» 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.

» Is Your Digital Content the Right Length?

Creating digital contentWhen it comes to writing for your wedding business, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. The messaging in your blog posts should be consistent with your content your website, and your emails and social media posts should also reflect the same tone and voice. With all of those considerations, it’s easy to write too much (or sometimes too little) to keep it all straight!

If you’ve ever wondered how long your pieces of digital content should be, you’re not alone. Luckily for you, there’s a ton of research on exactly how long your digital content should be for ideal exposure and views on the various channels. Below are some of the findings:

Facebook. Research shows that posts shorter than 40 characters (meaning words and spaces or punctuation) had 86% higher engagement rates than longer posts. This isn’t to say that long Facebook posts are useless – in a lot of cases, there’s no way to condense information into less than 40 characters. If you can squeeze posts to under 80 characters, they get 66% more “likes” and comments.

Twitter. Twitter, unlike Facebook, is already very limited in the amount of content users can post. Ideal post length on Twitter is actually longer than ideal post length on Facebook, but it’s an easy number to remember: 100 characters. Twitter’s own research shows that medium-length tweets get the most re-tweets. Why? If users want to “quote” the tweet or retweet and add their own thoughts, they have enough characters left to do so. For optimally shareable tweets, aim for 70-100 characters.

Headlines. If you have a blog, pay close attention to this one! Just like people scan blog posts, (sad, but true) they scan the headlines. The maximum word count for headlines is just six words. Research shows that if a headline is longer than that, readers only look at the first three words and the last three words. Consequently, keeping headlines to six or fewer words ensures that readers pay attention to the whole headline. Plus, Google typically only displays 50-60 characters of the title in search results, so the shorter, the better!

Continue reading

» The Importance of Maintaining Your Blog

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

If You’re Holding a Microphone, You’d Better Start Talking!

Most wedding Pros understand the benefits of having a blog on their site. It helps tremendously with search engine optimization (SEO), it gives you the opportunity to interact with and cross-promote other wedding vendors, and it helps you to establish credibility as an expert in your field. It’s also a chance to speak directly to the specific clients you’re trying to target, by creating content that is relevant and appealing to them. All good things, right?

The Importance of Maintaining Your BlogStill, many (if not most) Pros seem to struggle when it comes to keeping their blog updated regularly. Through market research, conversations with my business coaching clients, and just browsing vendors’ websites for fun, I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve encountered that have become a ghost town. The last post may have been three months ago, and the post before that is almost a year old. Yet the blog still sits there in a site’s navigation bar, looking sad and neglected.

This is problematic for many reasons: it implies a lack of good business sense (because if you really understood the benefits, you’d make your blog a priority), and more importantly, it demonstrates a lack of attention to detail and follow-through on your part. Not exactly the image most of us want to portray, especially in the wedding industry.

Still, I get it, believe me. Life just gets in the way sometimes. I took a big step back from my own wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, to deal with personal circumstances and it took me a year and a half to officially relaunch. And while that wasn’t ideal by any means, at that time WeddingIQ was a passion project, not an income source, and I did continue to focus on maintaining the blog for my primary business. So while I can completely relate to the reasons for not keeping up with a blog, I also understand how important a blog is as a business tool. It’s never too late to create a blogging habit.

Here are some tips to help you get back on track and start maintaining your blog again:

To begin, begin. William Wordsworth’s famous quote can apply to lots of things, blogging included. You need to set the intention to become a blogger, and then just jump in with both feet.  Remember that you’ve accepted the benefits of actively blogging, you understand the value in it, and you’ve consciously chosen to invest your time. Your motivation to reach the goals of improved SEO, vendor relationships, reputation and targeted client inquiries will keep you going even when writing feels hard.

Continue reading

» 4 Easy Ways to Fix Your Website

This 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 we head into the busy wedding season, your wedding business’ website may not be your top priority. However, every day that someone visits your current site and doesn’t take the action you want, it costs you money! Whether you’re making a new website or looking to improve the one you have, now is always the best time to make improvements.

4 Easy Ways to Fix Your WebsiteHere are four easy ways to fix your website now (the low hanging fruit):

  1. Put text calls to action in multiple places on every page. This is the simplest fix for most of the websites I review. Graphical elements may take some time, however almost all of you can make text changes yourselves or have them made easily by your webmaster. Go to every page on your site and look for the places where you tell them something about what you’re going to do for them. Follow every instance with text that tells them how to get that result. Then include a link to your email and/or your contact page and phone number. Be sure to explain why they should be contacting you to make each call to action compelling.
  1. Link the photos on your homepage to relevant pages on your site. Visitors to your website are attracted to colorful and moving objects, so use those objects to lead them to the content they want to see. Don’t just add links to the photos; make it clear where they’re linking to by putting text on the image if you can, or by editing the image to put the text right on it if you have access to photo-editing software.

Continue reading

» The Importance of Professional Photos

The Importance of Professional PhotosCreating a brand in the wedding industry can be difficult – there’s a lot to consider! Your business needs a logo, consistent messaging, pricing details and more just to create a Storefront or website. Though it’s very easy to purchase stock photos to help boost the imagery on your website, it’s a best practice to feature photos of your own work to show off your expertise!

Before you reach for that cell phone camera, though, consider getting some high-quality images. Featuring high-resolution, professional photos that showcase your business is an important way to make your Storefront and website more appealing to visitors. According to Air BnB’s own research, listings with professional photos are booked 2.5 times more frequently than those without.

Not only are photos important for couples searching for their Pros, they’re also important for real wedding submissions. Any type of wedding professional can be featured in WeddingWire publications or on Project Wedding, but we do require at least 75 high-quality images for each submission. Our Editorial team will also seek out Pros on WeddingWire whenever they need to provide examples for our consumer audience, and having a lot of professional photos on your Storefront will help your wedding business stand out.

Unless you are a photographer, we know that high-resolution photos are hard to come by for many wedding and events professionals. Here are a few steps you can take now to start collecting more professional photos of your work:

  • Make it a point to meet the photographer at each wedding or event you do. Whether you meet with the photographer beforehand or at the event, be sure to chat and exchange business cards. This will open the door to requesting photos from the event that you can use to promote your own business.
  • Keep track of the photographers you work with over time. This will make it easier to reach out after the event for photos, plus it’ll help you build relationships in your local market. You might find that you work with some photographers more than others, which can be a great opportunity for referrals.

Continue reading

» Top Ways to Maximize Your Marketing Budget

Top Ways to Maximize Your Marketing BudgetWith the end of winter in sight and the busy season right around the corner, now is the time to start preparing your business for success! You’ll want to use all your time to work on upcoming weddings and events, which means your marketing activity may fall by the wayside. Even if your calendar is full, it’s vital your marketing efforts are still driving couples to find your business.

We know that a marketing budget can quickly disappear if you’re not careful, but there are ways to maximize your existing budget to get the most out of your efforts. The best practices below will help you manage your marketing strategy without breaking the bank!

Decide on your goals

Before you start spending time or money on a specific marketing tactic or channel, decide on your business’ goals. If your marketing budget is limited, it’s extremely important to align all marketing activity with a certain goal. Do you want to book more weddings, or do you want to make more money on each wedding? Those goals are very different, so the marketing tactics and channels you should target are very different.

Evaluate your current activities

What marketing activities is your business currently engaged in? What’s working? What’s not working? Having a good understanding of the answers to these questions will help you evaluate where your needs are. Then, once you have you’ve decided on your business’ goals, you can evaluate your current activities as helping you to reach those goals. This will help you figure out which areas you’re weak in and how you can improve!

Continue reading

» The Internet: Your New “Permanent Record”

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

As valuable as the Internet is to couples planning a wedding, it’s equally invaluable to Pros in the business of selling weddings. Websites, blogs and social media have made it easy to adjust your pricing, roll out promotions and even overhaul your branding. However, keep in mind that the Internet has become a permanent record of sorts, with archive sites and mirror sites creating a history of practically everything that’s ever been published online.

The Internet: Your New “Permanent Record”That’s why it’s so important to make strategic decisions and take a long view approach when branding your business and setting your rates. Savvy clients and smart business owners tend to watch the market over time — they’re aware of what various companies are offering and how much they’re charging. And when a company constantly flip-flops on its pricing or drastically alters its entire image, people notice.

In my own market, I’ve heard lots of buzz about Pros who’ve arbitrarily doubled their rates, halved their rates, blasted people with coupons and threatened massive price increases. All of these changes, and the branding confusion that results, have been documented forever, thanks to the Internet.

Obviously, every business owner needs to make adjustments to accommodate a changing market. I’m all for making tweaks to your image, and even rebranding completely when it makes sense to do so. However, with your every business move captured online and added to your “permanent record,” it’s essential that the choices you make are carefully considered. Can you explain a huge price increase or reduction when someone’s aware of what you used to offer? (And believe me, even if your clients haven’t yet noticed, your competitors have!) If you’re rebranding, do you have a clear reason why, and are you able to account for how the “new” you is different from the old you?

If we’re all stuck with that online permanent record, let it be one that documents a series of logical, strategic growth and transformation over time.

» 4 Tips for a Better Website

4 Tips for a Better WebsiteWhen was the last time your wedding business revamped your website?

As technology continues to improve, so should your website! New techniques and trends may be available that you’re missing by not re-evaluating your website. As a wedding professional, it’s imperative that your website be up to date! Consider these 4 tips for a better website to increase traffic and retention so you can boost the amount of leads and revenue your website drives.

Add video content

Video content is not only a strong component of search engine optimization, but it is statistically proven to increase the likelihood of a customer purchasing your product. Because video content is more eye-catching, it also increases the likelihood of a customer returning to your site. Consider an engaging video of your work space, or of your unique product!

Check your loading time

Does your site load quickly? Keep in mind if your site takes too long to load, you could lose customers before they even see your product. In today’s fast-paced environment it is crucial to have a speedy site, in fact, 57% of consumers abandon a site if it does not load within 3 seconds. Try testing out your page speed from time to time to make sure everything is functioning properly.

Continue reading

» March “Fourth” and Meet Your Mobile Goals

March “Fourth” and Meet Your Mobile GoalsIt’s the calm before the storm for many wedding and event professionals; engagement season is over, and the big rush for many couples to book their Wedding Pros has died down a bit. With about 33% of weddings happening in the spring, you’re about to get really busy really soon!

Take advantage of this lull in your schedule to get in the spirit of March fourth – the only day of the year which is also a command. Use today as motivation to get organized for the busy season by checking some items off your business’ list. What’s one important step? Mobile!

Mobile marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy, but depending on your business, your goals may be different. Since your mobile strategy depends on your mobile goals, be sure to decide what you want before you begin.

March forth to meet these mobile goals for small businesses:

Meeting Customer Expectations

If you want to meet the barest of customer expectations you need to be able to be found and used on mobile. Today’s couples are always on their phones, and many people may do some wedding planning research when they have a few spare moments. They’ll be able to find you easily with WeddingWire’s new WedTeam app, but if they want more information they’ll continue on to your website. Make sure you have a mobile website so they can easily scroll through it on their smartphones, and make it easy for them to contact you with big buttons and concise copy. Our Mobile Website Creator will help your business get started and lets you have control over your mobile site’s design elements.

For more mobile website tips, check out this post!

Continue reading

» 4 Common Website Myths

Many of our Wedding Pros are small business owners with a small number of employees. These types of businesses don’t have the same budget as some of the big industry players, so they have to be more careful about how they spend their time and money. Often these Pros don’t have a website because they don’t have the time or money, or just because they think they just don’t need one.

Should your business have a website? Yes. Even if your business is small? Yes. Even if your business sells products or services that can’t be sold online? Yes!

The answer is yes – always.

4 Common Website MythsWhile your WeddingWire Storefront will provide you with search engine value and a place to upload photos and videos of your work, having a website allows you to provide searching couples with more information about your business. Having a listing on WeddingWire will get you in front of those couples, but if they don’t find the information they’re looking for on your Storefront, you don’t want to lose them just because there’s nowhere else for them to go!

In this day and age, a website is an absolute must for any business. But there are a lot of myths floating around about how expensive, complicated or time-consuming websites can be. Creating an online presence and additional source of information for potential clients can be easy and cost-effective if you know where to get started.

We’ve busted these 4 common website myths so you can know exactly how to begin!

Myth #1: I don’t have the money to create a website.

Wrong! There are many inexpensive services that will handle everything related to your website – domain, hosting, design and more – for a few dollars a month. Most website services also have tons of templates for your business to get the right look. Make sure your choice allows you to add widgets so you can use tools like our Reviews widget and Contact Us Button to easily integrate your WeddingWire Storefront on your website!

Continue reading

» Website Do’s and Don’ts

Many wedding and event professionals create and manage their own business websites to help establish themselves in the wedding industry and build brand awareness. If you’re a small business just starting out, it can be hard to determine what should be on your website, how it should look and how it should function!

Whether your website is new or just needs an update, our infographic with these top 10 website do’s and don’ts will help you put your best foot forward and book more weddings in 2014!

Website Dos and Don'ts

» 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 2014

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

As we approach the end of another year, it’s a great time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what you can do to make next year your best year ever. In my recent educational webinar, “4 C’s of an Engaging Website,” I touched on the factors of an engaging website and went through some real website examples with my suggestions. I’ve since received a lot of questions from Pros eager to learn more on the topic of websites.

Below I’ve outlined 7 things you can do to improve your website for a fantastic year. Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t mean your site is doing them well, or at all. Most will take little time and very little, if any, money.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 20141. Read the text on your site to make sure it’s up to date.

Many of us haven’t read the text on our websites since they launched. How long has it been? Read the pages out loud to make sure it sounds like you. Every person and every business has a “voice.” Make sure your website uses that same voice, as they’ll likely get to “hear” your site before they get to hear you. Do this one page at a time – you don’t have to tackle your whole site all at once. Check your tracking report (Google Analytics or whatever you use) and see which are the most visited pages. Start with those, as they’ll have the biggest impact.

2. Speak to them, about them, not about you.

While you’re reading the text on your site, make sure you’re using the words “you” and “your” more than you do words like “I,” “we,” “our,” etc. It’s not what you do that matters. It’s why what you do makes you the best solution for them.

3. Optimize the text for the people who visit first, then for the search engines.

In the latest search algorithms (geek-speak for the formula that a search engine uses to figure out which are the best results), search engines are looking for keywords and phrases with context. The days are gone where you could fool the search engines by stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. You’ll actually get penalized for doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that way. Simply write to your visitor in a conversational way. Then, go back and fill in keywords to sentences where you implied them, but didn’t say them. For example, if your DJ site says “Well make all of the announcements, introductions and coordinate the cake cutting,” you could instead say, As your wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies, well make all of the announcements, introduce you and your bridal party, and help coordinate the special wedding moments, such as your cake cutting.”

Continue reading