» Risk Management: Identifying Significant Risks

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.

Nobody wants to face a crisis during an event – that’s a fact. However, that’s all the more reason to prepare in advance and develop a risk management plan. That way, if things go awry, you’ll be ready to mitigate the repercussions and bounce back.

Risk Management: Identifying Significant RisksThe key to a solid risk management plan is open communication between all parties involved. This includes the clients, their parents, the venue coordinator, and all of the wedding professionals on the event team.

Each event is unique, so it may make sense to develop a standard crisis plan that can be tailored to the situation at hand. For example, uncooperative weather is a common worry for outdoor events, so a rain plan is something that can be planned in advance. However, for each event, you’ll need to be familiar with the venue so that you can tweak the rain plan if necessary.

The same goes for other potential risks – use your foresight to think about what could possibly go wrong and find a solution before it does. Worried about an elaborate cake surviving the summer heat? Ensure that there is a nice and cool place for it to stay safe and sound. Concerned by a vendor’s lack of communication? Draw up a phone tree with everyone’s day-of phone numbers so each person can be reached.

Once there is a plan in place, send it along to the rest of the event team to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Communicate your expectations and what you define as a successful. Be sure that everyone understands what kind of constraints they are operating under, as it may have an effect on the level of damage control necessary. An event is truly a team effort, so include all involved parties in the crisis plan so that each has their own role that will contribute to a successful event, no matter what happens.

It will help to schedule a monthly call with the rest of the event team just to check in on everyone’s progress and ensure that everyone has what he or she needs. This is a great way to not only keep everyone accountable and avoid risk, but also to build a better camaraderie between members.

You may not even need to use your risk management plans – that’s the good news! However, if something does happen, you’ll be confident in knowing that you’re fully prepared to handle the crisis and lessen the damage that can come from it.

» 3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your Business

WedInsights

	3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your BusinessWhen it comes to closing the deal and signing on the dotted line, many wedding professionals unintentionally end up delaying the final sale due to outdated processes surrounding contracts and payments. As a result, engaged couples can become frustrated trying to find the time to meet in person or find a printer or fax machine.

In today’s digital age, millennials expect to do most of their wedding planning and vendor communication online. Using an online contract can not only help you close the deal faster, but also reflects well on your reputation as a tech-savvy wedding business! Below are some compelling statistics about the use of online contracts from Volume 8 of the WedInsight Series:

Over 60% of couples are required to sign a contract by meeting in person or by printing, signing, and sending the contract back.

Fax machines and scanners are no longer a household device, so why force your clients to spend time tracking down these devices to deliver you a signed contract? Plus, businesses that require their clients to fax a contract back take 1-2 days on average to receive a signed contract. Today’s couples prefer to use online methods, so use it to your advantage to make closing the deal as convenient as possible.

When given the choice, a couple’s most preferred method for signing a contract is using an online contract platform.

Using antiquated, offline methods could have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. The majority of couples perceive businesses that require contracts to be signed and sent back via fax or snail mail to be outdated and not tech savvy – which could give couples the same perception about your business. Make sure this same perception doesn’t carry over to your professional work by staying up-to-date with modern technology to show that your business is able to adapt.

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» The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral List

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Many wedding venues maintain their own referral lists of preferred vendors, and getting on those lists can feel like finding the proverbial “golden ticket” when it comes to more inquiries and more sales. As a bonus, when a venue you love is sending business your way, you get the pleasure of returning again and again – you know the layout, the load-in procedures and the staff, and that makes your job that much easier.

The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral ListSo what’s the secret to getting on a venue’s referral list? Here are some secrets that have worked for my business, and should work for yours, too:

Start where you already have a foothold. Take a look at your calendar – which venues have you worked at recently, and where are your weddings taking place over the next few months? Those venues are a great starting point, because you’ve either had or are about to have the opportunity to do your very best work and make a great impression. It’s always easier to approach a venue contact about referrals if you’ve just done a great job at that site.

If you are flying blind, choose venues for which you’re well-suited. Consider your branding (is it classic, modern, edgy, sophisticated, whimsical, something else?) as well as your target client – do these align with the branding and target client of the venue you’re soliciting? Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but using my own segment of the industry as an example, I wouldn’t expect a five-star historic hotel to be too excited to refer a DJ whose website blared loud party music upon loading, or whose DJs wore glittery bow ties to every event. By focusing your efforts on venues for which you’re a good match, you’ll increase your chances of earning their referrals.

Be respectful of the venue, always. This is so important, and something on which I train my entire team. Virtually every venue has rules – some stricter than others – and you need to follow them if you want the contact person to refer you. When you work an event, make sure you’re loading in where you’re supposed to,  you’re not causing damage to the venue by placing tape on delicate surfaces, you’re no standing on furniture and – by all means – you’re not rude to the staff. Continue reading

» How Advertising and Marketing Work Together

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

How Advertising and Marketing Work TogetherWhile many wedding professionals think that marketing and advertising are one and the same, there are important distinctions between the two. Advertising is a strategy for getting your business in front of as many potential clients as possible, while marketing is a strategy for making sure your business stands out from the competition. Both are necessary to reach and book wedding clients.

For your advertisement on WeddingWire or other online listings, your business should focus on:

  • Clearly communicating your products/services
  • Images and/or videos of your work
  • Consistent and recent client reviews
  • Pricing and/or any deals or discounts you offer

But for your marketing strategy, consider the following as ways to distinguish your business from the other listings the couple passed before you:

  • A well-written About section that describes who you are and why you’re a good choice
  • A website that provides more detail about your business and why you’re unique
  • Text on your website or blog that speaks their language to connect with potential clients
  • Strong calls-to-action that guide potential clients through the inquiry process

Both advertising and marketing are about pulling clients towards you, not pushing them to book you. The aforementioned tactics will help you drive potential clients to take action – whether the action is as small as clicking your ad or as big as signing a contract. When a bride sees a photo that she can imagine herself in, or a couple sees a review from an authentic client, they’re compelled to take action.

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» Updates to Your WeddingWire Account: August 2015

client proposal imageYesterday, we rolled out a new Client Proposal feature and review improvements to make it easier for users to review you. Learn more below!

Introducing Client Proposals

Due to member requests, we are excited to announce a new addition to your client management tools within your WeddingWire account. You can now create client proposals to send to prospective clients!

Easily customize your package options to share with prospective clients. Then, when you book the client simply convert it to a client contract with just a click to keep you organized and to save time! Take a look »

Review Improvements

Review ImageNow your clients can review your business directly on WeddingWire easier than ever with new improvements to the client review experience.

Updated features include saving the review while they write it so no info gets lost, the ability for newlyweds to submit a review without a password, and updating the Review Collector tool to default to your custom WeddingWire URL. Request new reviews »

Questions? 

To learn more about the new client proposals feature, check out this article. Review the Support Center for more information on all updates and common account questions, or email pros@weddingwire.com any time.

» Promote Your GayWeddings Listing with a Custom Button

We’re excited to announce new GayWeddings.com custom buttons you can add to your website or blog to showcase your service to same-sex couples! Get started promoting your GayWeddings listing and boost your Storefront traffic by adding your button today.

Get your button by following our step-by-step instructions!

  1. Choose your button design from our four badge options
  2. Enter your GayWeddings Storefront URL, which you can easily grab from your WeddingWire account under the Networking tab
  3. Paste your GayWeddings Storefront URL into the form to get your custom code
  4. Add the code to your business website or blog, and your button will appear!

GayWeddings listing badgesLooking for more? You can also add a Wed We Can badge on your website or social media accounts, and show your support of all couples by joining in the #WedWeCan social media campaign.

Have additional questions? Learn more about our partnership with GayWeddings.com, get instructions on how to opt-in to the directory (open to all WeddingWire professionals), and learn how to customize your GayWeddings.com profile image. Plus, you can always contact support@weddingwire.com with any of your account needs!

» Top Wedding Planning Tools for Your Clients

Top Wedding Planning Tools for Your ClientsAs the wedding professionals in the WeddingWire community know, we’re committed to providing the top tools to help Pros build, manage and grow their businesses. What many wedding professionals may not know, however, is that WeddingWire is also a valuable resource for brides and grooms! We not only help them find their perfect professionals, we also provide tools to help them plan each important detail related to their wedding.

The more educated and organized couples are before they make an appointment with your wedding business, the better understanding they’ll have of the value of your service and all the ways you can help them plan and execute their wedding vision. Find out more about the wedding planning tools we offer for engaged couples below!

Wedding Websites

Creating a wedding website is a great way for couples to put all the pertinent information regarding the Big Day in one place for all their friends and family to see. Your wedding clients can personalize their WeddingWire wedding website easily with our sleek new website editor that even allows couples to use their own photo as a custom backdrop for the design. Couples can create their own custom web address and interact with guests before, during and after the wedding with a social guestbook. Plus, our wedding websites are mobile and tablet friendly, with a stacked design that displays perfectly no matter what device your clients prefer.

Wedding Budget

One of the most important aspects of wedding planning – not to mention one of the first tasks necessary to start booking wedding professionals – is to set the budget. The WeddingWire budget tool helps your clients track spending across all service categories by suggesting budget allocations for each part of the wedding. Couples can then add or remove line items depending on their specific needs, as well as redistribute funds based on which areas are most important to them. Your clients can also set up payment schedules by recording due dates and creating payment reminders to make sure nothing falls through the cracks! A good understanding of their budget will help couples understand the true value of the different service categories, which means they’ll be better prepared for your appointments.

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» Announcing Custom Review Cards!

We are excited to announce a new added benefit for WeddingWire members: custom review-focused business cards!

WeddingWire has teamed up with MOO.com to introduce new review cards, which make it easy to initiate a professional request to ‘Review Me.’ You can hand these cards to your next client post-event, or use them to show off your great reviews to a prospective client and help close the deal. To make it even more exciting, these cards are always 20% off for WeddingWire members!

Check out the designs and learn how to place your order, below!

WeddingWire Review Cards

Ready to create your cards?

  • Simply visit moo.com/weddingwire, designed just for WeddingWire members
  • Select either the Review Us on WeddingWire or Read Our Reviews on WeddingWire cards (or get both!)
  • Click ‘Start Making’
  • Click the card to add your details: business name, name, Storefront URL, email address, phone number, and even add your logo if you would like
  • Select your paper preferences and the number of cards you would like
  • Checkout! Your 20% off discount for WeddingWire is automatically applied to your order of WeddingWire Review business cards

Did you know? Upgraded Pro can customize their Storefront URL so it will fit better on the card (and be more memorable). Here’s a quick explanation of how to do it!

If you are not a premium Pro, you can still set up your own bit.ly link to make it simpler for prospective clients to find your Storefront, and simply add it as a custom link when creating your cards.

Not sold on the value of reviews for your business? Here are a few reasons why reviews matter, and check out our infographic all about how reviews impact your business’ success!

  • Today’s engaged couples are searching for their wedding professionals online, and 95% use online reviews to select their wedding professionals
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Wedding pros with 10 or more reviews on WeddingWire receive an average 123% more Storefront clicks
  • WeddingWire is the most trusted and largest vendor reviews site for engaged couples, with over 2 million vendor reviews

So what are you waiting for? Order your cards and let your clients do the business bragging for you!

» Your 2015 WeddingWire Resolutions

Your 2015 WeddingWire ResolutionsNow that it’s 2015 (we can’t believe it either!), your business is likely busy preparing for the influx of 2015 brides and grooms who got engaged over the holidays and will begin planning their dream weddings. But before you hit the ground running, it helps to make a list of your business’ resolutions for the New Year.

For Premium WeddingWire members, many of your business’ resolutions can be tied to tools within your account! We’ve made a list of the top WeddingWire resolutions that will make your business more effective and efficient in 2015.

Take time to re-evaluate your Storefront.

While we suggested it last year, re-evaluating your Storefront should be a recurring task. Update your messaging to include any new products or services, and try to upload some new photos to show potential clients that you always have new, fresh experiences to share.

Make your website work better for you with our Website Widgets.

Engage clients when they visit your website with helpful widgets offered through your WeddingWire Account, including the ‘Contact Us’ widget,the ‘Reviews’ widget, which showcases your recent reviews, and more. WeddingWire Widgets are easy to install – no need for a web developer.

Learn new things by registering for WeddingWire World 2015.

Join us for WeddingWire World 2015 in Washington, D.C. to learn from our lineup of industry experts and special guest speakers about what’s new in the wedding industry. WeddingWire World 2015 will be a two-day event March 16-17, so cross this item off your resolutions list now before prices go up!

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» Top Apps to Help You Work Smarter

In this day and age, smartphones have become a lifeline for business operations. We use mobile devices to schedule, analyze, remember, and complete all sorts of tasks both for our business’ and our daily lives.

Luckily, there are a ton of great apps available to help you be more effective and help you get more work done. We’ve compiled a list of great apps for Wedding Pros that will help maximize your productivity and keep you organized!

top-apps-to-help-you-work-smarterNeed an app to manage to-do lists? Wunderlist is the app for you!

With Wunderlist you can…

  • Create to-do lists that you can access on your smartphone, computer, or tablet
  • Share to-do lists with other people
  • Attach photos and PDFs
  • Delegate to-dos
  • Set reminders for to-dos

Need an app to help with your time management? Toggl Time Tracker is the app for you!

With Toggl Time Tracker you can…

  • Track how much time you are spending on certain apps or websites
  • Track employees time management
  • Export time sheets
  • See what you spend the most time on and use the info to plan accordingly

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» Introducing the WeddingWire Education Guide

WeddingWire believes in the power of education to keep your business ahead of the competition so you can gain new clients. We’re excited to announce that the 2014-2015 WeddingWire Education Guide is here, full of tips and strategies for growing and improving your weddings and events business!

The WeddingWire Education Guide provides lots of great content to answer your most pressing business questions from how to get more reviews and marketing strategies that work to the top client advice, networking suggestions and much more.

Check it out today!

Education Guide

» Best Practices for Real Wedding Submissions

One of the most crucial aspects of developing strong wedding PR for your business is getting published. Whether you’re a DJ, florist, venue, caterer, wedding planner or any other wedding Pro, getting published will expose your business to an even wider audience. WeddingWire’s real wedding features are a great place to display your work and share your amazing weddings with our network of engaged couples.

Check out our latest infographic for five best practices to get your business published through real wedding submissions from WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely.

Best Practices for Real Wedding Submissions