» How Effective Are Your Email Responses?

Photo by Gawne Design Photography

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve shared some quick actionable ways to tune-up your Storefront and website for engagement season, and now it’s time to give your digital communications some love with these tips from Education Guru Alan Berg. Newly engaged couples will be reaching out soon – so keep these tips in mind to create powerful connections with potential clients.

Don’t rush to change the format

One of the biggest mistakes that wedding professionals can make right out of the gate is responding to an inquiry from a potential client in a format that is different than how they reached out. It’s likely that they were given the opportunity to contact you in multiple ways, and then they chose what worked best for them. According to WedInsights, 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type! So start with their preferred method, then once you have a back and forth going, you can ask them for a phone call, appointment, or another method that is necessary.

Respond quickly

70% of couples say vendor responsiveness is one of the top qualities they consider. It makes sense right? Most couples expect to hear from you within 24 hours, but they actually want that response right now! They are obviously in the frame of mind when they reach out, so ideally you want to catch them in that same state. The first vendor to respond will grab the couple’s attention and have an edge up on the competition.

Fit the first reply on a smartphone screen

When responding to a couple’s first inquiry, make sure that your response fits nicely on a smartphone screen. You should never assume that the couple will read your response on a computer and you don’t want to lose them in a reply. So make it easy for them. Email yourself one of your standard replies and open it on your smartphone. If it all fits, great! If it doesn’t, shorten it until it does. Also, make sure that the information is easily digestible by breaking into short paragraphs.

End the reply with one question

If you want to keep the conversation going, you must ask a question. Periods stop the conversation, but question marks open up a dialogue. Make the question something very simple and easy to answer. You don’t want them to have to think too hard or long to give a sufficient answer. Some examples are: “What other questions can I answer for you?”, “Are you planning on having your ceremony here as well?”, “Have you seen us at another wedding?” etc.

Don’t send attachments

Attachments are almost impossible to open and read on phones, even if they are beautiful. If it wasn’t formatted for phones, then we don’t suggest attaching it to emails. Instead you can put that information on a hidden page on your website. Then link to that page in your reply.

Auto replies should provide value

When was the last time you received a “Thank you for your message, someone will get back to you as soon as possible” and thought, “Oh great someone is going to get back to me!”? Probably never. That’s because you already knew, or assumed, that someone would get back to you. If you are using auto replies, make sure that you include information that couldn’t be gathered otherwise to add value to the inquirer’s experience with you.

Create a bank of testimonials

One of the greatest ways to show off your value is by letting a past client do it for you. Anytime someone says something nice about you or your business, copy it and save it. Whether it’s in person, through email, WeddingWire, Facebook, Instagram – anywhere, add it to a document with their name, city and state. Then highlight or bolden the statement that you want to highlight. When replying to an inquiry, find a relevant testimonial and include it!

» To Discount or Not to Discount?

Photo by Tracy Shoopman Photography

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

An often contentious topic among wedding professionals is discounting. Both sides of the debate dig in, deeply, when this question is posed on social media or in forums. Now, as engagement season begins, is the time to dive into this subject, starting with the difference between discounting and negotiating.

Discounting versus negotiating

For me, discounting is fine when it has structure and rules. Meaning everyone who buys the same products or services for equivalent dates will pay the same price and the rules are applied equally to everyone. For instance, if you have three packages and your higher packages, which contain more services, also have the highest discounts, that’s great. If everyone who buys that package pays the same price, then the rules are being applied equally.

On the other hand, negotiating means that two couples who buy the same products or services may pay different prices. Each customer’s ability to negotiate will determine their final price. The challenge with negotiating in today’s digitally connected world is that people can, and will, talk about their discount. If you can’t easily explain to one customer why they paid more than another customer for the same products and services – for instance, an in-season date versus an off-season date – then you’re negotiating, not discounting.

Discounting and negotiating can be part of a pricing strategy, negotiating is just less structured. There are times when I’ll negotiate to get the sale, but it’s the exception, not the rule. I recommend to my consulting clients to offer added value over a discount in price, as it helps to keep integrity in their basic pricing structure. If you’ve ever thrown in an extra product or service to get the sale, you’ve negotiated. Some companies do it on every sale. If you give the same or similar added value services every time, you’re really discounting, not negotiating. If the proportionate value of the added products or services changes with every customer, you’re negotiating.

Which is right for you?

There’s no one answer that’s right for every business. Personally, I prefer discounting over negotiating, as it’s easier to explain to your employees and your customers. I understand that it may not work for all businesses. In my business, as a speaker, sales trainer and consultant, there is no standard price list. Each event and client involves a different set of circumstances (travel, preparation, residual business, etc.). However, when it comes to my physical products (books, CDs, etc.), discounts make sense. For example, when I have a booth at a trade show or event, I’ll have my books and CDs, and usually offer an event discount. Many times I’ll be asked for an even lower price, and I’ll thank them and say that the listed prices are already discounted. Then I’ll ask if they want to pay with cash or credit. Asking for a discount is a buying signal, so always ask them for the sale when they ask for a discount.

Don’t fight the power

One of the keys to having pricing power is when the customer wants you, specifically you, to do their wedding or event. You’re not available anywhere else, at any price. If they don’t perceive any difference between you and another company with a lower price, the lower price will win. If they can tell the difference and want you to be their planner, or caterer, or officiant, they have to pay your price.

Get something of value in return

If you’re going to discount or negotiate, try to get something of value in return. If you only lower your price, you’re giving away profit. The products and services will cost you the same, but you’re getting paid less for them. Whether it’s getting a bigger deposit, being paid in full now, taking away services, or a higher guaranteed minimum guest count, make them a partner. If you’re the only one giving, they’ll keep taking. When they want to stop giving, they’ll stop asking.

They’ll be back

Many customers will shop around and find a lower price, which isn’t hard to do these days. If they do find a lower price and they still come back to you, they’re signaling that they can tell a difference, whether in your products or services or in the way you’ve provided a better customer experience – or both. That’s an indication that you have pricing power.

They may ask you to match the lower price, but you shouldn’t have to in order to get the sale. If they felt the other company would provide just as good products or services and customer experience, they wouldn’t have come back to you. The fact that they’re coming back shows that they like you better. Always thank them for coming back. After all, if price was the most important factor, you’d be out of the running.

Price doesn’t determine outcome

Sure, sometimes the lower price will win. A line I often use is “If price is the most important factor when choosing your (photographer, band, dress, speaker, etc.) then I’m probably not the best choice for your event.” Change the discussion from pricing to outcomes. There are many wedding and event professionals who don’t charge enough, whether by choice or out of fear.

Do I have to offer a discount to get the sale?

Whether you decide to offer a discount or not is a personal decision and part of your personal brand. There are many very successful businesses that offer discounts. Sometimes it’s due to competitive pressures, and sometimes it’s to encourage a higher sale. Packages are a great way to display discounts and encourage a higher average sale.

What’s the right answer for your business?

I’d have to know a lot more details to answer that. But when discounting becomes the reason that couples book you instead of them wanting only you to do their wedding or event, you risk diluting your brand. When they’re choosing you mostly on price, it’s easy for someone else to come along and undercut your price. So, discount or negotiate, it’s up to you – but be careful not to get caught up selling the discount, instead of selling your brand.

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.

» Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?

Photo by Blueflash Photography

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

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

Choose images that are aspirational

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

Take action:

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

Make sure the text matches the aspiration of your photos

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

Take action:

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

Include social proof of your capabilities

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

Take action:

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

Create specific calls-to-action

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

Take action:

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

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

» Ask for the Sale and Book More Weddings

ask for the sale

Photo by BHP Imaging

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

I’m just getting back from another great Wedding MBA, and my last presentation there was a WedTalk called “The Closer.” The underlying theme of this 15-minute presentation was these four words: Ask for the sale. While it seems obvious, this is the place where many, if not most, wedding and event professionals drop the ball. Even if you’re listening well, presenting the outcomes and results of choosing you, and showing the value of paying your price, you still have to finish the job. As we are approaching engagement season, there’s no better time to brush up on your sales approach.

You’re already on their short-list
By the time you get to have a conversation with them, whether digital, on the phone or in person, they already think you’re a good fit. They’ve seen your storefront, seen your photos and videos and read your reviews. These steps were all buying signals. Then they sent you a message through WeddingWire messaging, or went to your website, liked what they saw, and messaged you from there. This, too is a buying signal, and the first one you saw.

After continuing that conversation with you, at some point you need to ask for the sale. If they weren’t interested, the conversation would be over. As long as they’re still sitting in the chair, or talking on the phone, or replying to your emails and texts, they’re still interested. They need ‘what’ you do. That’s why they started their search for someone in your market and category. They did their filtering and you made the cut to get an inquiry (that’s the short-list). You should be assuming that they will buy from you.

When and how to ask for the sale
You should be asking for the sale at the points where you see, and hear, the buying signals. If they were referred to you, by another couple, or another wedding professional, that’s a great indicator of interest. However, just because their friends loved you, doesn’t mean you’ll make the same connection with them.

Ask them: “When we do the flowers (or music, ceremony, food, photos, video, etc.) for your wedding, what would you like to be the same as your friends, and what would you like us to do differently?” Notice that you should ask ‘when’, not ‘if.’ If they start to passionately describe what they want, you can continue with: “That sounds great, I can’t wait to start working on those details. Should we get your date reserved, so we can move on to choosing your (colors, menu, package, etc.)?”

Answer their objection, then ask for the sale
If they pose an objection, address it, then ask for the sale. Objections are buying signals, because if they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t present an objection, they’d just leave, or go radio-silent on you. For example, what if they say: “You’re the first one we’ve seen.” To me, that’s a statement, not an objection. Here’s what you might say:

“I totally understand. A lot of our couples make us the first stop, because of our reviews, reputation, and recommendations from friends and other wedding professionals. They, like you, already think that we’re the right fit, before even coming in. Once they see, like you have, how great we can make your wedding, many of them decide to make sure we’ll be available to do their weddings by reserving us. And, there are so many other vendors to choose, that all need to have your actual date. Should we get your date reserved so you can move on to the other decisions?”

Here’s another example: “That’s more than we wanted to spend.” You might reply with:

“I know how things can add up quickly for a wedding. We see it all the time. For the particular services/products that you want, to make your wedding everything you’ve imagined, and more, this is the best price. Should we get that reserved for you now?

Help them buy
Customers want, and need you to help them buy. As I said earlier, they need ‘what’ you do, or you would never have gotten the inquiry. You need to show them that they were right to put you on their short-list. You need to help them see the value in choosing specifically you, and your team. And then, you need to help them get the results that only you can provide, by asking for the sale.

alan berg

WeddingWire 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.

» 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.

 

 

» 7 Essentials of a Great Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

» 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

Reviews are a key way to showcase your expertise – all from the voice of happy couples! Don’t just collect reviews, make sure you showcase them in creative ways to promote your excellent work. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn – it’s an excellent way to gain new business!

10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews:

  1. On your website: Add your reviews and sound bites from happy couples to your website, and not just on a testimonial page! Consider adding a testimonial on all your website pages – especially your homepage.
  2. In your marketing: Add testimonials or reviews to your marketing collateral. Reviews should be on all important materials that would reach new potential clients. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!
  3. On your packages or pricing info: Reviews and testimonials from past clients are a great addition to your pricing to show the value behind your services. This will also help support the reasoning behind your cost structure, showing couples that you are the right professional to book for their wedding or event.
  4. On social media: Share your new reviews on social media to quickly reach your audience and build positive brand awareness. A few ideas include, creating a quick post on Instagram, snapping the new review on Snapchat or sharing to Facebook. This is made easy through the Facebook share buttons in the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account.
  5. On your business cards: Make a lasting first impression by adding a great review sound bite to your business cards. Not only will this help to make you more memorable, but will also show your value, allowing you to stand out from the competition.
  6. In your promo videos: Easily add a quick testimonial right from a happy couple’s mouth with a short video. Video testimonials show a real couple and capture their genuine appreciation for your services which can make a big impact. These can then be shared on your website, social media, etc.
  7. In your wedding show booth: Create materials such as postcards, signage and more to show your reviews in your wedding show booth. This will help make your business stand out from the rest by making a couple to couple connection. Also be sure to showcase any review related awards you have won, such as WeddingWire Rated™ or the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®.
  8. In your email communication: Consider adding a favorite review to your email signature, as well as a link to your WeddingWire reviews URL. That way, interested couples can quickly click through to read your great reviews, and this will help encourage them to leave you a review post-event by showing that these reviews matter to you!
  9. On your blog: Add the WeddingWire Review Widget to your business’ blog and website to showcase your reviews on those sites. Also consider adding the Review Us button to those sites to encourage past clients to review your business to continue collecting new reviews.
  10. In your photo gallery: Couples love to see photos of your work, and tend to go to that section of your website or Storefront first. Make a lasting impression by posting quick testimonials to those pages to create that visual connection between great reviews and happy couples.

Ready to put your reviews to good use? Visit the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account to collect more reviews with the Review Collector tool, add your reviews to your website with the Review Widget, and set a customized Review URL to grab some of your best review sound bites for your marketing!

Plus, the more reviews you have on WeddingWire, the more you stand out! Earn badges through the WeddingWire Rated™ review program, which instantly recognizes how many reviews you have and boosts your badge level with each new milestone. Aim to join the 100 Review Club for Pros with over 100 wedding reviews!

» 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.

Continue reading

» 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

» WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Highland Manor for WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a historic venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about email etiquette tips to help you turn leads into bookings from WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, CSP.

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 enjoyable evening below.

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

Check out the photo strips from the event here!

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Michael from October Oaks!

» How Big Should Your Wedding Business Get?

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.

I’ve had several conversations recently with established wedding professionals that were reconsidering their business size. Rather than looking for ways to get bigger, they were downsizing – on purpose. The most recent business was an entertainment company downsizing from a staff of 6 down to just the owner. I’ve heard this from planners and photographers, and other wedding pros. There are many reasons feeding this particular DJ’s decision, from wanting to simplify his life to being able to spend more time with his family. It’s what’s right for him and his family.

How Big Should Your Wedding Business Get?What’s right for you?

The only vision of your business that matters is yours. From however many weddings and events you do to how much money you make, the goals and targets you set should be your own. There’s no magic number that’s right for everyone in your market and category. Just as with the example above, there’s more to your decision than just money. I once had a wedding pro tell me that he wanted to do 250 weddings per year. I asked him why 250? He said that he felt it would present him as more successful to his peers. The problem with his strategy was that he was taking on lower-dollar, lower-profit business to increase his volume. While his total number of weddings was going up, his bottom line wasn’t. He’s since backed away from that and is happily doing fewer weddings.

Too many people try to model their businesses after others they see or, as with the previous example, they try to chase an arbitrary number. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring for more, just be sure to do it for the right reasons and get all of the facts. From the outside, other businesses often seem smoother and more successful than they really are. A common analogy is of a duck, gliding smoothly across the water, while it’s paddling like mad under the water. That happens a lot on social media, as we see a skewed view of people and businesses. Their triumphs are plastered for all to see, while their failures never make it to their posts and tweets.

business weddingWhat’s the right number?

If you’re currently doing 25 weddings per year and you want to get to 50, how are you going to get there? If you only want to personally do 25 weddings, who’s going to do the rest? Are you already getting so many leads that you’re turning business away? If not, then you’ll need to get more leads, which means increasing your marketing, advertising, and networking efforts. If you’re getting multiple leads for the same days, then you can’t double your number of weddings unless you staff-up. One person can’t be in two places at once.

I was consulting with a DJ company who told me he wanted to get from his current rate of 200 weddings per year up to 500. I told him that getting more equipment was easy. Getting more DJs, since he was already a multi-op, was a little harder – but still doable. The questions he needed to answer included:

  • How much could he afford to increase his marketing budget to extend his reach?
  • What were his plans for a new website?
  • How was he going to get enough leads to be able to close 500 weddings per year?
  • Who was going to handle the thousands of leads he’d need to close 500 weddings?
  • Who was going to oversee all of those new DJs and jobs?
  • What affect would that have on his family life?

Find the balance

What each of us needs to do is find the balance between size and profitability. Doubling the number of weddings you do may feed your ego, but if it doesn’t also feed your family, what’s the point? The key is to build a stable, sustainable business model, while also having time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Don’t build someone else’s idea of your business. Build the one you can not only be proud of, but the one you’re going to want to run, day in and day out.

Now that my kids are grown, I’m grateful that this industry has afforded me the time to spend with them when they were younger. I’m also grateful that we’re in a recession-resistant industry. While things change every year, people are still choosing to get married – and if they’re choosing to have you be part of their wedding, you should be proud, and grateful, too.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» Do You Hate (The Boring Parts of) Your Wedding Pro Job?

alan bergThis 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.

I once heard a very famous speaker friend say on-stage: “I hate my job!” We, in the audience, were very surprised, until he continued that he loves speaking, he just hates all of the other things related to his work: prospecting, administration, sales, etc. Sound familiar? Do you love the creative parts of your work, but hate the business parts? Many wedding pros I meet feel that way.

Love it or hate it, those business tasks are what separate a hobby from a business. When I started selling wedding advertising many years ago, I remember visiting with a wedding photographer in his studio. His bookshelf had lots of photography books, but it also had business books. While his work was very good, there were other, more artistic photographers in his market. That said, he had a better, more viable business than many of the more artistic photographers, because he understood that he also needed business skills.

What are you good at?

Which parts of your business are you best at doing? Chances are, you didn’t say sales and marketing. If you did, good for you! If not, then what are you doing to enhance your business skills? Are you attending conferences like WeddingWire World? When I started giving presentations at conferences many years ago, the business sessions were lightly attended, compared to the sessions on improving your craft (floral arranging, video editing, etc.).

Over the years, I’m pleased to see more business content become available and more people choosing to attend. After all, you can have the best creative skills and not have a viable business. If you have great business skills, you can always hire the creative talent. When it comes to the business tasks, you can either learn to do them better or outsource them. I know how to do my accounting, but I use a CPA to do my taxes. They’re up on the latest laws and deductions, and have proven their worth to me, over and over, through their actions. I understand graphic design, but I hire a professional graphic designer, because they’re more creative than me. I understand website design, and I’ve written a book on websites, but I use a professional website designer for the more technical aspects, which are not my strength.

 

TGIF or TGIM?

In the 9-5 world, you hear TGIF from people who are looking forward to Friday, because it’s the end of their work week. In the wedding industry, Friday is the beginning of your work. Sure, you’ve been preparing for these weddings for weeks, or months, but you get to see the culmination of your work on the weekend. Yes, weddings can happen on other days, but the recent WeddingWire Newlywed Report said that, in 2016, 22 days accounted for half of all weddings. They were all Saturdays, and the 3 most popular dates were all in October. So, I can say, with confidence, that the weekend is likely when you’re performing your services.

Do you look forward to Friday, TGIF, because you’re excited about being able to bring to fruition your hard work, and to show your couples, and their guests, an amazing experience? Or, do you say TGIM, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, because your work is done? Yes, there’s a sense of relief in knowing that the wedding went off, hopefully without a hitch. Yes, there’s a sense of satisfaction in delivering your products and services, at a high-level, and having your customers pleased with the results. That said, some of you don’t get to see the faces of the guests, as they arrive at the wedding, or as they dance the night away. You deliver the tent, tables, flowers and décor, before the first guest arrives. You see brides in their dresses, in your shop, but not at the wedding (until they post or send you photos). You see grooms in their tuxes and suits, but not at the wedding. You see the invitations, but not the look on their guest’s faces when they go to their mailboxes and then open, with anticipation, the first impression of their wedding. So, do you look forward to delivering your service, or for the relief of it being over?

 

Inner pride

The most intense sense of pride comes from within. Yes, it’s nice to have others say your work is great. Yes, it’s gratifying to see their wonderful reviews. But, as I said on my recent WeddingWire EDU webinar, “Your ROI (Return on Investment) is in the WHY,” you should work the same, whether anyone sees you or not. Satisfaction of a job well done should be internal first. Know that you’ve done the absolute best you could for that customer. Take pride in that, and then look for validation from the couple and their guests.

Like it, or not, not everyone posts a photo or review. You often get little or no feedback from your customer, and rarely from the guests (unless you’re physically at the wedding). While there’s no shortage of egos in the wedding industry, your first goal is to feed your family, then feed your ego. Do what’s right, because it’s the right thing to do, not because anyone will notice. Then, get validation that you did, through their photos, social posts and reviews. So, love your job, or hate it (and outsource more of it), feel very blessed we’re in an industry that allows us to share our creativity on one of the most special days of their lives. TGIF!