» Branding Considerations for Newly-Diversified Services

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Diversification is one of the key ways that owners of event businesses can boost income, attract new customers and ensure longevity in our competitive and dynamic industry. Once you have decided which complementary products or services to add to your business, (or other businesses you might acquire), you’ll need to get the word out and make sure your new branding makes sense to your market and peers.

What do you need to consider when branding your newly-diversified services?

The new you

As you expand your business offerings or choose new products and services to complement your brand, it’s important to have a distinct brand identity that encompasses both brands. For example, at one time Fantasy Sound was comprised of separate companies, one for DJ services and one for AV services. The names were similar, but the branding was different and people were confused. We fused the two companies together to create Fantasy Sound Event Services with a unified brand and our business took off.

Determine how the services relate

Wondering how to fuse your services into a single cohesive brand? Go back to the market research that you did before you diversified. You determined that your clients had additional needs and you had the product, skill and talent to fulfill their needs, right? Reflect on what you discovered about your clients during that phase and try to come up with a way to project a brand that addresses all of the needs you are able to meet.

Of course, you’ll also want to identify the biggest strengths of each brand. What are you bringing to the table that is unique to your business and superior when compared to competitors? It’s very similar to the process of branding your original company – you need to know your target market and how to identify those characteristics of your business that meet their unique needs. Then make sure you’re appealing to them and reaching them with your message.

Avoid this common mistake

The biggest mistake that business owners make when taking on a new brand and merging it with their existing business is not realizing the amount of time and the scope of work that the new brand requires. More often than not, the process is not as simple as “plug and play”. You’ll have to go back to the drawing board to create a new brand image, and success will take time. Plan for this when doing projections, managing income and revenue, and preparing for a period of challenging days, weeks and months ahead. But know that your efforts will be worth it in the long run.

Measure your success

Constantly evaluate your efforts once you have established your branding and always review the numbers on a regular basis. Acquiring a new brand absorbs a lot of capital in the beginning and you may not see a return for a while, so stay mindful of the overall trend. Set goals and determine what success means to you and how long you are willing to wait for it.

Creating a cohesive brand for your original company and your acquisitions may not have been the exciting part of diversification you were waiting for, but it is critical. Done well, it will likely be the key to your success.

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the immediate past chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» Ways to Make Your Website Accessible for More Clients

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

The first and easiest part of being more inclusive in your digital marketing is to diversify representation within your images and text. As I’ve written previously, this includes written and visual representation of “brides and grooms” or “engaged couples;” of same-sex couples; of various races and ethnicities, religious rituals and physical abilities, shapes and sizes. These are simple cues that say “I see you” to prospective clients who might not feel included in mainstream wedding media.

Consistency is key

Though this may be enough to broaden your appeal to more clients, I advise wedding professionals to seek more information to understand the nuance of need beneath a first impression. It’s important to recognize that when a client feels “seen,” they are more likely to make an inquiry, but also they are more likely to hire you if you can deliver a truly inclusive experience from beginning to end.

Consider the case of a Caucasian stylist who features African-American brides on her website, but does not have a wide range of foundations and complementary hues for darker skin tones or an understanding of styles that are trending amongst black brides. Or the photographer who books a same-sex couple but applies a heteronormative (one bride, one groom) approach to the poses of two grooms or two brides or offers a referral to a caterer who is outspoken against same-sex marriage. When broadening your service offering, extra homework, preparation and consistency goes a long way.

Consider your website accessibility for all clients

Though your website may offer that “first impression” opportunity for some clients, it can also result in couples (and/or their attendants and guests) who have disabilities leaving your website quickly due to accessibility issues.

Below are a few simple tips to enhance your website to be more inclusive and accessible for clients with disabilities. Remember: these considerations may be important for the engaged person who is doing the planning, but might also be important for engaging the collaborative assistance of a parent or best man or best woman.

  1. Image accessibility
    Make sure that your key images and actionable buttons are large enough to be seen by someone with limited eyesight and that your ‘alt tags’ and ‘title tags’ clearly describe the content in an image so that a screen reader can interpret that visual information in a spoken form for those who are blind or dyslexic. It’s likely that many of you are already tending to your ‘alt tags’ for SEO (and if not you should be!) so this additional consideration increases the value of your business investment.
  2. Text accessibility
    Consider the flexibility of your written content to make sure that the information you are presenting comes across impactfully if a client is using a screen magnification tool to enlarge the text or a screen reader to interpret the text. It can also be helpful to make sure that your links are underlined or otherwise clearly differentiated from your normal text so that those who are color blind can easily find important links on your site.
  3. Video accessibility
    As you publish video content of your work or expertise on your website and in social media feeds, make sure to offer a clear description about the main point of your content, but also consider adding subtitles or investing in a sign language interpreter to provide a translation for those who are deaf.
  4. Inclusive representation
    Beyond including images of brides, grooms and guests with disabilities in your marketing images, take the time to find a local ASL interpreter to include in your referral list and/or professional network. If you aren’t otherwise required by ADA compliance, take a take a test tour of your office, event space or venue in a wheelchair to understand where access may be an issue. Or consider having a large print or screen-reader-friendly version of your contract so that a client with a visual impairment or dyslexia can more easily understand all of the terms related to the booking.

These small adjustments can be made during your next website update or as an improvement to your next blog, social media or video post. And, beyond making a meaningful difference for many brides and grooms with disabilities, engaged couples who are looking out for their guests with disabilities will also appreciate that you are ready, willing and able to serve them, too.

Did you know? Apple products have a wide range of accessibility tools built in to its iOS. If you have an iPad or iPhone, explore the features on your own device to see how those with vision, hearing or physical disabilities might be accessing your digital presence without even realizing it. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.

kathryn hammThis post was written by Kathryn Hamm WeddingWire Education Expert, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. 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.

» How to Captivate the Fleeting Attention Span of Millennials

captivate millennials

Photo by Eileen K Photography

Did you know the average adult attention span is only eight seconds? That means you have just eight seconds to make an impression on a potential client, much like we only have eight seconds to convince you to read the rest of this post. In these eight seconds, it is crucial to make a compelling statement about your brand and show off the best of what you have to offer in order to inspire a potential client to stick around and learn more.

Millennials, or Generation X, have greatly contributed to the dwindling average of our attention spans, in large part because they are the ones who have fuelled the transition from partial screen time to constant screen time. 80% of currently engaged couples are millennials, and they are spending more money on weddings than ever before. On average, millennial couples are spending $31,000 on their weddings as opposed to Generation Y, who spent an average of $24,000. Additionally, millennials are hiring more vendors and having longer engagements, giving them more time to plan their nuptials.

In order to grab the attention of a potential client, whether it’s their first WeddingWire search or their first time coming across your business Instagram, it is imperative that things look great when they land on any one of your pages. We work in a visual industry, meaning that any content you post must [subtly] scream for attention. Here’s 6 tips from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly to help you do it:

Always be branding
Ultimately, you have to pull your audience in with your brand. Potential clients – aka millennials – won’t stick around if they aren’t compelled by something. WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, says that your brand is “more than a logo”. Every single aspect of your company, from your logo, to the design of your website, to a picture that you upload to Facebook, is a representation of your brand. If this content isn’t captivating, consistent, and representative of you as a brand, potential clients are going to move on. Remember: Your brand is one of the best ways to stand out from your competition, so be proud to convey your “why” at every turn.

Update, update, update!
Just like you would take your car in for an oil change or upgrade your mobile device when a new model comes out, you should constantly be working on your website to keep it running and relevant. Think about how often popular platforms and websites update their formats and interfaces, or even how frequently app icons change. If you aren’t making changes and tweaks to your website often enough, visitors are going to stop coming to your site if there is nothing new to see. Some first-timers will even leave without a chance of revisiting if they feel like your website looks outdated.

But how do you make time for this in your busy schedule? The more often you take the time to make small adjustments to your website here and there, the less time you will need to spend down the road completely bulldozing and rebuilding your website when everything becomes outdated. Your website should never be something placed on the backburner – instead, dedicate 30 minutes each week to revising your site.

Think mobile
Your website must be mobile-friendly. It should look almost exactly the same on your mobile as it does on your desktop. It should also function just like the desktop version, have the same information available, lead to the same (working) links and have everything displayed in a clean and visually appealing format. The majority of couples are wedding planning on their phones, and it would be a missed opportunity not to have your mobile site up to par.

Be upfront
Every single piece of information that you can provide about your business and services should be made easily accessible to potential clients. This is a controversial one, but millennials don’t like small talk. Thus, requiring them to reach out for general pieces of information about your services is not ideal. It’s also a drain on your time when you have to respond to questions that could be easily available on an FAQ page. Let them find the information that they need and then contact you when they are already hooked.

Speaking of being upfront, not providing pricing on your website(s) is a huge turn off for couples who are looking for vendors. Seeing “Please contact for pricing” on a website is a big frustration for couples. This is because price, followed by reviews, is the number one thing couples are looking for when searching for vendors. By not listing your pricing, you are potentially losing sales instead of gaining them.

Reduce fields
Plain and simple: the less information that potential clients are required to provide on an inquiry form, the more inquiries you will get. By reducing the fields, you can see a +47% increase in the number of inquiries received. Reducing fields also helps you keep your mobile audience engaged. If you have more than three inquiry fields, consider rethinking the essential information you need at first contact versus the information you want.

Go the extra mile
When you get a new booking and client, focus on going above and beyond from day one.  Going the extra mile for your clients is what will make them remember you, especially post-wedding. If you do something special for your clients, not only will you get glowing reviews and a confidence boost, but you can bet on a couple of referrals, too! Yes, it takes a bit of time, effort and energy, but the payoff and reward can make all the difference for your business.

Get ready for Generation Z
They are coming and they will be here sooner than you think! Millennials were slowly introduced to groundbreaking technologies and dependency on tech, but Generation Z grew up with it. While Generation X prefers this newer tech-heavy lifestyle, they are still relatively familiar with the “traditional” (read: outdated) aspects of business. Gen Z won’t be.

To be prepared for tackling Generation Z, who will be having their own weddings soon enough (the oldest GenZers are currently 18), you have to master your millennial audience first. Be aware of trends and incorporate them into your brand and platforms to help you stay connected to your “younger” audiences. If you treat the millennial audience as a very serious “practice round” as you update aspects of your business, you will have an easier time adapting to fit the demands of Gen Z. when they come along.

Since millennials are making up the bulk of the current wedding market — and time is of the essence here — make sure you keep these 6 crucial tips in mind to help you hook, line, and sink as many new millennial couples as possible before their attention goes elsewhere.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» Why You Should Always Think Mobile in Your Marketing

This article was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire.

In 2018, a mobile-friendly website is no longer a trend or a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity for conducting business, especially in the wedding industry. More than ever, couples are using smartphones at all hours of the day to keep the planning process moving, from searching for wedding professionals to finding inspiration for the big day. Your mobile website might be the first-and-only impression a couple sees of your business, so it’s vital that your site provides a great user experience and highlights important information that will turn prospective clients into a bookings.

The tech landscape is fast-evolving, and not so long ago simply having a great website could put you ahead of your competition. But today, it’s no longer enough to give you a competitive edge. No matter your industry, you must be aware of the new platforms and tools used by your audience. If the majority of your audience is using mobile (and they are!), you should make the investment in mobile optimization and prepare for the Google mobile-first index.

Millennials are programmed to think mobile

As we know, smartphones have significantly changed consumer behavior and their impact on the wedding industry is no exception. Roughly 90% of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 25-34 own a smartphone, meaning that the majority of engaged couples are active on mobile devices.

Today’s society is accustomed to instant gratification, and the same holds true for couples in the wedding planning process. Smartphones allow couples to search for information during their commute, while at the gym, or pretty much anywhere at anytime of the day. It’s critical to provide the content they’re searching for when you have their attention! If a couple can’t find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’ll quickly move on to the next.

Mobile optimization is essential

Gone are the days when a business could get away with displaying their desktop layout on mobile. The moment a prospect needs to magnify text on their smartphone, you’ve lost a client – and if they’re willing to stick around, you’re certainly not providing the amazing experience your brand deserves. Instead, your business should have a responsive website, meaning that the content on each page adjusts to the device being used, so you can provide the best experience no matter how visitors are viewing your site. If you just redesigned your website and it’s not responsive, no need to panic! Until you’re ready to fully optimize your website, take the following actions to improve how your site appears on mobile without a responsive template:

  • Keep your color palette and branding consistent
  • Stick with a simple layout and avoid multiple pages
  • Resize your font and images to be mobile friendly
  • Reduce the amount of text displayed
  • Use large clickable buttons for calls-to-action

Understand how customers interact with your mobile site

Each week, couples spend over 30% of their time planning their wedding from a mobile or tablet device, which is about 40 minutes a day. During this time, couples are searching for things like wedding checklists, planners, colors, themes, websites, venues, budgets and more. Couples feel that these searches are less “risky” actions to be taking on mobile.

While all businesses need to have a strong mobile presence, it’s important to recognize if the product or service you provide is better suited for a desktop or mobile interaction and adjust content accordingly. While a couple might not create their wedding invitation on a mobile device, they will certainly browse for design inspiration on mobile. Think about what is most valuable to your clients and how you can deliver a great experience, while highlighting the most meaningful content (like providing contact information or sharing inspiring imagery). A good mobile experience does not need to replicate your website but should offer content that makes prospective clients want to take the next step.

Be ready for mobile-first SEO

By optimizing for mobile, you are setting yourself up for mobile-first search engine optimization. Now that mobile searches outnumber desktop searches, Google has been working on a rollout that will create and rank search listings based on the mobile version of content rather than the desktop experience. This project is most likely to launch sometime in 2018 and could negatively impact your search rankings over time if your site is not mobile friendly. You must ensure that your mobile site is at parity to your desktop version.

Having a mobile presence for your wedding business will change the way potential customers interact with your business for the better! Keep these advantages in mind and you’ll reach more couples and keep them coming back to your business.

Sonny GangulySonny leads WeddingWire’s B2C/B2B marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and community development. Sonny is a widely acclaimed speaker, giving over 50 presentations across the globe each year on technology, marketing and strategy. Sonny holds a B.A. in Economics with a focus in Management and Marketing from The University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

» 2017 WeddingWire Innovations to Help You Connect With Couples

As 2017 comes to a close, we are taking a moment to look back on the new ways WeddingWire helped you reach and connect with more couples this year. Since the vast majority of today’s couples are millennials, we’re continuously working to develop new features and evolve current offerings to help you stand out and get more qualified leads in today’s market. Each innovation was developed with the success of our wedding professionals in mind and the end goal of helping you get noticed and book more couples on WeddingWire.

Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite features from 2017:

Photos in Reviews
Photos are a great way to build credibility and give couples a glimpse of your past work. Clients are now able to add photos along with their review on your WeddingWire Storefront to help you attract future bookings. Get reviews with photos from your clients today by emailing them through the Review Collector tool and using it to track your requests and send automatic reminders.

3D Tours for Venues

Transform the way couples view your venue and make a stunning first impression by providing them with a real life walkthrough of your property right from your WeddingWire Storefront. A 3D Tour lets couples view your property at any time — whether they’re across town or across the globe. Interested in a WeddingWire 3D Tour? The process is easy! Sign up here.

Storefront Highlights
We made it easier for couples to find the top information they’re looking for when searching for wedding professionals in your field by adding Highlights to your Storefront. Potential clients can now easily find key details about your business – including reviews, pricing, and availability – bringing you more qualified leads. Storefront Highlights is currently available for Photographers, Videographers, Venues, Caterers, and Planners. Haven’t seen your Highlights yet? Head to your Storefront to check them out!

WeddingWire Rewards
Designed to give couples even more of a reason to contact your business, this program rewards couples for contacting and booking you on WeddingWire! Couples can earn $25 for every vendor they contact and hire through the WeddingWire website – up to $300. Learn more about how WeddingWire Rewards works and why your participation in the program is important.

Updated Pricing Display

When you upload a Pricing PDF to your WeddingWire Storefront it now displays with a preview image alongside your other pricing details, making it easier for couples to find supplemental information about your products, services, and packages you offer. Additionally, venues now have the option to include Interactive Pricing on their Storefront. This new feature is designed to help set couples’ expectations about price by using your past wedding data to create a range of what couples can expect to pay based on their event details, like guest count and date. Watch this quick video to see how it works or log into your WeddingWire account to get started.

We look forward to continued innovation and finding new ways to help you connect with more couples and grow your business in 2018!

» How to Thrive in Our Visual Industry

Photo by Bellagala Photography

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

The wedding industry is a visual business. There are few other moments in most couples’ lives when the majority of consumers will spend top dollar to have professional images taken, or hire designers to handle décor and florals for a single event. The first thing a couple does when wedding planning is turn to a source of inspiration images, whether in a print magazine or on social media. Wedding professionals have no choice than to be visually oriented in order to thrive.

The quality of your visual marketing, its reach and accessibility are all important to how well your company is received. We’ve assembled some of our top tips for selling with visuals to help you take full advantage of your opportunities.

Take top quality images

Depending on your market, this could mean many things, but ensuring that you have excellent visuals to attract prospective couples is the first step. Develop relationships with photographers so you can get access to real wedding images in a timely manner, if possible. Take advantage of inspiration shoot opportunities. You can even hone your talents and take your own awesome images to use in your marketing. Smartphone technology allows us all to be better photographers than in the past, so learn how to use that to your advantage.

Make your business space visually-oriented

Our office is saturated with visuals. We keep large canvasses of our work on our walls and even in the bathrooms! 60” TV monitors constantly show a slideshow of our best work, and we hand each client an iPad when he or she walks through the door with an album of our recent events in their venue on the screen.

Be careful as you put together your own visual playground that you are able to keep your images updated. Over time, any photo will look dated and becomes irrelevant, unable to promote your new inventory. Create easily updatable formats for promotion like slideshows so your new clients see the most current options at all times.

Take advantage of social media

Use all available channels to share your work – and make sure that the majority of what you put out is, in fact, sharing and not overly “promotional.” Tell a story with your visuals that includes your products and services, but also inspires couples to see themselves in your client’s’ shoes. Brand your images not just with watermarks, but with recognizable inventory or moments that strongly remind your market of you.

A picture may, in fact, be worth a thousand words, so what is your visual marketing telling your prospective clients about you?

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a previous national president for WIPA.

» How Effective Are Your Email Responses?

Photo by Gawne Design Photography

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve shared some quick actionable ways to tune-up your Storefront and website for engagement season, and now it’s time to give your digital communications some love with these tips from Education Guru Alan Berg. Newly engaged couples will be reaching out soon – so keep these tips in mind to create powerful connections with potential clients.

Don’t rush to change the format

One of the biggest mistakes that wedding professionals can make right out of the gate is responding to an inquiry from a potential client in a format that is different than how they reached out. It’s likely that they were given the opportunity to contact you in multiple ways, and then they chose what worked best for them. According to WedInsights, 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type! So start with their preferred method, then once you have a back and forth going, you can ask them for a phone call, appointment, or another method that is necessary.

Respond quickly

70% of couples say vendor responsiveness is one of the top qualities they consider. It makes sense right? Most couples expect to hear from you within 24 hours, but they actually want that response right now! They are obviously in the frame of mind when they reach out, so ideally you want to catch them in that same state. The first vendor to respond will grab the couple’s attention and have an edge up on the competition.

Fit the first reply on a smartphone screen

When responding to a couple’s first inquiry, make sure that your response fits nicely on a smartphone screen. You should never assume that the couple will read your response on a computer and you don’t want to lose them in a reply. So make it easy for them. Email yourself one of your standard replies and open it on your smartphone. If it all fits, great! If it doesn’t, shorten it until it does. Also, make sure that the information is easily digestible by breaking into short paragraphs.

End the reply with one question

If you want to keep the conversation going, you must ask a question. Periods stop the conversation, but question marks open up a dialogue. Make the question something very simple and easy to answer. You don’t want them to have to think too hard or long to give a sufficient answer. Some examples are: “What other questions can I answer for you?”, “Are you planning on having your ceremony here as well?”, “Have you seen us at another wedding?” etc.

Don’t send attachments

Attachments are almost impossible to open and read on phones, even if they are beautiful. If it wasn’t formatted for phones, then we don’t suggest attaching it to emails. Instead you can put that information on a hidden page on your website. Then link to that page in your reply.

Auto replies should provide value

When was the last time you received a “Thank you for your message, someone will get back to you as soon as possible” and thought, “Oh great someone is going to get back to me!”? Probably never. That’s because you already knew, or assumed, that someone would get back to you. If you are using auto replies, make sure that you include information that couldn’t be gathered otherwise to add value to the inquirer’s experience with you.

Create a bank of testimonials

One of the greatest ways to show off your value is by letting a past client do it for you. Anytime someone says something nice about you or your business, copy it and save it. Whether it’s in person, through email, WeddingWire, Facebook, Instagram – anywhere, add it to a document with their name, city and state. Then highlight or bolden the statement that you want to highlight. When replying to an inquiry, find a relevant testimonial and include it!

» 5 Instagram Must-Haves for Engagement Season


Photo by Clay Swanson Photography

Engagement season is quickly approaching, and one of the first places couples will research vendors is on Instagram! To prepare, you should make sure your profile is in tip-top shape so that couples feel drawn to you when they come across your content. Once you draw them in, you should also make sure to prompt them to visit your website or send you an inquiry.

Here are five things that your Instagram profile should have in order to stand out to couples this engagement season.

Make your bio shine

When couples land on your Instagram profile, one of the first things they will see is your bio. Instagram bios can be a max of 150 characters, so you must make every character count. Here are a few things to remember to include when writing your bio:

  • Succinctly explain what you do and who your ideal client is
  • Show your personality
  • Include a call to action

Read more about how to write a social media bio that attracts couples here.

Create a clear call-to-action

Just like you should have on your Storefront or website, a call-to-action on your social media channels is a must! You’ve captivated a couple so don’t let them leave without giving them direction to head to your website or contact you. There are two great places to do this on your Instagram profile:

  1. Your Bio – Give couples an instruction in your bio. For example, you might say, “Click below to see my full portfolio!” or “Message me to learn more!” or “Have a question? Let’s chat!”
  2. Your Link – When you click to edit your profile in the Instagram app, you will see a field where you can enter your website URL. Use this strategically by linking to your About Me page, a lead magnet landing page, or a portfolio page. This will give potential clients the most important information about your business and motivate them to contact you.  

Post quality content daily

After making sure that your profile is captivating and providing direction to incoming couples, make sure that you are staying top of mind! One of the best ways to stand out from your competitors is to have a fresh,  up-to-date Instagram feed. This will help showcase your work as for couples that follow you and ensure that you  continue to pop up in their feed.

Don’t forget that Instagram is a visual platform, so when posting regularly,make sure that you are posting visually appealing and inspiring content. You want to post aspirational content that makes a couple stop and think “Wow – I want to be THAT couple.” Apply these tips for curating Storefront photos to your Instagram feed.

Show your personality

You may be using Instagram to market your business, but remember – couples also care about the person behind the business, too. Every so often, post photos that tell a bit about you and show your personality. You can share selfies, photos of your work space, photos taken with past clients, or even just photos of things that make you happy throughout your day. This will help you create a connection with couples and attract more ideal clients.

Optimize for engagement

There are two kinds of Instagram engagement that you should focus on. The first is on your profile itself. Couples want to see that your posts have likes and comments. To increase engagement, include relevant hashtags and ask questions in your captions to encourage people to comment.

The second is your engagement with other profiles. Avoid only logging into Instagram to post your own photos. Instead, make sure to spend a few minutes each day browsing through your feed, liking and commenting on others’ posts. You can also search for hashtags that local couples may use in their posts, then engage with their posts. This will grab their attention and encourage them to click through to your profile.

» Storefront Tune-Up Tips for Engagement Season

storefront tips

Photo by Bradley Images

Did you know that nearly 18% of all engagements occur in December alone? Now is the time to start tuning up your online presence in preparation for these couples. During our October webinar, Education Guru Alan Berg shared his best tips for tuning up your Storefront to help you connect with more couples this engagement season.

Here are the top four ways that you can take action now and strengthen your Storefront:

Make sure you have an aspirational thumbnail image that stands out.
Even though it’s small, your thumbnail image is very important! That tiny picture could make or break a couple’s decision to click to your Storefront. When a couple sees that image, you want them to feel emotionally connected and think, “Wow, I want to be just like that couple!” This can be achieved by selecting a lovely lifestyle image of a happy couple at their wedding. Remember: It’s not about the flowers, the food, the music, or any other service you provide, it’s about making couples feel like they can achieve their dream wedding with you.

Take action:

  1. Does your thumbnail image have a photo of a happy couple? If not, change it! We know this can be tricky for some categories, but be creative with it! If you’re a caterer, we know you don’t want to show a couple with a mouth full of food, but you do want to show a couple interacting with your food. If you’re a videographer, use a photo of you filming a couple with a beautiful scene in the background. The default choice should always be a happy couple, no matter your category.
  2. Test it on mobile. Couples are browsing through Storefronts on their phones, so take a moment to ensure that your thumbnail is compatible. Is it missing the detail you were trying to show? Did you turn the couple into headless horsemen? If so, fix it!
  3. Look at your competition’s thumbnail images in your category. Make sure that your image stands out and is the best reflection of your ideal client so that you will attract more of those engaged couples to click on your page.

Update your Storefront albums with lifestyle images.
Great work! Your beautiful thumbnail image has now led a couple to click on your Storefront. The first thing that they will do now is look at your photos. Remember that more is not better. Better is better! Your goal is to get them to contact you, so your job here is to guide them through the best examples of your work, with plenty of lifestyle images of happy couples that they can instantly relate to and be inspired by. Lite members can share 5 photos, while Premium members can upload up to 100 photos per album.

Take action:

  1. Review your current albums to assess the feeling that they convey to couples. Do you have a balance of inspiring lifestyle photos mixed in with designed detail shots? Similar to thumbnail selection, make sure the photos you choose to place in your album will transport a couple to envisioning their own big day.
  2. Organize your albums into relevant categories (and consider doing some editing down). Think about the best ways to sort your photos. For example, if you are a caterer, you can create albums titled “Cocktail Hour,” “Dessert Tables,” “Plated Reception,” “Buffet Reception,” “Bar & Beverages,” etc. This will help couples navigate your photos and find images that reflect the wedding they envision. Make sure you have just enough photos to give a strong first impression of your work, but not so many that a couple gets lost and overwhelmed. Focus on quality over quantity; 50 photos in one album is probably too many.  

Captivate couples using your reviews.
After your thumbnail image and your Storefront photos, the next thing a couple will look at is your reviews. The more reviews you have, the more engaged couples will be able to see the consistency of your work and the way past couples feel about you. The more recent your reviews, the more a couple will be able to see that your business is presently providing a great service. Couples care what you did last week or last month, not so much what you did over a year ago!  While having a ton of reviews is great, it’s not the only thing couples are considering when they are looking at your reviews. Couples are also looking at the recency, your responses, and emotional keywords that can connect them to experiences you provided other couples.

Take action:

  1. Update your highlighted review. Premium members can highlight a review; choose a review that is recent, short-to-medium in length and uses great emotional words at the beginning. Don’t pick the longest review you’ve ever received. Couples are likely to skim, so you want them to quickly get the gist when reading through. This doesn’t have to be your most recent review, but it should ideally be one from the same calendar year.
  2. Respond to all reviews and make sure your responses include personal details about that couple’s day. These responses should be written with future couples in mind and show that you are engaged with the couple from start to finish.
  3. Make sure you are always ASKING for reviews. To find out what you can be doing to get more reviews, see this post. And don’t forget, 5 new reviews in 2017 will make you eligible for the upcoming Couples’ Choice Awards!

Read all of the text on your Storefront out loud.
Take the time to read through your About section and FAQ (and all the text on your Storefront); as silly as it might feel, do it out loud! Does it include language you wouldn’t normally use when you are describing your business over the phone or in a meeting? Does it include old services that you no longer offer? Question every sentence to make sure that you are describing your business accurately and using language that connects directly with the couple reading it.

Take action:

  1. Change any language that doesn’t sound like you are talking to a couple! You want to send a consistent message and sound relatable. Don’t forget that couples are often looking for a vendor that they can connect with, not just someone who provides a service. You are important to them, so they want to feel that connection with you.
  2. Add a call to action. The couple is on your Storefront after all, so you’ve already gotten them this far! Tell them what they should do next (contact you!). This provides a sense of direction and urgency. Let them know that you look forward to connecting with them about their big day.

Stay tuned for more engagement season tune-up tips over the coming weeks including website tips, client communication strategies, and more.

» Millennials: They’re Not All the Same





I was recently preparing for a new presentation, and among the other interesting information I found, there were several references to articles about millennials. One of them struck a familiar chord, which was that there’s a tendency to generalize about millennials. Whether it’s their communication skills, their shopping style or their work ethic, millennials are the focus of a lot of bashing, for lack of a better word.

There are two, really good reasons why we shouldn’t be bashing millennials: 1) stereotyping an entire generation is short-sighted and prejudicial, and 2) they’re our customers and employees. Saying that all millennials are one thing, or another, is like saying that Gen-X are all the same, or all Baby Boomers are the same. It just isn’t true. Are millennials different than Gen-X or Baby Boomers? Yes, of course, in the same way that Gen-Xers are different than their parents and grandparents. Each generation grows up a product of its environment, media, technology and more.

Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives

I’ve said this before, but I’m a digital immigrant. I started selling wedding advertising “B.I.” – before the internet. No, I’m not a dinosaur, or tech averse. Just the opposite. I love technology, and use it throughout my business (says the guy wearing an Apple Watch, listening to music on my iPhone 7 Plus, and writing this on a new MacBook Pro). Technology doesn’t make me sell better, but it does allow me to connect with my audience in a way that wasn’t available when I started. That doesn’t make it better or worse. It just is, what it is. Things are always evolving, are you?

I know lots of millennials who are ambitious, entrepreneurial and have great attitudes. I also know lots of Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers, who constantly complain about how lazy millennials are and how much easier it was, back in the good old days (whenever that was). The disconnect comes when we pre-judge a prospect (hence the word prejudice). Each customer is entitled to fair treatment. If we assume they’re going to judge us, only on price, we’ll likely do and say things that will attract that kind of behavior. For instance, not putting price on your website, at all, will encourage them to either ask about price, or leave without giving you a chance.

Continue reading

» @WeddingWire’s Top 10 Instagram Posts + 10 Social Tips for Your Business

This article was written by Halie Greening, Senior Social Media Specialist at WeddingWire.

As the social media team behind the @wedddingwire handle, we spend our days analyzing the content that resonates with engaged couples, developing creative ways to connect with our audience, and staying on top of trends in the social sphere. In honor of WeddingWire’s 10th Anniversary this month, we compiled our top 10 Instagram posts of 2017 with the highest engagement, along with 10 social media insights that you can use today to boost your business’ social media strategy.

Tip #1: Heartfelt Moments Boost Engagement

Our followers love the moments that tug at their heartstrings, and rightfully so. There’s something special about reading the raw emotion that shines through this sweet note from a groom to his soon-to-be-wife on their wedding day that made this post so popular. Heartfelt moments target your followers’ pathos; find everyday moments that hit home and you’ve got yourself your next successful Instagram post. (Photo by @sarabeephoto)

Tip #2:  Your Followers Are Your Best Content Creators

Some of our best content, which is often ring selfies and celebratory #justsaidyes moments, comes from our biggest fans – our followers! Sharing content from your followers will make them feel heard and loved, AND it’s a great way to curate authentic, on-brand imagery (without having to create it from scratch). Get into the habit of regularly asking your clients if you can repost their photos. Always be sure to ask permission first, and of course tag them in the photo. Are you a florist? Ask your couples to tag you in their wedding photos so you get notified when you’ve been mentioned. Their #TBT to their gorgeous wedding bouquet = your Saturday morning post to remind your followers to “Stop and smell the roses!” (Ring: @brilliantearth)

Tip #3: Candid Moments Are ALWAYS a Good Idea

Posed portraits and carefully arranged photos can achieve a specific aesthetic, but sometimes it’s the relatable, candid moments that deliver the highest engagement. Moments like this one of a groom crying as he sees his beautiful bride for the first time will captivate your audience and bring in the likes. Consider sharing authentic behind-the-scenes photos of you in action, or maybe a genuine moment between you and your clients. The most compelling posts are often those unplanned shots. (Photo by @jordanvoth)

Tip #4: Find Your Brand BFFs and Build Each Other Up

If your brand or business were a person, who would they hang out with? What would you have in common with your circle of friends? We’ve got a few brand BFFs (all of our amazing wedding professionals!) who we admire for their unique brand stories. Two ways we strengthen our friendships are content swaps and contests (like this Lilly Pulitzer giveaway photo). Whether it be an overlapping demographic or a similar aesthetic, find wedding pros you consider to be your brand friends and coordinate content swaps with them. Do you arrange amazing bouquets and they bake drool-worthy cakes? Why not switch up your content mix with a photo of a delicious sweet treat, and offer them a photo of some stunning stems to share.

Tip #5: Find the “me” and “we” that makes your content relatable!

Ever tag your friend in a post you come across in your social feed because it instantly reminds you of them? Choose content that will make your audience think, “that’s SO me” or “my fiancé and I would TOTALLY do that.” Even if it’s just a shot of you and your Monday morning coffee in a cute mug with a cheeky caption, or maybe a fun peek into your weekend plans, it showcases your human side. Your followers will love to see what you have in common. (Photo by @michellelangephoto)

Tip #6: Find an Aesthetic That Fits Your Style and Stick With it

Just like your outfits, you don’t want your Instagram grid to clash. Keeping a consistent feel to your photos and ensuring that your feed looks cohesive is key making a strong brand impression. Give yourself a color palette you want your imagery to stay within. Create a grid for the week to layout how your images will look alongside one another. Find balance. Love a black and white photo to break up the feed, but typically post vibrant pictures? Balance it out by breaking them up in rows or squares, thinking of your feed in a more symmetrical manner. Whatever your style, create guidelines for yourself and stick with it. (Photo by @sarahlibbyphoto)

Tip #7:  Strong CTA’s = Strong Engagement

Want new followers? Want more likes on your photos? Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to ask! One of our best practices is the classic, direct “call to action” in a caption. Nothing encourages engagement more than telling your followers exactly what it is that you want them to do. Even better, if you’re ever stuck on a catchy caption, pull a “Double tap if…” a “Tag someone who…” or a “Comment below with…” out of your back pocket and not only have you solved your writer’s block, but you’ve also just told your audience exactly what you’re expecting from them when they look at your photo! (Photo by @maycarlson)

Tip #8: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it…build on it!

Donuts, dogs and jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops. What do these all have in common? They get people double-tapping like there’s no tomorrow. As a social team we’ve seen how well photos with these themes perform time and time again on our feed due to how strongly they resonate with our audience. Knowing that these pieces of content easily capture our followers’ attention, we are always on the lookout for content with these elements. Start by auditing your feed and identifying which types of content have performed the best in the past to help guide your content choices in the future. Taking a peek at popular posts from other wedding industry feeds will inevitably provide content inspiration, too. (Ring: @tacoriofficial)

Tip #9: Take note of what’s on trend, then tweak it!

Part of having a strong social media strategy is not only paying attention to what works well for you, but also staying in-the-know about current trends. Whether it’s the Pantone color of the year or the latest decor craze, showcasing trends on your social media tells your followers you are a knowledgeable, reliable source for what’s current in the wedding industry. Of course, staying on-brand and sticking to your style is important, so be picky about the trends you embrace and explore ways to incorporate your unique perspective. (Photo by @bretthickmanphoto)

Tip #10: Stop Their Thumbs in Their Tracks

Ever find yourself mesmerized by a video of a cocktail being made or a delicious dish coming together, ingredient by ingredient? THOSE are the videos that are pure gold. We quickly realized after re-gramming a video by Laura Hooper Calligraphy how much our audience enjoys watching calligraphy come to life before their eyes. So what did we do about it? We met up with Laura Hooper to have her write a variety of phrases that we could capture on video and add to our Instagram arsenal. Try taking quick videos of content relevant to your business. Speed them up, slow them down, reverse them. You’ll captivate your audience and stop those thumbs right in their tracks! (Calligraphy by @lhcalligraphy)

» A Decade of Change: How the Industry Has Evolved




alan bergThis 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.

As WeddingWire celebrates its 10th anniversary, I wanted to reflect on the last 10 years in our industry. We’ve been through some interesting times. The economy has gone through some wild swings, and we’ve experienced major ups and downs in politics. However, as I reflect on what’s happened, I’m reminded of the old saying: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I’ve lived through many more than 10 years in our industry, and some things are constant. We should all be grateful that we’re in a recession-resistant industry. Regardless of the economic climate, people are still getting married. Yes, how much they spend, and how they spend it changes, but that’s not just a factor of the economy. Styles change. Trends change. Attitudes and priorities change. Yet, through all of that, people still get married.

We’re really lucky

I often remind wedding pros, like you, that we chose an industry that has couples spending billions of dollars on their weddings, and they are not required to do so. There’s no law that says you have to have a party to celebrate your marriage. There are laws about getting legally married. But, there are no laws about having food, pictures, music, flowers, fashion, etc. Those are discretionary purchases. Most discretionary purchases are highly affected by the economy, swinging with it up and down. Not weddings. Weddings happen, no matter what.

My theory on this (not scientific, just one man’s opinion) is that no one goes into their wedding thinking it’s practice for the next time. We all hope, and many of us are right, that it’s one and done. My parents just celebrated their 63rd anniversary, a benchmark we’d all like to achieve. So, we spend boatloads of money, celebrating the occasion. We should be thankful, every day.

Here are a few of my observations about the last decade:

Technology – If there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s changing technology. Sure, we all had websites 10 years ago, or knew we needed them, but the underlying technology of them is always changing. Much of what we used to do only on desktop computers, we now do on our mobile devices. It’s not better, or worse; it’s just different. For many of you, the technology of your service has changed. Think DJs going from LPs to CDs to all-digital music. Does that make you a better DJ? No. But, it helps you help your couples.

Communication – Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, LiveChat, Texting or WhatsApp, lots of new communication platforms have come along in the last 10 years. I hated Facebook Messenger when it first arrived. I didn’t think I needed it, as I already had phone, email and text. I quickly learned to love it, as clients, and potential clients, started to reach out to me through it. I can attribute real dollars to conversations that were started through Facebook Messenger, texting and WhatsApp. Today, I’ll embrace almost any technology that my clients want to use to connect with me.

Social Media – Here’s a statement of the obvious: social media has fundamentally changed our lives. Whether it’s for the better, or worse, is up to you to decide. All I know is that 10 years ago I wasn’t investing the time I do today in social media. Where did we get that time? What are we not doing now, that we were doing with that time 10 years ago? We didn’t get any more time, so it had to get shifted from other activities. That said, I use particular social media platforms because I get positive return on my investment in time and effort, and yes, money (if I buy an ad, or boost a post). Many of the wedding pros I meet, and consult with, have no idea if they’re getting any return on their investments. They do it because they feel they have to. Did you jump into the deep end of the social media pool, because everyone else was in the pool? Or, did you first learn how to be a great swimmer, and then jump in?

Social Proof – Here’s a phrase we weren’t using 10 years ago. According to a WeddingWire study, nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews, as much as personal recommendations. So, while 10 years ago couples were asking their friends, family and coworkers for recommendations, now, with over 3 million reviews on WeddingWire alone, they can go online and find out who you really are. I’ve said this many times: your brand is defined by what your customers say about you, after they’ve worked with you. You need to be highlighting your reviews everywhere: on your website (not just on a testimonials page, as no one goes there) and in your marketing. You need to be actively involved in the process, responding to your good reviews, requesting reviews and yes, addressing anything negative, quickly and professionally. Your brand and your reputation is out there, for everyone to see… whether you choose to see it or not. Be involved.

Sales – Here’s something that hasn’t fundamentally changed. Sales is, and will always be, about people. Yes, you’ll use different technologies in your process, but ultimately, it’s people, buying from people. If you learn how to effectively help people buy, the technology is inconsequential. Artificial intelligence is a long way from being able to take the job of a salesperson in your business. You need to make a connection. You need to ask better questions. You need to really listen to the answers, and then show the customer how you, and only you, can deliver the results they want. That hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, and it’s not going to change in the next decade, if ever. If there’s one skill you need to hone, whether you’ve been selling for 20 minutes, or 20 years, it’s your sales skills. If you don’t make the sale, you don’t get to ply your craft and show your skills. It’s that simple.

So, what’s happened in the last 10 years? I remember first meeting Tim and Sonny at the Wedding MBA conference, 10 years ago. I was impressed with them, even though I was a competitor at the time. I’ve watched, from the sidelines, as WeddingWire has grown, and matured, yet still manages to remain nimble, something that’s not easy to do. I’m proud to be connected with WeddingWire for over 5 years now, and I’m looking forward to the next 10. I wish you all a decade of success!