» 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.

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» 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!

» Blogging for Beginners: 4 Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Source

» What is Neuro-Marketing? Why We Do What We Do Part II

This post was written by Jim Jubelirer, the owner of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, which helps business owners increase their business performance and personal satisfaction. For more information about ActionCOACH, click here.
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Conduct a review of your business practices and products. Are they easy to understand, easy to use? Are customers leaving because they have a hard time doing business with you? Do you have tools to track the reasons why people stop doing business with you? Now, consider novelty: what are you offering that is new or different? What are you doing to stand out from your competitors? Are you making an extra effort to reward long-term, loyalty customers with premium offers and exclusive promotions?

If you want to grow your business, consider these two neuromarketing insights.

• Curves attract and sharp edges repel. Think of the original glass Coke bottle (curvy, right?) Grocery stores are making the end-­cap displays (the shelves at the end of each aisle – usually used for promotional or high­‐volume items) more rounded.

• Multi-­sensory experiences stimulate multiple areas of the brain. Consider the use of sound, sight, and smell in your store or personal interactions. Would your employees look better in uniforms or wearing branded logo shirts? Does your workplace project the professional image you want to attract your target customers?

» What is Neuro-Marketing? Why We Do What We Do Part I

This post was written by Jim Jubelirer, the owner of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, which helps business owners increase their business performance and personal satisfaction. For more information about ActionCOACH, click here.
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Neuroscience is the study of the brain and how it controls our behavior. Neuro-marketing is the application of neuroscientific research to marketing and advertising messages. Neuro-marketing uses brainwave, eye-tracking and skin conductance measurements to create a deeper insight into shopper behavior.

Companies like Coke and GM spend billions of dollars each year to market their products and they want to know whether their ads are effective. Nielsen, the audience measurement firm, combines neuroscience with experience in consumer research and purchase decision-making. According to Nielsen, up to 90% of purchasing decisions are made sub-consciously. Often, the customer then spends time and energy finding ways to rationalize or explain their purchase. These post-purchase rationalizations may not be very accurate if the customer is unaware of their own sub-conscious drivers.

Our brain processes 11 billion bits of sensory information per second, yet we consciously remember only 100 bits of information per second. We have developed two important coping skills to process
this information gap:

• We spend less time trying to understand something if it is complicated or difficult, and
• We focus on novelty, looking for the degree to whether something is new and/or memorable.

 

» Marketing vs. Advertising

What is the difference between marketing and advertising? Although it seems like a simple question, it is very common to confuse the definition of the two.

By definition marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, and delivering offerings that have value for consumers and society at large (American Marketing Association).  Marketing is the first step in developing a product or service.  Seth Godin said it perfectly in his recent post, “Just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true.”

Advertising is the act or practice of calling public attention to your product, service, need, etc. (dictionary.com). Advertising includes paid ads, which can be online, in print, on billboards, etc. Advertising is a main component of marketing.

A good way to look at it is to think of marketing as a pie, in which you have slices that include advertising, market research, product branding, interactive media, SEO, sales strategy, lead generation, consumer involvement, customer support, and more.  Marketing is everything you do as a small business to facilitate a connection between your business and your consumer.

Our goal at WeddingWire is to provide the platform for vendors in the wedding industry to do both.  As a vendor you can create an account and build your Storefront, which helps you create and communicate your product offerings to your consumers (engaged couples).  Our vendor catalog, which is listed off of numerous networks (i.e. Martha Stewart Weddings, BridalBuds, WeddingAces), serves as a means of advertisement for your business for all incoming engaged couples to see.

What are your thoughts on marketing and advertising? Share your feedback in the comments sections!

» Build Your Twitter Community

In order to maximize on what Twitter has to offer, it’s important to build your community. To do this you have to start by figuring out what your objective is. Do you want to keep your followers up-to-date on your business? Do you want to share dialogue with followers, maybe potential clients? Do you want to stay ahead of the social media curve? Whatever your objective is, it is important to determine it first and then dive right in!

I found a great list of 10 tips to guide you in establishing your community. Here is a quick summary:

  • DO – create a user-friendly ID. Your Twitter ID is part of your personal brand, so use your name or business name. If neither of these are available, blend them or stay as close to them as you can (ex: MegWW). Also, the shorter the name the better!
  • DO – search for people. It’s complete normal and accepted to follow people you don’t know (a huge part of what Twitter is all about). So search for people in the wedding industry or even people from an industry you don’t know much about! Try Twitter Search or Twellow to find people to follow.

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» Benefits of Social Media

Check out the results of a survey, summarized in eMarketerand Mashable yesterday, that outlines the benefits of embracing social media marketing.  Respondents were from the Marketing Executives Networking Group.

Customer engagement took first place, with 85% of surveyed executives citing it as the main benefit of using social media marketing.  Only 21% of executives, however, think that it is a “great lead generation source”.  That means most of those surveyed do not think social media directly impacts sales.

Regardless, the majority of respondents agreed that there are numerous benefits to engaging in social media marketing, given it is low in cost, it can be used a source of feedback and results, and it allows for direct customer communication.

Although this was a small survey, I think the take away message is that it would be beneficial to utilize social media marketing as one of your marketing mediums for 2009.

What do you think the benefits are for using social media marketing?  Do you plan to incorporate more of it in 2009?

» Looking for someone on Twitter?

You can now use Twitter People Search to track them down! Twitter is much more useful when you can find the accounts of your friends, colleagues, competitors or companies that interest you.  So whether you are searching for a friend or for WeddingWire, just click the “Find People” in the navigation bar at the top of your Twitter homepage and search away!

Not into Twitter yet?   Sign up for your free account today and let the fun begin!

Follow us on Twitter!

» Email marketing, the right way.

With over 1/3 of all engagements projected to happen over the holidays and the New Year quickly approaching, now is the time for you to hone in on your marketing efforts! Over the next few days I will cover some different ways to help you do this.  Today, let’s take a look at email marketing.

Emails can work as a means of advertisement.  According to a recent MediaPost blog, email marketing is still the highest ROI channel and earning $45+ ROI for every dollar invested (DMA, 2008).

As mentioned in the blog, the key to email marketing is there is a right and wrong way to approach it. The wrong way involves sending the same email, multiple times. This tends to increase your list churn and drive readers away, making it very hard to earn back their respect.

The right way is to make sure that each email counts.  Here is my take on a few good tips from the MediaPost blog that you can use to help you do this:

  1. Get the tone right – Position your products and services so that they meet the need of your customers during the realities of our time (i.e. down economy, low budgets, etc.)
  2. Realize that discounts are not the only motivator – Although discount emails can sometimes work, they tend to fall into the “wrong way” category if they are repeated too many times.  Try providing helpful tips, value information, and timely offers in your emails.  These can boost your response and protect your margin.
  3. Integrate online channels – Use emails to spark a conversation that will continue to other social mediums, such as facebook, twitter, etc.
  4. Ask for feedback in each email and every source of contact with your customers – It is key for you to monitor customer feedback and experience. Make sure you listen to what the customers are saying and communicate back with them. This is only going to benefit you in the long run!
  5. Thank your customers – Send helpful tips and special offers to good customers and new buyers.  This is a great chance for you to encourage your customers to tell their friends about you!

These tips and others listed in the MediaPost blog can help you become a smarter marketer and assist you in crafting your emails the right way!

Feel free to share any other email marketing tips you have personally had success with!