» 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.”

Continue reading

» 4 Free Tools to Help You Write Better Blog Posts

How to write better blog postsWriting does not come naturally to everyone. Whether you have trouble coming up with topics, deciding on a headline, or actually writing the meat of your post, writing blog posts can be a difficult process. Yet the benefits of blogging are so great for a number of reasons – search engine visibility, better customer relationships, and more.

If you’re looking for some help to write better blog posts, check out some of these free online tools!

Identify the right keywords with the Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Use keyword research tools like Google AdWord’s Keyword Tool to shed some light on the popularity of the keywords you’re looking to use and how many times they’re searched monthly. These factors not only help you to identify keywords that others are using, but also to identify keywords that others are not using, leaving room for your use. Find the keywords that will bring in more search traffic so you get the maximum power out of each blog post.

Come up with better topics with HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

Do you have some vague idea of what you want to write about, but you’re not sure which points to make? The HubSpot Blog Topic Generator allows you to enter a few general terms and then its algorithm suggests five blog post headlines to get you started on a topic. If you are using the aforementioned Keyword Tool, enter some of those keywords into this tool to get headline ideas that will spur your creativity and guide you towards the points you’d like to make in the post. If nothing else, this tool is a great jumping-off point which you can use to customize for your needs.

Create better titles with the Readability Test

Now that you have some topic ideas, you can hone your headline or title. AtomicWriter Lite is a great tool to help you determine the readability of your headlines and content so you can see how to get your readers more engaged. Select whether your audience is Advanced, Trained, or Well-versed and the tool will help you know if your headlines are too complex for your readers to understand at a glance. After all, if your title isn’t easily digestible for your readers, they won’t feel compelled to click through!

Continue reading

» 3 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block

Woman typing on keyboardThere are many ways to make a mark on the wedding industry and reach potential clients. It can be done through networking, social media, and bridal shows, but one of the easiest ways to get your business’ name out there is by creating and maintaining a blog. The word “blog” may evoke images of young millennials with headphones on – but there is so much more to blogging than what meets the eye!

A blog gives your business a platform to speak to potential clients and it also helps you stand out as an expert in the industry. Blogging consistently can also yield search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for your business and improve your search rankings. Having a blog is important, yes, but having a readable blog is just as important.

If you’re having trouble creating content, you’re not alone! Especially if writing isn’t your favorite activity, writer’s block can be a real hurdle for achieving blogging benefits. Here are a few tips for overcoming writer’s block so you can start blogging more regularly:

Know what you want to say before writing.

It’s tempting to overcome a bout of writer’s block by just sitting down and typing a post, but without a vision or a clear topic, those efforts are probably fruitless. It’s almost impossible to write concise posts if you don’t know what you want to say. Fellow Pros, current clients and even friends or family members can be a source of inspiration when you’re brainstorming blog posts. Once you have a topic to talk about, you’ll be able to communicate clearly about the subject.

Use bullet points.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, make a bullet point list of the main points you’d like to make. This can help you narrow down your post, making it easier to write and easier to understand. A blog post about how to design a wedding bouquet can be very interesting, but a 3,000 word post about how to design a wedding bouquet is over the top. Ideal post length is between 400 and 1,500 words: it should take 5-7 minutes to read. If you choose 3-5 bullet points to address and write a paragraph about each of them, you should be right on point!

Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Developing and Nurturing Editorial Relationships

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 there is one basic fact about public relations, it’s this: it simply cannot exist without the media.

We’re in a new age of editorial relationships – now more than ever, the number of people pitching (whether as a PR firm or on behalf of themselves) far outnumbers editors. So while relationships have always been at the heart of public relations, it’s now absolutely an essential.

Wedding PRSo what are the key points to keep in mind when nurturing your media relationships?

  1. Be a walking Rolodex and encyclopedia rolled into one.
    You are, no doubt, an expert in your field and the quicker the media realizes this, the better. The fact is- not every pitch will be accepted and your contributions to an article may hit the cutting room floor. But you can be resourceful in other ways. Did your quote not make the cut? Review the reporter’s recent work and consider pitching other topics of interest. Did your expertise not fit within the scope of their article? Share some friends and colleagues from your circle to help them wrap up the piece. Yes, reporters like to know that you’re an expert at something. But more importantly, they want to know that they can count on you.
  1. Be professional, always.
    If you’re pitching regularly, you may find yourself on friendlier terms with the media, which can be a wonderful thing. At the same time, you run the risk of letting your guard down a bit, allowing professional pitches to start taking on a more casual tone. While there is nothing wrong with adding a dash of informality to your correspondence, continue to remain mindful of submission guidelines and deadlines. I recently assisted a blogger friend with filling in content on a fast-approaching date and mentioned that I’d get it over to her as soon as I resized the photos to match her guidelines. I could practically hear her eye roll over email as she told me that that wasn’t necessary. We had a good chuckle over it but I have no doubt that she appreciated the courtesy all the same.

Continue reading

» Blogging for Wedding PR

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.

When I mention blogging to just about anyone – client, colleague or all-around wedding buddy, I’m generally met with the same reaction: groan. I’ve come to expect it, in fact – even from those like myself who actual enjoy writing.

Blogging for Wedding PRAnd I get it – blogging takes time out of an already busy day. The idea of having to sit down, come up with a topic and then actually write isn’t terribly appealing. But, just like those not so fashionable yet oh-so-practical shoes you have to wear on event day, blogging is a necessary evil. This is particularly the case if you have an interest in increasing your press in 2015 and beyond.

First and foremost, it’s an undeniable fact that the media seeks out sources online. If you haven’t started chasing down the key words in your market for your area of expertise, then now is the time to make it happen. There are a number of factors that affect your Google rankings, and a regularly maintained blog with the appropriate key words is one of them. If there is a local editor looking to interview a wedding photographer, for example, then they’ll start searching online and you absolutely want to be on the first page of results to increase your chances of being contacted.

So what should be on your to do list? It’s time to either start studying SEO 101 or consider hiring an expert in the field. You’ll need to identify what key words are most popular in your market and then begin incorporating them as organically as possible within your blog posts through the tags, the title, the image descriptions and the body of the post.

Continue reading

» 5 Steps to Executing a Content Plan

5 Steps to Executing a Content PlanFor those paying attention to marketing trends, content marketing is the shiny “new” strategy. Only, it’s not new. The idea that writing high-quality, educational content can help you book more business has been around a long time, and it’s not going away any time soon! Your wedding business should come up with a content plan to help you walk people through your sales process.

Easier said than done, right? Below are five steps to help you start a content plan and maintain it this year and beyond!

1.  Conceptualize

Writing requires a good deal of forethought; there are a lot of things to think about before you open up a blank Word document. Before you dive in, take the time to think through the topic and its relationship with your audience. Is your idea something they want? Something they need? Something that will help them learn more about your business or the wedding industry? Answering these questions will help you decide if your topic will be popular with your audience. You should also consider the format of your content. A blog post can be short, sweet and informative, while a denser topic may require a longer format such as a guide or a white paper. Don’t limit yourself to one or two types of content – decide on the format on a case-by-case basis. If you need help coming up with topics and committing yourself to writing, see our post on jump starting your blogging efforts (applicable to other types of content as well!).

2.  Write

OK, now that you’re ready to write, write! If you’re prone to writer’s block, try skipping the introduction and coming back to it later when you have a better idea of how your piece will end up. Give yourself time to write and try not to self-edit as you go. You’ll have time to edit after you get all your ideas out! It’s also smart to have a coworker or employee look over your content to proofread for errors and give general thoughts on the way you expressed the topic. At the end of your post or article, be sure to include a call-to-action which instructs the reader what to do next. For more guidelines to help you write, check out this PR Daily content marketing checklist.

Continue reading

» 3 Quick Ways to Jump Start Your Blogging Efforts

3 Quick Ways to Jump Start Your Blogging EffortsDid you know that there are over 156 million public blogs, and over 77% of internet users read those blogs? Blogging is a great way to build trust with your readers, educate and inform them, and assist with your sales conversions. Creating a blog and blogging consistently, though, is easier said than done.

If blogging more is one of your 2015 resolutions, try these three quick tips to help you jump start your blogging efforts and maintain them throughout the year!

Brainstorm topic ideas up front

The hardest part about starting (and maintaining) a blog is coming up with post topics! Take some time at the beginning of the process to brainstorm a bunch of ideas to keep in mind. It helps to look at a calendar and think about any seasonal or holiday topics that your readers would be interested in, and then fill in the rest of your queue with more general topics. Think about common questions you receive from clients, or discussions you see on the WeddingWire Forums – these can be great topic starters! In addition, posting photos from your recent weddings (always giving the photographer and other vendors credit!) is a great way to keep your blog updated and show off your work to potential clients. Add to your list of topic ideas whenever you feel inspired to keep your list topped off.

Create an editorial calendar

Whether you create a strict calendar with topics for each date or just decide on a day to publish each week, creating a calendar for yourself will help incorporate blogging into your work schedule. It’s easier to stay on track when you know ahead of time that something is due! Use your brainstormed topic ideas to keep your calendar topped off and identify topic areas you haven’t yet explored.

Continue reading

» Pro Tips for Developing Blog Content

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. 

Developing and writing blog content on a consistent basis is the most challenging part of building and maintaining an audience of prospects, peers, and the media. Even just coming up with fresh topics each week or month can seem daunting for beginners. Writing down blog ideas when they hit you is the key to consistently coming up with new topic ideas! Don’t just trust your memory – write down the concept, finished title, or just the essence of an idea.

When developing blog content, consider these important guidelines to start:

  • Don’t make it all about you/your company. You are far better off to make about 75% of your content about clients you work with, industry developments and inspiration. If too much of your content is about patting yourself on the back, readers will drift away.
  • Allow posts to ‘breathe’ by taking liberal paragraph breaks and using bullet points. Online readers tend to scan, and long paragraphs are not reader-friendly.
  • Use bold text, not italics, as visual speed-bumps to cue the reader to pause on important words or phrases.

Pro Tips for Developing Blog ContentExamples of Post Topics

As you begin your blogging journey, ideas will find you in many forms. TV commercials, magazines, event experiences, trade show, collaborations, retail transactions (with you as the customers). If you need some help getting started, try out some of these post examples below:

1.  Praise a collaborating business: Identify the little things, maybe even the unseen things that make a fellow wedding professional exceptional. It may be his specific techniques for calming the client, or her ability to keep other wedding professionals in-the-loop. Emphasizing the subtleties of excellence in execution can be as praiseworthy as the work itself. Always link back to the business website or Storefront, and send them a quick email to let them know you’ve been saying nice things about them!

Continue reading

» How to Write Content for Better SEO

How to Write Content for Better SEO | WeddingWireEDU BlogWe’ve written a lot in the past about how important creating fresh content can be in helping you build brand awareness and improve your online exposure, and this trend is continuing to bring success to businesses. A blog is a great way to create a lot of content, but you should also consider what the content you’ve written on your website and Storefront says to your audience.

The right content can:

  • Build trust with your readers
  • Educate and inform your readers
  • Assist with conversions
  • Help manage customers and build loyalty

But did you also know that the right content can help you be found online? Search engines index and “read” thousands of web pages every day – if you’re not writing content that can easily be seen and categorized by a search engine, your business could get lost in the chaos.

The following considerations will help you make your website and blog content search engine-friendly!

1.  Define your target audience. While this post is about writing content that is good for search engines, it’s also more important to write content that serves a purpose for your audience. Who is your audience? What do they want to know? What do they need to make a decision? Answering these questions will help you write the most important things in the most effective way for your target audience.

2.  Conduct keyword research. You likely already have an idea of what keywords or phrases your potential customers type into search engines. Tools like Google’s Keyword Tool or HubSpot’s Keyword tool can recommend keyword suggestions based on the word or phrase you type in. These suggestions will either confirm your ideas or help you identify new words to target.

Continue reading

» 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!

Continue reading

» Blogging for Beginners: 4 Tips

Blogging for Beginners: 4 TipsIf you’re looking for a way to increase your online exposure, consider starting a blog. After all, over 77% of internet users read blogs, and there are over 156 million of them! It’s definitely a great idea in theory to jump on the blogging bandwagon, but setting up a blog and starting to write all those posts can seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be.

Read our blogging best practices to get a walk-through of the development of your posts and the blog itself. Then, check out these 4 tips for guiding principles to develop your blogging philosophy!

1.  Understand your audience. Your blog posts should be a reflection of your personal knowledge and expertise, but they should also reflect the needs of your audience. Make sure posts are written using language your audience will easily understand (no industry jargon) and simplified for the everyday reader. Posts that are too technical or complicated will be lost on certain readers, and you could lose them forever.

2.  Get ideas from your audience. Coming up with ideas for blog posts can be tough. If a reader comments on a post or reaches out to you on a social network with an idea or question, try to work it into a blog post. Your audience can be a great source for blog post ideas! Your readers will also feel like they have an influence on what you write, which is a nice personal touch that will keep them coming back. Just be sure to thank the reader by mentioning his or her note as the impetus for the post.

3.  Be consistent. Make a commitment to your audience (however large or small it may be!) to blogging as often as your schedule allows. Whether that’s one blog post a day or one blog post a week, try to hit that mark each time. This shows your current readers that you are serious about providing them with valuable insight and shows any new potential readers that your blog is an up-to-date and educational resource.

4.  Give it time. You will not see overnight results from your blogging efforts. It took years for the most famous and influential blogs to build an audience, so don’t expect your first post to get 50,000 hits. Blogging consistently will build up your blog’s links and make it more and more likely for someone to stumble upon your blog through search. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately see results from your hard work – if you blog it, they will come!

Remember: a blog post does not always have to be a very structured format. Blog posts can be mostly text, offering tips or suggestions, or they can also be mostly images or graphics with a little context at the beginning or end. Don’t stress yourself out by thinking each blog post needs to be formal; have fun with your blog!

Also check out our Infographic “Top 10 Best Blogging Practices” for some quick blogging tips.

Image Source

» Engaging Your Audience with Curated Content

Engaging Your Social Audience with Curated ContentWhether you’re new to social media or a seasoned pro, every brand inevitably hits it: the content wall. You know you need to be posting on all your social properties several times a week (or several times a day in the case of Twitter), but just how many times can you alter the same, “Check out today’s post!” messaging? If you’re struggling to keep your queue topped off, curated content may be the answer.

What is curated content? Simply, it is sharing great content from a trusted, reputable resource (with appropriate attribution and links!), on your social networks, blogs or site.

Before you go there, we know it’s somewhat counter-intuitive – why would you post someone else’s content? While you always want to position yourself as an industry expert, that doesn’t mean you can’t position yourself as a resource for your social audience and the wedding and/or events industry at large.

To get you started with your content curation strategy, here are four reasons you should take the plunge!

  • Curating content from industry leaders and/or communities makes you a resource. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that someone in your industry knows a lot about the way your industry works. In fact, sharing other people’s knowledge helps establish you as a resource in your community. As an aggregator of interesting and helpful content, your audience will value your level expertise and perceive you as constantly “in the know.” Even better, your audience will also value your point of view more when you do post original content, as your business is seen to have a finger on the pulse of the industry!
  • Curating content from industry leaders and/or communities builds relationships. The biggest concern for businesses that choose to curate content is that they’re worried about being perceived as plagiarists – a concern that can easily be absolved by always linking to the original article/post and giving due credit. The benefit of following this golden rule is that you’re bound to get some attention from your sources. They’ll be happy you’re sharing your content because, well, who wouldn’t want free publicity?! They’ll most likely thank you for sharing (if they’re polite) and remember you later. If you’re diligent, the relationships you build on social media can carry over into the offline world in the form of referrals!
  • Curating content from friendly firms and partners enhances both of your networks. You’re likely to have a few friends in the industry (hello, WeddingWire!), or partners with whom you’ve worked a few events. They’d love a shout out! Not only will this deepen your relationship with a given business, they’re also likely to reciprocate. This can help grow both your audiences if you’re in the same vertical, as well as help you cross-sell for each other! You can never go wrong with showing your friends some love.
  • Curating content provides a break from posting the same content over and over. If you’re posting your own sales-y content every day, your social media properties are going to quickly lose steam. If a person or company wants to know about your products/services specifically, they can always visit your website. You’ll need to provide some other value in order to gain and keep your social media fans. By providing your fans with a mix of your own content and other content relevant to their needs, you’ll not only get them to your page, but you’ll also keep them there.

Sharing other businesses’ content can provide your business with a wealth of benefits – social media audience growth, engagement, and retention to name a few. The relationships you build on social media properties are similar to those cultivated at networking events in that you’re growing your network of fans and brand advocates that will lead to more happy customers.

While we’re on the subject of social media thought leaders – head over to our Facebook page and be sure to follow us on Twitter for helpful tips for wedding industry pros!

Image Source