» 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!

» Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?

Photo by Blueflash Photography

You’ve been hearing it over and over, engagement season is just around the corner! But what does that mean for you? This is the ideal time of year to strengthen your Storefront, website and communications to stand out to newly engaged couples when they start searching for their wedding team. Education Guru Alan Berg recently shared his best tips for tuning up these areas to help you connect with more couples in the coming months.

Here are the top four ways that you can take action now and strengthen your website:

Choose images that are aspirational

Using aspirational images is a top tip for Storefront improvements, but it is also equally true for your website. Your goal is to find images that invoke an emotional connection between the couple and your business. A couple’s first reaction should be, “Wow, I want to be just like that couple!” Remember: the head has a budget, the heart does not. So find photos that touch their hearts.

Take action:

  1. The key to building an emotional connection with a couple is showing them what they could look like on their big day. Assess your website images and see if you are showcasing happy couples. If you aren’t, then change your photos or add in new ones! For some categories this can be difficult, but try to show couples interacting with you or your service.
  2. If your options are limited for this type of photo, feature a mix of photos of ideal couples you have worked with and photos of you or your best work.

Make sure the text matches the aspiration of your photos

When a couple comes to your website, it’s because they are coming to learn more about you and the service you provide. If the feeling you portray in the words on your website doesn’t match that of your images, it can feel disjointed and may not inspire them to reach out.

Take action:

  1. To match the feeling that couples see when first come to your website, you need to narrate the results and outcomes of what they will receive from you. If you’re a photographer, talk about the emotion that your couples feel the first time they see their photos. If you’re a caterer, talk about how guests rave for weeks and weeks about your food. Those are the outcomes couples want, so that’s what you need to talk about.
  2. Do the “you test”. When you use the word “you” on your website you are automatically allowing the couple to visualize themselves working with you. To do this test, go to your current website then on the taskbar click edit, then find, then type the word “you” and hit search. The more times the word “you” pops up, the better! If the current number is low, reread your text and find the appropriate places to insert the word “you”. Remember: You want to talk to them about them, because that’s who they care about!
  3. Read all of the text on your website out loud. This may seem a little silly, but it’s a great way to catch yourself if you are using language that you typically wouldn’t with a couple or have outdated information on your site. Question every sentence to make sure that you are describing your business accurately and using language that connects directly with the couple reading it.

Include social proof of your capabilities

Engaged couples want to hear about you and your capabilities, not from you, but from other couples that have experienced what it’s like to work with you. The best way to incorporate social proof into your website is by utilizing testimonials and reviews. The more you are able to incorporate these things into your website, the more engaged couples will be able to see the consistency of your work and how other couples felt about working with you.

Take action:

  1. Add a reviews section to your website. Include reviews with specific praise and strong emotional keywords. Make sure this is an actual part of your website and not a widget. Those keywords are great for your SEO!
  2. Choose the best reviews to feature on your website. You should still provide a link to your WeddingWire storefront where they can read through all of your reviews, but on your website you should highlight the reviews that reflect your ideal client and convey how much you care about your clients.

Create specific calls-to-action

Once you have an interested couple on your website, your biggest mistake would be to leave them wondering what to do next! Just as you’ll guide them through the wedding planning process with your business, guide them through your website with very specific and straightforward calls-to-action.

Take action:

  1. First, if you don’t currently have any calls-to-action on your website think about the specific actions you want a couple to take. Do you want them to call you? Reach out via email? Read your reviews? Look through your photos? Each page will probably have a specific action tied to it. Make sure to think these through to ensure they are clear and not misleading.
  2. Once you’ve determined a strong call-to-action, incorporate it into each page! Whenever possible, create the call-to-action as a button rather than a “click here” in text or an arrow.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks for engagement season tune-up tips about client communication strategies. Be sure to check out Alan’s Storefront tune-up tips, too!

» 5 Instagram Must-Haves for Engagement Season

instagram

Photo by Clay Swanson Photography

Engagement season is quickly approaching, and one of the first places couples will research vendors is on Instagram! To prepare, you should make sure your profile is in tip-top shape so that couples feel drawn to you when they come across your content. Once you draw them in, you should also make sure to prompt them to visit your website or send you an inquiry.

Here are five things that your Instagram profile should have in order to stand out to couples this engagement season.

Make your bio shine

When couples land on your Instagram profile, one of the first things they will see is your bio. Instagram bios can be a max of 150 characters, so you must make every character count. Here are a few things to remember to include when writing your bio:

  • Succinctly explain what you do and who your ideal client is
  • Show your personality
  • Include a call to action

Read more about how to write a social media bio that attracts couples here.

Create a clear call-to-action

Just like you should have on your Storefront or website, a call-to-action on your social media channels is a must! You’ve captivated a couple so don’t let them leave without giving them direction to head to your website or contact you. There are two great places to do this on your Instagram profile:

  1. Your Bio – Give couples an instruction in your bio. For example, you might say, “Click below to see my full portfolio!” or “Message me to learn more!” or “Have a question? Let’s chat!”
  2. Your Link – When you click to edit your profile in the Instagram app, you will see a field where you can enter your website URL. Use this strategically by linking to your About Me page, a lead magnet landing page, or a portfolio page. This will give potential clients the most important information about your business and motivate them to contact you.  

Post quality content daily

After making sure that your profile is captivating and providing direction to incoming couples, make sure that you are staying top of mind! One of the best ways to stand out from your competitors is to have a fresh,  up-to-date Instagram feed. This will help showcase your work as for couples that follow you and ensure that you  continue to pop up in their feed.

Don’t forget that Instagram is a visual platform, so when posting regularly,make sure that you are posting visually appealing and inspiring content. You want to post aspirational content that makes a couple stop and think “Wow – I want to be THAT couple.” Apply these tips for curating Storefront photos to your Instagram feed.

Show your personality

You may be using Instagram to market your business, but remember – couples also care about the person behind the business, too. Every so often, post photos that tell a bit about you and show your personality. You can share selfies, photos of your work space, photos taken with past clients, or even just photos of things that make you happy throughout your day. This will help you create a connection with couples and attract more ideal clients.

Optimize for engagement

There are two kinds of Instagram engagement that you should focus on. The first is on your profile itself. Couples want to see that your posts have likes and comments. To increase engagement, include relevant hashtags and ask questions in your captions to encourage people to comment.

The second is your engagement with other profiles. Avoid only logging into Instagram to post your own photos. Instead, make sure to spend a few minutes each day browsing through your feed, liking and commenting on others’ posts. You can also search for hashtags that local couples may use in their posts, then engage with their posts. This will grab their attention and encourage them to click through to your profile.

» Why You Shouldn’t Cater to Only One Type of Client

Photo by Cassie Madden Photography

This post was written by Megan Hayes, Regional Manager, Customer Success at WeddingWire.

One of the most common challenges in the wedding industry is the lack of diversity and representation of all types of couples in the media. While society has led us to think a certain way based on what’s typically portrayed in media outlets, such as magazines and television, the reality is that today’s couples come from all backgrounds and lifestyles.

Just think: How many times have you seen a young bride standing alone on the cover of a wedding magazine and thought, “Wow, she really represents all of my clients”? The short answer is you probably haven’t!

Whether it’s your business website, your social networks, or ads in wedding magazines, only catering to one type of client could mean that your website (and marketing materials) could be turning away potential clients. According to this WedInsights fact sheet, 40% of straight grooms and 50% of brides and grooms of color say it is challenging to see themselves reflected in the content and imagery of magazines and online resources. Additionally, same-sex couples and those with lower household incomes are more likely to say they also experience this lack of representation in media.

It’s important to remember that all types of couples are looking for inspiration and relevant resources to help them with their decision-making needs throughout the wedding planning process. If couples can’t relate to, or identify with your work, this might deter them from considering your services. Conversely, our data shows that representing more diverse audiences can actually benefit your business. According to our 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, 98% of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral.

In preparation for engagement season, take a second to think about the couples you’ve worked with in the past year. Now take a look at your advertising. Does your advertising display the array of body shapes, ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, or even personal styles of the couples you service? Are all of your recent clients reflected in your marketing materials? If your answer is no, here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate diversity into  your website, WeddingWire Storefront, and other marketing materials to make underrepresented couples feel welcome:

  • Display an assorted representation of couples you’ve worked with through visual content on your Storefront such as your main image, photo albums, and video content.
  • In your About Us section, use inclusive language (i.e. use “couples” in place of “brides” wherever possible) and convey that you embrace diversity and welcome all couples.
  • Utilize photography that showcases diversity in your blog posts, social media channels, and on your website.

Remember: Small changes can go a long way towards helping all types of couples feel comfortable reaching out to you and booking your business.

 

Megan Hayes is a Regional Manager of the Customer Success Team at WeddingWire. As a client-facing customer advocate with 7+ years of experience in both account management and online advertising, she’s now taken her experience and travels nationally speaking on topics to empower small businesses with industry trends. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a Public Relations concentration from James Madison University.

» Storefront Tune-Up Tips for Engagement Season

storefront tips

Photo by Bradley Images

Did you know that nearly 18% of all engagements occur in December alone? Now is the time to start tuning up your online presence in preparation for these couples. During our October webinar, Education Guru Alan Berg shared his best tips for tuning up your Storefront to help you connect with more couples this engagement season.

Here are the top four ways that you can take action now and strengthen your Storefront:

Make sure you have an aspirational thumbnail image that stands out.
Even though it’s small, your thumbnail image is very important! That tiny picture could make or break a couple’s decision to click to your Storefront. When a couple sees that image, you want them to feel emotionally connected and think, “Wow, I want to be just like that couple!” This can be achieved by selecting a lovely lifestyle image of a happy couple at their wedding. Remember: It’s not about the flowers, the food, the music, or any other service you provide, it’s about making couples feel like they can achieve their dream wedding with you.

Take action:

  1. Does your thumbnail image have a photo of a happy couple? If not, change it! We know this can be tricky for some categories, but be creative with it! If you’re a caterer, we know you don’t want to show a couple with a mouth full of food, but you do want to show a couple interacting with your food. If you’re a videographer, use a photo of you filming a couple with a beautiful scene in the background. The default choice should always be a happy couple, no matter your category.
  2. Test it on mobile. Couples are browsing through Storefronts on their phones, so take a moment to ensure that your thumbnail is compatible. Is it missing the detail you were trying to show? Did you turn the couple into headless horsemen? If so, fix it!
  3. Look at your competition’s thumbnail images in your category. Make sure that your image stands out and is the best reflection of your ideal client so that you will attract more of those engaged couples to click on your page.

Update your Storefront albums with lifestyle images.
Great work! Your beautiful thumbnail image has now led a couple to click on your Storefront. The first thing that they will do now is look at your photos. Remember that more is not better. Better is better! Your goal is to get them to contact you, so your job here is to guide them through the best examples of your work, with plenty of lifestyle images of happy couples that they can instantly relate to and be inspired by. Lite members can share 5 photos, while Premium members can upload up to 100 photos per album.

Take action:

  1. Review your current albums to assess the feeling that they convey to couples. Do you have a balance of inspiring lifestyle photos mixed in with designed detail shots? Similar to thumbnail selection, make sure the photos you choose to place in your album will transport a couple to envisioning their own big day.
  2. Organize your albums into relevant categories (and consider doing some editing down). Think about the best ways to sort your photos. For example, if you are a caterer, you can create albums titled “Cocktail Hour,” “Dessert Tables,” “Plated Reception,” “Buffet Reception,” “Bar & Beverages,” etc. This will help couples navigate your photos and find images that reflect the wedding they envision. Make sure you have just enough photos to give a strong first impression of your work, but not so many that a couple gets lost and overwhelmed. Focus on quality over quantity; 50 photos in one album is probably too many.  

Captivate couples using your reviews.
After your thumbnail image and your Storefront photos, the next thing a couple will look at is your reviews. The more reviews you have, the more engaged couples will be able to see the consistency of your work and the way past couples feel about you. The more recent your reviews, the more a couple will be able to see that your business is presently providing a great service. Couples care what you did last week or last month, not so much what you did over a year ago!  While having a ton of reviews is great, it’s not the only thing couples are considering when they are looking at your reviews. Couples are also looking at the recency, your responses, and emotional keywords that can connect them to experiences you provided other couples.

Take action:

  1. Update your highlighted review. Premium members can highlight a review; choose a review that is recent, short-to-medium in length and uses great emotional words at the beginning. Don’t pick the longest review you’ve ever received. Couples are likely to skim, so you want them to quickly get the gist when reading through. This doesn’t have to be your most recent review, but it should ideally be one from the same calendar year.
  2. Respond to all reviews and make sure your responses include personal details about that couple’s day. These responses should be written with future couples in mind and show that you are engaged with the couple from start to finish.
  3. Make sure you are always ASKING for reviews. To find out what you can be doing to get more reviews, see this post. And don’t forget, 5 new reviews in 2017 will make you eligible for the upcoming Couples’ Choice Awards!

Read all of the text on your Storefront out loud.
Take the time to read through your About section and FAQ (and all the text on your Storefront); as silly as it might feel, do it out loud! Does it include language you wouldn’t normally use when you are describing your business over the phone or in a meeting? Does it include old services that you no longer offer? Question every sentence to make sure that you are describing your business accurately and using language that connects directly with the couple reading it.

Take action:

  1. Change any language that doesn’t sound like you are talking to a couple! You want to send a consistent message and sound relatable. Don’t forget that couples are often looking for a vendor that they can connect with, not just someone who provides a service. You are important to them, so they want to feel that connection with you.
  2. Add a call to action. The couple is on your Storefront after all, so you’ve already gotten them this far! Tell them what they should do next (contact you!). This provides a sense of direction and urgency. Let them know that you look forward to connecting with them about their big day.

Stay tuned for more engagement season tune-up tips over the coming weeks including website tips, client communication strategies, and more.

» How to Prep Your Press Page for Engagement Season

Scott Aleman Photography

Photo by: Scott Aleman Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Meghan Ely.

As the holidays begin to approach you can almost feel it coming…engagement season is just around the corner. Happy couples excited about launching into their wedding planning will be discovering you daily through your online presence. So you must ask yourself: Is my press page ready?

One of the best tools at your disposal to capture press about your company and promote it long after the publish date is a press page that features links to your recent mentions and serves as testimony to the recognition you have received.

You work hard year-round to keep your PR strategy on track and your name in front of the right audience and you don’t want to let an out of date press page weaken your overall publicity strategy. So, gear up for engagement season and prep your press page now.

Audit Your Online Footprint

Before couples start to search for your services, take a long, hard look at your press page and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your page current? It’s easy to let things slip in the busy season, so make sure you’ve collected your press from the last year.
  • Is it easy to navigate? Your press page should be simple, yet impactful. It should showcase your top press with links to the coverage as appropriate. Don’t make couples hunt and peck to find what you want them to see.
  • Does it highlight my top press? It’s a common mistake to put the page in chronological order, but that’s not ideal. You need to include a mix of press, with the majority of features from the past year and with your very best press near the top. Prioritize highly trafficked sites and those that will impress prospects the most.
  • Is it consistent with the couples I want to attract? Another mistake is to believe that you must include every single press mention you’ve ever received. At a minimum, you need three features on your page, but you can certainly include more. When deciding what to use and what to trim, focus on the press that will attract your target prospects and help convert them to booked business.

    Do all of the links work? This is the time to test them out!

Review Your Social Media Press Promotion

You should also evaluate how you promote your press with social media. Different platforms have their own specific press pages, such as:

  • Facebook: Create an album dedicated exclusively to press about your business. Upload screenshots and scans or links to magazine features and credit the sources accordingly. Also, tag the wedding day team that helped the day come together.
  • Pinterest: Create a board dedicated to pins of your press.
  • Instagram: Consider a branded hashtag that relates to your company and press. Use your phone and take a screenshot of online features or take a photo of print pages and share them in a post.

Make sure that prospective clients can easily find an up-to-date and powerful representation of the press you’ve worked so hard to receive. Review your press page now and make any necessary updates and upgrades before engagement season begins.

Haven’t yet focused on press for your business? Here are some tips to get started.
Easy Peasy PR Tips for Small Business Professionals
Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal Brand
What Are the Best Media Outlets for Me?

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.

» 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

» How to Run a Facebook Contest This Engagement Season

Walking Eagle Photography

Photo by Walking Eagle Photography

Running contests and giveaways is a great way to get engagement and visibility for your Facebook page, but it’s important to be aware of the  promotional guidelines you must follow to ensure a successful promotion. Before running a Facebook contest or giveaway this engagement season, we recommend brushing up on Facebook’s guidelines in order to avoid your account being flagged or shut down. Here are three of Facebook’s rules that you may not have known about before.

You cannot ask for shares or tags as a requirement for entry

“Share this post and tag a friend in the comments to enter!” is a common line found in contest posts on Facebook, and it makes sense, right? Shares get you in front of more people and if someone tags a friend who is engaged, it can get you in front of more potential clients – plus, everyone asks for shares and tagging in the comments! It can’t be that bad…right?

As innocent as it may seem, asking for people to share your post or tag a friend violates Facebook’s guidelines. The official Facebook rule states, “Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions.”

This means that you cannot ask for people to: share your post to their page, share your post to a friend’s page, tag friends in the comments, or tag friends or themselves in a photo in order to enter your contest.

However, you can ask people to like the post or comment in order to enter. You can even encourage tagging a friend in the comments or sharing the post to spread the word, as long as it is not a condition to enter the contest.

You must state the official terms and eligibility requirements for your contest

Your post should explain the rules of the contest or giveaway. Make sure to include minimum age, location, or other requirement for entry, along with how the winner will be chosen and any other terms that you would like to include. If you have longer terms and conditions, you can always link to a web page that outlines them.

For example, if you are a wedding photographer hosting a giveaway for a free engagement session, you may want to state that all eligible participants must be engaged, living within your state, and must be getting married within a certain timeframe.

You must state that Facebook is in no way affiliated with or sponsoring your contest

Facebook requires that you make it clear that they are not connected with your contest whatsoever. The easiest way to do this and cover all your bases is to pull directly from Facebook’s official contest guidelines and add a line to the end of your post stating that your promotion “is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”

Now that you know three important Facebook contest guidelines to follow, here are some ideas for contests and giveaways:

  • Ask for couples to share their wedding date in the comments, then randomly select one couple to receive a discount off a package or a free service.
  • Post a photo that relates to the couple (photo of them, their wedding, their invitations, etc.) and state that if you get a certain number comments or likes on the post, the couple will get a discount or bonus while working with you.
  • In a post about engagements, have couples comment with their engagement story or location, encouraging photos and details. Then randomly select an engagement story from the comments to win and be shared.

» How to Stand Out Using Your Reviews

Photo by: B. Jones Photography

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

I’ve seen quite a few websites that have a paragraph, or even a page, that explains why a couple should hire a professional in their field (planner, videographer, invitation designer…). But by the time someone has gotten to that website, they’re already thinking that they want, or need a professional. That’s why they’re there. People don’t accidentally get to your website. They have to go through a series of steps to get there. Instead of using that valuable real estate to sell why they need someone in your field, use that space to sell you, and only you, for their wedding or event.

Evaluate the strength of your brand

A brand is many things. It’s much more than a logo or colors. Those are just visuals, to help identify your company. Your brand goes much deeper. What does it feel like, to do business with your company? What does it mean to do business with you? When choosing between you and your company, and another in your market and category, what are the differentiating factors? It’s not your bullet point list of services. Most of your competitors have a similar list, including good reviews and being nice people. What statement does it make to their wedding or event guests, to see that you are their officiant, designer or transportation company? You can have really nice products and services, and not have a strong brand.

What are you really selling?

Unless your unique selling proposition (USP) is that you’re the cheapest price, some people are seeing a difference between what you’re offering, and other options. Can you articulate why they’re choosing you? Can you go beyond a bullet point list of what services you offer, to show them why they should choose you, and only you, for their wedding or event?

Your reviews are branding gold

Like so many seemingly difficult questions, the way to express your brand is very close at hand. By heading over to your WeddingWire account, you’re only one click away from finding your brand. Click over to the Reviews tab in your dashboard for a simple exercise. Look for phrases and sentences that come up, over and over again. The way that past customers are describing their experience with you is one of the best ways, that I know, to articulate what it means to do business with you. Your happy clients say things you can’t, or won’t. They use words and phrases that would sound funny, or strange, or egotistical, if you said them. They express emotions, that show others what it’s like to choose you, and your team, and even specific members of your team. Unless you are new, and have no reviews, you’re sitting on a gold mine. You need to find those wonderful nuggets.

Let your reviews speak for themselves

Now comes the fun part. Don’t just identify those great sentences and phrases. Sprinkle them around your website, in your marketing, in your email communications and more. Answer this question: “Why should you choose (your business) for your wedding (your service)?” and then, instead of you answering the question, say “That’s a fair question, and one you should definitely ask, before deciding. Rather than tell you about our experience and professionalism, we’d rather let our couples, people just like you, tell you their experiences having us for their weddings:” Put a few bullets with those short phrases and sentences you found above. Finish it off with a strong call to action: “If these are the kinds of results you’d like for your wedding, call, text or contact us today 747.555.1234” Always ask for the sale, or at least the next steps, when you answer a question, or objection.

I have a document where I save all of the great reviews, testimonial notes, social comments, etc. Then, when I need a quote for a web page, marketing piece, or email, they’re close at hand, and searchable. So, get out your miner’s hat, and start finding the gold in your reviews and testimonials. Then, let your happy customers express your brand, and your ‘why’ to your prospects. Many other wedding and event pros are seeing success with this, and I know you can too.

alan bergWeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.

 

 

» Why You Should Never Buy Followers on Social Media

The desire to feel validated and popular, paired with the difficulty of earning followers organically leads a lot of businesses to want to buy followers – after all, a higher number of followers will make you look better to couples checking out your page… right? Not necessarily.

Having the ability to show off thousands of followers sounds nice in theory, but buying followers can be harmful to your brand in more ways than one. Here’s why:

Buying followers impacts your credibility

Nobody else may know that you bought followers, but if couples who check out your social profiles figure out that your followers are fake, it will significantly impact your credibility and trustworthiness – the two things you were hoping to build. You don’t want couples to start wondering things like, “If you are paying your way to internet popularity, what else might you not be totally upfront about?”

Fake followers are obvious

There are so many ways to spot fake followers. If someone sees your company’s Facebook or Instagram account one day and notices that you have a certain number of followers, then comes back the next day to see that you have ten times the amount of followers from the day before, they will know something is up.

Furthermore, fake followers never have realistic profiles. They often have a randomly generated username, similar profile pictures and bios, and rarely have more than one post published to their account. If someone notices that those are the types of accounts following you, they will know for sure your followers aren’t real.

People may think poorly of your content

Consider this scenario: a couple goes to your profile or company page and sees how “popular” you are with such a large following. When they start exploring your posts, they are probably expecting many likes, shares, and comments, but instead, they see almost no interactions with your content. Their first reaction will likely be that no one is interested in the content you share, and therefore it isn’t worth checking out.

SEO will take a hit

If your follower count is disproportionately higher than the number of people you follow and the number of posts you have published, Google may actually flag your account as fake and penalize your profile and website in search rankings. This is because having fewer posts with an abnormally large number of followers is a common indication of a fake account, and Google wants to show users quality search results. If links to your website are primarily being shared on what is flagged as a fake account, Google will interpret that as spam. In short, quality content gets prioritized when it comes to SEO and purchased followers can impact your quality score.

So how do you gain real followers organically?

  • Post examples of your work, behind the scenes snapshots, photos with couples, and go live on Facebook to showcase you and your business to couples
  • Interact with your followers
  • Be authentic and have personality so couples know you are genuine and real
  • Publish posts often, but don’t spam followers with promotional content
  • Run giveaways for couples – For example, if your photo gets 100 likes or comments, a participant could win a fun freebie related to your business

Growing your social media following organically is almost always the better practice. Instead of spending money on a following that will do nothing for your business, invest your time using the above tactics to create a following that will be far more likely to gain value from your posts and therefore more likely to engage with you and your business.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Seattle

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Lake Union Cafe & Custom Bakery for WeddingWire Networking Night Seattle!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an art deco event space while networking over light fare. Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and social, mobile & tech trends for your business, presented by WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. For additional photos from the night, check out our gallery!

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Tom of Tom Ellis Photography!

» 7 Essentials of a Great Website

An online presence is vital for any business, but a poor online presence could be costing your business money. As busy season starts to wind down and engagement season ramps up, you should start thinking about using the next couple of months to tune up your business, including your website. Doing so will make sure you are putting your best foot forward for all of the newly engaged couples!

Your website’s job is to provide key information about your business, showcase your best work and impress clients to drive leads. When was the last time you considered if your business website is working hard enough for you?

Here’s a roundup of seven website essentials from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg:

  1. Personalized Content: Aim to use conversational text on your site that connects with your target audience — engaged couples. Instead of making your content all about your business, make it all about your customer and bring life to your business.

  2. Fresh Imagery: When was the last time you refreshed your website photos? If it’s been a while, it may be time to do so! Make a great first impression with high quality, modern images that will resonate with newly engaged couples who are seeking inspiration. Not only is it a great way to show off your work and service, it’s a great way to establish credibility with a couple.

  3. Relevant Information: Take a look at your site from an outside perspective, and determine what information they need to make a simple decision of whether to contact you or book your services. Then, delete everything else. Often, too much text is overwhelming and causes your site visitors to bounce. Focus on your key takeaways and make them easy to read and digest.

  4. Simple Contact Form: Long forms get in the way of more leads! The shorter the form, the less daunting it will seem to reach out. Plus, shorter forms are more mobile-friendly. For the form, only ask for the key information you need. When you respond to their inquiry you can ask them to provide more details.

  5. Narrated Photos: Consider adding captions or other narrative context to the photos you showcase on your site. Explain the photos and how your business brought a couple’s wedding day or event to life and tie in relevant keywords to boost your SEO. Keep these brief, but it can help create a personal connection.

  6. Testimonials and Reviews: Potential clients want to hear from others like them who have used – and loved your services, so make sure your reviews are easy to find! Add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to your website, and place a soundbite from an approved client testimonial on every page so they won’t be overlooked.

  7. Straight Forward Calls to Action: Make it easy to connect with your business. Consider adding a contact form or clear button to learn more about your business to every page of your website. You can also use calls-to-action to get visitors to engage with content you would like to promote such as a real wedding videos, content downloads and more.