» 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.

» 3 Key Ways Millennial Couples are Different from Past Generations

millennial couples

Photo by Anna Simonak Photography

Millennials (also known as Gen Y), whose current age ranges from 16-34, account for roughly 25% of today’s US population – making them the largest living generation. As of 2017, U.S. Millennials are estimated to spend roughly $200 billion annually, make up 75% of the workplace and comprise the majority of the consumer market within the next 10 years.

Why does this matter for your business? The Millennial generation is at the age where major life events are taking place, like graduating, buying a house, and getting married. In fact, more than 80% of WeddingWire couples are Millennials! Knowing where they are in their life stages is key for understanding how to communicate with this important group.

Millennials are willing to spend more to personalize their weddings

Over the past 10 years we’ve continued to see overall guest count decrease, regardless of age, whereas the total spend per guest is on the rise. Couples are willing to spend extra on each guest in order to really personalize their big day and make it memorable and unique. On average, millennials spend $31,000 on their wedding, whereas GenXers spend $24,000 on fewer guests. A few other points of differentiation between Millennials and their older counterparts:

  • Engagement Length: 13 months for Millennials, 11 months for GenX
  • Number in Wedding Party: 10 for Millennials, 7 for GenX
  • Number of Vendors Hired: 11 for Millennials, 9 for GenX

87% of Millennials report having their smartphones on them at all times

Millennials are the “mobile generation” — everything they do or want to do can be done on-the-go, so a non-existent or poor mobile website can be an instant deal breaker for this group! Make mobile a priority by doing a full sweep of your online properties from your mobile website to your emails, and make sure the content is easily digestible (and layout is responsive) on smartphones and tablet devices.

Nearly all (89%) of Millennials report using social media

Millennials spend about 5 ½ hours on social media daily, most of the time via mobile devices, so it’s important for your business to have an active presence online. Make sure to post interesting, relevant content that will grab their attention. Keep your content visual and whimsical by incorporating useful videos, tips or advice! Use hashtags to focus on key topics and don’t forget to interact with followers, prospective clients and other industry professionals.

Remember: Just because we’re focusing on Millennials, these tips and tricks are relevant for ALL of your customers. Thinking about age and generation is one helpful way to think about where you customers are in their life stage and how can you best serve and meet their needs!

» Engagement Photography for Same-Sex Couples

photography considerations

 

 

Photo by Kat Ma Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

Ten years ago, few same-sex couples were considering public ceremonies, and even fewer had access to legal partnership recognition. When couples did forge ahead into uncharted territory, most of their energy was spent finding gay-friendly vendors and worrying about whether or not family would show up. Engagement photography sessions were not yet a gleam in the collective LGBTQ eye, let alone the reality that they now are in the blogosphere.

Preparation Is Key

As same-sex weddings have become more widely accepted, more couples have begun following the traditional marriage prescriptions: engagement on a bent knee (or Jumbotron), engagement parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding showers, weddings, and big receptions. You know, the works. These changes require that photographers take a deeper look at their skillsets, and the services they offer same-sex couples.

Couples, too, should become more knowledgeable about the kinds of skills, style sense, and creative talents available to them when hiring an engagement and wedding photographer.

A Dry Run

If used well, an engagement session can provide fruitful inspiration for wedding day planning. The initial meetings and conversations offer a chance to get better acquainted with the couple, establish a connection, and build rapport, so that you and your clients can become a team working toward a shared set of goals and clear expectations.

In-person meetings with both partners offer the best opportunity to get acquainted and consider any observable differences that will impact the session, such as height, body type, or other physical differences. Equally important is the chance to learn more about how each individual expresses him/herself most comfortably (especially with regard to gender expression), how each partner relates to his or her beloved, and how their “coming out” experiences have impacted them and their family relationships.

The engagement session also offers a low-risk time to take chances, unlike the wedding day, which generally has a tight time-schedule and compulsory shot list. It’s a good time to try out new concepts, poses, or lighting scenarios, and figure out what works (and what doesn’t) with your clients.

Five open-ended questions to ask LGBTQ couples as you plan their big day:

  1. Was there a proposal? If so, who proposed to whom?
  2. What are you going to wear?
  3. Will there be a wedding party? What are they going to wear? What are you calling your attendants?
  4. Will you be getting ready together or separately?
  5. Tell me about your ceremony. What are you most excited about? Is there anything that concerns you?

This post is an excerpt from The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (by Kathryn Hamm & Thea Dodds; Amphoto Books, 2014), where you can find even more photography tips and examples for those who wish to work with LGBTQ couples.

kathryn hammThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding PhotographyFollow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Baltimore

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Grand Baltimore for WeddingWire Networking Night Baltimore!

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 insights on working with millennial couples in the wedding industry, presented by WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Megan Hayes!

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 Alison of Alison Harper & Company, LLC!


» Wedding Community Comes Together for Wedding MBA 2017

Photo by What Em Sees Photography

It has been difficult to find the words for the tragic events that took place in Las Vegas last week, but it was humbling to witness the outpouring of love and acts of kindness throughout the Las Vegas community and beyond. We are grateful for the wedding community of professionals who came together to turn a time of tragedy into a week of uplifting unity and support. Despite the unfortunate events, the community of wedding professionals at Wedding MBA came together to connect, learn and celebrate unity.

The week was filled with educational presentations, networking, and plenty of selfies (with confetti!) at the WeddingWire booth. WeddingWire Education Experts and WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly held nine educational sessions covering a wide variety of topics from tech trends to social media to closing sales and more.

Photos by What Em Sees Photography

The WeddingWire booth was enjoyed by all, featuring a large LED screen displaying real-time Instagram posts from conference goers using #WeDoWMBA. Selfie and boomerang booths were set up in front of fun backdrops with bubbles and confetti galore. The hoodie and t-shirt giveaways were a hit, in addition to one-on-one meetings with Customer Success Managers, a coffee bar, a beauty bar, and so much more!

Photo by Jake Klein Photography

In the spirit of unity, WeddingWire partnered with The Knot to turn our scheduled parties into one joint fundraiser in support of the Las Vegas victims and community. The fundraiser was held on Tuesday, October 3rd at Jewel Nightclub at the ARIA Resort and Casino. WeddingWire and The Knot each donated $5 per attendee totaling $16,000 given to the Las Vegas Victims’ fund on top of the suggested $10 donation for attendees.

A very special thank you to our amazing partners: Jason Jani of SCE Event Group and DJ Brian B for DJing our party, DJ Jer Events & Lighting Design for lighting up our booth and making it pop, Montell Jordan for the throwback entertainment, Ella Gagiano Studios for the in-booth headshots, Bobbie Pin Beauty for the pre-fundraiser makeovers, and The Photo Booth Group or the selfie/boomerang stations at our booth and party.

To see more photos check out the full album here. For more event takeaways and to stay up-to-date on all the latest WeddingWire happenings for wedding professionals, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU on Instagram.

To help the victims of the Vegas tragedy, you can donate to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund at http://wed.li/helpvegas.

» 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 Get On Preferred Vendor Lists (and Stay on Them)

Photo by: Studio 616 Photography

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

The illustrious preferred vendor list is something that, as business owners, we all strive to be on. The exclusivity and third party validation is very appealing, not to mention the leg up it can give you against competition and the increased exposure to couples. So the question is, how do you get on it and stay on it?

I’m sharing some of my best practices for getting on preferred vendor lists and staying on them. With engagement season right around the corner, there’s no better time to start putting these tips into action for your business.

Never Ask Immediately

Asking a fellow vendor or venue if you can get on their preferred list right out of the gate is probably the biggest mistake you can make. Would you want someone you just met five minutes ago asking you for a favor? No, probably not. Once you have gotten to know them more on a professional (or even personal) level, bring the subject up in a more general way. For example, ask them how they choose who to put on the list, or how often they refresh the list. That way you are getting the intel you want without directly asking them to consider you.  

Get to Know the Other Vendors

Sit down and take a look at the list(s) you want to be a part of, and take note of the other vendors on it that you may already know or would like to get to know. The local events community is a small one, and your relationships with people can make all the difference. If you’re close to someone that is well connected, and they respect your reputation, they may recommend you the next time a vacancy on a preferred list comes up. This strategy has worked for me for years, and it’s another reason why networking is so important for wedding businesses.

Don’t Take It for Granted

If and when you are added to the preferred list, don’t get too comfortable. Several places will update theirs at least once a year, and if they barely remember who you are or have been in close contact with someone else, you can easily be replaced. Small gestures can be a fun and creative way to keep your business at the top of their minds. For example, we celebrate obscure national holidays (think National Miniature Golf Day) and send funny notes and trinkets to our vendor friends that will put a smile on their face.

Don’t let the idea of trying to get on a preferred vendor list scare you. With the right approach businesses will be adding you in no time.  

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a past national president for WIPA.

» Want More Reviews? Start Doing These 4 Things

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

With summer weddings officially wrapped up and lots of fall weddings underway, now is a great time to start gathering reviews from recent clients. This will allow you to freshen up your WeddingWire Storefront, website, and social media channels with recent reviews before the influx of newly engaged couples starts heading your way during the winter months!

Remember, 95% 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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, and invitation designers should send a review request after the product is delivered to the couple, whether that be before or after the wedding.
  3. Automate – but keep it personal. Automate the process of requesting reviews so that you don’t forget, but remember to keep it personal to get the best response from couples. Scheduling review requests is even easier with the Review Collector tool that is available in your WeddingWire account. The tool allows you to consistently ask for reviews but always make sure to edit the automated request to include personal details about the couple’s day. This will show that you were genuinely invested in their wedding and will reinforce your bond before they write the review.
  4. Build reviews into your culture. Make reviews a priority in your business so that reviews are top of mind for your clients from the beginning. Our best advice? Mention reviews early and often. Start mentioning them in your sales process so that your clients aren’t surprised when you ask for a review later on. In addition to client communications, build them into your team culture by training your staff to talk about reviews frequently, and try incentivizing them to collect reviews.

Pro tip: 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.

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

» Attract More Couples with Photos in Reviews – New on WeddingWire

Photo by: Patrick Nied Photography

Clients can now add photos along with their review on your WeddingWire Storefront to help you attract future bookings.

Photos bring a visual perspective to written reviews and showcase the experience of working with a vendor. When used alongside written reviews, photos are a great way to build credibility and allow couples to see a glimpse of your past work. Photos also create a unique Storefront experience and provide the opportunity to increase user engagement, helping couples solidify their decision to book you for their wedding.

Here’s a peek of how it will look on your WeddingWire Storefront:

There’s no better time to request reviews from recent clients and encourage them to share photos of your amazing work. For tips on collecting, managing and using your reviews in creative ways see these articles:

How to Stand Out Using Your Reviews
3 Reasons Reviews are Important to Couples
4 Ways to Use Reviews on Social Media
10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

» 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.