» Boost Your Instagram Engagement with These FAQs

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

Instagram can be overwhelming for seasoned professionals and starters alike. Between finding and creating high-quality content, engaging with your audience and growing your followers, it can be easy to rack up questions on how to best run your business Instagram. With the help of social media whiz Vanessa Joy, Owner and Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography, we’ve answered some of the most pressing questions we’ve heard about Instagram.

Sourcing strong photos is difficult, especially since I am not a wedding photographer. Do you have any advice on sourcing content?

Sure, wedding photographers may have their pick of thousands of photos, but as a wedding photographer herself, Vanessa wants you to remember one thing: photographers are taking photos of YOUR work! They capture the flower arrangements, the cake, the dress, the food, the venue— all the details. Without the work of other vendors, photographers would have nothing to capture except for the happy couple.

This is when networking comes in handy. Each time you do a wedding or event, make sure to find out who the photographer is. Then, reach out to see if he or she might have taken photos of your work, and if they can provide them to you to upload to your social channels (with credit, of course!). Additionally, many new photographers are dying to collaborate with established professionals on staged photo shoots to help grow their portfolio. As a bonus, these partnerships are usually free of charge! Helping out a fellow professional who is new to the industry and receiving professionally shot photos? It’s a win-win.

When it comes to taking your own photos, know that you don’t need to be a professional photographer or even have professional equipment (most phone cameras from the last two years take excellent quality photos!) to take great photos. If you feel like you are short on content, we suggest taking a photo of everything you create or every event you do. If you are a cake baker or florist, set up a quick “photo station” that you can always use with a neutral background or surface that has good lighting. Close-up detail shots are easy and quick, too. If you are an officiant or DJ, get photos of the venue, set-up, or of you in action.

What are Instagram stories and why should I use them?

Instagram stories are a great way to still be active and “post” without uploading something to your permanent feed, making them incredibly useful when you are short on strong content. Additionally, Instagram stories only stay up for 24 hours and are best utilized to show behind-the-scenes clips of what you’re up to… content that millennials love to see. The other benefit of stories? When you post one, you are more likely to go to the top of couples’ feeds. In the case of Instagram, this is as good as it gets. Remember: the more eyes on you, the better.

When it’s off-season, I don’t have a lot to post since I am not as busy. Other than uploading ‘throwback’ pictures, what else can I post?

The best thing about social media? Your followers don’t always know when a photo was taken. Instead of posting pictures right after each event you do, save a handful of photos to share throughout engagement season. When you do this, your photos will look like they were just taken, even if they might have been from four months ago. You’ll be active on social media and posting fresh content— which is always the best thing you can do. And your followers will never know your little secret!

The algorithm for boosting posts keeps changing and it always throws a wrench into my digital strategy. It’s incredibly frustrating to keep redoing my marketing strategy, so what can I do?

Instagram’s latest algorithm changes definitely shook up a lot of strategies, and figuring out a new plan to make it work for you can be quite tricky. But, Vanessa notes that with marketing, you are always going to be re-strategizing. In the marketing world, things just change. Rapidly. So while it may be stressful realizing that what worked last week is now outdated, it is just part of advertising on social media.

That being said, keep in mind that when these frustrating social media algorithm changes are announced, the platforms are making those changes to benefit their business. The goal of the algorithms isn’t to boost your posts, but to keep viewers on their platform longer. Instagram is a business, too, after all. To ensure Instagram will favor boosting your posts, make sure your posts are highly engaging. Engagement inherently keeps viewers on the app longer, and if you have a post filled with engagement, Instagram tends to favor an engaging upload over a dead post.

Should I utilize the poll feature within my Instagram stories?

YES! Remember when we talked about the importance of engagement two sentences ago? Polls boost engagement tremendously. Not only do viewers enjoy participating in polls, but the interactive nature of these stories means that your media has a higher chance of getting in front of more couples.

Can I share my Instagram uploads to Facebook?

While it might seem like a timesaving trick, try sharing different posts on each platform to impress potential clients. Each platform uses a different and unique algorithm. So, if you have a post that is crafted for Instagram’s algorithm, that post might not perform as strongly on Facebook. As a side note, tags and hashtags don’t carry over from platform to platform— you have to re-enter the tags and hashtags in order for them to be clickable, which defeats the purpose of one and done.  

Despite the stressful algorithm changes or the days when strong content is low, we still love social media. As social media continues to evolve, keep in mind how much it can benefit your business. We hope you continue to feel more confident in your Instagram-skills so you can take pride in your social pages. They are one of the best tools you have when it comes to publicizing your business!

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals” by Vanessa Joy, Owner & Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» The 4 Rules of Wedding PR During Busy Season

Photo by Tracy Shoopman Photography

The truth is, if you wait until off-season to look at your business’s PR strategy and start promoting, you’re doing your business a huge disservice. While the busy season workload takes up the bulk of your time, your PR strategy shouldn’t take a back seat. WeddingWire Education Expert and owner of OFD Consulting, Meghan Ely, gave us four rules for mastering PR during busy season with only a small time commitment each day.

Keep momentum going

It’s not a rule, but rather a guideline to help you follow the rules. Keeping up momentum is crucial if you want to maximize your time and PR strategy efficiently. Meghan says she sees it all too often: wedding professionals drop their PR strategy for busy season and pick it back up in November when the season ends. However, come November, you are going to be sitting on a pile of work that will make you more stressed than you thought handling it during the season would!

Instead of dealing with the mountain of PR work you’ve accumulated throughout the season, tackle the opportunities as they come in. Not only will this keep you sane in the long run, but it will also help eliminate competition. By neglecting your PR strategy until November, you subsequently end up competing with every other wedding professional who followed the same ‘strategy’. Suddenly, come November, the PR branch of the wedding industry is crowded with everyone playing catch-up. Ultimately, there is a lot less “noise” to compete with during busy season, and it’s in your favor to never lose momentum.

Rule 1: Stick to the low-hanging fruit

During busy season, you want to do things that will increase your brand awareness and showcase your portfolio… and this doesn’t have to be hard or take copious amounts of time! RealWeds submissions are one of those easy-to-do tasks that can have a tremendous effect on publicizing your brand. RealWeds are a great option to focus on because you already have a steady stream of content coming in from all of the weddings that you do— why not utilize that to its fullest potential?

Typically, photographers, venues, event designers, planners and florists are the ones submitting the majority of RealWeds content, however, if you don’t fall into one of these vendor categories, you aren’t excluded from submitting! Be sure to reach out to the other vendors who worked on the wedding to see if you can do a “group” submission, or have permission granted to use their photos (if they were the photographer) or photos of their work (if they are a vendor whose work is featured in pictures of your work) in your submission.

Rule 2: Stay organized

Many people neglect RealWeds submissions during busy season because they can take a lot of time to submit, however, they shouldn’t so long as you cover your bases and stay organized. Working RealWeds submissions into your client contracts is a great way to speed things up, as this way, you aren’t chasing after couples once they are married to get their permission.

Additionally, this opens up the conversation with the couple to find out what other vendors they are working with. Getting other vendor information as early as possible is going to help you track down other vendor’s whose permission you might also need in order to submit before the submission crunch. Meghan recommends connecting with the photographer and planner 30-60 days before the wedding to ensure that you can submit.

Rule 3: Create a workflow

Meghan’s best tip for managing your PR strategy during busy season? Embrace apps and programs to manage your work! Programs like Dropbox that can manage files and to-do list apps, like Basecamp, can help keep you organized and create a workflow. Another tip? Utilize block scheduling! Time might be limited during busy season, but if you schedule a fair amount of it each week to work exclusively on PR, there is no excuse for not working on it.

Rule 4: Be realistic

The last rule? You have to be realistic! If you can’t dedicate three hours a week to your PR strategy, then setting the goal to send in 10 RealWeds submissions, pitch multiple media outlets and maintain your press relationships, isn’t realistic. By setting realistic goals, you will be motivated to keep pushing forward and won’t beat yourself up about not reaching them.

You should always be asking yourself these three questions to determine if you are being realistic with your goals:

  • What got accomplished? What didn’t?
  • How can I adjust my organization/workflow?
  • Was it worth the effort?

…But not so fast!

Now that you have the rules about how to best manage your PR during busy season, don’t dive in. Building a strong PR strategy that will endure even the craziest of busy season ups-and-downs takes a considerable amount of time to plan. Before you begin, take a good look at your website, your galleries and your social feeds. What is the point of directing people to your site or branding outlets when they are not where you want them to be? Take a close look at what you are working with, evaluate where you want to go, make any adjustments that you need to to get there, and then dive in.

It can be hard managing your PR strategy during busy season. However, so long as you follow these rules and are prepared to charge into the season with a strong PR strategy in place, you should be set to see the benefits of it. Keep momentum going, set realistic goals, and dedicate the time you need to implement good plans, and there should be no doubt that your PR strategy will be a success this season. Good luck!

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Build Your Reputation by Earning Publicity (Even During Busy Season!)” with Meghan Ely, WeddingWire Education Expert and owner of wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. You can view the webinar recording through your account.

» 3 Unique Posts for Social Media

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

This article was written by Vanessa Joy, Owner & Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography.

“I have bad news: Marketing is hard, and it keeps getting harder. But there’s no time to mourn the past or to feel sorry for ourselves, and there’s no point in self-pity anyway. It is our job as modern-day storytellers to adjust to the realities of the marketplace, because it sure as hell isn’t going to slow down for us.” Gary Vaynerchuk

This is a favorite quote of mine from Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. Gary Vee wrote this in the beginning to his addendum in the book. As he was getting ready to hit “print”, Instagram added the video feature, making his newly finished book completely obsolete. As a result, he had to add on a whole new section of the book on this new development. How insanely frustrating.

How often do we feel the same way in our businesses? Especially with weddings, the demographic we’re trying to target is the one that changes the most rapidly. If you’re like me, you’re in a constant marketing method flux trying to find out what works and what doesn’t.

You know what? That’s a good thing.

The truth of it is exactly how Vaynerchuk put it, “There’s no time to mourn the past or to feel sorry for ourselves.” We have to move forward. We have to keep up with what’s happening in weddings and social trends. We have to find new ways to get our names and business out there despite the ever-changing social media algorithm.

If you’re as fed up with what works and what doesn’t on social media, definitely join me for the webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals on March 21 at 3:00pm EST (available to Premium WeddingWire members in your account Education Center). Until then, here are three types of posts you can try on your social media to get more reach.

#1 – Video

Whenever I get annoyed by an algorithm change on Facebook or Instagram I remember just one thing. Social media companies are businesses. They have goals and one of their main goals is to get people coming back to their platform and spending more time on it. Video is always a good way to boost your reach. Why? Because video makes people watch longer, even if just by a millisecond, so social media algorithms tend to like it because it helps achieve their own goals.

If you’re not sure what kind of videos you can make or post, check out five different types of marketing and communication videos I’ve made right here. There’s also a tutorial there that will show you just how easy making videos can be – even if you’re not a photographer or videographer.

#2 – Personality

I know what you’re thinking. “Should I put my personal life on my business profile?” Yes and no. No, I don’t think you have to or should necessarily, but yes I do think it’s engaging.

I’m not telling you to post anything about your personal life at all really. Instead, I’m telling you to show off your personality. Or, the personalities of some of your team members. This can be as simple as having your team show-off their favorite work-desk personal item. Or, even just an easily relatable personal life fact, like how you always wear new clothes once before washing them because they never feel the same again.

Whatever it is, find a way to bring some life into your brand. Consumers are very wise to well put together brands these days. Thanks to visual social media, the bar has been raised for even mom-and-pop shops to kick it up a notch in the branding department. I’m not talking just about logos and packaging, although that’s part of it, but personality plays a part here as well. I could go on, but you’ll find a ton of information on this topic in my FREE ebook 9 Secret Ways to Brand Your Business.

#3 – Engage

When you first read that, I imaging you thought “but I’m trying to get engagement!” Yes, you are. But social media is just that – social. So, go be social! It’s not all about you. It’s about them.

You posting on social media does not just mean you post on your on account/wall/feed. It means that you should spend some time posting on other people’s posts. No, I do not mean you should spam your latest sale to their wall, or ask them to check out your account in their photo comments.

Go discover new people, couples and wedding industry vendors alike, and engage them. Support what they’re doing. Ask questions about their posts in the comments. Find people to direct message and offer to collaborate even. Go ahead, make friends! That’s one of the things that is so great about our little wedding community.

Speaking of, I hope you’ll you’ll join me for my WeddingWire webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals on March 21 at 3:00pm EST (available to Premium WeddingWire members in your account Education Center). I’ll see you there!

Vanessa Joy has been an influential photographer in the wedding community for a decade. Starting her photographic journey in 1998, she has since earned 5 college degrees, and has spoken at almost every major convention and platform in the industry such as CreativeLIVE, Wedding MBA, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, WeddingWire World, and Mobile Beat. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, her clients love working with her and industry peers love to learn from her generous, informative and open-book style of teaching. Check out more of her resources at www.BreatheYourPassion.com

» Still Waiting to Hear From a Lead? Here’s Why.

Securing responses to your lead replies is a common pain point for wedding professionals and it’s easy to understand why. When potential couples reach out to inquire about your services and you reply only to never hear back, it’s frustrating. Maybe the person was busy or forgot, or maybe your reply accidentally landed in their spam folder. But the harsher truth may be that it was your reply that cut communication short.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg explains that there is always room for improvement when it comes to your lead replies. If you’re not getting the responses you desire, Alan has some explanations and tips to help you turn your response success around.

You’re taking too long to reply

7 in 10 couples say that vendor responsiveness is the most important factor they consider when looking to book their wedding team. That seems totally rational, right? Our research also shows that after submitting an online inquiry, 40% of couples note that they didn’t hear back from vendors within five days. As wedding professionals, you should stay on top of your inquiries because if you aren’t, it’s probably costing you sales. Think about it: if you inquired about a product or service that you wanted to purchase and had to wait at least five days, wouldn’t you consider finding it somewhere else?

Approximately 50% of couples choose the vendor that replies first. Because time is clearly of the essence here, do your best to reply as soon as possible. Alan recommends waiting no more than 24 hours to respond.

You’re asking for a phone call or meeting

When a couple reaches out for the first time, it’s usually in reference to something specific (“What is your price for x?”, “Are you available on x date?”). Remember that they did not ask you to have a phone call or a meeting— they asked a question. Replying back “Are you available anytime to chat or come in for a meeting?” instead of answering their question could cause a missed opportunity for a reply.

You suggest a new communication channel

Along with timeliness, nearly half of all couples express frustration when their communication channels aren’t reciprocated. To better your chances at a response, use the same communication channel to respond until your back and forth exchange gets to the point where another method might be better. If a potential customer emails you, you should email back. As a matter of fact, more and more bookings are being done entirely over email, without a single phone call. Remember: “If they wanted to call you, they would have called.”

You’re not thinking mobile

If your replies aren’t crafted for mobile, you’re severely lowering the chances of securing a reply back. Approximately 80% of couples use emails to inquire about services and 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices. To fit mobile’s demands, keep your replies short. As we mentioned, couples are usually asking you a simple question. By keeping things short, not only are you guaranteed not to overwhelm, but you are maximizing the readability of your reply, too.

Another mobile-first tip: Alan suggests that you don’t send attachments in your first few replies. Most attachments fall into the “overkill” category and can overwhelm a couple with information they don’t yet need. But, more importantly, most attachments are designed for desktop so they can be hard to both read and display on a mobile device.

You don’t ask a single question

Not asking a question in your reply can be detrimental. While it may seem that ending with a friendly “I look forward to hearing from you!” suggests to the couple that you are expecting a reply from them, this line doesn’t demand a reply from them.

Instead, Alan suggests that you should ask a “low commitment” question in every single correspondence to guarantee a reply back. Unlike “high commitment” questions such as “When would you like to come in to meet?”, low commitment questions like “How many guests are you expecting?” or “Do you have a venue secured yet?” begins the conversational back-and-forth needed to make a sale.

You’re avoiding pricing

Price questions shouldn’t be something to fear. Be upfront about price and don’t duck the question. Put yourself in their shoes: when you ask about price and someone tap dances around it, how do you feel? If you are concerned about sharing an exact price, give a price range instead. That way you are not overwhelming a couple with every price, and can leave it open ended to ask the follow up question “what services in particular were you thinking about?”

You’re starting your reply with “Congratulations on your engagement!”

It might sound nit-picky, but we promise it’s not. Most wedding professionals start their reply with some form of congratulations to the happy couple. When couples are doing their research and are beginning to contact vendors, every preview line in their inbox starts to look exactly the same. Change things up to ensure that you get noticed!

You’re using automation or copy and paste

Sounding disingenuous is not going to result in a sale. When a couple sends you an inquiry and they receive an automatic reply saying “someone will be in contact with you shortly” it doesn’t add anything to the conversation, even if you end up sending your reply within five minutes of that message going out.

Additionally, it can be really obvious when things are copy and pasted. When a couple is under the impression that the email you sent to them is also sent to everyone else, they probably won’t believe that you can offer them the personalized services they want. If you do have copy and paste text that is generalized and you just can’t part with it, consider having someone who is completely unfamiliar with your business read it. If they believe that the segment reads like it is copy and paste text, it’s time to nix it.

It is easy to get defeated when lead replies don’t turn into sales, all the more so when conversation quickly dies out. However, if a couple is reaching out to you, it’s because they are interested in you.Know that in reaching out, a couple has eliminated a huge portion of your competition. While they might also be reaching out to a few more similar wedding professionals, you are still a part of the select group that they liked and wanted to hear from because they want to book you.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Replying to Leads” with Alan Berg, WeddingWire Education Expert and CSP. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» Top 5 Wedding Trends for 2018

With 2018 in full swing and busy season right around the corner, it’s time to dive into the top wedding trends couples will be requesting this year. We have the inside scoop from Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire’s Associate Director of Content and Creative Services, on the top five trends you can expect to see pop up. Many of these trends may come as a surprise, as couples begin to stray away from the “traditional” and opt for the “unconventional”.

1. Metallics, marbles and geometrics

Photo by Jennifer Weems Photography

So maybe this one doesn’t come as a total surprise, but the biggest decor trend from 2017 will be a highlight yet again for 2018 weddings. Metallics, specifically gold-toned metallics, are still in! Smaller metallic decor pieces, such as votives and charger plates, are as popular as ever because they are small enough to be understated, yet still manage to pack a huge punch overall. Not only do metallics add an extra layer of “umph” to any look, but metallics are a great way to help make everything look and feel more luxe.

Couples are also choosing metallic pieces with geometric shapes to make their wedding feel more modern. Geometric shapes provide a cool break between the ultra-softness and romance of floral elements. Stone elements, such as marble pieces, are also being utilized for the same reason. We don’t care if this is a repeat trend, we love it and are happy to see these favorites stick around!

2. Keeping it casual

Photo by Tracy Shoopman Photography

Weddings are becoming more of a casual affair, believe it or not! Younger couples have been choosing to go for a more laid-back route during their wedding festivities. In what might be the biggest departure from “traditional” style weddings, casual affairs have been trending because they are “no fuss”. Guests are able to feel more at ease and couples have less to worry about on their big day. Ultimately, comfort and simplicity are the main goal of casual weddings, and we think they look great!

Grooms and groomsmen have arguably kicked off the casual trend, as the popularity of less formal male attire started popping up more and more. However, this year, casual groom attire is set to take off. Expect to see less suit coats, more unconventional shoes, and even silly socks on grooms. Females have also begun to adopt more casual styles, too. Brides in particular have opted for more natural, effortless hairstyles for their big day as opposed to the previously popular ultra-sophisticated updo.

Formal styles aren’t the only thing to disappear in 2018. Formal traditions are also becoming less popular with millennial couples. Sorry Mom and Dad, but it looks like the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances are quickly fading! Revered traditions like these dances, and even couple send offs (particularly involving sparklers) are now starting to be seen as “outdated” and “cliche” by millennial couples. While it may be sad to see some old traditions go, know that couples are opting to nix certain elements in order to replace them with their own creative and new traditions.

3. Greenery

Photo by Blueflash Photography     

While floral elements have always been a huge aspect of weddings, never before has such an emphasis been placed on natural greenery. From moss decor walls to leafy table runners, greenery isn’t just for bouquet filler anymore. Dare we say it, but greens might even surpass flowers this year! Greenery provides freshness and brightness to any arrangement, and can also can provide a lot of diversity, too. Beyond looking great, greens are also a more cost-friendly option for couples to consider when compared to flowers. So where will you find the most greenery this year? Jeffra notes that our couples are loving their natural greens in large wall or hanging displays, low table centerpieces, and in cascading bouquets.

4. Outdoor space

Photo by Patrick Nied Photography

Couples love outdoor weddings! Outdoor venues have always been popular with our couples, but their popularity is only expected to grow. Garden venues, followed by barn venues, are the most popular places amongst couples for their wedding celebrations. Even though the warmer summer months still make up “prime season”, more and more couples have been hosting fall weddings. As a matter of fact, 1 in 3 couples now get married in the fall, and nearly 15% of all weddings take place in October. In many locations, Autumn weather is still perfect for an outdoor celebration, if not cozy. So too, nature’s seasonal change provides the most beautiful backdrop for photos. With the ever-increasing popularity of outdoor venues, your calendars are bound to be filled with outdoor bookings this year!

5. Food displays

Photo by Dana Lynn Photography

We saved the best for last: food! +50% more couples are choosing to eliminate plated service in favor of food displays. Food displays, different from a buffet, are highly stylized tables and offer unique, themed food options where guests can help themselves. Food displays allow for couples to customize their offerings to fit their personalities and can be much more flexible in execution when compared to a more regimented plated or buffet service. From pizza to a bacon-lovers spread, couples are picking these personalized setups over all other meal options because they are easy, fun and most importantly, delicious. Displays are also cost effective, as they can be significantly cheaper than a plated service.

We are so excited to see how these trends adapt and grow in 2018. The biggest takeaway that we have learned (other than knowing that great snacks lie ahead!) is that couples are striving to implement unique designs and traditions that are truly their own. Simply put, customization is important to couples as they plan their 2018 weddings. If you are able to offer custom services or work with your clients to provide them a unique service, you can expect your couple to be over the moon with your work. We hope that this personalization-craze allows both you and your clients the opportunity to work creatively and create incredible new experiences and content. Who knows? Maybe you will set the next big trend.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “2018 Trends: Insights from Today’s Couples” by Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire Associate Director of Content and Creative Services. 

» Want More Reviews? Start Doing These 5 Things.

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

Every wedding professional should be utilizing busy season as a time to collect reviews and other content, even if it’s far from your top priority. Building reviews into your process from the very beginning gives you a better chance at getting reviews after the event. Being on top of this process and collecting recent reviews will allow you to freshen up your WeddingWire Storefront, website, and social media channels before the influx of newly engaged couples start pouring in from engagement season.

Remember, 87% of couples use reviews to select their vendors and recency is the most important factor when couples are evaluating your reviews! Couples like to hear (and see!) what they should expect – not from the vendors themselves, but from past couples who’ve been in their position.

Whether you’re new to collecting reviews or an expert, here are some top tips to remember:

Build reviews into your culture. Make reviews a priority in your business so that they are top of mind for your clients from the very beginning. Our best advice? Mention reviews early and often. Start talking about them in your sales process so that clients aren’t surprised when you ask for a review later on. In addition to talking about reviews in client communications, you should also build them into your team culture by training your staff to talk about reviews frequently, and try incentivizing them to collect reviews. By making these two adjustments to your reviews process, you can make it a natural part of the process in no time.

Dedicate 10 minutes a day to reviews. During busy season, we know that time is a precious and limited resource. However, if you can, set aside just 10 minutes a day to send emails to past clients reminding them to leave you reviews, responding to new reviews, or updating the review section on your website. Taking time everyday to keep your review system organized will save you time in the long run and maximize the impact of your reviews. Instead of putting it off until the workload “grows” to the point of no return, tackle any “new news” as it comes.

Just ask! Most newlyweds are very busy, and might forget to write you a review without a reminder, so start by asking them directly. If the first ask doesn’t translate to a review, make sure to remind them! 1 in 3 clients will write a review if they are reminded at least once. You can remind the couple how important reviews are to your business and how much you and future couples appreciate them.

Give them time. Don’t ask for a review the day after a wedding— there is an ideal gratitude period that is around 2-3 weeks for most businesses. However, photographers, videographers, invitation designers, and any other service that happens before or after the big day, should send a review request after the product is delivered to the couple.

Respond to ALL reviews. Whether the review is positive or negative, responding to reviews gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality to future couples, demonstrate your responsiveness, and express how much you care about each and every client. Remember to thank all reviewers for taking the time to share their opinions and feedback. If a review is negative, make sure to respond with a future couple in mind and don’t write the response while you are upset. Keep the response simple and don’t play the “he said-she said” game.

Focusing on these great habits now will ensure that reviews are fully integrated into your process and culture during busy season. While reviews might not be the most ‘pressing’ task on your to-do list throughout this busy time of year, remember that they still play a huge role in your business and you’ll be thankful you have recent reviews when engagement season rolls around!

These tips came from our Premium webinar, The Power of Reviews. Premium members can access the webinar here.

» How to Build an Organizational Plan for Your Business

Small businesses owners often dedicate the majority of their time to managing their business and making their clients happy. In many cases, they get wrapped up in their day-to-day work and forget about themselves. After all, didn’t you go into business for you?

We explored time management and productivity techniques with Vanessa Joy of Vanessa Joy Photography in our recent Premium webinar. Vanessa shared tips for helping you run your business rather than letting it run you.

The workflow exercise below is all about finding what really matters to you and taking action to work towards your definition of success. Whether you want to create more free time to spend with your family, build a bigger client base, allow more flexibility for travel, or whatever else it may be, this organizational plan will help move you towards your goal.

“Parts of a Whole” Exercise

  1. Before anything else, you must define what success means to you in your small business. It’s probably something you thought about a lot at the beginning of your journey, so it’s a great place to start. Ask yourself why you went into this business and write a few of those things down. Are these still the things that equate to success in your mind? If not, do a bit of editing and come up with a full list of how you determine the success of your business today.
  2. Now that you’re refreshed on your why and what success means to you, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a line down the middle to make two columns. On the left side write down the following things: anything you dislike doing for your business, the things you aren’t good at, the tasks that slow you down, any menial ($10 an hour) tasks, the processes you know are broken, and anything you do that you know your clients don’t notice.
  3. On the right side write down all of the things you love doing for your business, everything that defines your brand, and the things your clients do notice (for this, look to your reviews, emails from couples, etc).

Putting Your Plan in Action

And just like that you’ve outlined the priorities for your business! Everything written in the left column should be thoroughly assessed and prioritized. Set aside some time and create a potential plan of action to remove these tasks from your workflow completely. When assessing these tasks, it’s hard to visualize putting them in someone else’s hands. So, ask yourself if keeping them under your control moves you toward your definition of success. If not, it’s time to find an alternative whether that’s outsourcing, automating or hiring an intern.

For everything in the right column, these are the tasks that should continue to be in your realm and under your control. This is where you can make the most impact in your business and where you should be focusing your time. These are the tasks you went into business for.

We’ll admit, making an organizational plan for your business isn’t always easy, but we promise it will help you in the long run. Figuring out where to spend your time is the most important step – from there you can find tools for streamlining and begin to outsource some of the left column work.

Once you have made your plan, do your best to have patience and delegate. There’s no way to see results unless you wait!

» Pricing Do’s and Don’ts

pricing

Photo by Keren Sarai Photography

Receiving a question about pricing can be daunting and tricky to navigate. On the bright side, receiving a price inquiry is a definite sign of interest and should be exciting! When a couple makes an inquiry regarding price, you should see it as a buying signal rather than a red flag. If they are reaching out, it means that they’ve vetted you and you’ve made it to the final round, so making an inquiry is simply the next step for them.

Education Expert Alan Berg shared some of his do’s and don’ts of pricing in our July Premium Webinar last week (Premium Members can watch the full recording in their account Education Center). We’ve pulled together a list of his best tips to help equip you for those often-dreaded pricing questions when they hit your inbox.

DO’S

  • Do reply as quickly as possible to an inquiry. If you respond to a potential client within 5 minutes, rather than 30, you are 100x more likely to connect with that lead. Why 5 minutes? That’s fast! By responding in 5 minutes, you can almost ensure that the person is still mentally and physically in the same place rather than having moved on to other things.
  • Do reply on the same platform that they used for their inquiry. The best practice here is to give couples all the possible ways to contact you, let them choose what works best for them, and then promptly reply on that channel.
  • Do acknowledge a question about price, don’t dodge it. If you need more information to give an accurate price, that’s completely fine! Just be upfront and transparent about it. Let them know that you are going to get them an answer, you just need to gather a bit more information about their big day first! Then, make sure to ask questions to start gathering that information to show that you are taking the necessary steps towards getting them that answer.
  • Do provide some pricing information on your website or WeddingWire Storefront. Couples are likely to distort their budget or may have a skewed sense of it (couples tend to underestimate their wedding costs by 40%!). Ideally, your pricing information would be available to them on your website or WeddingWire Storefront before they even reach out. 88% of couples want to see pricing of some sort before getting in contact with a vendor. That means you could be cut from the short list before you even have the chance to talk to them, so don’t hold out.

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» The 6 “T’s” of Client Communication

Client communication in the modern market can be very confusing. Technology has transformed everything about the way we communicate, so it’s important to be familiar with the best communication practices. Check out this infographic featuring 6 simple tips to connect more effectively and get more replies from engaged couples from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

For more tips on client communication, check out this webinar for Premium members with WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

Client communication tips infographic

» Niche PR: How to Become the “Go-To” Expert in your Arena

Webinar recap!Niche, Webinar, PR, Marketing, Weddings, Expert, Education

In the often-saturated wedding market, a niche will help you stand out and cut back on competition. Defining a niche allows you to specialize in an area that suits your talents and personality, gives focus to your marketing, and helps you attract your ideal clients.

During this webinar for Premium members, Education Expert Meghan Ely shared the steps to identifying your niche, promoting your expertise to your target audience, and implementing PR strategies to grow your business.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Showcase your niche in your content. Your website content, social media strategy, and any other owned channels should clearly reflect your niche. In addition to your bio, portfolio, and client testimonials, add a press page and blog to your website to highlight your expertise and demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Introduce yourself as an expert to the media. Consider what media your ideal client is consuming and target those outlets. Start by sending a friendly email to introduce yourself as an expert and a resource in your niche field — and be sure to include a few brief story ideas, too.
  • Pitch yourself for guest writing and speaking opportunities. Review your topics and research opportunities; focus on those that will reach your target audience. Hone your messaging and send a concise, friendly pitch with a few examples of your work. When it comes to speaking engagements, start small, evolve your topics overtime, and never stop practicing.
  • Pursue real wedding submissions. Research opportunities, guidelines, and editorial calendars to determine the best fit and strategy for your business. Be sure to follow the rules of exclusivity and prioritize the opportunities that will reach your ideal audience.

For more tips and additional details about these recommendations, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member accounts to view anytime.

» A Match Made in Heaven: Video and Social Media

february-premium-webinar-tileWebinar recap!

Videos are a great way to capture the attention of your audience. In fact, videos account for almost 70% of consumer Internet traffic! But how do you create and distribute videos to best showcase your work if you don’t have video expertise? 

During this month’s webinar for Premium members WeddingWire Education Experts Alan Berg and Andy Ebon offered their their tips to easily use video combined with social media to attract and impress your audience even if you’re a video newbie.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Try out new Instagram features. Instagram Stories and Instagram Live videos are great tools for showing ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos of your work. Posted Stories are available to your followers for 24 hours, which can drive a sense of urgency for your audience. Live videos are only available while you’re broadcasting so it can be helpful to notify your audience in advance if you plan to go live.
  • YouTube is critical to video efforts.. As the second largest search engine after Google, YouTube is a vital component of any video strategy. In fact, 80% of 18-49 year olds watch YouTube each month. Product demos make great videos — just remember to keep videos under three minutes to hold your audience’s attention.
  • Optimize your YouTube videos. In addition to posting compelling video content, make sure to use best practices when creating your YouTube video posts. The right taglines, titles, descriptions, and calls-to-action can help your videos get discovered and viewed.
  • Use Facebook Live to engage followers. Facebook Live videos are an easy way to engage your audience in real-time. Check your phone’s connection before you go live to ensure your stream isn’t interrupted, allow enough broadcast time so that followers can join your live feed, and get creative with your ‘set’ to make your video more visually engaging.

For more tips and additional details about how to leverage these recommendations, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime.

» How to Keep Your Storefront Fresh Year-Round

storefront tips

Photo by Bradley Images

Even when you’re at your busiest during wedding season, your Storefront still needs a little love! Actively maintaining your Storefront will help you book business throughout the year. We’re not talking about a major time commitment or Storefront overhaul – you can build simple Storefront revisions and updates into your process to make it manageable for your busy schedule.

Here are a few easy ways to ensure your Storefront makes a strong impression for your business year-round:  

Review your main image – and make sure it still stands out!

Even though it’s small, your thumbnail image is very important! That tiny photo could make or break a couple’s decision to click to your Storefront as they are browsing the WeddingWire directory for wedding professionals in your category. Make sure that your business stands out by adding a high quality, compelling image.

Take action:

  1. Avoid using generic photos. You want to showcase your expertise in a way that will catch the eye of a couple. Be sure to use professional photography to ensure that the photo composition, lighting and focus are ideal.
  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. You’ll want your main image to stand out and make the best first impression of your business so that you will attract more engaged couples. It’s important to check this a few times per year to ensure that it still stands out.

Pro tip: Make sure your main image and photos meet WeddingWire’s Storefront content guidelines when making updates.

Verify that all information is up-to-date.

Take the time to read through your FAQs and your business description (and all of the text on your Storefront); as silly as it might feel, do it out loud! Does it mention old services that you no longer offer? Question every sentence to make sure that you are describing your business accurately.

Take action:

  1. Check out the Storefront content requirements for guidelines. We encourage you to update your Storefront regularly so that it accurately portrays your brand and your services. You want to send a consistent message to potential clients and be sure to make a strong first impression when they visit your Storefront. Keep in mind that WeddingWire’s content team will review and update your Storefront content whenever you make changes in order to help improve your ranking across top search engines and help you book more couples.
  2. Make sure pricing and FAQs are up-to-date. The couple is on your Storefront after all, so you’ve already gotten them this far! Make sure that you are providing all of the key details that they are looking for when evaluating your business and comparing you to other wedding professionals in your category. Remember that 88% of couples want to see pricing information before getting in contact with a vendor, so be sure to keep your pricing details  updated.

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.

Build these tips into your recurring to-do list to make sure that you are maximizing your leads and bookings throughout the year. Even setting aside 30 minutes a week to respond to recent reviews and look over your Storefront will benefit you in the long-run – you can do it!