» Why Craigslist is Not Your Competitor

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Just the other day, I heard yet another wedding pro bring up Craigslist, lamenting how easy it is to get into his industry (in this case, be a DJ). The thing is, he’s at the top end of the price spectrum in his market. Why would he think that people charging a fraction of what he’s charging are his competition? It’s an easy trap to fall into. Theoretically, anyone who does what you do is a competitor. In the real world, though, that simply isn’t true.

Why Craigslist is Not Your CompetitorIs there really a difference?
Technically, Rolls Royce competes with Kia, because their products are both capable of transporting people from point A to point B. Of course, we know that isn’t true. While a Kia buyer might dream about one day owning a Rolls Royce, the opposite isn’t so. People buy Rolls Royce cars for reasons beyond basic transportation needs. The same is true when couples are shopping for their DJ, or photographer, or caterer, or dress, or wedding planner; they need what you do. But do they need and want you to do it?

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin suggests that you don’t need everyone to get what you do. You only need a small portion of the total market to really understand the specific value you bring. You can’t get them all, and you probably don’t want them all. That DJ doesn’t want the couple that only has $500 to spend on their wedding entertainment. Sure, they’re entitled to have a fun wedding, with great music – he’s just not their guy. Maybe someone else is; maybe they’ll use an iPhone. Either way, he didn’t lose that gig. It was never his to get.

What about you?
Are you wasting time, energy, and resources worrying about every other company in your market, professional or not? You simply can’t control those variables. The barrier to entry, for most wedding and event businesses, is very low. Many, if not most, don’t require a license or certification. Other than those that require a substantial physical presence (caterer, venue, dress shop, etc.), the monetary investment is very low as well. You don’t need the most expensive camera to take great photos; you need a great wedding photographer behind that camera.

Experience can’t be bought – it has to be earned. That said, experience is not a guarantee of success. Being in business for 10 years doesn’t guarantee that couple a great outcome from you. Have you done 5 weddings each year of those 10 years? Or, have you done 50 weddings each year? Have you updated your technical skills, as well as your business and customer service skills? There are many moving parts when it comes to providing a successful wedding outcome.

Who is your real competition?
If it’s not everyone who does what you do, then who are your real competitors? To figure this out, you have to understand how your target market shops for your product/service. What are the things that they value the most? Their priorities drive their budget, and fear is a major factor when making a big decision. What are they afraid might happen if they make the wrong decision? If they’re afraid that you can’t or won’t deliver the outcome they want, they’ll pay more to someone else for the peace of mind. Those are the times you scratch your head, wondering why they chose a higher-priced supplier, when you felt you could do everything they wanted.

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» Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?

Megan Hayes is a Regional Manager of the Customer Success Team at WeddingWire. As a client-facing customer advocate with 6+ 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.

One of the oldest (yet often overlooked) challenges in the wedding industry is that of diversity. While society has led us to think a certain way based on what’s portrayed to us in media outlets such as magazines and television, the reality is that today’s couples reflect a variety of ages, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and financial backgrounds.

Just think: How many times have you seen a young bride standing alone on the cover of a wedding magazine? Does she represent all of your wedding clients? The short answer, of course, is no. We all know that, yet you wouldn’t know that from the imagery and language used in the majority of wedding-related media.

Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?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 a recent 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 income are also more likely to say they experience this challenge.

It’s important to remember that all types of couples are looking for inspiration and relatability to help them with their decision-making needs throughout the wedding planning process. If couples can’t relate to or identify their own similarities within 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.

And diversity doesn’t only matter to those who aren’t represented in mainstream media. That same study indicates that 53% of opposite-sex couples have the same positive sentiment; half (49%) find it important for their vendors to be inclusive and provide services for all types of couples.

Over the years, companies have taken an initiative to step away from the stereotypical imagery to a more inclusive outlook on society. We’re starting to see a shift in focus with well-known brands launching campaigns tht promote real people such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign and Campbell Soup’s #RealRealLife Campaign. Additionally, companies like General Mills, Swiffer and Coca-Cola are great examples of established companies that have followed a similar strategy towards representing the realism of today’s culture through online marketing campaigns, print ads, commercials, and branded hashtags.

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» Facebook Advertising: Getting Started

Facebook Advertising: Getting StartedIn addition to advertising partners like WeddingWire, you have many online channels available to your business – email, website, social media, search, just to name a few – so it can be hard to keep up with all the options to know what you could be missing! But when it comes to easy-to-use platforms that work with a wide range of budgets, Facebook Advertising is definitely an option worth noting.

Using Facebook Advertising, you can reach your audience as well as friends of those in your audience. There are several ad types to meet a variety of needs, and you don’t need a large budget to start testing. You’ll be able to see exactly how your ad is performing with access to advertising metrics for each ad you create. Below we share everything you need to know to get started with Facebook ads!

Creating your ads

Creating your ads on Facebook is a fairly simple process, but it does require some forethought. Do your research by taking note of any ads you see that got your attention, and think about the combination of words and imagery that made the ad so successful. It’s easy to find inspiration from other ads – even those that are not related to the wedding industry – if you pay attention!

To create your ad, you have two options for the ad creative – the images or videos you use:

  • Use existing post: Did one of your posts perform well? Put money behind it! You can select an existing post to promote to your desired audience instead of starting from scratch. Just remember that you can’t change the link destination of your post, since the post was previously published with that link.
  • Create new ad: Create something new and unique for your Facebook ad! Combine a great message with photos or videos of your work to attract new clients. Use the text box to write up to 90 characters above your ad’s image. Use the headline (25 characters) to lay out a clear call-to-action for those who want to learn more about your ad. You also have a link description box beneath your headline to write up to 30 characters more about your business. For images, you have the following options:
    • Single image: Select a single image to make a splash and get attention. If your image has text, be sure that the text doesn’t cover more than 20% of the image or your ad will likely be taken down. To make sure you’re following guidelines, use Facebook’s grid tool.
    • Multiple images: If you’d like to feature several photos of your work in your ad, select the carousel ad format. Showcase 3-5 images in your ad that all direct to your website. This is a great way to feature several products or service types in a single advertisement.
    • Video: Video is all the rage on social media these days, and now you can incorporate video instead of images in your advertisements. It’s great if you have professional videos or clips at your disposal, but it doesn’t have to be fancy – try recording a short video and posting it organically on your page to see how your audience reacts before you spend money on it.

For a full description of all the ad types available on Facebook’s platform and their design/text requirements, check out the Facebook Ads Guide!

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» Wedding PR: Let’s Go Offline

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

It’s a fact – couples spend a great deal of their time planning their weddings online which is all the more reason you will focus quite a bit of your PR strategies there. With that being said, there are still a number of offline PR opportunities that may still be a great fit for your company, including:
Tips for handling your offline wedding PR

  • Radio and podcasts
  • TV features and interviews
  • Print magazines
  • Speaking engagements

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – PR takes time, as well as quite a bit of effort, but the rewards can be well worth it. That’s not to say, however, that you should jump on every strategy that comes to mind. Now is the time to qualify each to ensure your time is spent wisely. Ask yourself:

Does this fit into the overall goals for my company?

You should be revisiting your company goals at least one to two times a year. Goals help create a road map for success and assist you with selecting marketing and promotional strategies.

If you would like to continue to increase brand awareness for your company locally, for example, then it would make sense to pursue area radio and TV interviews opportunities. It may not make sense, however, to seek out industry conference speaking engagements unless you can find ways to create alternative revenue streams from it.

In short, don’t suddenly jump on new offline PR opportunities if it doesn’t fall in line with the direction of your company.

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» How Advertising and Marketing Work Together

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

How Advertising and Marketing Work TogetherWhile many wedding professionals think that marketing and advertising are one and the same, there are important distinctions between the two. Advertising is a strategy for getting your business in front of as many potential clients as possible, while marketing is a strategy for making sure your business stands out from the competition. Both are necessary to reach and book wedding clients.

For your advertisement on WeddingWire or other online listings, your business should focus on:

  • Clearly communicating your products/services
  • Images and/or videos of your work
  • Consistent and recent client reviews
  • Pricing and/or any deals or discounts you offer

But for your marketing strategy, consider the following as ways to distinguish your business from the other listings the couple passed before you:

  • A well-written About section that describes who you are and why you’re a good choice
  • A website that provides more detail about your business and why you’re unique
  • Text on your website or blog that speaks their language to connect with potential clients
  • Strong calls-to-action that guide potential clients through the inquiry process

Both advertising and marketing are about pulling clients towards you, not pushing them to book you. The aforementioned tactics will help you drive potential clients to take action – whether the action is as small as clicking your ad or as big as signing a contract. When a bride sees a photo that she can imagine herself in, or a couple sees a review from an authentic client, they’re compelled to take action.

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» Special Offer for Members of IAPWO

IAPWO-LOGO-1500We are excited to announce a new special offer for members of The International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants (IAPWO). The IAPWO is a global membership organization committed to supporting professional wedding Officiants and their businesses, with members receiving education, tools, benefits and more as they commit to upholding the standards of excellence for their vocation.

IAPWO members receive a special 15% discount* off of Featured and Professional premium advertising listings for new and lite members of WeddingWire. Along with an upgraded business listing on WeddingWire, premium members also receive access to industry leading business management and client management tools, a dedicated Customer Success Rep, free educational webinars and more!

To learn more about IAPWO, check out their website and educational articles today.

*This discount is valid for IAPWO members only. 15% off discount applies for Featured & Professional Officiant listings only, and just for new business. No other discounts or offers may apply. Discount expires on 12/31/15. Some exclusions may apply.

» Search Engine Marketing: SEO vs. PPC Advertising

Search Engine Marketing: SEO vs. PPC AdvertisingWith the infinite number of websites available online today, search engines have had to work harder to filter through all the results! Search algorithms take many elements into account when evaluating your website, and it can be difficult to understand exactly how to get your business closer to the top. We often discuss search engine optimization as a good marketing strategy, but search engine marketing encompasses more than these organic efforts.

Search engine marketing is the overall term used to describe a business’ attempt to promote their brand on search engines. The two strategies commonly employed are search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising. Below is a quick breakdown of both search engine marketing strategies!

Search Engine Optimization

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo organically rank web pages, local listings and other content based on relevancy to the search terms. The process of helping those search engines find and understand your content is called search engine optimization. SEO involves a number of factors (learn more about those factors here), but the general idea is to use keywords in your website’s content and meta information to inform search engines about the content of each page of your website, listing or blog. This strategy takes time for the search engines to re-index your website, but will help your business get found by people searching those keywords.

Pay Per Click Advertising

In addition to organic page rankings, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo also display paid results called pay per click ads. PPC is a performance-based advertising model where the advertiser pays a set fee for each click on their advertisement. These advertisements are separate from the organic rankings displayed in search results, so they are not directly tied to relevancy to search terms. Each search engine offers their own platform to help you build your ads and suggests bids based on the popularity of keywords and phrases. Once your PPC ads start running, you can start seeing results right away in the form of visits to your website.

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» Facebook Ad Targeting Tips

Facebook advertisements are a way to capture the attention of select users on the world’s largest social network. With 1 billion users, it is very important that your ads are segmented, and targeted specifically for your business’ select audience.

Luckily, Facebook offers powerful ad targeting options for business pages, which can effectively connect your business with potential new clients.

You are able to select what targeting options that you would like to include for your business’ ad. It is recommended that you select a more targeted audience versus a broader audience, as it allows for your business to reach the best matches for potential clients.

Here is a basic overview of the top targeting criteria you may want to consider for your Facebook ad:

  • Age: Select an age group that you are targeting, ranging from 13-65 years old.
  • Gender: Advertise to women only, men only, or everyone based on your messaging.
  • Interests and Categories: Interests allows advertisers to target Facebook users that have listed a specific interest on their Timeline, or are pulled from their Facebook profile activities, interests, job titles, education, pages they have liked and groups they belong to. Categories are compiled by Facebook by examining a user’s actions through clicks, shares and postings.
  • Connections, and Friends of Connections: The connections option allows Facebook ads to be targeted according to the relationship a user has with a Facebook page, and can reach similar audiences to grow a fan base by targeting friends of current connections.
  • Location (Country, State, City, Zipcode): Localize your ad through geographic targeting to narrow your audience, and only reach those in the area your business serves.
  • Relationship Status: Target Facebook users that are married, single, engaged, or in a relationship.

For example, a Wedding Planner in Washington, DC may want to target: women, aged 25-30, who are friends of connections, located in Washington, DC, and who are currently engaged.

Since Facebook ads are small, they should clearly and simply represent your business, and drive action to your business website, WeddingWire Storefront or Facebook business page, where users can easily learn more about your business, read reviews and contact you for a consultation.

Visit Facebook to learn more about targeting options, how to get started creating an ad and more.

» 10 Ways to Make the Search Engines Angry: Part II

This post written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, you can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. A full version of this article is available in the Education Center. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.
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As we discussed in Part I, the keys to your SEO efforts are  consistency and patience. However it is also important to avoid these top 10 ways to make search engines angry. See the rest of the list below:


6. Penalized Sites
You want links from trustworthy sites, not from those that sit in the penalty box. If a search engine has penalized or banned another site and it links to you, that penalty may follow to your site as well. Again, make sure that you only link to sites that use SEO best practices.


7. Invisible Text
Many sites include invisible text by changing the font color to match the background color. This technique may have worked in the past, but search engines have become smarter and will catch this trick. It is ok to create separate areas on your site or in your footer for SEO purposes, but do not try to hide content and keywords from search engines.


8. Incorrect Redirects
If you move pages around on your site, you will create a redirect to tell the search engine the new location of the page. You want to issue a 301 redirect code, which tells the crawler that the page has been moved permanently. Many sites use a 302 redirect, temporarily moved, to fool users and redirect them to a different page than the one indexed by the search engine. Make sure to use 301 redirects when moving pages around, as you will get the benefit of the old page and not be penalized by Google.


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» How To: Create a Facebook Fan Page

images Facebook fan Page is a public profile you can create and personalize to showcase your business and services to Facebook users. With over 200 million registered users, creating a Facebook Page is one way to help reach your customers and potential clients. The best part is it’s completely free!

Creating a Page is easy. Simply visit Facebook Pages, click on “Create a Page” and let the fun begin.

  • Step 1: Pick Category & Name
    Choose a category that best fits the services you provide. Please note that you will not be able to change your category once you choose, so pick the closest match. Next, choose a name for your Page. Since this Page is for your business, you should use your business name. This will help extend your brand awareness. Click “Create Page.”
  • Step 2: Picture Time
    Click “Upload a Picture” at the top of your Page and upload a photo. A logo or a picture that represents your business is the best choice.

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» Marketing vs. Advertising

What is the difference between marketing and advertising? Although it seems like a simple question, it is very common to confuse the definition of the two.

By definition marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, and delivering offerings that have value for consumers and society at large (American Marketing Association).  Marketing is the first step in developing a product or service.  Seth Godin said it perfectly in his recent post, “Just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true.”

Advertising is the act or practice of calling public attention to your product, service, need, etc. (dictionary.com). Advertising includes paid ads, which can be online, in print, on billboards, etc. Advertising is a main component of marketing.

A good way to look at it is to think of marketing as a pie, in which you have slices that include advertising, market research, product branding, interactive media, SEO, sales strategy, lead generation, consumer involvement, customer support, and more.  Marketing is everything you do as a small business to facilitate a connection between your business and your consumer.

Our goal at WeddingWire is to provide the platform for vendors in the wedding industry to do both.  As a vendor you can create an account and build your Storefront, which helps you create and communicate your product offerings to your consumers (engaged couples).  Our vendor catalog, which is listed off of numerous networks (i.e. Martha Stewart Weddings, BridalBuds, WeddingAces), serves as a means of advertisement for your business for all incoming engaged couples to see.

What are your thoughts on marketing and advertising? Share your feedback in the comments sections!