» What to Do When They Don’t Respond

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.

If you’ve watched the webinars, read the blogs and/or have seen me present on sales at WeddingWire World, then you should be well versed in how to reply when you get an email inquiry. When it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. It makes sense when you think about how many are doing some or most of their planning from work, or late at night. It’s not only convenient; it’s very natural for these ‘digital natives’.

	What to Do When They Don’t RespondBeing first gives you an edge

Whether it came through your WeddingWire storefront or directly through your website, replying quickly is your first step in getting them closer to a sale. They expect a reply within 24 hours of when they send it to you. Over 70% of engaged couples find vendor responsiveness to be one of the most important characteristics to look for while researching professionals. Unfortunately, 40% of couples say that they aren’t hearing back within five days! In today’s digitally-connected world, that’s an eternity.

Now consider the fact that WeddingWire’s data shows that if you respond to a client within 5 minutes, rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to connect with a qualified lead. If you’re worried, thinking you’re already a slave to your email and now you need to be constantly connected, I want to give you hope. Weddings pros just like you are finding a balance or solution to this reality.

What’s a wedding pro to do?

So, let’s say you do respond quickly, certainly within the 24 hours that they expect, but they still don’t respond to you. What happened? There are a few possible explanations for when they don’t respond:

  1. Someone got back to them faster. While the first one to reply certainly has an edge, if you’re the second and reply in a way that connects with them better, you’ll still be in the running. As I’ve been saying for years, reply as quickly as you can, without ignoring your family or current customers.
  2. They never received your email. Maybe it went to their spam/junk folder. Try replying the next day if you still don’t hear back. Say something like “Hi Dale, I got your inquiry yesterday and didn’t hear back, so I wanted to make sure you received it, as I know how excited you must be as excited to find out more about having [insert your outcome-based value statement here – packed dance floor, creative floral design…], as we are to hear about your wedding vision.”
  3. They did receive your message, but they can’t reply now. We know that a huge percentage of couples are doing some of their wedding planning from work. What you may not know is that many of them get in trouble for doing so. Some could even get fired! Give them a day to get back to you, then reply as suggested above and see if they reply.
  4. They received your email but it turned them off. Yes, even if you reply quickly, it still has to be a good reply. The short answer is to make it a personal reply, keep it to fit on one screen of their phone, don’t answer questions they haven’t asked and end with one question, not a statement. Saying “Let me know if you have any questions” will not get a reply. Asking “What other questions can I answer for you?” will get a reply more often.
  5. Don’t force the phone call/appointment. If they wanted to talk to you on the phone, they would have called you. If your initial reply asks them to schedule a call, or appointment, and that’s not what they had asked, you’re likely getting more not responding than you should. Let the conversation evolve so the call or appointment is the next, natural step for them.

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» 4 Tips for Better Client Communication

WedInsights

	Understanding the New Rules of Client CommunicationApproximately 80% of engaged couples use email to inquire about their products or services – that’s a huge shift from the more traditional phone calls and appointments that many pros may be used to! Because more and more client communication is taking place online, understanding the communication preferences of today’s couples is important for setting your business apart from the competition.

Response time and method can make a huge difference in whether or not you get the business, so check out thesetips to help you better manage your client communication with statistics about consumer communication preferences.

Know when to be ready to reply

Roughly 33% of all online leads are submitted on Monday and Tuesday. During the weekday, lead submission is generally the highest between 11am-4pm; however, a second peak occurs after couples are home from work between 8-10pm.

Since most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours of sending an online request for more information, it’s vital that you take note of these peak periods so you can dedicate time to reply. With those two peak periods spanning most of the work day, plan to reply to last night’s inquiries first thing in the morning and the day’s inquiries at the end of your work day. This way, you can address incoming inquiries in a timely manner without interrupting your day each time you see a new message appear.

Respond as quickly as you can

39% of professionals say they respond to an inquiry within 24 hours, meaning that the majority take longer than a day to respond due to busy schedules, appointments, and other events. In fact, 40% of couples say they haven’t heard back from a vendor within 5 days, leaving a negative first impression and giving other wedding pros the opportunity to win their business instead.

Want more insights surrounding consumer preferences for response time, method, and style? Download volume 4 of our WedInsights series.

If you’re not able to respond within 24 hours, try sending your prospective client a quick message thanking them for their interest in your business and letting them know you will respond with more information specific to their questions soon. This small effort can go a long way with clients who expect a timely response, especially if you know you won’t be at your computer for a few days.

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» Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s Brides

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

Here’s a question I’m often asking myself: I’m a married lesbian who is a same-sex wedding expert and educator; so why am I spending so much of time talking about straight grooms?

Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s BridesI knew that the wedding industry was not inclusive of same-sex couples when my straight mom founded our business in 1999 to support same-sex couples, but I had no idea that most of the industry language and habits chugged along so relentlessly exclusive of grooms.

Say yes to the dress. Sell the bride. Bridal shows. Bridal showers. High-end brides. Book more brides. The list goes on. But, thankfully, it’s improving.

A quick scan of the top conferences offered in 2015 revealed that the majority of wedding industry conference offerings referenced ‘clients’ and ‘couples.’ A welcome change, in large part brought about by the push for the industry to be more inclusive of lesbian brides and gay grooms who can now legally marry legally nationwide. And, of course, the introduction of resources like TheManRegistry.com in 2007 and the book, In His Moment, by Ross Oscar Knight, which focuses the groom’s oft-overlooked narrative of his wedding day, help professionals and couples remember that there is at least one groom in the mix at the majority of weddings that take place.

Further, Andy Whittaker, the Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, ran a quick meta analysis for me and found that there have been notable shifts in the inclusion of “grooms” in the media. In six of the largest national and urban papers (both online and in print), there has been a general increase of usage of the term “groom” in articles since 2007, and a decline in the ratio of usage of “brides” to “grooms” in articles since 2011.

Old “bridal bias” habits die hard, however, and the home stretch will require that wedding professionals, writers, editors and publishers update their language – spoken and printed – to be inclusive of “brides and grooms” rather than just “brides.”

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» WedInsights: Why Couples Prefer Online Payments

WedInsights

WedInsights: Why Couples Prefer Online PaymentsSmall and large businesses alike have an increasing number of options to collect digital payments from customers. Now that credit cards and online payments are more commonly being used in the wedding industry, it’s important for professionals to accept most forms of payment – especially the forms that are most convenient for your clients!*

Mobile payments are only expected to grow in prevalence – transforming the way consumers pay both online and offline in the coming years. Stay ahead of the trend and ensure you are collecting payment the fastest, and easiest, way for your clients! The stats below from Volume 9 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series shed light on why couples prefer online payments.

More than 50% of couples prefer to pay their wedding vendors using an online payment method

Although 85% of couples pay for their products or services by personal check, writing a check has become a thing of the past in the minds of today’s couples. Just like you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your field, it’s important to do the same with your business practices so you aren’t perceived as outdated!

Online payments typically take less than one day to submit payment

Submitting a payment online is not only convenient for the client, but it also helps you get paid faster. Couples on average take less than one day to submit an online payment, whereas those required to mail in or drop off a check take 3 – 4 times longer. Why wait?

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» When People Pleasing Becomes a Problem

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. Her newest venture, Authentic Boss, is an online learning resource for business owners seeking to work and live more authentically. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

When People Pleasing Becomes a ProblemBusiness ownership can be confounding for a lot of reasons, a big one being that we often find our personalities in conflict with our priorities. Sometimes, our natural traits can be a hindrance, both to our financial success and to our well-being as business owners. For example, we all have times when we get frustrated or angry with a client, yet obviously we can’t express the sentiments that may be going through our head (at least not verbatim!).

There’s another trait that’s just as detrimental to business as an anger management problem, but far more common: an addiction to people-pleasing. Sure, empathizing with others and wanting to make them happy are good things in our uniquely sentimental, emotion-driven industry. However, constantly putting clients first, at the expense of your business, can quickly cause you to go under. The ability to honor your own standards, set boundaries, and maintain your bottom line are all essential to your company’s longevity.

If you’re a kind, thoughtful, chronic people-pleaser, here are three mistakes to avoid as you operate your business:

Agreeing to things that put your business in jeopardy. Selling our products or services often feels like selling ourselves, and it can be intimidating. When a client seems ready to hire us, but just wants us to make a “few” changes to our contract or modify our policies, it can be tempting to go along with their requests just so that we’ll make a sale. This is a dangerous risk to take, however. For instance, when a client is asking you to strike a clause holding them or their guests liable for damage, they’re essentially asking you to assume that liability yourself. It would be crazy to accept that, right? Well, sure, when you’re thinking about it theoretically – but when a client is putting the pressure on, it’s easy to rationalize that a worst-case scenario will never happen, you’ll accommodate them just this once, blah blah blah…All well and good, until something does happen. If nothing else, you’ve demonstrated to the client that you’re a pushover, and they’re bound to keep pushing. Instead, hold firm to your contract and to any other terms you’ve put in place, and do so with the confidence that you’re giving the client the benefit of being served by a protected, established business.

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» 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.

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» Infographic: 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

Reviews are a great way to showcase your business, all from the mouths of happy past clients! Beyond just collecting reviews, make sure you make your reviews easy to find, and consider adding them to all your marketing collateral including emails, websites, materials and more.

Our latest infographic highlights 10 creative ways to use your reviews to boost your business from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, who presented on the topic during a recent webinar for premium members.

Nov_Webinar_Infographic_10CreativeWaystoUseYourReviews

Ready to get started? Check out and manage your WeddingWire reviews, request reviews from past clients, and showcase your great reviews!

» 10 Dos and Don’ts from Couples this Engagement Season

Engagement season is here! Couples are getting engaged, starting to plan their dream day, and will be searching to find their perfect wedding team in the coming months. In our October webinar for premium members, we discussed the top 10 dos and don’ts for impressing these clients – right from WeddingWire couples themselves!

The infographic below highlights the 10 ways they indicated to make a great impression, keep your clients happy, and keep the planning process moving smoothly all the way to their big day!

Oct_Webinar_Infographic_DelightDontFright-final

» Webinar Recap: Delight, Don’t Fright! 10 Dos and Don’ts from Couples

October-Webinar_Delight-Dont-Fright!-10-Dos-and-Donts-from-Couples_TileWebinar recap!

Engagement season is upon us, and soon you will be interacting with many newly engaged couples searching for their wedding professionals. Are you ready to make a great impression and quickly earn their business?

During this month’s one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire’s Customer Success team leaders Marty Kaufman and Ashley Conway shared the top dos and dont’s for Pros – taken right from the couples’ themselves!

Here are 10 key takeaways for your business:

  1. Acknowledge and understand their point of view. Be approachable, helpful, and avoid surprises later on by asking and answering all questions up front.
  2. Respond quickly and professionally. Try to respond within 24 hours, and stay responsive through the planning process.
  3. Provide pricing. Share pricing information when asked, and consider adding it to your website and Storefront. Be direct and provide education around pricing, and avoid scoffing at their initial budget.
  4. Communicate professionally. Make sure you have a professional email address, and use easy to read fonts in your communication. Don’t forget to spell check!
  5. Get to know your clients. Focus on getting to know the couple, or all decision makers – not just the bride! Provide inclusive language and acknowledge that both partners getting married and planning their day.
  6. Educate your clients. Get to know your client’s wishes, and provide helpful suggestions or tips as necessary. Don’t brush off their ideas too quickly, but politely share your expertise as needed to help create their perfect day.
  7. Make a good first impression. Avoid pre-judging couples, being presumptive, or jumping into business too quickly. Instead, ask a few key questions about the couple, be open-minded with their ideas and interested in their vision.
  8. Respect your competition. Do not trash-talk your competitors! It will only reflect badly on your business and character. Instead always be respectful of the industry, take the high road, and make helpful suggestions to make a great impression and remain professional.
  9. Stay humble. Despite your many successes, try to remain grounded and approachable to connect with your clients. You don’t want to see too expensive, hard to reach, or busy for them to want to book with you. Instead, showcase your quality with great past work and reviews.
  10. Respect their opinions. Overall, the wedding is their day! Your job is to work to try to bring their vision to life and give helpful recommendations along the way. Avoid projecting your own taste or opinions too much, and be sure to ask for feedback throughout the process so you know they will be happy with the end result.

For more details, watch the full webinar!

Plus, all our past webinars are available in the Education Center for premium Pros to view at any time. Check it out for some great education on leading important topics for your business’ success.

» The Latest Ways WeddingWire Helps Couples

We detail how WeddingWire helps couples plan their weddingAs seasoned wedding professionals know, couples who are new to the wedding planning process are often overwhelmed with the amount of coordination and careful preparation required to pull off the big day. Scattered across Pinterest are tons of wedding ideas, but it can be hard to manage it all without one place that brings it all together. That’s where WeddingWire comes in!

In addition to our wedding websites, budget and checklist tools, below are some of the latest ways we help couples with the wedding planning process:

Newly Engaged Guide

After the proposal and celebration with friends and family, many couples experience the “Now what?” moment. Our newly engaged guide offers advice and information about the first five steps of the wedding planning process. The guide helps couples announce their engagement, choose a desired wedding date, set a budget, build a guest list, and find their venue. This engagement guide is just one of the ways we attract new couples to our site every day! These couples will use our leading technology to continue planning their dream wedding vision and find the perfect professionals to execute it.

Bach Party and Wedding Hashtag Generators

Our new hashtag generators are sure to make a splash with your clients! Coming up with clever bachelor/bachelorette and wedding hashtags is a problem for today’s social-savvy brides and grooms, so we made a fun and easy tool that helps to get the creative juices flowing. Couples just need to fill out a quick form with some basic facts about the wedding day and—voila—a stream of customized hashtag options are generated! Share with your clients to help them get excited about all the wedding events.

Digital Inspiration Magazines

Our editorial team is constantly on the hunt for the latest and greatest styles, fashion, and ideas. That’s why we release a new online magazine each season! Our free wedding magazines offer gorgeous inspiration for all types of wedding styles and tastes, and each new issue provides seasonally-appropriate ideas to spur creativity in your clients. Plus, since our magazines are exclusively online, they’re completely interactive and clickable. Businesses featured in our articles and real weddings can receive direct click-throughs to their Storefronts – a huge benefit that print magazines just can’t match.

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» Tips for Managing Your Email Communications

Tips for managing email communicationsWhen it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. Engaged couples prefer to email vendors during the planning process, primarily because they can fit in emails between other activities or while they’re at work. Plus, many couples like to have their initial conversation via email so they can easily reference it at a later date.

If you can’t get a bride or groom on the phone, don’t worry about it! While email takes a bit longer to get all the appropriate details, the more conversations you have, the more opportunities you’ll get to set up an appointment and close the sale. Use these tips for managing your email communications to better your chances of booking your leads for each email type!

Inbound inquiry emails

Whether you receive them through WeddingWire or through your business’ website, an inbound inquiry email is an extremely strong buying signal on the part of the prospect. The prospect has already filtered through a large number of possible choices to select your business, so the sale is now yours to win! Despite the fact that most couples know you’re busy, responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. Our research shows that about 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value.

Consumers want a response from a real person and not an auto-reply that states obvious information such as, “Thank you for contacting us, we’ll respond back as soon as possible.” If you feel the need to have an auto-reply, make sure you tell them something they don’t already know or can’t find on your website. Consider being more conversational and adding only helpful, more personalized information the recipient needs to know so you still provide value.

Ongoing communication emails

Whether your client likes to email or talk on the phone, data shows it’s important to take a cue from your clients and respond in the form you received it. 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. If a prospect starts a conversation via email, continue using email to communicate until it’s necessary to take the next step.

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» Does Your Wedding Business Take Credit Cards?

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.

“Do you take credit cards?” seems to be an unnecessary question, but it’s still a common one on forums and social groups. With the cost of transactions ranging from just over 1% to as high as 4% (or more with additional fees) it’s certainly a subject worth talking about. It’s a cost of doing business, but can you (or should you) try to mitigate that cost?

Common types of credit cardsI think it’s as much a mindset as a real cost. In my article, You can’t save your way to prosperity, I talked about cost-saving strategies and how most are misguided. There’s a limit to how much you can save. You have to have electricity, gas for your truck, supplies, payroll and taxes. No matter how hard you try, you can’t reduce your costs to zero. Are the efforts worth the savings?

Let’s do the math

Recently I was consulting with a wedding professional and he was lamenting how it costs him 4% when he receives funds through his website. If he does $100,000 in collections, that’s costing him $4,000 per year in credit card fees. If he does $200,000 in collections through credit/debit cards, it costs him $8,000 per year. The only way to reduce that to zero is to stop accepting credit cards. These days that’s also likely to limit your sales as some people only want to pay with their credit or debit card. You also get the funds now, as opposed to waiting for a check or cash, as you can accept the cards remotely, but cash would be in person and checks are becoming a much rarer form of commerce for today’s generation of wedding couples.

I asked my client how many of his customers he might have lost if he didn’t take credit cards, and while it’s hard to say, it’s likely he would have lost a few. The most he can save is $4,000 or $8,000, depending upon his collections. It’s very likely that the lost sales would have cost him more than the credit card fees are costing.

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