is right for you?

There’s no one answer that’s right for every business. Personally, I prefer discounting over negotiating, as it’s easier to explain to your employees and your customers. I understand that it may not work for all businesses. In my business, as a speaker, sales trainer and consultant, there is no standard price list. Each event and client involves a different set of circumstances (travel, preparation, residual business, etc.). However, when it comes to my physical products (books, CDs, etc.), discounts make sense. For example, when I have a booth at a trade show or event, I’ll have my books and CDs, and usually offer an event discount. Many times I’ll be asked for an even lower price, and I’ll thank them and say that the listed prices are already discounted. Then I’ll ask if they want to pay with cash or credit. Asking for a discount is a buying signal, so always ask them for the sale when they ask for a discount.

Don’t fight the power

One of the keys to having pricing power is when the customer wants you, specifically you, to do their wedding or event. You’re not available anywhere else, at any price. If they don’t perceive any difference between you and another company with a lower price, the lower price will win. If they can tell the difference and want you to be their planner, or caterer, or officiant, they have to pay your price.

Get something of value in return

If you’re going to discount or negotiate, try to get something of value in return. If you only lower your price, you’re giving away profit. The products and services will cost you the same, but you’re getting paid less for them. Whether it’s getting a bigger deposit, being paid in full now, taking away services, or a higher guaranteed minimum guest count, make them a partner. If you’re the only one giving, they’ll keep taking. When they want to stop giving, they’ll stop asking.

They’ll be back

Many customers will shop around and find a lower price, which isn’t hard to do these days. If they do find a lower price and they still come back to you, they’re signaling that they can tell a difference, whether in your products or services or in the way you’ve provided a better customer experience – or both. That’s an indication that you have pricing power.

They may ask you to match the lower price, but you shouldn’t have to in order to get the sale. If they felt the other company would provide just as good products or services and customer experience, they wouldn’t have come back to you. The fact that they’re coming back shows that they like you better. Always thank them for coming back. After all, if price was the most important factor, you’d be out of the running.

Price doesn’t determine outcome

Sure, sometimes the lower price will win. A line I often use is “If price is the most important factor when choosing your (photographer, band, dress, speaker, etc.) then I’m probably not the best choice for your event.” Change the discussion from pricing to outcomes. There are many wedding and event professionals who don’t charge enough, whether by choice or out of fear.

Do I have to offer a discount to get the sale?

Whether you decide to offer a discount or not is a personal decision and part of your personal brand. There are many very successful businesses that offer discounts. Sometimes it’s due to competitive pressures, and sometimes it’s to encourage a higher sale. Packages are a great way to display discounts and encourage a higher average sale.

What’s the right answer for your business?

I’d have to know a lot more details to answer that. But when discounting becomes the reason that couples book you instead of them wanting only you to do their wedding or event, you risk diluting your brand. When they’re choosing you mostly on price, it’s easy for someone else to come along and undercut your price. So, discount or negotiate, it’s up to you – but be careful not to get caught up selling the discount, instead of selling your brand.

alan bergWeddingWire 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.

» How to Create an Online Newsroom for Your Website

Photo by Freas Photography

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

With engagement season upon us, it’s important to set the stage and make your online presence known. You can expect an influx of media outlets producing more wedding related content since it’s the prime time of year for newly engaged couples to be searching for evergreen wedding planning topics. With that being said, the media will be on the hunt for expert resources, and having an online newsroom on your website can help get you noticed quicker and by more people.

What is an online newsroom?

The concept of online newsrooms has evolved over time from the idea of a media kit, which is typically a packet of information that gets disseminated to the media. However, in recent years they have moved away from sending a hard copy to a PDF. With research being done almost exclusively online now, it makes sense that wedding pros are ditching their traditional kits and instead creating a page on their website dedicated entirely to providing their information to the media.

What does it look like?

Your online newsroom should look a lot like your media kit did, but an online version. Include things like a high-res headshot, your bio, any affiliations you have, accreditations, and all of your contact information (if you’re represented by a publicist be sure to include their contact information as well).

You’ll also want to showcase a little bit of who you are and what you’ve done. Think recent press you’ve been featured in and press releases from the last year (if you have them). Be creative with your press. Search online for examples of how other companies are highlighting where they’ve been featured (like WeddingWire’s Press Center) and apply that inspiration to your own page.

What’s the goal?

When putting together your online newsroom, the goal you should be aiming for is that when a member of the media clicks on it, they know you’re an expert in your field within a few seconds. If they have to look around for too long they may move on to other sources with more readily available material.

An online newsroom is a great way to get members of the media to love you. They will appreciate how easy you made it to get in touch, and it could lead to future press opportunities for you and your business.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» Make a Stunning Impression with WeddingWire 3D Tours

Premium members can now showcase their venue like never before! Give potential clients a tour of your property, anywhere with a WeddingWire 3D Tour — now included with your Spotlight, Featured, or Professional venue listing in select regions.

A 3D tour transforms the way couples can view your venue by providing them with a virtual walkthrough of your property. Compared to traditional photos and videos, an interactive 3D tour gives couples the most realistic experience aside from physically visiting your venue and lets them easily view your space right on your WeddingWire Storefront, prior to contacting you. It’s a great way to attract more qualified leads.

Interested in a WeddingWire 3D Tour? The process is easy!

Step one: Fill out this form, and include available dates for the photo shoot, descriptions of interior and exterior areas, and a floor plan if available. Once submitted, we’ll contact you to confirm your photo shoot and coordinate timing and logistics.

Step two: On the day of the photo shoot we recommend preparing your venue the same way that you would for a wedding to help prospective clients visualize the space for their big day – make sure everything is clean, decorated and well-lit. Keep in mind that the camera will capture rich details of your space for users to explore and zoom. The photo shoot typically take 2 to 3 hours, but can vary based on the complexity of your floor plan and square footage. We will calculate the amount of time needed based on the details you provide in your form and schedule accordingly.

Step three: We’ll create a high-quality 3D tour of your venue and add it to your WeddingWire Storefront. This process will take approximately three weeks. After it is uploaded, you will also receive a 3D Tour icon in the vendor directory.

Have questions? Email 3DTours@weddingwire.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

» 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.