» WedInsights Recap to Boost Your Business Success in 2017

As we enter 2017, it’s important to start planning for the upcoming wedding season and beyond. Besides preparing for upcoming events, dedicate some time to assess your business and find ways to make improvements.

For many pros, a more successful year can mean focusing on a stronger online presence through social media or an improved mobile website. For others, it’s acquiring new customers or finding ways to make their marketing dollars go furtherRegardless of your specific goals, one thing is certain: you must know your customers and understand their wants and needs during the planning process to make the best adjustments to your business — and we are here to help!

Throughout the year, our Consumer Insights & Research Team conducts studies with thousands of engaged and newlywed couples nationwide to assemble the latest in industry and consumer data. Our findings are available to download for free anytime at WedInsights.com. Each volume, one-pager, report or infographic is filled with actionable insights designed to help your business grow and succeed!

wed-insights-2016

View some of the most popular WedInsights:

Check back often for new reports as we’ll continue to add new topics each month. Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Email us and let us know!

» Download Our Updated App to Use Messages On the Go

clients app downloadWe’ve added our Messages feature to the refreshed Client Manager app – and it’s now available for download!

With the updated app, it’s never been easier to connect with clients while on the go. You’ll be notified when you get new leads or messages and can reply right from your phone.

Here’s how it works:

  • Receive instant notifications for new leads and client messages
  • Read and respond quickly with automatic account syncing
  • Easily view your shared attachments and important client details
  • Access your full client conversations anytime
  • Update your availability right from your phone (select categories only)

Learn more about the Client Manager app!

» Email Etiquette – Best Practices for Creating Your Email Signature

Email Etiquette – Best Practices for Creating Your Email SignatureEmail is a marketing channel that large businesses and small businesses alike use an average of 50 times per day. It’s the most common form of business communication, used to connect directly with future, current, or past clients all day long to relay certain messages. However, we often spend more time worrying about what we say in the body of the email, and give little thought to how we sign off at the end.

The truth is, your email signature is equally as important, as it’s the last bit of information you leave with a client. It’s the part of the virtual connection where you tell your client how best to reach you and what the next step should be. If you haven’t put much thought into your email signature up till now, fear not! It’s never too late to start using these tips to create an informative, professional, and catchy email signature:

  • Simplicity and consistency. The key to successful branding is consistency and simplicity. When it comes to your email signature, this holds true. So while we know it’s tempting to choose a different color for every email signature you write, consider this tip to stay professional. Color can be a great way to highlight your contact information, but you don’t want to go overboard by using crazy colors or wacky fonts. If you do choose to incorporate color, stick to one or two that match your business’s logo (or have some relevancy to your brand).
  • Create a hierarchy. Odds are, you have more than one phone number or email address that you’re currently using. Instead of including all of that information at the end your emails, only use the best ways to reach you. Direct your clients to the best number at the top, to next best, and so on. You don’t need to include your email address (unless you also sometimes use a different email) because that ultimately wastes space.
  • Use icons. Include social media icons that link your email signature to other accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Doing so will increase visits to those pages by making them easier to access and follow, plus potential clients can get a feel for who you are as an individual and as a professional. However, be cautious about which accounts you link to – for instance, if you haven’t uploaded to your business’s Instagram in several months, don’t include it in your signature. You should only include the networks you update the most so you don’t look outdated!
  • Leave some room. You want your email signature to be legible and organized since it includes a lot of important information. Make sure you leave enough space in between lines and numbers so the words don’t clump together and look messy. 

Continue reading

» How to Detect and Avoid Spam Leads

How to Detect and Avoid Spam LeadsIn today’s technology-focused world, it is inevitable to encounter spam at one point or another, especially if you frequently use email for your business. Spammers try to find their way into inboxes to collect personal information, such as your social security number or financial information, and use it to their advantage. They typically use email or phone calls to gather the information they need, and use deceptive techniques to trick you into responding or clicking on a faulty link.

Even though spam is all-too-common in the online world, there are ways to defend yourself against it. Ultimately, successfully avoiding spam boils down to recognizing when you’ve encountered a spam lead that seems off or requests personal information from you. It’s important to be alert and protect yourself so your business can avoid the consequences!

According to many experts, the following five signs are typical across almost all instances of online spam. By detecting these suspicious signs, you’ll be more likely to determine what is a real email or phone call so you can avoid spam leads. 

  1. A request to wire funds. Scammers devise convincing reasons why they need you to deal them large amounts of money remotely, so beware of these suspicious requests and always double-check the accuracy of their claims before following up. Legitimate couples should be sending you money, not the other way around.
  2. Scams from users in foreign countries. Many scammers from foreign countries offer free honeymoons or sad stories about something happening while traveling that they use as a means to steal your personal information, so be cautious about that possibility. Unless you know them personally, it’s likely they’re trying to trap you.
  3. A request to provide a code. Scammers may ask you to provide a code that has been sent to your cell phone or email, which allows them to access your contact information and more. Couples should never need to send you a code to confirm your services for a wedding, so this should be an immediate red flag.
  4. A request for personal or financial information. This one is easy. Anytime you see a request like this, don’t respond! While it’s common for wedding businesses to need to collect personal and financial info from booked clients, they should not need this information from you. Always consult your legal or financial professional before providing private information if you have any doubts.
  5. Typos and emails filled with errors. If you receive an email with misspellings and blatant grammatical errors, a lot of urgency, or extreme emotion, beware. In a similar fashion, emails from unknown senders that are seeking your help with financial or family issues are usually fraud. While it’s certainly possible for a legitimate lead to have bad grammar, you should be cautious if you choose to reply. 

Continue reading

» 10 Best Practices for Communicating with Millennials

10 Best Practices for Communicating with MillennialsSuccessfully communicating with Millennials can sound like a daunting task if you aren’t familiar with their heavy reliance on mobile devices. After all, Millennials are the “mobile generation”: everything they do or want to do can be done on-the-go. They have around the clock access to email, news, social media you name it, they can do it!  So how do you possibly get their attention in a time when there are literally thousands of modes of interaction? The key is to understand three of the most popular (and efficient) ways Millennials are interacting with the world around them: texting, email, and social media.

To give you an idea of just how “mobile” this generation is, consider this: Millennials spend an average of four hours and 22 minutes on smartphones each day, and 87% of millennials have their smartphones on them at all times. According to the same data, 80% of Millennials said that the first thing they do when they wake up is check their smartphone, and 60% said that they believe everything will be done on mobile devices in the next five years. Looking at your audience specifically, engaged couples spend 30% of their time planning their weddings on mobile devices each week. The world is shifting to become much more mobile-based, and it’s essential to adapt your business’s marketing strategy accordingly. Is your business catering to these individuals?

If your answer is no, don’t worry. By following a few simple mobile etiquette tips and adjusting your current marketing strategy to account for this mobile generation, you’ll be equipped to successfully communicate with Millennials via email, social media, and even text messaging.

Email

  1. Make your emails mobile-friendly. According to the 2016 WeddingWire Newlywed Report, about 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices, which demonstrates how important it is that all of your business’ emails can be opened from a mobile device. WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg refers to this practice as “mobile end-to-end,” which means that the Millennials who are constantly on-the-go can access your content on a desktop or mobile device and enjoy the same experience.
  2. Don’t get lost in the (inbox) crowd. Once you reach your client’s email inbox, it’s important to direct them to your email amidst the hundreds of others they’re probably receiving. To do this, use a short, descriptive subject line that grabs their attention and provides all of the important information. This strategy is crucial for a generation that often weeds out emails based merely on the subject lines.
  3. KISS. This acronym – Keep It Short and Simple – is the golden rule for your email content. Millennials’ time is precious; they’re a busy generation with very little time to read through lengthy boring content. So once you’ve grabbed their attention with a catchy subject line, make your emails concise and exciting. Use images and large font to engage your clients, and be sure to keep the message short enough so you don’t lose their interest.
  4. Respond ASAP. Remember to respond as quickly as you can, because besides being courteous, doing so lets your clients know they are important. Our data suggests that most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours, so aim for that at a minimum.

Continue reading

» Risk Management: Identifying Significant Risks

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Nobody wants to face a crisis during an event – that’s a fact. However, that’s all the more reason to prepare in advance and develop a risk management plan. That way, if things go awry, you’ll be ready to mitigate the repercussions and bounce back.

Risk Management: Identifying Significant RisksThe key to a solid risk management plan is open communication between all parties involved. This includes the clients, their parents, the venue coordinator, and all of the wedding professionals on the event team.

Each event is unique, so it may make sense to develop a standard crisis plan that can be tailored to the situation at hand. For example, uncooperative weather is a common worry for outdoor events, so a rain plan is something that can be planned in advance. However, for each event, you’ll need to be familiar with the venue so that you can tweak the rain plan if necessary.

The same goes for other potential risks – use your foresight to think about what could possibly go wrong and find a solution before it does. Worried about an elaborate cake surviving the summer heat? Ensure that there is a nice and cool place for it to stay safe and sound. Concerned by a vendor’s lack of communication? Draw up a phone tree with everyone’s day-of phone numbers so each person can be reached.

Once there is a plan in place, send it along to the rest of the event team to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Communicate your expectations and what you define as a successful. Be sure that everyone understands what kind of constraints they are operating under, as it may have an effect on the level of damage control necessary. An event is truly a team effort, so include all involved parties in the crisis plan so that each has their own role that will contribute to a successful event, no matter what happens.

It will help to schedule a monthly call with the rest of the event team just to check in on everyone’s progress and ensure that everyone has what he or she needs. This is a great way to not only keep everyone accountable and avoid risk, but also to build a better camaraderie between members.

You may not even need to use your risk management plans – that’s the good news! However, if something does happen, you’ll be confident in knowing that you’re fully prepared to handle the crisis and lessen the damage that can come from it.

» Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Frequently, the first question an engaged couple asks a wedding vendor is: “How much does (your service) cost?”

Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?The question, followed by a brief discussion or debate about what the ‘business down the street’ charges can leave a wedding professional flummoxed. This post will suggest different strategies for explaining value and price, making every effort to stave off a snarky exchange.

Wedding professionals’ frustrations about pricing chatter are rooted in brides and grooms who do not have a thorough understanding or appreciation for the value of your services. This should not be shocking; this condition has become the norm. With the wide range of professionalism, design, style, talent, and experience, it’s no wonder many couples need more guidance.

Setting your pricing structure

The biggest problem I see with most pricing structures is when a business provides a price per hours of service. A wide variety of wedding businesses present pricing within the framework of time in direct service with the client, which can be really detrimental. Time alone does not constitute quality or a good result; as such, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding and/or reception drastically understates your total service time!

It’s a rare client that actually knows how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, track down obscure music, travel to the event, or a host of other event-specific tasks.  Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your efforts.

To convey this point, it’s not enough to show video clips of successful events or an entire wedding video to a wedding couple and expect an instant understanding. The degree of difficulty and necessity of special talents, developed over time, are hard to factor into price for the inexperienced. Ask yourself: What is the most misunderstood element of your category of business, or your company, specifically? Do you duck the topic or have you developed away to communicate key sales points?

Explaining the scope of your service

Another key factor in price discussions with your clients is scope. Similar to the issue with setting your price by hours of service, couples don’t understand the differences in the level of service you provide in comparison to your competitors. If you don’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, buttercream icing, menu options for special dietary needs, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out.

Continue reading

» Streamlining Your Business with Policies and Procedures

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Time is money – we know this to be true because it’s one of the worst things you can waste as event professionals. But, what happens when we’re the ones wasting our own time?

Streamlining Your Business with Policies and ProceduresFrom disorganized routines to missed appointments, we’ve all found ourselves wishing there were 25 hours in a day. Chances are, there are a few minutes here and there that you can shave off of your current schedule with simple procedures – and those minutes can certainly add up!

Not only do policies and procedures put time back into your pocket, but they also make things much easier for you and your team. Your day-to-day processes will not require lengthy explanations once clearly mapped out. It’s also a great way to ensure quality control of the client experience, keeping your team consistently on brand.

While putting policies and procedures in place can seem like an intimidating task, it’s certainly manageable if you begin with baby steps. Start as early in the process as when a prospect reaches out to you and look through the different touch points of working with a new client.

Email drafts are a great place to start and are a key time-saver – they’re easily customizable so they’re still genuine, but you won’t have to worry about writing each email from scratch. So what to tackle first? Consider some of the following:

  • Responses to initial inquiries
  • Follow ups with inquiries
  • “Best of luck” emails if they book with someone else
  • Email to let someone know you’re already booked for a date
  • Email to let someone know if you don’t offer a certain service
  • Welcome email after booking
  • Out-of-office response
  • Post-event wrap-up email
  • Post-event review request

While planning ahead, think about how the inquiry process would feel if you were the interested client. What does the flow look like? How can it be improved upon? There’s no better time to assess how you’re doing than the present.

Continue reading

» 3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your Business

WedInsights

	3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your BusinessWhen it comes to closing the deal and signing on the dotted line, many wedding professionals unintentionally end up delaying the final sale due to outdated processes surrounding contracts and payments. As a result, engaged couples can become frustrated trying to find the time to meet in person or find a printer or fax machine.

In today’s digital age, millennials expect to do most of their wedding planning and vendor communication online. Using an online contract can not only help you close the deal faster, but also reflects well on your reputation as a tech-savvy wedding business! Below are some compelling statistics about the use of online contracts from Volume 8 of the WedInsight Series:

Over 60% of couples are required to sign a contract by meeting in person or by printing, signing, and sending the contract back.

Fax machines and scanners are no longer a household device, so why force your clients to spend time tracking down these devices to deliver you a signed contract? Plus, businesses that require their clients to fax a contract back take 1-2 days on average to receive a signed contract. Today’s couples prefer to use online methods, so use it to your advantage to make closing the deal as convenient as possible.

When given the choice, a couple’s most preferred method for signing a contract is using an online contract platform.

Using antiquated, offline methods could have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. The majority of couples perceive businesses that require contracts to be signed and sent back via fax or snail mail to be outdated and not tech savvy – which could give couples the same perception about your business. Make sure this same perception doesn’t carry over to your professional work by staying up-to-date with modern technology to show that your business is able to adapt.

Continue reading

» How Setting Boundaries can Save Your Sanity (and Your Business)

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

As business owners, it can be difficult to maintain a happy work-life balance and we often find ourselves feeling stretched too thin (which is just a few steps away from burnout, if not managed properly).

setting-boundariesThe truth is that burnout is not only bad for your mental health, but it can damage your business if you’re not feeling motivated to keep up with everything. Saying ‘yes’ may get you a lot of places, but an occasional ‘no’ is necessary for happiness and stability. Setting firm boundaries is the key to finding meaning in life and rediscovering a healthy balance, but the eternal question is where to draw the line.

We’ve all experienced those clients who expect the world (and more!) from you – whether it’s a panicked 2 A.M. call or a last-minute “urgent” meeting, some people will expect you at their beck and call and just won’t understand that you have family, as well as other clients, to attend. This is why you must set limitations ahead of time for both your clients and yourself.

At Taylor’d Events, we’re clear with our clients from the beginning of our relationships that it’s their responsibility to schedule appointments with me in advance, as well as choose the meeting location. They understand that I’m responsible for being there on time, as well as attentive to the situation. Before we start working together, we also make sure that both parties are on the same page for coordinating the Big Day so there are no lingering expectations that go unmet because they weren’t initially set. For example, our team is responsible for ensuring that all guests make it onto the last shuttle, but it’s important that we’re not liable for those who wander away from the venue. When boundaries are established from the get-go, you’ll know how to exceed expectations while your clients will be realistic when it comes to your time and attention.

Now, my boundaries may be different from all of my industry peers’ boundaries and that’s entirely fine. The limitations that you set within your business (and your life) are based upon who you are as an individual, how your business is structured, and what you value in life.

Continue reading

» Mobile Matters! Create a Winning Business for All Devices

December-Webinar_MobileMatters!_TileMobile Matters!

Today’s couples are planning their wedding while on-the-go. Does your business make a great impression, and stand out on all devices? Thinking ‘mobile-first’ creates an exceptional brand experience from phone to tablet to desktop, and impresses your target audience!

During this one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly shared his tips for how to best engage with mobile-friendly couples, his top ‘mobile mantras’ for your business and the best 15 apps of the year.

Here are Sonny’s seven mobile mantras to set your business up for success:

  1. Mobile first: When designing your website and emails, think ‘mobile first’ with an easy to read and navigate core design, that you can build upon and modify as devices get larger and for desktop.
  2. Mobile end-to-end: Set the goal to make all your communication and campaigns a strong experience from end to end from all devices. For example, if you create a great email, make sure it works just as well from a mobile opener as a desktop!
  3. Mobile conversion: Make sure you add a simple and easy to use contract from to your website for mobile visitors. The form should be large enough to type easily from phones, and not ask for unnecessary fields which will cause drop-offs in your leads.
  4. Mobile mail: 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices, which means your clients are opening your emails on the go as well! Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly by always testing them on a mobile device with clear calls to action for the greatest engagement.
  5. Mobile payment: Accept payments from your mobile devices to close more sales quickly. Devices such as Squares plug right into your smartphone, and with new apps for payments such as Apple Wallet – mobile payments are only going to continue to rise.
  6. Mobile audience: Prepare your business for your clients and store all their important event information in one easy to access place by using WeddingWire Client Sites, available in premium accounts. Both you and your client can log in any time, and from any device to finalize payment, track contracts and add event info.
  7. Mobile me: Mobile devices are becoming even more personal and easy to use. Smartphones, watches and assisting systems such as Siri are getting to know and remembering your preferences, and are more able to be tailored than ever before. Stay ahead with the latest tech!

» Introducing Quick Leads by WeddingWire

Get Quick Leads to connect you with clients via phoneIt’s no secret that response time is a huge factor in whether or not a prospective client will book your wedding business. The quicker you respond, the more likely a couple is to perceive the quality of your product or service to be higher.

In fact, our data shows that 70% of engaged couples find vendor responsiveness to be one of the most important characteristics to look for while researching professionals. To help your business respond to your inquiries faster, we developed Quick Leads, the newest feature from WeddingWire!

Available to all premium WeddingWire members, Quick Leads allows you to instantly connect by phone when prospective clients inquire about your services. When a couple leaves a phone number in the contact form on your WeddingWire Storefront, you’ll instantly receive an automated call with an offer to connect you with the couple who inquired. If the couple doesn’t leave a phone number in the contact form, you’ll receive a text message with their information so you can still take action quickly.

As part of Quick Leads, you’ll receive a unique WeddingWire phone number to be displayed on your Storefront which allows you to view and track your phone leads in your account. Your unique WeddingWire phone number will appear on your Storefront in place of your business number. All calls made to this number will be forwarded immediately to your business number!

Because Quick Leads uses Dynamic Number Insertion to change your Business Phone Number to your unique WeddingWire number on your Storefront, Google and other search engines will only see your actual business phone number when they are crawling your Storefront.

The best part about Quick Leads? There will be no outward indication that you have Quick Leads enabled! When a couple submits a lead that includes their phone number, they will not know that WeddingWire has reached out to offer to connect you with them. From the consumer perspective, it will appear that your business is just very good (and fast!) at responding to their request.

Quick Leads is an optional feature that is included for all premium WeddingWire members. Find out more about Quick Leads here. If you do not wish to have Quick Leads and would like to remove your unique WeddingWire phone number, you can do so within the Client Response Settings in your WeddingWire account. If you would like to share feedback about Quick Leads or suggest future updates, please visit our feedback page.