» Building a Team that Represents Your Brand

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Any business owner knows that hiring the right people is incredibly important to their success. Less clear, however, is exactly how to do it. How can we find good people, train them effectively, and motivate them to represent the brand we’ve worked so hard to create? Here are five steps to building the best team for your business:

Building a Team that Represents Your BrandKnow your brand, inside and out. You certainly can’t expect anyone else to understand your brand if you don’t understand it yourself. And if you don’t understand it, you definitely can’t articulate it to your team! Your brand encompasses what your company does (its service or product), who it serves (your target clientele including demographics, style, budget, buying habits, priorities, and values), how your marketing looks, why you’re different from your competition, and how people perceive your company when they hear its name. Make sure you’re crystal clear on all of these things, so that you can define your brand to the team you’re hiring.

Look for people who are not only good, but good for you. In most wedding-related fields, character traits are as important, if not more important, than education and job skills. You can usually train people on how to do something, but you can’t train them to have the personality, values and qualities that will make them the right fit for your business. I recommend that every business owner identify 3-5 key traits as a starting point for narrowing down new hires – for example, in my DJ business, I chose nice, polished and resourceful. I need genuinely good people, whose appearance and demeanor reflect well on the professionalism of my company’s brand, and who are capable of thinking on their feet and solving problems creatively. My team and I can teach them how to DJ and how to work a wedding, but if they don’t have those three essential qualities, it’s never going to work.

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» Wedding PR: Embracing Brand Journalism

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.

If you’re a millennial, or anywhere in the vicinity of being a millennial, then you’ve spent the majority of life being sold to. And because of this, companies are having a more difficult time reaching their audience through traditional PR methods.

While press releases, media pitches and ads in general still have their place, companies are eager to find additional methods for getting their message out and engaging with prospective clients.

Wedding PR: Embracing Brand JournalismEnter brand journalism, a discipline that marries storytelling with promotion.

The fact is, stories connect us in an authentic way to our readers. The transparency involved invokes trust. And trust builds loyalty.

Brand journalism is relatively new to the public relations world and is now making its way into the wedding industry. It’s a perfect fit if you think about it – nearly every weekend you have a new story to share about a happy couple in love.

So how does it work exactly?

First, you need to dig into the story of your brand as well as develop the message you want to get across to your defined audience. You’ll also need to ask yourself what type of content will resonate with your target market. Just like qualifying company news to determine if it’s newsworthy, you need to put yourself in the role of the journalist and ask yourself if your prospective readers will actually look forward to reading what you have to say.

For some, that may mean in-depth profiles of each event, or perhaps behind-the-scenes peeks into planning.  If you pride yourself on your relationships with your clients, then perhaps they’re willing to share their story about how they came to work with you, and how you made a difference in their day. If you’re focused on building a personal brand, then be ready to share actual glimpses into your life – from the design of your office to the shoes you put on your feet in the morning.

Very simply put – if you’re having a conversation with your audience, what would that look like?

From there, it’s time to develop actual content. If you’re a strong writer, then it’s time to get to work. If it’s not your particular strength, then consider bringing in a writer to help craft your message. Regardless of what you do, make sure you do so from a place of authenticity. The moment you lose sight of this is the moment you lose your reader.

For many companies, their channel is their own web site and if you already have a blog in place, it can certainly be your platform to start. Like any good promotional strategy, you’ll need to continue to monitor it and evolve with the changing needs of your audience.

Ira Glass once said, “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” So the question remains – what story are you ready to tell about your brand?

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» Updating Your Brand Presence for Wedding Season

Updating Your Brand Presence for Wedding SeasonAs we move into the spring season, Pros across the country are preparing for a busy wedding season full of events. While you may have already booked most of your weddings through the fall, couples are still seeing your business as they continue to search for their wedding professionals. It’s essential that your brand presence remain strong while you’re otherwise occupied!

Below we break out the individual areas that affect your brand presence online, with tips for updating each area in preparation for the wedding season.

Brand: Add professional photos

It’s important to take time several throughout the year to update your Storefront with recent photos and information. Before you reach for that cell phone camera, though, consider getting some more high-quality images! Featuring high-resolution, professional photos that showcase your business is an important way to make your Storefront and website more appealing to visitors. We recently redesigned the look and feel of your Storefront to bring more attention to photos of your work, and we’ve seen that visitors who click the new Storefront photo carousel view an average of 22 photos per session. The more visitors to your Storefront who check out your photos, the more time they’re spending on your Storefront considering your business. Make the decision easy by giving them plenty of great photos to choose from!

Public Relations: Submit a real wedding

One of the most crucial aspects of developing strong wedding PR for your business is getting published. Whether you’re a DJ, florist, venue, caterer, wedding planner or any other wedding professional, getting published will expose your business to an even wider audience. If you’re taking our advice and adding more professional photos, your Storefront will look more attractive to our Editorial Team, who spend a lot of time browsing WeddingWire Storefronts to look for Wedding Pros to interview and feature. We also created RealWeds.com to streamline the process of submitting real wedding photos to WeddingWire and our sister site, Project Wedding. Whether you submit your own photos or your business is selected by our Editorial Team, being published on WeddingWire will help your business reach even more engaged couples.

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» The Journey of a Brand

Pro to Pro Insights

Kylie Carlson

Kylie Carlson is the founder of the Wedding and Event Institute, a certification and training company offering courses in wedding planning, event planning and event design. With campuses in the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, Kylie is a sought after international speaker on the business of weddings and events. She has also helped to launch the businesses of over 250 wedding planners around the world and is on the Advisory Board of Event Solutions Magazine.

Branding in 2014 is all about storytelling. Before you can tell your story, though, you need to take your brand on a journey that will allow you to attract and engage with your target market. This comes through knowing and understanding what makes you truly unique and irresistible to your audience. We like to call this the five steps of branding; a process that walks you through your focus, values, personality, color and communication.

The Journey of a BrandFocus

What is it you want to be known for? Take some time to sit down and really think about what it is you want your customers to recognize in you or your product. Think about what makes your business unique and what it is your customers find compelling about you. What do you do really well and how do you interact with clients? Why do people want to buy what you do?

Once your business has a defined focus you can really mold your brand into something that will resonate and start to tell the story and take people on the journey of your brand. It is this that ultimately people buy into.

Values

Once you’ve found your focus it is easy to then pinpoint your values. These are what underpin your business and show people what you stand for. They guide the way you do business. They help you to establish a foundation from which your clients will form expectations and build a level of trust.

Personality

The personality of your business should shine through in everything you do. If you think about your favorite brands they will all have a personality that appeals to you. Is your brand sophisticated, exciting, sincere, competent, reliable, creative etc.? These are all adjectives that could be relative to your wedding brand.

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» Branding in the Wedding Industry

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

Many wedding professionals are interested in creating an effective brand strategy that goes beyond a name, symbol or design to differentiate their business from the rest in the cluttered wedding industry. This sort of advanced marketing strategy can be tough to implement in such a fragmented industry, but it doesn’t have to be! In this post, I share the basics that will help you be successful in creating a distinct brand for your wedding business.

Branding in the Wedding IndustryStart with the goal in mind

Remember: the number one job you have as a wedding professional is lead generation.  Without leads, your business goes nowhere. To get leads, you need your business to be where couples are spending their time. In the mind of a couple, you need to be more than just “seen,” you need to effectively get them to convert or move to the next step. The most effective advertising that wedding professionals can put out is a multi-pronged approach spanning several different channels.

Most couples are not looking in a singular medium when they start their search for wedding professionals. They typically start on the internet, whether on a planning website like WeddingWire or through online search. I highly suggest that you spend 50% of your energy and budget on internet related marketing, then use the rest of your time going to bridal shows, buying ad placement in wedding magazines or collaborating with other wedding professionals. As you think about the various places your brand will be visible, it’s important to you look at three specific elements of your campaigns: the logos, the slogans and the colors.

Creating a logo

Your logo needs to be professionally done. With all the online resources available, there is no reason why you should not and cannot get a professionally made logo that makes you look like the professional business you are! Homemade logos (and any other marketing materials for that matter) make you look much less professional.

Creating a slogan

Using the same slogan or tagline also helps to trigger awareness. It’s not their job to sort out and pay attention to our advertising; engaged couples will simply pick out the Wedding Pros that they are attracted to based upon the advertisements they see. When you maintain consistency throughout advertising, couples are more likely to remember your business. Just remember: your tagline needs to be specific to you – using some vague slogan like “Providing the best for your special day” doesn’t make for effective branding.

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» How to Build a Buzzworthy Brand on Social Media

How to Build a Buzzworthy Brand Webinar Recap!

How social is your business? Today’s couples are highly engaged on social media and love sharing, posting and liking as they plan their wedding online and on-the-go. 72% of internet users are active on social media and 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision – and this includes decisions for their big day! Social marketing is a must for your brand in the wedding industry.

WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganuguly hosted this month’s educational webinar for premium members and shared his tips for how to stand out online and build a strong brand using social media.

Check out these tips for building a buzzworthy brand on top social media sites:

  • When posting on Facebook, the largest social network, keep in mind the highest traffic occurs mid-week between 1-3pm, and post engagement is 18% higher on Thursday and Friday. Be sure to post great content at these times!
  • Twitter users are three times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users. Learn more about your followers by reviewing the recently launched analytics.twitter.com and tailor your sharing according to your user interest and engagement style.
  • Google+ is the 2nd largest social network in regards to amount of users. While they still working to increase user engagement on this site, take advantage of the boost it can give your posts! Posts see a +350% increase when shared using the +1 button so be sure to add this button to your posts and create a business Google+ account. Not only are 6 billion hours watched per month on YouTube, but it is also the #1 network for 18-34 year olds.

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» 4 Webinar Best Practices

4 Webinar Best Practices - WeddingWire EDU BlogMany businesses find that traveling to present at various conferences or showcase their business at bridal shows are great ways to share information about their businesses, network with other industry professionals and raise brand awareness with engaged couples. But traveling to conferences and bridal shows can be expensive, on top of event registration fees. How do you grow your business awareness on a tight budget?

Webinars are a great (and inexpensive) way to show off your knowledge on a particular subject. While websites like SlideShare allow you to post your existing presentations, it’s much more powerful and valuable when you’re able to present live to another person, with both audio and visual information.

At WeddingWire, we host monthly educational webinars for our premium Pros, so we know a thing or two about hosting a great webinar! While hosting a webinar may seem daunting, follow these webinar best practices and you’ll have smooth sailing when hosting and sharing your content!

Make sure to have a plan

Most webinars are announced or promoted several days or weeks before their scheduled dates, so you should have plenty of time to come up with a plan. Who will be assisting you before, during and after the webinar? It’s nice to have a wingman to field questions or resolve issues while you’re presenting. Do you have a Plan B? If something goes wrong, it’s good to have a backup plan – whether that’s another computer on standby if the issue is technical, or a different format for your presentation, be prepared for a variety of scenarios.

Test, test, test

Before you dive head-first into a webinar, always be sure to set up a test webinar beforehand to run through the process. Testing will alleviate some of the uncertainty you may find when creating your plan. Testing is especially important if your panelists are in different locations, or if you will be switching presenters during the webinar. During the test, invite other people in your organization to attend so you can hear how the audio sounds and see if there are any other technical difficulties. This also serves as great practice for presenters! If you’re recording your webinar, you should also test the process of converting the recording into whatever format you need it in!

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» Is it Time to Update Your Brand Message?

Is It Time to Update Your Brand Message?It’s officially engagement season, which means couples are about to start the process of wedding planning. In their searches for the perfect venue, caterer, band, DJ and all wedding Pros, your business is fighting for attention among your competitors. WeddingWire Pros already get a variety of tools and strategies within their upgraded accounts to help get noticed, but it can still be tough for some businesses to stand out from the crowd.

In addition to updating your WeddingWire Storefront with new photos, videos and reviews, you should consider updating your business’s brand message. Begin by re-reading your About Us section and/or company mission and values. Ask if this section portrays your company in a way that you want couples to perceive your business and services? Does it provide enough information without being overwhelming?

Below are our Pro tips for updating your brand’s message in time for engagement season!

Take inventory of your messaging

When deciding to update your brand messaging, first take inventory of all the places your brand lives. The way you describe your business is on your website, Storefront, brochures and rate sheets, social media properties and any other place on which you have a presence. Any changes you make should be made across all of these places to ensure that your messaging is consistent. A person who finds your website should have the same understanding of your business as a person who finds you from a flyer posted on the local community board.

Set a focus for your messaging

The biggest mistake businesses make is trying to be everything to everyone. You can only be one thing in the mind of a customer. You might offer many different services that cater to different audiences, but you need to pick one way to describe the things you do and how you do them or you run the risk of confusing your potential clients. Your brand message needs to make a big enough impression on people that they remember you for that specific purpose.

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» Manage and Grow Your Personal Brand!

Developing a strong brand is important to your business success. Make sure that you are owning your brand “territory” and building a strong online presence with these tips from PR Daily.

Check out our top 5 favorites below, and read the full article for all 10 sites.

BrandYourself

This website is a great way to manage and take ownership of your search results. The tool makes sure top search engines like Google and Bing find the real you—not someone else who may have a name similar to yours. It helps you put relevant results at the top and improve your personal brand.

About.me

About.me helps you create a personal homepage that is a central place for all your websites and social media accounts such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and a blog. This tool can help improve your presence online, and help others quickly learn who you are and what you share in one easy place.

Social Mention

This tool sends alerts based on your established keywords. It analyzes when someone mentions you and also determines how important those mentions are. Essentially, it is social media search engine by searching user generated content like blogs, bookmarks, comments and videos.

 NameChk

Do you want to know if your name is available on a certain social network? This tool helps make sure you secure your domains on social networks. It helps you determine if your desired social media username or URL is still available on tons of social networks, and also allows you to search for other options if need be.

Google Alerts

Google alerts are still a must to search for the keywords you want to know about, such as your name or the business name of your competitors. It also helps you stay up-to-date on keywords you are interested in, like WeddingWire, Wedding News, your local area, and more.

For more branding tips on and offline, be sure to check out our past posts about considering your branding colors, and designing a business card that gets noticed!

» 5 Tips for Improving Your Business Website

A business website is an important tool to reach your potential clients where they are searching – online! When was the last time you updated your website? Find below some key elements that should be included on your website to effectively connect with your potential clients, and top tips to make your business stand out!

5 factors to consider when improving your business website:

  • Design: Your website must be visually appealing. Clean designs, easy to read copy, and fonts and colors consistent with you logo are important. Avoid bright or dark backgrounds, colorful fonts for large amounts of copy, and overcrowding the pages with content. When in doubt, remember “simplicity is key” to engaging clients on your website.
  • Images: Be sure to include images of your work examples so potential clients can see you in action and get a sense of your work and capabilities. When deciding which images to include on the website, consider five aspects: purpose, tone, relevance, timeliness and uniqueness. The images you select to include on your website should pass the test of all five aspects in order to represent your brand. Remember to give credit when necessary as well, and obey by copyright laws.
  • Brand Exposure: Make your branding apparent on all pages of your website. Be sure to include a business logo, create complimentary web designs, and include links to your social media accounts, blog, photo galleries and anything else you may want to share! These elements all work together to create your overall brand impression.
  • Services and Experience: Make sure to provide information about your business, contact information, and of course what services you offer! List the services you provide, and be sure to note anything that makes you unique. Also, be sure to show off any industry rewards, memberships in industry Associations or experience that separates you from the competition. Consider giving a sneak peek into your team so website visitors get a sense of the personality of your business, and the passionate people who make it great!
  • Reviews: Reviews are key to establishing a strong online reputation! Potential clients search for feedback from past clients as they are determining their wedding or event team, and reviews are a great way to show off and stand out. Get the My Reviews Widget to share select WeddingWire reviews right on your website. Simply copy-and-paste the HTML code into your website and your recent reviews are there for visitors to see!

Additionally, it is important to not let updates your website fall by the wayside. Take time to evaluate your website every so often, and do your best to view your website as a potential client who is not familiar with your business. Seeing your website from an outside perspective will help to determine areas of improvement that may ultimately lead to positive updates that bring more inquiries and bookings! Need another perspective? Consider asking a trusted friend or team member to take a look and send any suggestions to evaluate! More perspectives lead to more ideas, more points of view, and potentially more future business. Additionally, frequent updates improve how often your website is crawled by top search engines – ultimately improving your SEO!

Ready for more website tips? Review the webinar “Stand Out with a Winning Website” in the Education Center!

» Design a Business Card That Gets Noticed

Strong branding is an important part of establishing your business, and gaining recognition!

In an industry where your business revolves around meeting and winning over new clients all the time, and where networking is so critical to gaining word of mouth exposure, a great business card is important, and should convey the overall image of your business!

The color, wording and texture of our business cards have a lot to do with its appeal and its ability to convey your company image.Think about the colors of your logo, your target audience and your service of expertise and work to include these elements in a clean, easy to read way.

Ready to design a business card that gets noticed? Check out these top tips from a recent article on Entrepreneur magazine, and be sure to read the full article for more great business card advice!

Business card design tips:

  1. Use your logo as the basis. Make it the largest element on the card.
  2. Keep it simple. Do not cram too much information on the card.
  3. Do include the essentials — your name, title, company name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email and website addresses.
  4. Make sure the typeface is easily readable.
  5. Stick to one or two colors.

Once you’ve got business cards, make the most of them:

  1. Always give people more than one card (so they can give it to others).
  2. Include your card in all correspondence.
  3. Carry cards with you at all times, in a card case so they’re clean and neat.

» Be a Social Media Posting Pro!

Today, developing a strong and engaging social media presence can be a big part of running a successful business and interacting with your community. What you’re posting, when you’re posting it and where you’re posting are all important factors in the success of your social media outreach (and we are here to help!).

When posting on social media, it is important to understand how you clients and audiences would like to interact on leading social sites if you want to leverage these platforms to grow your business. For information on how consumers interact with business on Facebook and Twitter, check out this [INFOGRAPHIC] from market research company, AYTM (Ask Your Target Market).

Overall, the Infographic showcases that it is important to keep your social updates short and to the point to gain your fan’s attention (ideas include: news about your business, congratulating a new couple, a blurb about a current event, or favorite inspiration). Users of Facebook and Twitter like to mention and share posts by businesses – so be sure to give them content to share! In addition to sharing information about your business, it’s a good idea to include coupons, promotions and discounts in your posts. This is a great way to keep your audience involved with your social media outreach, and also to continue to drive business to your company.

Learn more and get started implementing this great tool for premium members!