» Do You Hate (The Boring Parts of) Your Wedding Pro Job?

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

I once heard a very famous speaker friend say on-stage: “I hate my job!” We, in the audience, were very surprised, until he continued that he loves speaking, he just hates all of the other things related to his work: prospecting, administration, sales, etc. Sound familiar? Do you love the creative parts of your work, but hate the business parts? Many wedding pros I meet feel that way.

Love it or hate it, those business tasks are what separate a hobby from a business. When I started selling wedding advertising many years ago, I remember visiting with a wedding photographer in his studio. His bookshelf had lots of photography books, but it also had business books. While his work was very good, there were other, more artistic photographers in his market. That said, he had a better, more viable business than many of the more artistic photographers, because he understood that he also needed business skills.

What are you good at?

Which parts of your business are you best at doing? Chances are, you didn’t say sales and marketing. If you did, good for you! If not, then what are you doing to enhance your business skills? Are you attending conferences like WeddingWire World? When I started giving presentations at conferences many years ago, the business sessions were lightly attended, compared to the sessions on improving your craft (floral arranging, video editing, etc.).

Over the years, I’m pleased to see more business content become available and more people choosing to attend. After all, you can have the best creative skills and not have a viable business. If you have great business skills, you can always hire the creative talent. When it comes to the business tasks, you can either learn to do them better or outsource them. I know how to do my accounting, but I use a CPA to do my taxes. They’re up on the latest laws and deductions, and have proven their worth to me, over and over, through their actions. I understand graphic design, but I hire a professional graphic designer, because they’re more creative than me. I understand website design, and I’ve written a book on websites, but I use a professional website designer for the more technical aspects, which are not my strength.

 

TGIF or TGIM?

In the 9-5 world, you hear TGIF from people who are looking forward to Friday, because it’s the end of their work week. In the wedding industry, Friday is the beginning of your work. Sure, you’ve been preparing for these weddings for weeks, or months, but you get to see the culmination of your work on the weekend. Yes, weddings can happen on other days, but the recent WeddingWire Newlywed Report said that, in 2016, 22 days accounted for half of all weddings. They were all Saturdays, and the 3 most popular dates were all in October. So, I can say, with confidence, that the weekend is likely when you’re performing your services.

Do you look forward to Friday, TGIF, because you’re excited about being able to bring to fruition your hard work, and to show your couples, and their guests, an amazing experience? Or, do you say TGIM, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, because your work is done? Yes, there’s a sense of relief in knowing that the wedding went off, hopefully without a hitch. Yes, there’s a sense of satisfaction in delivering your products and services, at a high-level, and having your customers pleased with the results. That said, some of you don’t get to see the faces of the guests, as they arrive at the wedding, or as they dance the night away. You deliver the tent, tables, flowers and décor, before the first guest arrives. You see brides in their dresses, in your shop, but not at the wedding (until they post or send you photos). You see grooms in their tuxes and suits, but not at the wedding. You see the invitations, but not the look on their guest’s faces when they go to their mailboxes and then open, with anticipation, the first impression of their wedding. So, do you look forward to delivering your service, or for the relief of it being over?

 

Inner pride

The most intense sense of pride comes from within. Yes, it’s nice to have others say your work is great. Yes, it’s gratifying to see their wonderful reviews. But, as I said on my recent WeddingWire EDU webinar, “Your ROI (Return on Investment) is in the WHY,” you should work the same, whether anyone sees you or not. Satisfaction of a job well done should be internal first. Know that you’ve done the absolute best you could for that customer. Take pride in that, and then look for validation from the couple and their guests.

Like it, or not, not everyone posts a photo or review. You often get little or no feedback from your customer, and rarely from the guests (unless you’re physically at the wedding). While there’s no shortage of egos in the wedding industry, your first goal is to feed your family, then feed your ego. Do what’s right, because it’s the right thing to do, not because anyone will notice. Then, get validation that you did, through their photos, social posts and reviews. So, love your job, or hate it (and outsource more of it), feel very blessed we’re in an industry that allows us to share our creativity on one of the most special days of their lives. TGIF!

» 6 Easy Tips for Self-Care During Wedding Season

self-care during busy season

Wedding season is a constant flurry of activity with early mornings and long nights for most wedding professionals. With so much focus on work, this can leave your energy, health, enthusiasm and creativity drained. That’s where “self-care” comes in. According to GoodTherapy.org, a directory of therapists operated by an association of mental health professionals, self-care includes “actions that an individual might take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health.”

These actions can take many forms and will vary depending on what peak health means to you. We’ve listed some common activities you can do on a busy day to practice self-care during peak season.

Make a cup of tea (or Joe, or cocoa): Hear us out! Hot drinks aren’t very popular in the summer months, but a warm mug of decaf tea or coffee is a great way to unwind and relax for a few minutes at the end of a busy day. Beyond the soothing experience of sipping on a steaming beverage, the ritual of preparing tea (or the drink of your choice) will help you to decompress during the busy season.  

Find time for a walk: As a creative professional, you’re probably up and about for most of the day, so this isn’t necessarily a walk for exercise. Rather, use this walk as an opportunity to take a few deep breaths, enjoy the warm weather and not think about work. Even if you have a full day of appointments or weddings, try to carve out at least five or 10 minutes to stroll and be alone.

Stretch it out: The benefits of practicing yoga are well-documented, but who has the time for a 60-minute class when you’re a fully booked pro? Thankfully, you can still reap the benefits of yoga — relaxation, mental clarity and stress relief  — without executing dozens of perfect vinyasas. Start or end your day with a few simple stretches or yoga poses, if you know some. It’s not so much about what you do, but taking the time to do it, that will help you to claim some of the benefits.

Grab a kid, a partner or a best friend: Essentially, anyone who’ll give you a hug and put a smile on your face. One of the first things that busy people tend to do is cancel dinner plans, skip family gatherings and begin to send calls to voicemail. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you’re really busy, especially for a prolonged period of time, you need your social network even more to keep you happy and healthy. As this wedding season approaches, consider scheduling a regular date night with your love or putting time on the calendar to call your friends in other cities. Trust us, you’ll want all the belly laughs you can manage to get you through the season!

Tap into your creativity: You got into this business because you wanted to do creative things, so be sure you don’t lose sight of your creativity this wedding season. As often as your schedule allows, spark your creative juices by reading your favorite photography books, flipping through fashion magazines, checking out the latest makeup trends or any other activity that relates to your craft. You can also use this time to peak into how other industries are translating new trends in technology, color, texture or materials. Though it may seem indulgent during your busy wedding season, soaking up inspiration and being creative will help you weather this wedding season.

Enjoy the weather! How ironic that wedding professionals spend nearly every summer weekend working long, long days? Don’t let the warm weather pass you by, no matter how busy you are. Take the time now to schedule some time to drive to the beach, attend an outdoor concert or movie or fire up the grill with friends and family. Whatever your favorite summer activity, be sure you have time to indulge in it before Labor Day.

These suggestions are just a start. Take the time to brainstorm a few of your favorite activities that help you recharge and how you can be sure to make time for them this wedding season.

» How to Get Published on WeddingWire: 9 Essential Tips

Photo Credit: Bellgala Photography

One of the Editorial Team’s main responsibilities here at WeddingWire is to select real weddings to feature on WeddingWire. Checking our inboxes each morning feels like Christmas – we love that we’ll never know what types of weddings we’ll see on any given day.

I’m often asked by vendors: “How do I get a real wedding published on WeddingWire?” It’s not an easy answer, but there are things all vendors can do to make their submissions more publication-worthy. Here are some of my top tips, but please note that I’m only speaking for our team. Other editors at other sites may have different requirements.

Submit the Right Way: Before sending a real wedding or event to a blog or print publication, read any provided instructions about the types of submissions they are looking for and how submissions should be presented. Be familiar with the site’s style and focus before submitting – you wouldn’t want to submit a wedding that takes place in New York to a blog that only features West Coast weddings (fortunately, WeddingWire features weddings from all over the world!). For WeddingWire’s Real Weddings, our guidelines can be found here.

Get Permission: Make sure you have the OK from all involved parties (particularly the photographer and the couple) before submitting a real wedding. Many sites will contact the newlyweds for quotes, so it’s important that everyone is on board.

Be Clear: We prefer to see photos with minimal effects and filtering. We want to see your images as clearly as possible, and too many effects can make an image look cluttered.

All About the Mix: We like to see a mix of horizontal and vertical images, and we’d rather see more color images than black and white. While black and white images can be absolutely gorgeous, it’s important that we showcase a wedding’s color scheme in our posts.

It’s All in the Details: Don’t get me wrong, I love a gorgeous couple as much as any editor. But real wedding submissions should focus on detail shots. While of course you should send a few portraits of the couple, make sure your post features plenty of details – from the bouquet to the centerpieces, the cake to the escort cards and invitations. These details should be shot clearly and straight-on so that they’re easy to see.

Be Unique: While there isn’t one particular wedding style that we gravitate to, we tend to select real weddings that surprise us. We’ve seen a lot (and we mean a lot) of weddings and we see many of the same details over and over again. Show us weddings that you’re excited about.

The More, the Merrier: Other editors may disagree, but we would rather edit down your photos ourselves than be left wanting more. As long as you’re not sending repetitive images, more photos = a better, more well-rounded submission.

Tell Their Story: Use both words and pictures to take us through the wedding day. When it comes to text, keep it short and sweet – just a few sentences describing the event is all we need. Let the photos do the talking – be sure to show images from all parts of the day, from getting ready to the ceremony to the cocktail hour through the reception.

Don’t Take It Personally: There are many reasons why we might not accept a submission. Perhaps we’ve been featuring a lot of pink/beach/sparkly weddings lately and want to mix it up. The types of weddings we’re looking for changes throughout the year, so don’t take a rejection too much to heart – and feel free to submit again! Additionally, we keep all submissions on file, so even if your submissions not featured right away, it could be used in the future.

» Top 10 Roundup: Most Popular Wedding Business Tips

A lot has changed in the wedding industry over the last 10 years, which has challenged wedding professionals to change with it. Since WeddingWire launched in 2007, we’ve shared marketing advice, expert education, and technology tips to help you manage and grow your business. While the rise of technology has dramatically changed the ways that wedding professionals connect with and book potential clients, many of the core principles of running a successful wedding business remain the same.

Here is a list of our top 10 most read articles of all time, containing some of our most essential business tips, insights, and marketing advice that are still just as relevant today:

#1 – Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

#2 – Top Wedding Trends for 2017

#3 – 5 Ways You’re Losing The Sale

#4 – Business Branding: Consider Your Color!

#5 – How Are Weddings Changing? WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey

#6 – What to Do When They Don’t Respond

#7 – How to Deal with Pricing Questions

#8 – 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

#9 – How to Respond to a Negative Review

#10 – How Should You Politely Tell A Client ‘I Don’t Do That’?

» A Special Thank You to Our Wedding Businesses for 10 Years!

Ten years ago we started WeddingWire with one mission in mind: to help engaged couples and wedding professionals connect online. It’s amazing to reflect on just how much wedding planning has evolved since then, but our founding goal has never wavered. We feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help businesses like yours reach local couples and grow to new heights since 2007. 

Without you — our phenomenal wedding professionals — WeddingWire would not be possible, and we owe our decade of success to you. We’ve helped millions of couples celebrate one of the most important days of their lives. Here’s what we’ve achieved together over the years:

On behalf of everyone at WeddingWire, thank you for being an invaluable part of our first 10 years. I look forward to all we will accomplish together in the future.

Cheers to the next 10!

– Tim Chi, Founder and CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 


Celebrate with us this month! 

Share your favorite wedding throwback photos on Instagram with #WeDoTBT and tag @WeddingWireEDU for a chance to win fun prizes! Get the details here.

 

» 5 Questions Couples Should Ask Wedding Pros (But Don’t)

As the wedding professional, each time you meet with a new couple, you’re the expert. Chances are, they haven’t hosted a wedding before, and their level of expertise with pulling off an event of this size extends only to being a member of someone else’s wedding party. With this in mind, your potential clients’ questions will likely be most focused on the aesthetics of bringing their wedding vision to life, which is great! However, it’s your job as the expert to be sure your couples are well-informed about some of the oft-forgotten aspects of hiring you.

Here are a few questions you’ll want to be sure to answer, even if your client doesn’t know or doesn’t remember to ask.

Can you describe your style?/Can I see some of your work? This one is a bit tricky, as most likely your potential client has seen photos of your weddings on WeddingWire and may have even popped over to your Instagram profile to check out more of your aesthetic. Even with that being the case, you want to take the opportunity to describe and show your style, why you approach your work the way you do and how you help couples visions come to life. This is also an opportunity for you to tailor your portfolio to your couple. For example, if you know they’re planning a rustic wedding, pull out some examples of rustic weddings you’ve done in the past. If you know they’re going for a modern, trendy wedding look, show that you’ve created those kinds of weddings as well.

Do you have a list of preferred vendors? Unless you’re a wedding venue, chances are you don’t have hard-and-fast lists of wedding professionals with which you strongly prefer to work. Still, if you’re a photographer who has done a dozen weddings with a great videographer, it’s worth mentioning. If you’re a wedding planner who has a couple of florists who seamlessly pull your vision to life, let your potential client know. One of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning can be sourcing a team of wedding professionals, so helping your clients by recommending great pros who work well with each other is worthwhile. You’ll need to bring this up, as your potential client may not be aware that wedding pros frequently work together.

What other fees am I expected to cover? Most likely, your potential client is looking at the “base” price to determine how your services will fit into their wedding budget, but there might be other, smaller fees that they should be aware of. These are highly dependent on the service category, but could include overtime fees, setup and/or delivery fees, breakdown fees and any number of practical costs for your additional services, time or equipment. Once your client has chosen which service they’d like, be sure to mention fees that you know they’ll incur, as well as any optional fees that might come into effect (like overtime).

Can I review this contract with my parents, future-in-laws or anyone else who is paying for it? Sometimes, the entire family will come for a venue tour or a cake tasting. Other times, only the couple or maybe even only one member of the couple will meet you for the initial visit. However, most weddings involve a whole team of people who are making decisions and fronting the costs. For this reason, it’s important to try to suss out who the important stakeholders might be for each client and try to be on the up-and-up with those people as well. So, if you know your couple’s flowers are being paid for by a groom’s mother, be sure she’s involved before the contract is signed. Not only will this likely make the wedding planning process easier for your clients, but you’ll be working toward a more satisfied client once the service is complete.

Who will be my 24/7 contact person? If you’re a one-person business, this is an easy thing to mention to your new clients. If you’re a larger business with a separate team to handle sales and events, this is trickier. No matter the structure of your business, you want to be sure your client knows who will be their point person throughout the planning along with who will be the point person for other wedding pros they will hire in the future. As the wedding approaches, you may want to offer a few different ways to get in touch — maybe a text or email after hours — so that as things pop up, your client feels comfortable letting you know about them.

» How and When to Start Expanding for Business Growth

Business growth means something different to everyone but, in most cases, it’s a step in the right direction. However, it’s important that a company’s growth comes at the right time in order to be successful; otherwise, you may find that your company is growing faster than your schedule and financial resources can afford.

For this reason, it’s important for business owners to map out their growth plan so they have an idea of when and how they will be able to accommodate the added work that comes with a next-level business. The decision to grow is not one to be taken lightly, so come into your development with an open mind and a step-by-step plan.

If you’ve thought hard about it and decided that growing your business is the direction you want to take, you’ll want to be sure to have a team on hand to guide you throughout the transition. Even if you’re a solopreneur, don’t feel like you have to do this alone. Start by finding a business coach who can help you develop your next step (whether it’s bringing on employees or adding a new service), while still maintaining the brand you’ve worked so hard to create. An accountant and/or financial advisor are other great additions to have on the team, as you will see a change in your finances and will need to ensure your solvency.

business growth wedding professionals wedding vendor

Prior to expanding your business in any way, it’s important to be sure your business has policies and procedures in place to ensure things run smoothly and consistently regardless of where you are in your journey. For example, if you plan on bringing on new team members, have an onboarding guide in place to help them through the first few weeks of their employment.

Even if bringing on employees isn’t a part of your plan, chances are it will be a decision down the line if your business continues to grow. One person can only do so much! Once you’ve gathered more clients or are offering more services, it may make sense to hire an assistant to help you with the business administration side of things.

As your company develops, be sure that you are open and honest about changes with your industry peers, as well as your clients. Transparency is the key to building trust among your network, so don’t think about launching a new product or starting a side-hustle without communicating your intentions to your target audiences.

With some careful planning and a lot of honest ambition, you are sure to push your business to the next level in no time! Remember that everyone’s timeline is different, so don’t feel pressured by competitors or other companies in your industry. Growth should be organic, so stick to what feels right.

This 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. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

» What to Do If You (Accidentally) Double Book Clients

wedding professional double book clients

It happens to the best of us. You’re so excited to work with a new client that you say an enthusiastic “yes!” before realizing that you already have a client commitment that day. An accidental double book is easy to stumble into, particularly when you have a sudden surge in interest from potential clients. So, don’t worry, here’s how to fix it, if you do find yourself double-booked.

 

1. Find someone who is available.
The most important thing to do is to take care of the client you inadvertently said “yes” to. As soon as you figure out you can’t service their wedding, let them know. But, it’s not enough to just say, “sorry,” you also should go the extra step and find someone who is available on that day. This is where you reach into your trusty bag of fellow wedding professionals who are fantastic, message around for someone who is available and arrange a replacement. Of course, it’s up to your client if they decide to book the replacement, but you want to do the legwork for them.

 

2. Make it right.
Depending on your service category, it’s a great gesture of goodwill to offer something to the person who you’ve bumped from your calendar. This could be sending a nice floral arrangement, if you’re a florist; offering to snap rehearsal dinner photos at a discounted rate if you’re a photographer or some other service of value to the couple as they’re wedding planning. Besides showing that you’re apologetic, it can help to mitigate any damage to your reputation with the couple (and their network of friends, family and co-workers who might hear the story of the wedding pro who cancelled).

 

3. Prevent snafus in the future.
Business challenges are the best learning experiences for the future. Once you’ve double-booked once, you will probably never do it again, because you’ll have the distinct memory of this experience as your teacher. To make sure you’re keeping up with your calendar, try to get into the habit of writing down and scheduling all of the tasks needed to service a client—not just the hours you’ll be on-site for the event. This can include site visits, walk-throughs, meeting with other vendors who will be working on the event, creating mood boards or inspiration palettes, editing after the fact or a myriad of other events, depending on your service category. Think about the total time commitment of each client, and be realistic with how long it will take you to dedicate yourself to that wedding. This will help you have a good idea of when you are actually available for a wedding and when you’re really not.

 

4. Consider forming a partnership or collective.
Creative professionals thrive on collaboration, so why not consider sharing the load by creating a partnership or team of professionals in your service category? Beyond being a sounding board for ideas and expanding your network, these professionals might be helpful when you have a great client who you just don’t have the time to take on. Having a group of professionals with the same standards, a similar aesthetic and creative approach is the best-case scenario for a couple that needs to replace a wedding pro who has accidentally double-booked.

» The Business Case for Being an Open Book

While it may seem prudent to hold all of your secrets close, there’s a certain level of respect that comes with a company that prides itself in transparency. However, being an open book isn’t as easy as simply blasting your latest company news on Facebook. Transparency is rooted in a deep regard for competitors and industry peers. The aim is to foster open communication.

 

So, what exactly does it mean to be an open book?

Be open with what’s going on in your company—both good or bad. In the past, I’ve earned business simply by letting people know we were low on bookings when other planners were already booked for their date. At the same time, it means being open with clients, competitors and the rest of your network about changes that may affect them, like the addition of a new staff member or a new product in stock.

 

What’s the ideal relationship with competitors?

It can be tough to open up to other companies that share your ideals and target the same prospective clients. However, with a positive attitude, two competing companies can work together to share best practices for their specialty. This can be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. Don’t worry about losing clients to a competitor. In fact, don’t even think about them as competitors. In the wedding industry, there will always be engaged couples looking to book. In our market, we have a group of planners that meet quarterly to discuss our goals, share resources and encouragement. We are always happy to celebrate someone else’s successes!

 

What should you keep to yourself?

Although it’s great to be transparent about company changes and major goals, there are some things you’ll want to keep to yourself. For example, if you’re having problems with an employee or another vendor, be cautious about sharing too many details. Keep people’s names and reputations out of it and, if you must ask for advice, do so anonymously.

When it comes down to it, it’s entirely up to you how transparent you are with your company. Just know that clients, creative partners, staff and everyone else will respect your commitment to openness and honesty.

 

This 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. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

» Bridging Differences for Business Growth

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kathryn-hamm-2016This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

It’s the time of year that your phones are buzzing and your inbox is filling with new leads from happy couples, ready to finalize a wedding date and and all of the services they’ll need to design a celebration they’ll remember forever.  So, before engagement season comes to an end, be sure you’re ready to serve all potential clients—even the ones who may differ from you.

 

Start With A Self-Audit

Since we’re early in the season, let’s think about setting the stage for growth and begin with a quick self-audit. As your leads roll in, what patterns are you noticing? Collectively speaking, are the inquiries following patterns of years’ past? Are you having conversations with couples that follow the same trajectory of questions? Are the couples with whom you are meeting booking you for their weddings at a higher or lower rate than in previous years?

These are all important questions, which have been addressed in various ways by my EDU peers, to help you consider the efficiency of your business. And, now, more than ever, the WeddingWire Storefront for wedding professionals offers many robust tools to get answers to some of these reflective, data-based questions.

 

Consider Your Inclusivity, Part One

On the question of becoming more inclusive of same-sex couples, how’s that going for you? Are you looking at the leads you’re generating from same-sex couples and evaluating your success? Are you booking those couples? Where are those leads coming from? Are they satisfied with your service? Or are you not getting any inquiries from same-sex couples?

Before you get overly critical about the results of your efforts to be more inclusive of same-sex couples, please allow me to suggest a rough measure by which to judge your efficacy: recent research suggests that roughly 4-7% of the population identifies as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). Thus, it’s reasonable to set a goal for yourself to have 5-10% of your overall inquiries be represented by same-sex couples and 5-10% of your overall contracts to be represented by same-sex couples. When you think about your current track record and projections for 2017, how do your efforts measure up to that rough indicator?

wedding professionals differences diversity business practices

Consider Your Inclusivity, Part Two

My advice to you as you begin to challenge your old assumptions for growth in 2017 and not to, don’t just stop at being inclusive of same-sex couples. Have you considered what religious faiths seem most likely to book your services? What about couples of a different racial or ethnic group than the majority of you and/or your staff? For those of you who’ve been in the market since the days that we used phone calls and paper instead of text messages and electronic contracts, what sort of communications and success are you having with Millennial couples?

Challenging your assumptions, asking questions about what your first impulse is when marketing to and interacting with prospective clients, and taking steps to expand your comfort zone might result in broadening your business and solving a problem (that is a limitation to your ROI) you didn’t realize you had.

 

Bridging Beyond Discomfort

Ready for a deeper dive into converting a self-audit and openness to inclusivity to the next level? Begin by asking yourself these questions: When you open your inbox and see an inquiry from someone with a name you can’t easily pronounce or if you realize you can’t determine the gender of the person, what do you do next? When you meet a prospective client with a visible disability or encounter a language barrier, what do you? When a client identifies themselves to you as queer, how do you react?

Ultimately, it’s important to ask yourself if your well-intentioned concern about a lack of information or discomfort with someone unfamiliar to you negatively informs how you respond. You might find that you feel uncomfortable and less sure of yourself in a conversation, creating an awkwardness that interferes with the relationship. You might take longer to reply as you worry about what to do, thus reducing the chance that the inquiry advances. You might avoid asking the questions you normally would or give advice as you would because you are afraid you will say the wrong thing.

Many of you have shared stories like this with me. Sometimes, it’s clear that you have work to do. You need to have more conversations, continue to educate yourself and potentially even practice with some situation-specific role playing with colleagues you trust. But, sometimes, I find that many of you are open, are working hard to be inclusive but are so afraid of making a mistake that you silence yourself.

In either case, the best advice I can offer you is to listen with love, lead with love and serve with love. Approaching that which is unfamiliar to you with kindness and respect and without placing the burden on the people with whom you are unfamiliar to teach you is always the best way to go.

 

In Sum

It is critical that you prioritize what you know how to do and do well. That you are an expert in your set of services. That you are clear in how you define who you are and what you do. That you are clear on what the value is of those services you offer. That you know the rhythms of your local market. That you nurture and recruit new clients who are a good match for what your business offers. In these cases, working with strength within your comfort zone is key to a successful business.

But, I’m never one to rest on yesterday’s success. And I hope you aren’t either. I think it’s worth breaking out of your comfort zone and bridging into the unfamiliar to grow your business.

A true self-audit of your opinions, attitudes and comfort, along with an audit of the ROI on your business efforts these past few years, may tell the best story on the kind of growth you need to expand your business efforts and where best to get started. 

I wish you luck and I welcome your stories of success and setback!

» 4 Easy Ways to Reduce Distractions at Appointments

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

These days it often seems like everyone is busier than ever, with shorter attention spans.  Knowing this may be true for your clients, it’s your job to keep appointments focused and distractions to a minimum. This advice goes for everything from the physical design and décor of your meeting space, to the background and lighting.

Customize your space for your audience.

If your business has multiple audiences for weddings, corporate parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, even funerals, it’s a good idea to have a way to change the visuals when you meet with them. When a bar mitzvah parent is coming in for a meeting, they should be seeing bar mitzvah art on the walls, bar mitzvah videos playing on your TVs and bar mitzvah images on your printed collateral materials. The same goes for your other audiences. I’ve seen quite a few wedding pros’ offices that use flat screen TVs instead of printed photos, so they can change the imagery. So, unless you’re the photographer, and you’re selling large printed and framed photos, you can try this, too. You can put a nice picture frame around the TV to make it look and feel more like artwork.

How do they see it?

Sit where they will sit and see what’s in their line of sight that might be a distraction. Is there a large window behind you with distracting movement of people, or vehicles? Are there any maintenance items that need to be addressed, from dusting, to spider webs, to touching up paint and fixing broken ceiling tiles? Looking at it from their perspective is one of the things I do when I come for an on-site training. You can’t see it the way that they do, because you see it every day, another example of the Curse of Knowledge.

wedding professionals meet couples wedding vendor

Say what?

Are there sounds coming from outside or adjacent rooms that might be a distraction? Here’s another area where you don’t get credit for getting it right, but you lose points for getting it wrong. No one will thank you for reducing the distractions, but they’ll notice when it’s too noisy, dogs barking, babies crying, and when there are people talking or playing music loudly in the next room. Actually, that wasn’t totally correct. You will get thanked in the form of additional business by getting it right.

Give them your undivided attention.

While you’re in an appointment, and I know this sounds obvious, but don’t take phone calls, check your smartphone, or email. It’s rude and it shows them that they’re less important than whatever else you’re doing. When you’re the customer, you don’t like that, so, unless someone close to you is about to have a baby, or come out of surgery, silence your devices, and tell you staff (if you have a staff) not to interrupt you unless it relates to this customer. Most of our communication is non-verbal. People believe what they see more than what they hear, and your actions speak volumes. Giving them your undivided attention is key to gaining their trust. I’ve said this already, but it’s worth mentioning again; people buy from people they know, like and trust.

» How to Make the Most of Engagement Season

wedding professional engagement season vendor

While other business owners may delight in the pre-holiday or back-to-school shopping seasons, the undisputed champ of sales for wedding professionals is engagement season. WeddingWire calculates that about 40% of couples who will be engaged in the next 12 months will do so between November and February.

These quick best practices will help you maximize this crucial time and set yourself up for a productive wedding season.

Freshen up your online presence: Couples these days are accustomed to shopping for services online, so it’s uber-important to put your best foot forward across the Web. That includes your website, social media, WeddingWire storefront and even your email signature. Be sure your branding is consistent throughout and that you make it as easy as possible to contact you. Don’t force couples to hunt for your email or social networks—be sure this is on the very first page of your website. Have a couple of friends put fresh eyes on your sites and social media to be sure you don’t have any broken links, confusing wording or blurry images.

Audit your social: While we’re on the subject, now isn’t the time to neglect your social media accounts! Couples will often use your social media to not only see some of your most recent work, but also get a feel for your personality. They’re looking for partners on their wedding day, not just someone to come in, provide a service and leave. With that said, don’t be a robot on social. Share your best photos, but also share what drew you to the couple, what you loved about the day or why that particular photo is one of your favorites. Be sure to get permission from couples to share and tag them (as well as the rest of the vendor team) if they’re also on social media.

Keep your calendar up-to-date: As couples are reaching out to you for consultations, they’ll want to know that you’re available for their wedding date and location. Take a few minutes to fill in your calendar with as many details as you can about your upcoming wedding season, including building in time for site visits, travel and administrative tasks as needed. While it’s great to be busy, you don’t want to lose business because you’ve incorrectly estimated the time commitment for future clients.

Consider an auto-email feature: In a rapid response world, sometimes 24 to 48 hours just won’t do. As couples fill out your contact form during engagement season, it might be best to automate an email that instantly responds. Beyond showing that you’re responsive right away, use this email to smartly promote your social channels, work that you’re most proud of or even an awesome piece of wedding planning content you really love. Give it some personality, but be sure it’s short, sweet and helping you meet your business goals.

wedding professional engagement season wedding vendor

Prove your credibility: It’s one thing for you to say you’re amazing, efficient and easy to work with, but it’s a whole other thing for someone else to say it. That’s why so many couples rely on business reviews before contacting potential wedding professionals. Make it a goal to amass at least five additional reviews from couples and other professionals you’ve recently worked with this engagement season. Don’t be shy about asking for them—newlyweds love to talk about their wedding and you were an important part of why it was so special!

Nail your first impression: Once you’ve set up a time to meet with a potential client, the real work of engagement season begins. Chances are, the couple’s had a chance to peruse your social media, your website and your storefront, so return the favor by learning a little about the couple as well. Check out their social media profiles if you can, and look into any information they may have included in their emails to you—the type of wedding they’d like, what they enjoyed about your work, their venue, etc. Be prepared to discuss the latest wedding trends in your industry and show a curated collection of your recent projects. So, if you know the couple will be wed at a fancy downtown hotel, don’t show up with a portfolio full of barn weddings you’ve done and vice versa.

Learn even more about how to nail engagement season with this fact sheet.