» How Effective Are Your Email Responses?

Photo by Gawne Design Photography

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

Don’t rush to change the format

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

Respond quickly

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

Fit the first reply on a smartphone screen

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

End the reply with one question

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

Don’t send attachments

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

Auto replies should provide value

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

Create a bank of testimonials

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

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

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

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

Here are a few of our key insights:

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

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

» The Value of Showcasing Inclusivity For All Couples

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.

Over the course of the last 12 months, I have been surprised by the number of conversations I’ve had with wedding professionals who share stories of same-sex couples being refused service and of some who fear losing business if they openly serve the LGBTQ community. These conversations remind me a bit of those I had with pros in 2005, and I want to make sure I take the time to support every professional who has questions about serving same-sex couples, no matter where they are in their journey.

But these conversations aren’t always easy for the wedding professionals who work in areas where marriage equality came as a result of the Supreme Court decision in 2015 rather than through a majority vote on election day. It may be the case that 90% of wedding professionals we surveyed in 2015 said they plan to serve same-sex couples, but a change in law doesn’t always result in a change of heart for everyone.

At our recent WeddingWire World 2017 in Washington D.C., several wedding professionals from the Southeast explained to me that they very much want to market to same-sex couples, but they are concerned about appearing as something other than “neutral” for fear that they will lose new business from those who oppose same-sex marriage. They are seeking ways to be open but understated in their efforts. These pros understand that it’s important to let same-sex couples know that they are ready, willing and able to work with them, and they recognize that there is still work to do.

Tips for showcasing inclusivity

In the course of these conversations, we talk about the different ways wedding professionals can showcase inclusivity for all couples, such as:

  • Updating your language to be inclusive of ‘brides and grooms’
  • Adding images to your Storefront or website that offer a more diverse, multicultural representation of couples
  • Developing a local network of like-minded professionals to reduce the feeling of market isolation
  • Identifying and establishing relationships with larger corporate brands with a local presence (great examples include Marriott and Hilton) who are open advocates of the LGBTQ community

Remember: Professional allies are everywhere around you; they often just need to be identified.

» 3 Reasons Marketing in Facebook Groups Can Hurt Your Business

Have you ever joined a Facebook Group for local wedding vendors and couples, excited to find a place to connect with potential clients – only to find that every group is flooded with vendor after vendor pitching themselves, each one offering a lower price than the last?

This is a common scene in local Facebook communities, often titled “Wedding Buy/Sell/Trade” or “Yard Sale” groups. Couples will post in these groups looking for vendors, but because it is so easy for anyone to join and market in these groups, it becomes oversaturated with local vendors who fall into the trap of competing to offer the lowest price.

The tricky part is that with so many posts popping up from couples planning their weddings in Facebook groups every day, it is easy to fall into the trap yourself and start commenting on posts that ask for vendors with rates way under your standard pricing.

Here are three reasons this is hurting your business:

  1. Since there are so many vendors trying to quote their lowest rates in an effort to compete for business in these groups, the couples who join and post in local Facebook wedding groups tend to be deal seekers. Of course, this is not always the case, but if you have higher end pricing or simply do not want to discount your rates, it can become difficult to find prospects willing to pay full price. 
  2. If you spend a lot of time in these groups marketing to couples that aren’t your ideal clients, you are losing time that could be spent building your business elsewhere – like updating your WeddingWire Storefront, preparing for bridal shows, or working on a referral program. If you feel like you post and comment often in Facebook groups, but it’s getting you nowhere, try focusing your energy on other avenues that you know work for you. 
  3. Participating in lowest-bidder comment threads in these groups can devalue your work. If you find yourself commenting on every post and handing out discounts to all of the couples who contact you in these groups, it makes your discounted rates the norm – meaning it will become more and more difficult to find couples and get referrals from people who are willing to pay for your full priced packages.

So what should you do instead? Focus on your ideal client. These couples are the ones who are most likely to love the work you do and write reviews that will attract more ideal clients in the future. Think about how your ideal client researches wedding vendors and the unique qualities they are looking for in their search. Then use those things to determine how to market to them and how to convey your brand on WeddingWire, from your photos to your profile description.

Make sure to highlight the characteristics they are looking for in a wedding vendor throughout your profile so that your ideal clients will be even more interested in what you have to offer. Then when you do get inquiries, you won’t feel as pressured to give discounts or “beat” other vendors in the market – all while saving time after leaving those Facebook groups!

» 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 $25 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 $25.

A couple’s receipt of their reward 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 with WeddingWire Rewards.

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

» Top 4 Questions about LGBTQ Wedding Terminology

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gay weddings

Photo by Stephanie W Photography

For the past six years, I’ve been working closely with wedding pros in the WeddingWire family via webinars and conferences. And although the marriage equality landscape and technology available to small businesses has changed dramatically over the course of that time, the most popular questions I receive from pros who want to improve their service offerings to same-sex couples and the larger LGBTQ community have not.

This past Pride month, WeddingWire hosted our annual LGBTQ wedding-focused webinar (Premium members can access it here). As always, we hosted a lively Q&A after my presentation and, as always, I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions. Thus, I decided to take a few more minutes to answer some important – and common – questions about language for those of you who remain curious about improving your business practices to be more inclusive of and successful with LGBTQ couples.


“Do gay couples typically have a ‘Bride & Groom’ or is it ‘Bride and Bride’ or ‘Groom and Groom’? What is the correct term to use for same-sex couples?”

Some variation of this question was the most asked during our recent webinar. And, in fact, has been one of the most popular questions I’ve received over the years. Language is incredibly important in marketing materials (a proactive effort) and in speech (a receptive and service-oriented effort). One of the reasons this question persists is because there is no one-size-fits-all answer, although there are some general best practices to follow.

One of my biggest pet peeves for all couples in the wedding industry is the intensity of the heteronormative, gender-role driven expectations in planning and in the ritual itself. Truly, this limits non-LGBTQ couples as much as it limits LGBTQ couples. In my ideal world, each couple has the opportunity to participate equally in the commitment ritual that is most meaningful and reflective to them. Period.

That said, I offer this short answer to your question: the correct terms to use with a same-sex couple are the terms they themselves prefer. If you aren’t sure because, in your eyes, they appear to falling into a pattern you recognize as a ‘bride role’ and a ‘groom role,’ please ask them how they wish to be addressed and/or how they are referring to the event and their “roles” in it. Never, ever, ever, ever, never ask a couple: “Which one of you is the bride and which one of you is the groom?”

The majority of couples identify as “two brides” or “two grooms,” but this is not always the case. Sometimes couples might get creative with their language (eg, appropriating the term ‘bridegroom’ to mean something a bit more non-binary) and some might choose to go with “bride and groom” and be queer-identified. Just don’t assume.

Please also do your best not to overthink the issue. Be open. Be inclusive. Be welcoming. Be curious. Ask the couple about how they met. What they hope for in their wedding day. How you can best help and support them. And be sure to ask if they have any additional concerns about which you might not have inquired. Finally, be sure to give the couple permission to give you feedback if you’ve made a mistake in the language or approach you are using. Open communication and building relationships is everything. Continue reading