» How to Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice

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andy-ebon-squareThe following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Continuity and consistency are first cousins in the execution of your marketing. Continuity is using marketing tools—like your WeddingWire storefront, website, social media content, logo, etc.— in a cohesive and recognizable manner. Basically, you want to be “you” across every potential client touch point. Consistency, on the other hand, is taking action with regularity. In other words: Being consistent with the use of those tools. This can mean posting to Facebook twice a day, blogging twice weekly, being in touch with your contacts at routine intervals and being sure that your advertising is in tune with most couples’ wedding planning journey.

The combination of updating with continuity and consistency, your brand and the company message forge ahead, leaving the impression of a progressive company both with engaged couples and your peers.

Remember, marketing is everything that touches the prospect or client—not just advertising or social media. Here are a few ways to maintain a consistent brand voice:

Keep it Short and Professional Over the Phone

For some couples, your phone manners is one of the first impressions of your business. Whether you are a one-person micro business or a company with many employees, the way anyone answers the phone should sound the same.

XYZ Company, this is Andy. How can I help you?

Simple, clear, to the point. If you are not the right person to assist, do your utmost to connect the caller with the correct person.

The best example I can offer for a smaller business is a catering professional in Atlanta. She updated her voicemail every day. Her script would go something like this:

Good day and thanks for calling. This is Shelley. Today is Tuesday, March 14th. I’ll be out of the office on client appointments this morning, but you can expect a callback after lunch. If your call requires immediate attention, don’t hesitate to text me at 777-777-7777 and I will do my best to your reach you even sooner. Thanks for calling, and make it a great day!

And, of course, when she was back in the office, the message would be updated. This kind of continuity is spectacular.

Keep Your Delivery and Set-Up Crew Sharp

When your staff members or delivery crew arrive at a venue, how are they dressed? Be sure that even this aspect reflects your company’s personality. A no-fuss option is a company t-shirt or polo-style shirt, accompanied by jeans or slacks.

The moment a venue representative sees you “in uniform,” you’ve broken the ice and are part of the team. Make sure you supply your crew with two or three shirts, so the uniform is always clean and ready to go.

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Don’t Slack with Print Media

The most frequent mistake I see in print ads or flyers is poor headlines. Your company name is not a headline. Your company slogan or favorite hashtag is not a headline. A headline is a phrase, usually accompanied by a visual, crafted to encourage the prospect to read the rest of the ad.

Avoid cliche words such as perfect, dream, unique, awesome and the like. It’s not just about your ad, but the other ads in a publication. Do your utmost to avoid verbiage you recognize in other ads. Make sure the ad is specific to your business and is told in your brand voice.

Are You Wasting Time with Social Media?

It’s always a good idea to periodically evaluate your approach to social media. The first thing to ask yourself is, “Am I using this to its fullest? Should I just drop it or revive it?” You also want to be honest about whether or not your social media content is helping potential clients and peers learn more about your brand personality.

If you are not using a social media platform frequently enough, then make it go away. If you are not measuring social media success across-the-board, then start. If you are not using analytics tools, such as those provided by WeddingWire, get going. Failure to ask these questions could mean you’re spending precious time on platforms that aren’t performing for you or just aren’t enjoyable to you. Your audience can tell when you’re just going through the motions, so be sure you’re invested in whichever platforms you choose.

Speaking of choosing social media platforms, it is easy to find the shiny, new object. Over time, you can wind up with 10 or more social media accounts. It’s far wiser to review what you are really using and the delete those that you don’t update or haven’t managed to engage meaningfully. You’ll usually find that about five platforms are serving you well. If a couple are underused, get them going. Settle in with platforms that really serve you and be solid on the frequency that works for your business.

Get Visual

We live in a highly visual society, so be sure your brand visuals are consistent with your brand voice. This means featuring a diverse variety of couples on your website, storefront, social media and advertising. It also means reviewing images a couple of times a year. Delete some and replace them with newer ones. Keeping your photos current is a reflection of staying up to date with style. Aging wedding dresses and decor do not reflect well on your company.

Typeface About-Face

Don’t forget fonts in your marketing brand evaluation. If you haven’t already, select a few that complement your logo design. Your choices of typeface should be limited about two on a single page. The eye has a difficult time adjusting to more than that. Have a sense about font sizes and make sure they work on all kinds of hardware: Smart phones, tablets and computers.

What Else To Consider

Each company has other factors to consider in continuity and consistency. Add to this list and revisit your thinking. When you review and refresh, it will move your business forward. This should be a regular activity to surpass the competition.

» What Are the Best Media Outlets for Me?

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

When describing wedding public relations, the basic tenet is this: you have a message you want to get out to your target audience (or audiences), and you want to disseminate that message through the appropriate media channels. The question is, which media outlets are the right ones for me?

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Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to discern the right outlets from the wrong ones.

Are my prospects reading it?

This is an essential question for anyone whose main goal of PR is to increase brand awareness and, with that, their business. One of the first questions I ask any prospect is, “Where are you looking to get featured?” Inevitably, a large percentage answers with, “I want to be on [insert national morning show here].” I find myself explaining that, while getting national coverage like that is great, if your target audience is composed of millennials (which make up 90% of engaged couples), do you really think they are going to be watching those shows on weekday mornings? The answer is no. So, how do you find out what your target audience is reading? Polling your clients is a great way, whether it is through a survey or an informal discussion during meetings. If you find that you’ve done a great job attracting your ideal couple, then you’ll surely see a pattern.

Are they open to submissions?

This seems pretty obvious, but before submitting anything to anyone, be sure that they accept the type of content you’re sending in. For example, if you’re looking to submit a styled inspiration shoot but the blog only features real weddings, then you’ll have spent time on something that ultimately won’t come to fruition.

What kind of content are they currently featuring?

This is where you’re going to have to do a little research. Once you’ve narrowed down some of the outlets you think would be a good fit, take a look at their recent work. What kinds of weddings are they featuring? What type of articles are guest bloggers writing? If your work and expertise are complementary to their content, then it’s likely a great match.

Do they have a presence on social media?

It’s wonderful to land on a media outlet with eye-catching editorials, but if they aren’t following through with promoting content on social media, then you’re not in front of your target audience – and isn’t that the goal? Be sure that your chosen media outlet is regularly posting on its social media channels before jumping onboard.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start your research. Ready, set, get published!

» Easy Ways to Show Appreciation in the New Year

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

show-appreciation-giftAlmost every wedding professional is busy, and in your fast-paced world it can be easy to quickly move on to the next task or event. However, it’s important to take the time to thank the people you work with and show your appreciation for their help, referrals, support or even business and act with gratitude.

New year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to focus on sharing your gratitude more frequently. These ideas make it easy to share your appreciation daily to the people who impact your life and business.

Referrals:

The next time a potential client mentions you were referred by another professional, make sure you take a moment to say ‘thank you!’ It can be as simple as a quick text or email, and will be appreciated. For bonus points, consider sending a handwritten postcard or thank you note.

When you actually book the event, it’s a plus to send another acknowledgement, such as a written note. Finally, when the event is complete and you’ve received a review or thank you from the client, a note with a copy of client-praise shows you have earned the referral, and will help encourage them to send more clients your way! Always return the favor quickly to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Gifts:

IRS regulations and company policies generally limit gifts to less than $25. At first blush, $25 doesn’t seem like a lot of money; however, personalizing the gift is a great way to make it special. For example, giving personalized thank you notes with the name of each client is a strong way to make your point.

On one occasion I attended a presentation by an author. Her talk was titled The Art of The Business Lunch’. The author, Robin Jay, had also attended a seminar I gave on blogging. I gave her a book on blogging, called, ‘Nobody cares what you had for lunch.’ The reaction was massive! Anyone could use a book as a thank you. Music is another interesting way to make a connection. When people fill out Facebook profiles, they often indicate their music preferences. Rather than just a gift card, pick an artist your peer or client has listed as a favorite.

Membership Awareness:

You don’t have to be the membership chair to recognize the presence or absence of people from meetings at local groups or for industry associations. If a person who you sat with was particularly interesting, then just drop them a quick note and tell them. This is great way to naturally expand your network! If a person was missing in action, let them know they were missed.

Acknowledging Staff:

When one of your employees has performed ‘above and beyond,’ it’s a great to not only tell them personally but to write a note or send a small token as an added bonus for their hard work. Meetings are a great opportunity to acknowledge staff members by telling stories about their successes. Whether it is making a sale, saving a sale, or performing other client magic, a public thank you has maximum impact on great work.

Anticipation:

A week ahead of the wedding, send the wedding couple a note explaining what a privilege it is to work for them and how you ‘can’t wait for the wedding day’. That will set an amazing tone that not only are you a quality wedding pro, but that you really care about their individual day and appreciate their business.

The same thing is true for the other wedding pros you will be working with. If you plan to work with someone closely that day, make sure you do the research to know who the person is, and express your appreciation in advance for any help they will provide for you to do your job well. This is not the norm – and will make a great impression!

Overall, remember that it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to demonstrate your appreciation, and it can make a significant difference in your likability and your business success! Aim to showcase your appreciation in 2017 to stand out among the crowd to boost your business in the New Year.

» Focus on Your Earnings, Not Savings

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.

focus-on-earnings-not-savingsAs we approach the end of another year, it’s often time to reconcile our finances. We need to get our books in order, so we can do our taxes (I know, yuk). Then comes the scramble to find the deductions you qualified for over the year. While doing so, it becomes easy to focus on our expenses. For some of us, it’s time to re-evaluate those expenses as we prepare for the coming year.

These insights will help you get a handle on your financial planning needs and help you take control as you plan for the future!

Expenses vs. Investments

The danger in focusing only on expenses is that you can lose focus on the bigger picture. The only money you can save is the money you spend. It’s a finite amount. You can’t make all of your expenses disappear. You have to buy gas for your car, and pay for telephone service, internet connection, electricity, and more. But those are expenses, not investments. Expenses are things that you pay for, where you don’t expect any return other than what you bought (gas, electricity, phone service, food, etc.).

Investments, on the other hand, are things that may, and the operative word is ‘may’, provide a return that’s greater than the value paid. When you invest in a new employee, you would hope to get more value than what you pay them. When you invest in a new website, you would hope to get more value than the cost of the website. When you invest in advertising and marketing, you would hope to get back more than the value that you pay. When you invest in a new location, you would hope to get back more than you invest.

Opportunity Cost

What you need to focus on is getting the best return. The opportunity cost of not investing is the money you could make if you did. Sometimes, that means doing more than just paying the bill. For instance, if you buy a booth at a wedding show, and don’t take the time to design your booth correctly, and invest in great email/direct mail follow up, and actually do the follow up, you’ll never get the most return from that investment. Similarly, if you take a new office/warehouse space, build it out and decorate it properly, but don’t invest in marketing to let people know about it, you’ll never see the full return.

Go Big, or Go Home

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» How Photography and the Wedding Industry have Evolved Since Full Marriage Equality

This 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.

The aspect I enjoy most about my work is having the chance to talk with wedding professionals about the work they do. Though we often talk about same-sex couples, trends and marketing practices, I absolutely love learning more about the specific talents and “tricks of the trade” of those who work with couples every day.

wedding-photography-marriage-equalityIn this spirit, four years ago, I fielded a phone call from New Hampshire-based photographer Thea Dodds. And that phone call turned into a coffee and a two-day exchange of ideas and professional experience. The end result was our self-published title, Capturing Love, which went on to be published as The New Art of Capturing Love by Amphoto Books in 2014.

The collaboration was meaningful for both of us and I came to understand more about wedding photography — and the challenge of producing beautiful, meaningful and personal images — than I had ever imagined I might.

I decided it was time for us to catch up — and this time on the record. I wanted to know how writing the book and being on tour teaching same-sex wedding photography in the industry has impacted her perspective.

Here’s what she had to say:

It’s been 4 years since we first sat down to produce and publish Capturing Love. How has the experience impacted your approach to wedding photography and couples portraiture?

Four years! That is hard to believe! When we first starting writing this book we could count the number of marriage equality states on one hand. So much has changed in four years.  Co-authoring Capturing Love has changed me, too, both in my business and my personal life.  I’ve learned so much from working with you, my clients, and our contributing photographers, that it’s hard to know where to start.

Overall, I’d say that Capturing Love has helped me connect with my clients more authentically. In a large part, I’m able to do this because I’m more conscious of the assumptions I bring to the table. I also have inclusive language that invites people to share who they are. And all of this blends right into my personal life because this work is really about being a better person.  

How has it impacted your thinking as a small business owner?

Capturing Love was a wake-up call to me about how important our work is. Our photographs influence opinions so we better make sure we know what the work is saying. One of the things that drove me to this project originally was that I felt my photographs of same-sex couples looked more like pictures of siblings. Once I listened to what my work was saying, I was able to change it. Now I am concerned with underlying meanings, power relationships and diversity in my portfolio. For instance, now that I know the LGBTQ population is about 5% of the US population, I want to make sure that my portfolio reflects that. Now that I know a ‘dip photo’ communicates strength and power, I’m a little more cautious about imposing that message on a couple.  It’s not that I never do it because some couples want that iconic image, but I’m just careful that they’re not doing it just because I told them to.

What changes, if any, have you seen in the photography industry?

Change is the one thing you can count on in the world, and the photo industry is no different.  I’ve been photographing weddings for 11 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes in my clientele, in industry standards and in wedding traditions, too. In the last two years, I have seen a sharp increase of interest in serving the LGBTQ community. This is truly fantastic change. It’s not every day that you get an entirely new segment of the population entering the wedding industry, so this has been a very exciting time to be a wedding photographer; but, there is still a lot of work to do.

Some photographers may have rushed into being LGBTQ-friendly while not learning how to be LGBTQ-competent. Just like we say in the book, the only way to get better at something is practice, and the one thing you never want to do at a wedding is practice. A wedding is a wedding, but there are some physical and cultural differences that impact our approach to best-serving the LGBTQ community.

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» Having the Best Year Ever? Don’t Stop Now!

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

Perhaps this was your year. The best year ever. The year where everything clicked. When you heard more yes’s than no’s. Maybe you bumped up your salary. Got an office off site. Upgraded your laptop as you simultaneously celebrated meeting your sales goals.

best-year-everIf that sounds like you, then we need to talk.  Because what I’m about to share with you needs to stick with you as you make your plans for 2017.

Don’t stop.

I get it — you didn’t get to this point because of luck. You advertised and stood on your feet for hours at wedding and events. You hit all the local networking events and took out the better part of your region for coffee. You blogged, you shared life behind the scenes on Instagram and even learned a little bit about Snapchat. It’s absolutely normal to feel like it’s time to pull back a little.

But don’t.

One of my best business lessons took place the summer after I graduated from college. I worked for the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. At the time, they were $13 billion (yes, billion) ahead of their next closest competitor. But they never stopped. They never put the brakes on promotion and innovation. And I’ve carried that lesson with me in the wedding industry ever since.

I see it far too often — a company enjoys the fruits of their labor and then decides to pull back. They see an uptick in the number of client referrals or plans to dedicate more time to social media. So they cut back on media buys and submissions or suddenly disappear from the networking circuit. It doesn’t take long before they see a dip in client and vendor referrals, and business in general. So they ramp up their marketing again — and around and around we go.

Because here’s the thing– your competitors want you to take a break. Those eager up-and-coming wedding pros just diving into the market? They’d do anything for you to not be such a permanent fixture at every association meeting and in every real wedding feature. That upgraded listing or fab booth spot you secured three years ago? I promise, that in this competitive market, someone else already has his or her eye on it.

Should the off-season be a time of reflection, where you take a good hard look at your promotional efforts? Absolutely.  But if you want to continue this era of good feeling, I’d encourage you to keep swimming. Check out these helpful past posts on business ideas and tips and get motivated for an even more successful year ahead in 2017!

» Easy Ways to Improve Your Business Website

Is your business website working hard enough for you? After all, your website is often the first impression your potential clients see for your business and plays a huge role in determining if a client is interested in working with your business or learning more about your services.

As you prepare for the new year, consider taking some time to invest in refreshing your website to stand out to newly engaged couples and book more business in 2017. These seven tips from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provide helpful ways that you can assess your site, maximize your marketing potential, and get more leads quickly. From contact form best practices, to adding testimonials and reviews, to copy writing tips, you will want to bookmark this infographic as you prepare for your next website refresh!

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» 10 Marketing Best Practices for 2017

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

As the year comes to a close and busy fall wedding season winds down, now is a good time to review your marketing strategy for the upcoming year. Review these ten marketing tips to help keep your business on track and set-up for success in 2017!

  • 10-marketing-tipsKeep your brand fresh. It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply renewing your online listings and not making changes to the content or reviewing the design to make sure it’s modern and on brand. Take a look at your marketing materials and your advertising platforms, and consider making some small updates to refresh your branding for 2017 like adding new imagery, refreshing your logo or highlighting your social media accounts.
  • Leverage your in-person exposure. If you participate in wedding shows or local events, don’t let the competition pass you by! Make sure your booth, marketing materials and promotions are up-to-date and make a great first impression to your potential clients. Remember your presentation is not just for wedding couples, but also makes an impact on your fellow professionals who can become referrals in your network.
  • Make website updates. Websites can be like closets… businesses tend to add content, but rarely remove anything old! Set aside time to do a full vetting of your website, including all pages. Consider updating copy, adding/removing staff member information, reviewing pricing, contact forms and images of your work. A modern site will catch the eye of your prospects, and dated material will be a red flag.
  • Highlight your inquiry form: It is critical to have an inquiry page within your site so couples can easily get in touch to learn more about your services. This may be the point important element to drive your leads and sales! She this page as a prominent link and add a link or small contact form to every page within your site for added exposure. To help track your marketing success consider asking your prospects: “How did you find our site?”
  • Add testimonials to your site: Let your past clients do the selling for you! Collect and add testimonials and reviews from happy past clients, and add sound bites to all your marketing materials. Customer praise should be featured throughout your site, and make sure you add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to show off recent reviews, along with any accolades for reviews like WeddingWire Rated or Couples Choice Awards.

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» Winter Reading List for Wedding Pros

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

As the peak season winds down and you find more time on your hands, it’s important to make sure you’re carving in time for personal and business development. There is no better way to do this than to get your reading on! With that in mind, grab a mug of your favorite warm drink, pull up a blanket and get cozy with this reading list for wedding pros as the weather gets colder.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

winter-reading-listThis is my go-to book and I recommend it to virtually anyone who asks for reading suggestions. In fact, I actually gave it away at this year’s WeddingWire World! During my first few months of starting OFD, I made sure to take the time to meet some of my favorite entrepreneurs. In the process, my dear friend Nina, who owns Classic Party Rentals of Virginia (one of my favorite people ever!), told me to buy it. Seeing as I do everything she tells me, I bought it and devoured it within days.

It’s a great book on the power of relationships with the notion that “your network is your net worth.” The wedding industry may continue to change, but by all means, relationships will always be at the forefront so this is imperative. If you’re going to read only one book on this list, let it be this one!

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Do you have a new idea that you’re dying to explore? Is there something you really want to get off the ground? Well, the off-season is the perfect time to map out your plan, but don’t do anything until you read this first. This book dives into the world of testing an idea and it has proven invaluable to me as I’ve contemplated the next steps of my business. This is a great read for anyone considering a pivot in their company!

Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman

I’ll be honest – I’ve been a longtime fan of Peter Shankman ever since I discovered HARO. He is a customer service expert and this book is perfect for those looking to focus on developing client experience. In the wedding industry, one of the top ways that couples find their vendors is through friend referrals, so this is an incredible read to help you build a loyal fan base among your customers.

Nice Guys Finish First by Doug Sandler

We are so lucky to have Doug Sandler in the wedding industry and this book speaks to the power of kindness in the business. It’s chockful of great anecdotes from Doug’s career and truly showcases how to put systems into place to ensure the emphasis is placed on business relationships.

Get ready for a page-turning off-season! These books are both enjoyable and educational at the same time, so order your first book and get going on your off-season efforts.

» It’s Impossible to be an Expert at Everything – and that’s Okay!

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.

Recently, I was conducting a mastermind group the other day in the UK for 10 DJ companies, who have varying years of experience (from 5 years to almost 40 years). What stood out to me was that this group, who all have good, successful companies, each have different business skills. Their technical (computer/internet/website) expertise ranged from low to very high. That’s to be expected with any group. What I didn’t expect is that one of the companies, who’s not known for his technical expertise when it comes to websites, was chiming in to help the group with some pretty technical features of Google Analytics. Quite a few of the guys in the room, including me (as I’ve consulted with him privately), were very surprised.

It turns out that he had been studying up, using websites and YouTube videos, and had picked up a few new tricks – and I’ll have to admit, I didn’t even know one or two of them. A couple of the guys in the room are pretty skilled in making websites and knew him personally, so they were even more surprised.

The point of this story? It got me thinking that each of us has our own history, knowledge and skillset.  None of us is an expert in everything, and we shouldn’t ever assume what others may or may not know. We have our own, unique expertise that comes from the combined knowledge we’ve gleaned, and that knowledge is unique to each of us.

impossible-expert-everythingWe’re each a product of our history

Many wedding pros have transitioned into their own businesses after leaving corporate, or technical jobs. They may have deep knowledge of software such as Microsoft Excel or Outlook. While others struggle to make a basic spreadsheet, they’re knocking out detailed reports with ease. However, those same people who have no problem using Excel might struggle with other areas of their businesses (i.e. marketing, design, websites, etc.). None of us is an expert at everything. When presented with a need for our business, we always have the choice of doing something ourselves, or hiring a professional. Knowing when to choose each path is something we often have to learn by trial and error.

It’s often easier to try to learn a new skill or software program, instead of hiring someone to do that task for you, especially when funds are tight. When you realize that the time you’re investing in learning that skill is time away from building your business, or away from your family, often the right answer is to hire the professional – after all, isn’t that why we want them to hire us? If you’re new at a skill, it’s going to take time for you to master it. If it’s a skill that you can profit from, maybe it’s worth investing in the training and time. For others, hiring a professional us a jump-start to that professional level. What’s that worth to you?

When is it time to make the switch?

I realized that when I switched from doing my own taxes, to hiring a professional CPA. My dad is a retired CPA and we would do my taxes together (my degree is in marketing and accounting). However, he’s been retired for a long time (he’s 86 now), so he’s not up on the latest tax laws and software. I never practiced accounting, so even though I have a good understanding, I wasn’t up on the latest info, either. So, a few years ago I hired an accountant, and the first year he did my taxes he showed me deductions I hadn’t been taking and was able to recoup some refunds from prior years. In other words, he paid for himself the first time I used him.

Too many of us fall into the trap of thinking that because we have expertise in one area, it’s automatically transferrable to another skill. We’re comfortable with using a computer, so we think we can make our own website. We’re creative, so we think we can design our own marketing collateral. It’s understandable, especially when you consider that most of us started as, or still are, small businesses, where you, the owner, is wearing many hats. When you’re bootstrapping a new business, you usually do everything yourself. As a matter of fact, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, is purported to have said (and I’m paraphrasing) “When I started my business, I knew I’d be wearing a lot of hats. I just didn’t realize I’d be wearing them all at the same time.”

Time is slipping away

An important realization, in any business, is learning to value your time. It’s the one thing you’ll never get any more of. Sometimes it’s best to hire someone to do something you do have the skill for, just because your time is better spent on other tasks. I put off hiring an assistant for a couple of years. I knew it would be helpful, but I wasn’t sure I could justify the expense. Everything was getting done, but at what cost? The cost was my time, sitting on the sofa at night with my laptop, working, when I should have been spending time with my family, or even just relaxing.

What’s your time worth? What else could you be doing if you delegated some tasks to someone else (virtual assistant, intern, employee)? None of us is an expert at everything, no matter how long, or short, you’ve been in business. Sometimes we all need help. Becoming aware of that is the first step to accomplishing more, achieving more and profiting more.

» 10 Ways to Avoid Falling Into a Productivity Rut

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

As a busy wedding professional, it’s important to maintain your productivity throughout the day – especially during busy season! While we all strive to be as productive as possible, some days can be particularly challenging. Review these 10 easy ways to keep you from falling into a productivity rut, and instead keep your business on the fast track.

Skip the Snooze Button

Pressing the snooze button seems to provide more rest to start in the morning in the moment, but that’s not necessarily so. When you first awake, your body releases energy getting you ready for the day. Returning to sleep can slow down the process and make you want to continue to hit the snooze button. Those extra minutes in bed can quickly add up!

5 Ways to Take Time for YouNever Miss Breakfast

Getting the fuel we need doesn’t just mean sleeping well. By the time you wake up you likely haven’t eaten for 10 hours or more. The first meal of the day jump-starts your metabolism and replenishes blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar makes it harder to focus and more likely to feel tired, irritable, and impatient – which isn’t a great way to start your morning to do list! Beginning a day with a well balanced meal can help you start the day focused, energized and ready to dive into work, so breakfast should never be skipped.

 Limit Random Web Surfing

It’s not hard to get distracted finding the answer to a random notion that just appeared in your consciousness by searching online, or feeling the need to check in on your favorite social network or online sites. When you get curious about something, just write down what you would like to check on and give yourself a designated time during the day to dedicate to these items. This will keep you on task, and give you ‘free time’ to look forward to.

Avoid Multitasking

When we feel overwhelmed, it’s not uncommon to turn to multitasking. However, when you are distracted by multiple items to do, you are not really multitasking in most cases; you are ‘task switching.’ Work to focus on one thing at a time, and check it off your list when done! Don’t allow yourself to ‘bounce around’ without a plan, as you will likely not complete anything in a timely and thorough manner.

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» Wedding PR: Developing Your Speaking Platform

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

If you’re looking to expand your public relations efforts, professional speaking can be the perfect solution to increasing brand recognition and solidifying yourself as an industry leader. Oftentimes, people get excited and jump headfirst into pitching themselves; however, this can be a mistake if you haven’t put together a strategy ahead of time.

One major piece of your speaking strategy is your platform – it is essential to creating and fine-tuning your topics ahead of the actual pitching process. Ideally, your speaking platform will consist of three or four topics that you are comfortable speaking for at least 45 minutes, but even up to one and a half hours.

meghan-blog-imageSo, what topics should you cover? Good question.

First and foremost, dig deep and ask yourself what subjects you’re equally passionate about and well versed in. If you were standing in a room full of industry peers, would you be comfortable answering everything and anything about your chosen topic? Sit down and map out every topic you can think of, but don’t be too broad. Nobody wants to hear something just about wedding planning – you have to get specific with it. Expect to have a pretty overwhelming list (you do know a lot!), but don’t worry because you’ll be narrowing it down later.

Then, it’s time for research! Look at the places that you want to pitch, whether it’s a local workshop, national conference, association meeting or retreat. Review the speakers who are already booked and what kinds of topics they are covering. Your goal is to offer subject matters that are complementary to what is already there but still offer a unique perspective.

Once you’ve narrowed your topics down to the three or four best options, it’s time to put together your three main components for pitching – a catchy title, a brief description and three or four strong takeaways. Your title should be interesting without being two cutesy, with the description explaining what your speech is all about. Keep it simple at about 75 words or less. As for the takeaways, they should include actionable items that attendees will learn and walk away from your presentation with. Don’t be too anxious about expanding too much in your pitch – you’ll have much more space in your presentation to dive in deep!

As always, test the waters when pitching. If you’re finding that you’re not getting responses, it may be time to pivot your subjects. Topics are meant to evolve. For example, if you’re focusing on technology or social media, you should expect that your content would evolve quite a bit.

Create a marketing piece, like a one-pager, that really showcases you and your topics. As you’re submitting and waiting to hear back, it never hurts to take those topics and write guest articles or blog posts about them. Making efforts to project one’s self as an industry expert can be the difference in a winning pitch!