» How to Choose the Right Industry Association

If you are looking to take your business to a new level, whether you’re new or have years of experience, joining an industry association could be just the game-changer you’ve be looking for. Association memberships grant access to power networking, collaborative relationships and leadership opportunities, all of the tools that can put a great business on the fast track to even bigger things!

Why Join?

Professional associations have a lot to offer. Many local chapters offer regular get-togethers where you can meet like-minded individuals, share ideas, swap stories and exchange thoughts. Some organizations pair these meetings with educational opportunities, prestigious speakers and exposure to new concepts to provide additional support for member businesses.

Some organizations also have national chapters, broadening the available networking opportunities substantially. There are often annual conferences for members and even the ability to attend meetings of other chapters.

Which Association is Best for You?

The events industry has several major associations, all of which support our professionals, and each with a different set of strengths and benefits. Some of the major organizations include:

WIPA

The Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA) was formed to provide an opportunity for networking and continued education. There are nine chapters around the country and the option of joining “at-large.” The organization offers meetings, mentoring programs, up-to-date information and news for a tight-knit community of professionals.

ILEA

The International Live Events Association (ILEA) is an international association with 51
chapters worldwide. Membership is offered to creative event professionals and offers access to invaluable resources, a career center, exclusive events and the ability to compete for coveted awards.

NACE

The National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) has 40 chapters across the nation and hosts numerous events throughout the year to increase education in the industry and give members a platform to showcase their work to peers. Local chapters offer leadership opportunities as well as regular networking gatherings. The annual NACE Experience conference is one of the industry’s most heralded events and considered a can’t-miss by many.

MPI

Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest meeting and event industry association in the world, focuses on high-level education and business practices. The organization’s 90 chapters are located across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Members can access a network of peers and many educational opportunities.

You’ll also want to be mindful of locally grown organizations- and remember, you can always take matters into your own hands and create your own opportunities. I founded Tri-Valley Wedding Professionals years ago to fill a need in our community and we’re now hundreds of members strong.

No matter which industry association you choose, an investment will be necessary to become a member. This investment is only worth it if you plan to actively participate by attending meetings, offering your services and seeking leadership roles. There is next to no benefit if you simply pay your dues and never show up. Associations are communities that rely on every member to help make them great.

In addition to those listed above, the events industry has many niche associations, like ADJA for DJs or WPJA for photographers, that offer numerous benefits to members. We recommend doing a bit of research on the associations related to your niche, choosing at least one that appeals to you and fits your business goals, and joining today!

 

Kevin Dennis is 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 past national president for WIPA.

 

» 5 People Every Wedding Business Owner Needs on Speed Dial

As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” That sentiment rings true when it comes to owning and operating your own business. You want to surround yourself with smart and capable people that will contribute to your success and growth. Who those people are tend to be a bit different for everyone, but we’ve put together a list from fellow wedding pros on who you may want to add to your speed dial.

Website Consultant
Kylie Carlson of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning relies heavily on her website consultant, “Since we are an e-learning company, I speak to my Website Consultant daily for his advice on different things I need to maintain 6 websites and a Learning Management System.” Most of us can relate to running a business primarily through a website, and when emergencies pop up or you need something added quickly, having your consultant’s number at the ready is a must.

Social Media Groups
In the age of social media, sometimes a phone call isn’t needed when you belong to groups of like-minded individuals that you trust. Jenny DeMarco of Jenny DeMarco Photography shares, “I am a part of a group of about 35 peers from all over that met while attending the same workshops and conferences every year. We are diverse in age, experience, income levels, business models, photography styles and much more. We have an online Facebook group that I turn to all the time when I need advice or encouragement.”

Business Partner
When you need a second opinion, or are struggling with some of the bigger decisions, oftentimes the person you should be speaking with is your business partner. “Running a business is often a fast paced environment that needs quick decisions, creative problem solving, and innovative ideas. So I find myself regularly calling the person that I know is just as invested as I am- my business partner.” explains Audrey Isaac of 100 Candles.

Publicist
Kevin Dennis of WeddingIQ doesn’t make any marketing PR decisions without first getting on a call with his publicist, “For us, our speed dial list is really two-fold, because different people are valuable in different areas. Our publicist is the first person we call when it comes to any marketing or insider wedding industry questions, but when I am thinking on a new idea or need advice outside of PR and marketing, I turn to a few trusted veteran peers for help.”

Massage Therapist
You may read this with a confused expression, but relaxation and recharging are an absolute necessity when working in the wedding business. “After a weekend of weddings, you need that massage first thing Monday morning,” says Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events. If not a masseuse, then perhaps call your tennis partner or yoga instructor- whatever you need to do to enjoy a little rest.

Now it’s your turn! Pull out your phone and create a speed dial list that’s right for you.

 

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.

 

» WeddingWire Rewards – Bookings for You, Rewards for Your Clients

We recently rolled out a new program that rewards couples for contacting and booking you on WeddingWire! Couples can now earn a $25 registry credit for every vendor they contact and hire through the WeddingWire website – up to $300.

WeddingWire Rewards is designed to give couples even more of a reason to contact your business, bringing you more leads and bookings. Here’s how it works:

  • A couple submits a lead to your business through WeddingWire Messages and lets us know they’ve hired you.
  • If the couple is not already booked in Messages or within the Clients tab of your WeddingWire account, you’ll receive an email asking you to confirm if you’ve booked them as a client.
  • If you confirm the booking, we’ll reward the couple by sending them a $25 registry credit.

A couple’s receipt of their registry credit is dependent on your participation in the program, so please try your best to keep your clients’ booking status up to date within your WeddingWire account. WeddingWire Rewards is a great way to build and strengthen relationships with your clients.

Want to let prospective clients know about WeddingWire Rewards? Share on your social channels! You can use one of the pre-drafted posts below.

Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram: Earn up to $300 toward your wedding registry with WeddingWire Rewards.

Facebook or Instagram: WeddingWire’s new rewards program makes your wedding planning even more rewarding. Earn a $25 registry credit for each vendor you contact and hire through WeddingWire.

» 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

With the amount of competition in the wedding industry, just getting website visits from your local market can be a big win! Once a couple makes it to your site, it’s vital that you guide them to take the next step by submitting a lead. It’s easy to get swept up in your own desires and ideas when building a website, but ultimately you need to think about how couples will view and interact with it in order to drive more conversions.

Your website is a channel that can continually be optimized, just like any of your marketing channels! Read on for six easy ways to optimize your website for generating leads and inquiries.

Reduce form fields

When it comes to creating an easy experience for website visitors, reducing the length and number of fields used is one of the easiest ways to boost conversion rates. The fewer fields the visitor has to fill out, the more likely they are to submit a lead. Inevitably, though, shortening your contact form can be a trade-off – shorter forms generate more leads, but longer forms generate higher quality leads. The key is to give a lot of thought to which fields you truly need and which fields you can forego during this initial contact. At the very least, you’ll want to acquire their name, email, phone number, and wedding date; the rest depends on your service category and routing needs. Just remember: Keep it simple!

Prioritize form placement

If you want your website visitors to submit a contact form to get in touch, give your form top placement on your website. While today’s web users are familiar with scrolling past the “fold” to learn more, placing your contact form above the “fold” guarantees that they’ll see it regardless of their next action. In fact, Education Guru Alan Berg suggests adding a contact form to each page of your website to guide visitors towards submitting an inquiry. Whichever option you choose will ultimately depend on the layout and design of your website, but whatever you do, don’t hide the contact form by placing it too far down on your homepage or creating multiple steps to get to it.

Utilize your reviews

Your WeddingWire reviews are easy to find and evaluate on your Storefront, but if a potential client is looking at your website they should be able to find them there, too. When deciding whether or not to submit a lead through your website, couples are looking for proof that you provide a high quality service and that your past clients were happy with the results. If a couple is reviewing your website, you’ve already made it through several stages of consideration and offering rave reviews from other couples will make the decision easier for them. Select a few of your best reviews and add them to your website to show couples that your service is the best choice. Make sure they are located close to your contact form so a happy client is one of the last things they see before deciding whether to contact you.

Show off your awards

Awards are one of the best ways to lend outside credibility to your business. After all, you can say how awesome your business is, but your opinion isn’t impartial until someone else verifies it! Showcase what sets you apart from your competition by featuring your awards near your form or in the header or footer of your website. Unlike other awards in the wedding industry, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® are solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences with wedding professionals. If your business is prestigious enough to be among the top five percent of wedding professionals on WeddingWire, we’ll provide you code so you can easily feature the award on your website for all visitors to see.

Test your calls-to-action

Could the generic text on your button or contact link be the factor that’s driving down conversions? Or perhaps the color of your contact button blends with the rest of your website and is too hard to read? Test the color and text of your call-to-action or submit button to see if your conversion rates differ. Try changing your formal ‘Contact Us’ text to ‘Get in Touch!’, or use a contrasting accent color on the form button to attract more submissions.

*Quick Tip – only change one element at a time (text or color) so that you can track which change makes the biggest impact.

Track and analyze changes

All of these changes will be hard to measure if you don’t have enough information to see what’s working! Tracking the number of inquiries you receive each month is easy enough to analyze, but that’s only looking at one piece of the puzzle. It’s important to also use Google Analytics or another website analytics platform to track how many visitors you receive, how long they’re staying on your website, and how many pages they visit before submitting an inquiry or leaving your website. Keeping an eye on all of these things will help you understand the behavior of your website visitors to make changes that will improve conversion rates and increase time on the site.

Every website is different, and it may take some time to find the right combination that works, but just give it some time. You aren’t likely to see changes in leads overnight, but that doesn’t mean your updates aren’t working! You can always ask for feedback from friends and industry peers, or ask a client to explain what they did or didn’t like during their research. Happy optimizing!

» 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

Reviews are a key way to showcase your expertise – all from the voice of happy couples! Don’t just collect reviews, make sure you showcase them in creative ways to promote your excellent work. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn – it’s an excellent way to gain new business!

10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews:

  1. On your website: Add your reviews and sound bites from happy couples to your website, and not just on a testimonial page! Consider adding a testimonial on all your website pages – especially your homepage.
  2. In your marketing: Add testimonials or reviews to your marketing collateral. Reviews should be on all important materials that would reach new potential clients. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!
  3. On your packages or pricing info: Reviews and testimonials from past clients are a great addition to your pricing to show the value behind your services. This will also help support the reasoning behind your cost structure, showing couples that you are the right professional to book for their wedding or event.
  4. On social media: Share your new reviews on social media to quickly reach your audience and build positive brand awareness. A few ideas include, creating a quick post on Instagram, snapping the new review on Snapchat or sharing to Facebook. This is made easy through the Facebook share buttons in the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account.
  5. On your business cards: Make a lasting first impression by adding a great review sound bite to your business cards. Not only will this help to make you more memorable, but will also show your value, allowing you to stand out from the competition.
  6. In your promo videos: Easily add a quick testimonial right from a happy couple’s mouth with a short video. Video testimonials show a real couple and capture their genuine appreciation for your services which can make a big impact. These can then be shared on your website, social media, etc.
  7. In your wedding show booth: Create materials such as postcards, signage and more to show your reviews in your wedding show booth. This will help make your business stand out from the rest by making a couple to couple connection. Also be sure to showcase any review related awards you have won, such as WeddingWire Rated™ or the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®.
  8. In your email communication: Consider adding a favorite review to your email signature, as well as a link to your WeddingWire reviews URL. That way, interested couples can quickly click through to read your great reviews, and this will help encourage them to leave you a review post-event by showing that these reviews matter to you!
  9. On your blog: Add the WeddingWire Review Widget to your business’ blog and website to showcase your reviews on those sites. Also consider adding the Review Us button to those sites to encourage past clients to review your business to continue collecting new reviews.
  10. In your photo gallery: Couples love to see photos of your work, and tend to go to that section of your website or Storefront first. Make a lasting impression by posting quick testimonials to those pages to create that visual connection between great reviews and happy couples.

Ready to put your reviews to good use? Visit the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account to collect more reviews with the Review Collector tool, add your reviews to your website with the Review Widget, and set a customized Review URL to grab some of your best review sound bites for your marketing!

Plus, the more reviews you have on WeddingWire, the more you stand out! Earn badges through the WeddingWire Rated™ review program, which instantly recognizes how many reviews you have and boosts your badge level with each new milestone. Aim to join the 100 Review Club for Pros with over 100 wedding reviews!

» WedInsights: Destination Weddings by the Numbers

In the past, weddings were traditionally expected to take place in a couple’s hometown. Nowadays, couples often meet and live in different cities from their hometown, or they have the resources to travel to a chosen destination for their big day. From a sandy beach in another country, to a gorgeous garden several hours from their city of residence, couples are choosing destinations to reflect their personalities with the surrounding scenery of their dreams.

destination weddings fact sheet

15% of weddings are destination weddings, but a “destination” wedding doesn’t necessarily mean that the celebration is taking place on a faraway island. In fact, a “destination” wedding is considered anything more than 50 miles from the couple’s home. With this in mind, you may have already been a part of a destination wedding and you didn’t even know it!

This recent WedInsights fact sheet gives a glimpse of industry data surrounding destination weddings to get you thinking about opportunities with destination weddings. Our favorite takeaways include:

  • The average number of wedding professionals booked for a destination wedding is 9
  • When deciding on a venue for a destination wedding, 89% of couples say that price is the biggest factor with location being a close second at 87%
  • 50% of couples planning a destination wedding decide to do so for a truly unique experience

Planning a destination wedding comes with its own set of challenges (on top of an already complicated process!), which is why it is important for wedding professionals to understand the motivations and needs of a couple planning this type of wedding in order to better serve them.

For more insights on Destination Weddings read our full Destination Wedding Guide.

 

» 10 Years of Innovation in the Wedding Industry

When WeddingWire launched 10 years ago, we were the first wedding planning site to offer online wedding reviews – a revolutionary concept in 2007! Since then, we’ve continued to leverage the latest trends in technology to help wedding professionals reach today’s couples. Take a look at a few of the ways we’ve led the industry over the last decade:


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.

» WedInsights Recap to Boost Your Business Success in 2017

As we enter 2017, it’s important to start planning for the upcoming wedding season and beyond. Besides preparing for upcoming events, dedicate some time to assess your business and find ways to make improvements.

For many pros, a more successful year can mean focusing on a stronger online presence through social media or an improved mobile website. For others, it’s acquiring new customers or finding ways to make their marketing dollars go furtherRegardless of your specific goals, one thing is certain: you must know your customers and understand their wants and needs during the planning process to make the best adjustments to your business — and we are here to help!

Throughout the year, our Consumer Insights & Research Team conducts studies with thousands of engaged and newlywed couples nationwide to assemble the latest in industry and consumer data. Our findings are available to download for free anytime at WedInsights.com. Each volume, one-pager, report or infographic is filled with actionable insights designed to help your business grow and succeed!

wed-insights-2016

View some of the most popular WedInsights:

Check back often for new reports as we’ll continue to add new topics each month. Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Email us and let us know!

» Get Up-to-Speed this Engagement Season with Fact Sheets

engagement-season-fact-sheetEngagement season is here with 40% of couples celebrating their engagement from November to February each year. Now that the fall busy season is slowing down for may pros, the holidays are a great time to decompress and prepare your business for the busy months ahead.

It’s important to stay updated on the latest industry trends and stats to understand your audience and how your business can stand out. WeddingWire fact sheets are here to help!

As part of our WedInsights content, we have a helpful library full of great one-page resources you can download to get quickly informed on the latest industry research so you can impress more couples.

Here’s a peek at some of the latest fact sheets:

  • Buying an Engagement Ring: See how couples search for the perfect ring and what attributes matter most.
  • Setting a Wedding Date: Uncover the most popular days to wed and learn how couples pick their vendor team.
  • Wedding Stress: Learn what tasks stress couples out the most during the wedding planning process.
  • Bridal Re-Brand: A look at bridal bias and heteronormative assumptions in the wedding industry.
  • Planning a Honeymoon: From destination to budget, see what decisions couples make when planning a honeymoon.

Get started accessing these guides for free!

» Taking Full Advantage of the Off-Season

Pro to Pro Insights

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

When it comes to planning ahead, there is no better time than the off-season to get organized and map out your next steps in business development. Whether it’s streamlining your client intake procedures or doing research on an idea you’d like to capitalize on, it’s best to make the most of the time during your off-season. If you can’t make time for it now, how do you plan to handle it when your days are filled with events?

off-season-blogHere are a few ways you can take advantage of your off-season and put your business in a better position for the year to come:

Jumpstart your social media

Has your social presence been lacking? Do you need a total overhaul on your accounts? Now is the time to map out your social media plans for the upcoming season. If posting to Facebook and Instagram is too time-consuming when you’re busy with other work, look into programs like Later and Schedugram that allow you to pre-schedule your social media posts. That way, you only have to set aside an hour or two of your time each month to plan out your posts.

Streamline your emails

Email drafts are a lifesaver – in addition to making your life easier, they also set a standard procedure for others as they send emails (or future employees if you’re not quite there yet). Although you’ll certainly want to tweak each email for its recipient so it stays genuine, creating drafts of your frequent emails will save you a lot of time in the future. Consider writing up drafts for initial responses to inquiries, follow ups, welcome emails and anything else that you find yourself sending out a lot.

Rebranding and Website Redesign

Rebranding is a major process and takes a lot of time and preparation – certainly not what you want consuming your time while you’re in the middle of peak season. If you’ve been thinking about changing your name, updating your logo or even doing a complete overhaul, start preparing as the off-season begins and aim for a launch date around the beginning of the next season. Even a simpler website redesign can take some time, so don’t wait to get started!

Planning a new project

If you’ve been thinking about launching a new service or building an extension of your company, the off-season is the ideal time to do your research and begin implementing the first steps of your plan. Give yourself enough time to map it out and understand that it is a work in process – it’s not something you can finish overnight!

» Download Our Updated App to Use Messages On the Go

clients app downloadWe’ve added our Messages feature to the refreshed Client Manager app – and it’s now available for download!

With the updated app, it’s never been easier to connect with clients while on the go. You’ll be notified when you get new leads or messages and can reply right from your phone.

Here’s how it works:

  • Receive instant notifications for new leads and client messages
  • Read and respond quickly with automatic account syncing
  • Easily view your shared attachments and important client details
  • Access your full client conversations anytime
  • Update your availability right from your phone (select categories only)

Learn more about the Client Manager app!

» Latest Updates to Make Connecting with Clients Easier

We’ve made some exciting updates to your WeddingWire account! To make it easier than ever to share your favorite documents, stay organized, and communicate more quickly, we’ve added a number of WeddingWire Messages enhancements. Plus, Florists and Wedding Planners will notice updated new vendor directory search filters based on pricing information. Learn more about each update below!

Frequently Attached Documents in WeddingWire Messages

Frequently Attached Documents

Do you have a few key documents you typically share with couples who are interested in learning more about your business, such as pricing packages, service details, or a marketing brochure? Now, it’s easier than ever to share these attachments from within your Messages inbox.

How does it work?

The attachments you’ve shared most will be listed as ‘Frequent Attachments’ when you click ‘Attach File’ while you’re composing a message reply.  Simply select one and send it with your message. If you prefer, you can still choose to upload custom attachments from your computer each time, but it’s faster to choose a commonly shared document from this list.

Inbox Search

Inbox Search in WeddingWire Messages

Staying on top of your Messages or finding a specific client’s history can be challenging for busy wedding pros. To help, we’ve added a new search feature to your Messages inbox.

How does it work?

Use the new search box at the top of your Messages inbox within your account to search by key information and instantly find the client details you need. You can search by first name, last name, email address, or even past message content to find what you’re looking for and catch up on your conversation.

Continue reading