» WeddingWire Education Experts Give Thanks

As 2013 draws to a close with Thanksgiving already upon us, we’ve been thinking a lot about what we’re thankful for as a company.

WeddingWire is first and foremost thankful for all the wonderful wedding and event professionals who choose to use WeddingWire to help manage and promote their businesses! We love helping our Pros learn more about effective strategies and tools to grow, and we’re always on the lookout for new resources to help you be even more efficient! Thank you all for the amazing feedback and support over the past year.

We’re also thankful for our wonderful Education Experts who contribute their expertise and help bring an added point of view and expertise to our educational offering. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re all getting together to reflect on this year and talk about what we’re all thankful for.

Here’s what our Education Experts are thankful for this year!

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg“I’m thankful for the passion and generosity of the wedding and event professionals I am privileged to meet and work with this, and every year. You share your frustrations and triumphs with me. Without you attending my presentations, reading my articles and listening to my webinars, I’d be talking to myself… a lot. So, thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for caring. Your success is my success. Let’s keep reaching higher, together.”

Alan Berg, North America’s Leading Expert on the Business of Weddings & Events

WeddingWire Education Expert Christine Dyer“I’m most thankful for the 18,000 brides and wedding professionals who have joined the free wedding community at BridalTweet.com. Thank you for your inspiration, enthusiasm and support over the last four and a half years. Together, we’re taking a REAL leadership role in shaping how the wedding industry can continue to connect and prosper. It is my hope that you have been inspired by the connections that you have made at BridalTweet.  You can join now for free to use BridalTweet’s free services to grow your wedding business!”

– Christine Dyer, Founder, BridalTweet.com

WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely“We here at OFD Consulting are particularly grateful for the outpouring of support and virtual high-fives with the arrival of the first OFD baby this past spring. From our staff forging ahead independently to our clients and colleagues who insisted on “meet baby OFD” Skype sessions, the response has been phenomenal and it made the transition back this summer that much more seamless. Additionally, we’re thankful that Mason jar trend is fading. :)”

– Meghan Ely, Owner, OFD Consulting

Photo by Carly Fuller

“This holiday season, I continue to remain grateful to our many LGBTQ allies who have provided voices of strength, clarity and compassion in our long journey toward marriage equality. We at GayWeddings.com are as grateful for the early allies who believed in us and our mission when we began our journey in 1999 as we are for those of you who have joined our family of allies in the years since – and will in the years to come. We are especially grateful to our friends at WeddingWire for believing in our company mission, our relationships, and marriage equality. And, of course, we would not be where we are today without the 60,000+ wedding professionals in our vendor directory who let engaged couples know every day that they are there for all loving couples, regardless of sexual orientation.”

– Kathryn Hamm, President, GayWeddings.com

WeddingWire Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer“After an incredibly challenging year in my personal life, I’m so very thankful for the continued support and friendship from my fellow Wedding Pros. Of course we’re business owners, but we’re also human beings who must find balance between work and family, something that can be difficult even when we aren’t in crisis. The strong relationships I’ve built among other Wedding Pros remind me just how fortunate we are all to be a part of such a warm, empathetic and caring industry.”

– Jennifer Reitmeyer, Owner, MyDeejay

Thanks again to all our incredible Education Experts for contributing to the wealth of knowledge we strive to provide for all our Pros! On behalf of the WeddingWire team, we hope you all enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.

What are you thankful for this holiday season? We would love to hear from you in your comments below! You can also email support@weddingwire.com at anytime with suggestions for us or questions about our programs.

» Wedding PR: The Art of Exclusivity

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

In the world of Wedding PR and real wedding submissions, exclusivity reigns supreme in the eyes of the editors. Wedding blogs and magazines aim to give their readers fresh content in an ongoing effort to deliver the latest inspiration, so it will be frowned upon if you enthusiastically begin submitting your favorite wedding of the season to every media outlet you come across.

Wedding PR: The Art of Exclusivity | WeddingWireEDUBefore you begin hand selecting editorial worthy detail shots, be sure you take the time to do your due diligence and become familiar with a publication or blog’s rules. Most media outlets will have a submission page that clearly outlines their preferences. If there is any question as to an exclusivity policy, then it’s best to submit the wedding to one spot at a time until you find it a home. This may mean longer waiting periods but far better to face this scenario than to build a reputation as someone who is known for only submitting “been there, done that” content.

A question that often comes up with wedding professionals (especially photographers) is that if sharing the same images is acceptable through marketing efforts, as well as with the wedding day team. The media as a whole tends to recognize that a wedding professional’s blog and website are some of their most effective marketing tools, so unless a particular wedding blog or magazine specifically states not to post it; it is acceptable to go ahead and give that wedding the online love it deserves.

Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Dealing with Unhappy Clients

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

One of the biggest benefits of real wedding submissions is being able to share the good news of a feature with a former client.  It can be the proverbial cherry on the sundae if you already had a fantastic relationship with them!

Sometimes, however, you will find yourself in the midst of an unhappy bride or groom – whether it be because of unwanted attention or the media placement of the actual submission.

There are ways to handle this scenario, but the first question you need to ask yourself is how can this situation be avoided? Very simply put –prepare, prepare, prepare.  Make sure your contract cites that you may use images and information from the wedding for marketing and public relations services.  If you’re working with a couple that is particularly visible in their community, consider running the idea by them once again just for good measure.  This will be your best line of defense if you run into a “well I didn’t know you submitted weddings” situation.

Additionally, gather all of the information you need prior to the wedding so that you don’t need to involve them in the submission process at all. This allows you to avoid having to discuss your intentions or worse, feeling pressured to reroute your submission due to their wishes.  If they do know your intentions to submit, keep their expectations reasonable and do not guarantee that the wedding will be picked up. There are far too many variables outside of your control to be able to do so.

Furthermore, I would strongly urge you to not submit weddings of particularly difficult or press hungry brides. There is no media mention worth it in the world if it means you have to continue staying in contact with a former client that you’d rather just file under “glad their wedding day has come and gone.”

So what if you still have an unhappy client on your hands?  Honesty will always be your best policy.

Respond to them promptly and with a phone call, if possible.  If they are unhappy that they were featured, then assure her in the most sincere way possible that you had nothing but good intentions and were thrilled to see that an Editor loved the wedding as much as you did. If they are unhappy with the placement itself, you can potentially encourage her to resubmit to her favored media outlet, as long as she has permission from the photographer and includes a mention in the submission that the wedding has been featured elsewhere.

Ultimately, a real wedding feature is almost always going to be cause for celebration. In the unlikely event that you face push back from your bride, keep your chin up and the above tips in mind.

» Managing Your Business During Busy Season

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.

Summer is here, and with the high temperatures comes most Wedding Pros’ busiest event season. From April to October, many of us are frantically working to fulfill our contracts, and often, business planning and other non-urgent tasks get moved to the back burner.

With some creative scheduling and focused goal-setting, however, it is possible to continue to grow your business even in the crunch of busy season.

Here are some tips to keep you focused on your business’ “big picture” when you’re crazy busy:

  • Identify the have-to’s. Every wedding business has a basic set of tasks and workflows that must be completed in order to service your clients. Whether it’s ordering supplies, preparing timelines and other paperwork, or actually creating a product, these are the true essentials. By incorporating these into a concrete schedule, you’ll have a clearer idea of what time is left for business development, and you’ll be assured that nothing truly important is missed.
  • Block off some time for you. Taking time to recharge is especially important, and therefore deserves a dedicated spot on your schedule. Preventing burnout is key for being able to focus on making the most of your business.
  • Make a business wish list. What are the things you’ve been wanting to do for your business? It could be a website redesign, new collateral pieces, an enhanced social media presence or a fresh approach to networking. Whatever you’ve been wishing you could do but haven’t yet started, make a list so you can prioritize.
  • Choose a starting point. Be realistic – you now have a clear idea of how much time is left in your schedule. Remember that the busy season probably isn’t the time for the biggest project on your list, but just because you don’t have time to do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Pick a project or task that you feel you can commit to completing, and that you feel will have the most immediate impact on your business right now.
  • Break your chosen project into steps. Maybe there’s some research you need to complete or a contract you need to hire. Once you know exactly what that project requires, you can then build those individual tasks into your schedule and start crossing them off your list.
  • Give yourself permission to occasionally just tread water. We all get swamped, and it’s completely okay to take your focus off business development when you’re overwhelmed. After all, honoring your commitment to your clients is the most important business task you can complete.

Finally, remember that, in the busy season, dropping the “all or nothing” mindset and focusing instead on doing something is the best thing you can do to continue growing your business.

» Public Relations: How to Stay Organized

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

 

One of the biggest hurdles that a wedding professional faces when incorporating wedding public relations strategies into their marketing campaign is staying organized. Between managing the day to day tasks of running a business, as well as keeping track of the clients themselves, the idea of adding yet another “to do” to the list can be an overwhelming one!

The good news? With a bit of organization and a few tools in place, you’ll find it far easier to execute, as well as keep track of, your efforts.

Not sure where to get started? Here are a few of my “must have” wedding PR organizational tools:

  • Media List: A post it with your local magazine editor’s email address will no longer suffice. It’s time to create a bona fide document with your targeted media outlets and their respective contacts.  Better yet, including any editorial calendar deadlines and make sure you’ve added them to your calendar as well, to avoid missing any important dates.
  • Vendor Lists: If you aren’t collecting the names and contact information from each wedding, then start doing so today. Not only will it come in handy with real wedding submissions, but you’ll have a much easier time getting in touch with everyone should a feature come of it.
  • DropBox: DropBox is a storage system that gives you an online spot for all of your large files. I keep my real wedding submissions here, categorized in subfolders named after the wedding itself. Not only can I find each wedding in an instant, it also allows me to share these large files with others (editors, vendors, etc) with relative ease.
  • Google Drive: Formerly known as Google Docs, this is a fantastic system for storing your files online, allowing you to access them from anywhere you have an internet connection.  Create a document within Google Drive that lists each of your real wedding submissions along with the status of each. This will keep you from resubmitting a wedding to too many media outlets at once, and also give any of your team members a real time answer as to the status of each submission.

Incorporating additional strategies into a busy wedding professional’s life is no easy feat but with the above organizational tools at your fingertips, you’ll be more than ready to take on the challenge.

» Building Great Networking Relationships: Two Approaches to Try

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.

Last month, I wrote about the importance of earning referrals the right way.  A big part of earning referrals, though, is building quality connections in the wedding industry – something that’s often easier said than done.  Especially in markets that are saturated with wedding businesses, standing out from the crowd can be a real challenge.

So how can you build the kinds of networking relationships that lead to referrals?  There are two approaches you can take, and the one that’s right for you will depend largely on your personality, your availability, and your communication style.

Approach 1: Cast a wide net.  Many metropolitan areas offer a wealth of networking opportunities, from WeddingWire-sponsored events to industry associations to mastermind groups.  If you’re a natural-born social butterfly, this might be the right relationship-building avenue for you.

Works well if: You have plenty of availability to attend lunches and happy hours; you are comfortable with new settings and new people; you’re great at remembering names and faces; your business concept can be easily and quickly explained; you are a social media maven (and are happy to interact virtually with people before and after events!).

Not so good if: You consider yourself shy or socially awkward; your personal obligations prevent you from being able to get to events; your budget is tight (as admission fees, organization dues and drink tabs can add up!)

How to get started: Social media is your friend!  Look for Facebook pages for networking groups in your area.  Ask friends which events they’ve found helpful.  Or consider planning your own!  Partnering with other wedding business owners to host an open house or networking meeting can be a great way to make new contacts.

Don’t forget: Hit as many events as you possibly can – you want to be ubiquitous! – and make sure you follow up with everyone you meet.  A quick email, Facebook wall post or tweet after an event can go a long way toward building a connection that translates into future referrals.

Approach 2: Pick your targets and hit them one at a time.  For people seeking more in-depth connections, or whose schedule limits their availability to network, focusing on creating one-on-one relationships may be more effective.

Works well if: You’re too busy to attend a lot of evening events, but can squeeze in occasional coffee dates or lunches; you feel more comfortable talking to one person at a time; your business is a little more unusual and needs a more detailed “pitch;” you’re terrified at the idea of walking into a bar or a ballroom full of unfamiliar faces.

Not so good if: You have difficulty carrying on extended conversations; your schedule doesn’t allow you to meet during the day; you don’t have a well-crafted explanation of your business.

How to get started: Look at the people who are already in your network, even distantly – consider contacting the vendors from your recent weddings, or ask a trusted industry pro to make an introduction.

Don’t forget: It’s especially important in one-on-one meetings to focus more on the other business owner than on yourself.  Ask questions, learn about the other person’s business, and search for commonalities upon which a relationship can be built.

Of course, I’ve personally found that a combination of both approaches is most effective.  Attending larger-scale events to meet a variety of new people, and then scheduling individual meetings with particularly inspiring pros, has helped me to develop a strong core of referral sources and a wider outer circle of friendly faces.

(As a post-script, I’d strongly recommend you keep in mind that giving referrals is often the quickest route to getting referrals.  When you focus on helping others’ businesses grow, yours will almost always grow in turn.)

What do you think of Jennifer’s networking tips? Join in the discussion on the WeddingWire Pro Forum to share your questions, thoughts and own tips for building great relationships in the industry!

» Don’t Sell Yourself Out of the Sale

This article was written by Alan Berg, a WeddingWire Education Guru. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.

 

When I’m giving presentations or training on closing sales, I often speak about how some Wedding Pros sell themselves right out of the sale. How does this happen? By suggesting less products or services than the customer is looking for, and is willing to pay for!

This can occur in a variety of scenarios:

Talking too much, instead of listening – A big mistake many people make in sales is trying to tell the prospect everything about their business. The truth is that everyone doesn’t need to hear everything. What they need to hear are the things that are most important to them and their needs. So, if you’ve been asking good, open-ended questions, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to sell them. The real key is listening… a skill that’s harder than it sounds (ask anyone with kids or a spouse). I’ve experienced this, first-hand, watching as people continue selling after the customer is ready to buy. Sometimes the customer actually leaves without buying because the salesperson doesn’t ask for the sale, they just keep on selling.

Underselling – I was speaking at a conference recently and a few of the Wedding Pros who attended were also engaged. I was presenting on sales and one of them said she was very frustrated by vendor who was trying to talk her out of some of the things she wanted for her wedding. They were actually lowering their sales, as well as annoying the prospect, who was willing to spend more for the things she wanted. They weren’t letting her spend her money. Anyone who’s heard or read my sales presentations and articles has heard me say that couples spend based upon their priorities. While the total wedding budget may, or may not be high, they’ll spend an out of proportion amount of it on the things they value the most. They key here is that it’s what they value the most, not you. Let them spend their money! Don’t sell them things they don’t need, but do let them spend on the things they want.

Thinking they can’t afford it – Another Wedding Pro told me that she was working up a proposal for the flowers for a wedding. She had carefully detailed everything the couple wanted and it was probably the largest order she’d ever done. When she looked at the estimate she was surprised at how much it was and thought how she, herself, probably wouldn’t spend that much on wedding flowers. Before giving the estimate to the couple, she posted on an industry message board about the quote to get some feedback as to whether it seemed correct. It turned out that her industry buddies told her she wasn’t charging enough. With an order of that size she would need extra help preparing, delivering and setting up the flowers. She’d also need a bigger truck to get it to the wedding. She actually needed to raise the estimate. She had some trepidation about showing the estimate to the couple, thinking that they would balk. On the contrary, the couple accepted the estimate as is. The lesson, once again here: Find out what they want, tell them how much it will cost and then let your couples spend their own money.

Going for the small sale – It’s often harder to add on products and services later than it is to sell them now. It’s called Top-Down selling. What that means is that you should be starting with a bigger package and working your way down, instead of starting with your base package and working your way up. If you’ve been really listening to their needs, present them with a package of your products and services that will fill their needs, regardless of their budget. If it’s too much, they’ll tell you. Then, if it is too much, you can start taking away things that aren’t important to them, or at least not important enough for them to spend more. You’ll likely end up at a higher price point than your base package… and, you’re showing them the value of what you’re doing for them.

Continue reading

» Introducing Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer

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.

We are pleased to introduce Jennifer Reitmeyer of WeddingIQ, a new WeddingWire Education Expert!

Jennifer will be contributing guest posts and sharing her small business expertise monthly on our blog. Check out Jennifer’s first post, Tempering Expectations and Generosity, below. Welcome, Jennifer!

Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, Inc., an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities.  Read more at http://weddingiq.com.

At some point in every Wedding Pro’s career, there comes a time when a client is less than happy with the product or service that was received. Almost inevitably, that Wedding Pro is crushed – even more so if the client writes a bad review – and the Pro immediately thinks of all the ways that he/she went above and beyond for that client:

But I upgraded their package for free!
But I threw in all these extras!
But I did three more consultations than I normally do!
But I sent them such a nice free gift after the wedding!

This kind of thinking makes sense – after all, many Wedding Pros I know are incredibly generous, thoughtful, and really put their heart and soul into their work. It stings to have someone not appreciate our extra effort.

As logical as it is, however, this thinking is also flawed. The fact is: people don’t value what they receive for free. I think this is true for several reasons:

  • Throwing in “extras” left and right calls into question the true value of a company’s product or service – if you’re trying that hard, there’s probably a reason.
  • Convincing an uncertain buyer to purchase from you by piling on the freebies may get them to sign, but it also may create resentment later if the client decides they feel manipulated or that they spent more than was intended.
  • Including tons of “off-the-books” stuff only increases the client’s expectations of you. After all, if you’re willing to override your standard packages and contracts, why shouldn’t the client think you’ll be willing to do anything else they ask, too?
  • Giving away things that the client didn’t even want doesn’t absolve you from delivering on what they do want (and paid for). Consider this: if you went to a car dealership and received a free navigation system, but the car itself didn’t run well after you drove it off the lot, would you be satisfied?

Rather than throwing in more and more upgrades, you’d be better served by focusing on your product and your customer service processes to identify any possible shortcomings. This will be much better insurance against dissatisfied clients than giving away the store.

» WeddingWire to Feature Alan Berg as an Education Expert

The team here at WeddingWire is always looking for new ways to expand our education (EDU) program to bring you the latest and greatest information to grow your business.  We have featured well known industry experts and leaders, along with our executives here at WeddingWire, to build a valuable resource for you.

We are excited to announce that WeddingWire EDU will feature Alan Berg as one of our Education Experts! Alan has more than 20 years in wedding and event related sales and marketing experience, ranging from selling wedding advertising, to publishing two wedding magazines, to serving as an executive in the wedding industry. Alan is uniquely qualified to help event professionals achieve their goals and we are delighted to include him in our education program.

If you don’t know Alan already, he is the founder of the Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to educating and consulting highly motivated individuals and businesses.  In addition, he is an author of numerous books, including “If your website was an employee, would you fire it?,” the mini-book “Don’t Paint the House” and his new book, “Your Attitude for Success.” As a member of the National Speakers Association, Alan speaks to thousands of local business professionals every year through webinars, live presentations, DVDs and online videos.

WeddingWire is committed to providing wedding professionals with educational resources to help grow their business, by way of the WeddingWire Pro Blog, Education Center, webinars, and more. WeddingWire EDU is powered by numerous Education Experts, including Jayne Hallock from Wedlock, Kathryn Hamm of GayWeddings.com and Stacie Francombe of Inspire Smart Success. As an Education Expert, Alan Berg will share articles, lead webinars and provide advice to local wedding professionals.  Alan is a leading industry expert that has a wealth of knowledge across business practices, sales techniques, marketing and more.

Please join us in welcoming Alan as an Education Expert!