» 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

instagram

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

millennials

 

 

 

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!

» Top 10 Roundup: Most Popular Wedding Business Tips

A lot has changed in the wedding industry over the last 10 years, which has challenged wedding professionals to change with it. Since WeddingWire launched in 2007, we’ve shared marketing advice, expert education, and technology tips to help you manage and grow your business. While the rise of technology has dramatically changed the ways that wedding professionals connect with and book potential clients, many of the core principles of running a successful wedding business remain the same.

Here is a list of our top 10 most read articles of all time, containing some of our most essential business tips, insights, and marketing advice that are still just as relevant today:

#1 – Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

#2 – Top Wedding Trends for 2017

#3 – 5 Ways You’re Losing The Sale

#4 – Business Branding: Consider Your Color!

#5 – How Are Weddings Changing? WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey

#6 – What to Do When They Don’t Respond

#7 – How to Deal with Pricing Questions

#8 – 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

#9 – How to Respond to a Negative Review

#10 – How Should You Politely Tell A Client ‘I Don’t Do That’?

» Hiring an Intern: What You Need to Know

If you’re in a place where you are in need of a little extra help, but don’t quite have the resources or budget to hire a publicity firm, it might be the right time to bring in a PR intern. Eager college students and recent graduates can bring new perspective and fresh ideas that can really benefit your business and make your daily life a lot more manageable.

With that, let’s take a look at what tips you need to know:   

First and foremost, before sending anything out, educate yourself and make sure you are up-to-date on the laws and regulations associated with hiring a paid or unpaid intern.

 

How to Find One

When you are ready to promote your search for an intern, there are several ways you can go about it. Make sure you are diversifying your methods, and not relying on just one avenue. Word-of-mouth is an underestimated but very effective way to find new people. In fact, some of my best interns have come from friends in the industry referring people they knew. Post the job details on all of your social media accounts, as well as your blog if you have one – be sure that you’re including a link to the full job description and details.

Getting in touch with the local colleges and universities that have PR, marketing, communications, or hospitality programs is another great way to connect with potential applicants. Ask how they promote internships and see if you can get posted on their job boards, social media, etc. You could even take it one step further by connecting with professors in those programs and getting them to spread the word.

Communicating the Job

The description of the internship should be very clear about what the internship will entail—you want the responsibilities to be well-defined. The last thing you want is to have a disappointed intern who, for example, didn’t realize they would be doing admin work at an event planning company. Every company has different needs, but a basic description could look something like this:

Specific duties of the intern vary each year depending on new issues and marketing objectives, but could include: writing marketing pieces; social media management (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogging); assisting with activities during events; appointment confirmations; involvement in promotions and research and providing staff support.

Make sure the description matches your brand and gets everyone excited. If you want the best, you’ll be competing with all sorts of other job opportunities.

 

The Interview Process

Once you’ve got a solid pool of applicants, you’ll want to bring them in for a formal interview. Personally, I like the meeting to be in person, but if the position is remote or current schedules won’t permit, Skype is a good alternative. Begin by explaining what the company is, how the need for an intern came to be, and a little bit more depth into the responsibilities of the position. During the ‘questions’ portion of the interview, stay away from yes or no questions. This is your chance to get to know them, their experience, how prepared they came for the interview, and really get a feel for how well they would fit. Some questions to consider might be:

  • Tell us about your interest in the position. What drew you to our company?
  • Tell us about what kind of experience you have in relation to the position
  • Where do you see yourself after graduating/or in the next five years?

Once you’ve selected your candidate (hooray!), be sure to do an orientation (i.e. an everything-you-need-to-know meeting). At our company, we break the orientation day into different training sessions that start with the basics and works its way into the more complicated aspects of the position. Be sure you remain open minded while they are learning; for some, this may be their first ‘on-the-job’ experience and you are a resource for them while they learn.
With these tips in your pocket, hiring a stellar intern should be just around the corner!

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

» Why You Shouldn’t Say You’re ‘The Best’

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.

It’s all too common to read marketing declarations from wedding professionals stating they are “the best.” I suggest this is subjective truth at the maximum and lazy copywriting at the minimum. More importantly, it isn’t helping you win couples. Here’s why. 

Best? By Whose Standard?

Ok, so you might be the top wedding venue in South Dakota. Or, the most-recognized floral designer in Hollywood. Birmingham Weekly might recognize you as the best wedding DJ.

It never surprises me when a wedding couple’s testimonial expresses that XYZ Company is the “best” in the city, and you shouldn’t hire anyone else. That endorsement—however flattering—is usually overstated. The wedding couple may be thrilled with the job XYZ performed for their wedding. However, the couple likely interviewed only a handful of companies in the same class and perhaps saw another company or two provide service at a friend’s wedding.

In other words, praise is great for your business—even necessary to score new clients—but praising yourself isn’t part of an effective marketing strategy.

Focus on What Makes You Different and Exceptional

The real reason “best” is a throwaway word is because savvy consumers have trained themselves to tune it out. It’s the language equivalent of a brightly colored “sale” sign—you just feel like you’re about to be tricked, and you ignore it.

A better way to communicate why a couple should choose your services is to put yourself in their shoes. What are they actually looking for when searching for a photographer? A caterer? An event planner? What type of service are you providing? What is key to your ideal customer? How do you do what you do? What is your passion? (Beyond love. We all love love, so that’s not helping consumers, either.)

Essentially think of what you want to tell potential customers, not just about selling them.

 

Who’s Your Ideal Customer? Now Market to That Person.

As a wedding pro, you’re not trying to grab the widest audience. Your business and your services are actually pretty niche—you want couples that appreciate your style of service and are intending to pay what you charge. So, with that in mind, rededicate your marketing power to identify ideal customers, not just by demographics, but by psychographics—personality, lifestyle, budget, wedding planning style, etc.

Find specific qualities in your company that speak of your rare and identifiable characteristics; and don’t repeat indefinable clichés such as “best,” “unique” or “perfect.”

When reaching out for reviews, encourage clients to explain, specifically, what was different or special about your product or service.

I am confident, without hesitation, if you follow such a marketing path, targeted prospects will come flocking to you. And it will feel very good.  

» 10 Marketing Best Practices for 2017

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.

As the year comes to a close and busy fall wedding season winds down, now is a good time to review your marketing strategy for the upcoming year. Review these ten marketing tips to help keep your business on track and set-up for success in 2017!

  • 10-marketing-tipsKeep your brand fresh. It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply renewing your online listings and not making changes to the content or reviewing the design to make sure it’s modern and on brand. Take a look at your marketing materials and your advertising platforms, and consider making some small updates to refresh your branding for 2017 like adding new imagery, refreshing your logo or highlighting your social media accounts.
  • Leverage your in-person exposure. If you participate in wedding shows or local events, don’t let the competition pass you by! Make sure your booth, marketing materials and promotions are up-to-date and make a great first impression to your potential clients. Remember your presentation is not just for wedding couples, but also makes an impact on your fellow professionals who can become referrals in your network.
  • Make website updates. Websites can be like closets… businesses tend to add content, but rarely remove anything old! Set aside time to do a full vetting of your website, including all pages. Consider updating copy, adding/removing staff member information, reviewing pricing, contact forms and images of your work. A modern site will catch the eye of your prospects, and dated material will be a red flag.
  • Highlight your inquiry form: It is critical to have an inquiry page within your site so couples can easily get in touch to learn more about your services. This may be the point important element to drive your leads and sales! She this page as a prominent link and add a link or small contact form to every page within your site for added exposure. To help track your marketing success consider asking your prospects: “How did you find our site?”
  • Add testimonials to your site: Let your past clients do the selling for you! Collect and add testimonials and reviews from happy past clients, and add sound bites to all your marketing materials. Customer praise should be featured throughout your site, and make sure you add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to show off recent reviews, along with any accolades for reviews like WeddingWire Rated or Couples Choice Awards.

Continue reading

» Get Up-to-Speed this Engagement Season with Fact Sheets

engagement-season-fact-sheetEngagement season is here with 40% of couples celebrating their engagement from November to February each year. Now that the fall busy season is slowing down for may pros, the holidays are a great time to decompress and prepare your business for the busy months ahead.

It’s important to stay updated on the latest industry trends and stats to understand your audience and how your business can stand out. WeddingWire fact sheets are here to help!

As part of our WedInsights content, we have a helpful library full of great one-page resources you can download to get quickly informed on the latest industry research so you can impress more couples.

Here’s a peek at some of the latest fact sheets:

  • Buying an Engagement Ring: See how couples search for the perfect ring and what attributes matter most.
  • Setting a Wedding Date: Uncover the most popular days to wed and learn how couples pick their vendor team.
  • Wedding Stress: Learn what tasks stress couples out the most during the wedding planning process.
  • Bridal Re-Brand: A look at bridal bias and heteronormative assumptions in the wedding industry.
  • Planning a Honeymoon: From destination to budget, see what decisions couples make when planning a honeymoon.

Get started accessing these guides for free!