» 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!

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» Your Playbook for Business Success in 2014

Webinar Recap!

This month, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly presented our monthly educational webinar for premium members, Your Playbook for Success – Top Business Resolutions for 2014! In this one-hour session, Sonny shared the top 10 categories that are important to consider for your business’ success, and some key resolutions or strategies associated with each that will work to improve your business this year.Your-Playbook-for-Success_2014_End-Overview

Listed below are high-level business resolutions based on the top 10 categories for business success!

  • Brand: Your business brand matters! What does your brand currently say about you? Invest time and energy in building your brand equity and creating more value and awareness surrounding your services.
  • Website: Metrics are important. Commit to tracking your analytics this year by measuring, analyzing and improving your traffic and engagement across your website. Google Analytics is a free and user-friendly resource!
  • SEO: We know that Search Engine Optimization can seem daunting, but all you need is a little L.U.C.K! Be on your way to being an SEO pro by remembering the keys to success when optimizing your site and blog – Linking Strategy, URL structure, Content Optimization and Keyword Focus.
  • Social media: Take the time to create a social media strategy this year. Focus on a few key social media sites to really engage with, and dedicate a bit of time to developing content, growing your audience and improving interaction to reach more new target audiences. We recommend establishing a presence on Facebook and 2-3 other popular sites (such as Pinterest, Twitter, Google + or Instagram) to build your brand and gain some added exposure.
  • Video: Video will become increasingly popular and an important marketing tool this year. Get started by creating a YouTube account for your business, and also easily create professional video in minutes with the Video Builder to showcase your services in an engaging and fun way. Continue reading

» 10 Ways to Get More Reviews

Building a strong reputation is a crucial element to success in the fast-paced and competitive wedding and events industry. Reviews, ratings and referrals all play an important role in developing a strong online relationship, but we know collecting this feedback can sometimes seem daunting. Learn how to effectively collect reviews in this infographic!

10 Ways to Get More Reviews

Love the infographic? Share it! Also, find more great images and inforgraphics for your business in WeddingWireEDU’s Pinterest account!

» Collect Reviews to Stand Out for Engagement Season!

Collect Reviews to Stand Out for Engagement Season!On your website and WeddingWire Storefront you have a ton of space to describe how excellent you are at what you do, but what others have to say about you is becoming more and more important for engaged couples. Today, 95% of engaged couples use online reviews to select their vendors, meaning that it’s more important than ever to pay attention to what your customers are saying!

Reviews, ratings and referrals all play an important role in your ability to get more business. A client sharing his or her positive feedback with other couples searching for their wedding professionals online is very valuable for your online reputation, and so you should make collecting reviews a high priority.

Check out some of the reasons why reviews are important:

  • Create consumer trust with reviews. Consumers are typically less trustful of messages coming directly from a business than they are of messages from peers – 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations! Build trust with your potential customers by showcasing the great things others have to say about you.
  • Show off consistency in work with more reviews. Seeing that other couples are all saying the same good things about you helps other couples to know what they’re getting into by hiring you! They’ll be more likely to choose you over a company with mixed or negative reviews.
  • Increase your number of inquiries with reviews. The more great reviews you have, the more likely you are to be chosen by engaged couples. In fact, average Storefront traffic increases 106% for wedding professionals with 11-20 reviews!
  • Make purchase decisions easier for engaged couples by giving them all the information they need in one place. Engaged couples already using WeddingWire can search for your business and find examples of your work, an explanation of your services, your contact information and your reviews all in one place! This makes it easier for them to make decisions since they don’t have to search multiple sites to find out about you.
  • Easily monitor and manage your online reputation. You’ll be notified every time you receive a review, so it’s easy to monitor what everyone is saying. Remember to thank all your reviewers for taking the time to share their opinions! Even if you receive a less-than-positive review, leaving a constructive and friendly reply will show others that you stand behind your service!

Why should you start collecting reviews right now? Continue reading

» Best Practices to Stand Out with Reviews

Webinar Recap!

Best Practices to Stand Out with ReviewsYesterday, we held our monthly educational webinar, focused on showcasing your business expertise through reviews! WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, along with several WeddingWire Pros who have collected over 100 Reviews, detailed their top tips and strategies to build a strong reputation.

In the fast-paced and competitive wedding and events industry, reviews, ratings and referrals all play an important role in your ability to get more business. Today, 95% of engaged couples use online reviews to select their vendors. It’s more important than ever to pay attention to what your customers are saying, see the value in sharing their feedback with other couples searching for their wedding professionals online, and actively work to build up your reviews.

Below are some of the most interesting takeaways from this month’s webinar:

  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Collecting feedback about your business should be part of your sales cycle
  • Feedback can come in the form of reviews, endorsements, testimonials, and social sharing
  • The magic number of reviews for consumers is 11 or more
  • Average traffic increases 106% for wedding pros with 11-20 reviews
  • Consumers look at the quality, quantity, recency, and consistency of your reviews
  • The biggest obstacle to receiving reviews is not asking!

Finally, remember should you receive a less than perfect review (which is bound to happen from time to time for all Pros), keep your cool, take the high road and be polite – other couples will see your reaction!

Ready for more education or want to watch this webinar in its entirety? All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for premium Pros, and stay tuned for information on next month’s webinar!

» Tips on How to Save & When to Spend Money

Running a small business is a very stressful, expensive process and unfortunately, no one (to date!) has been successful at finding the money-growing tree. Identifying the balance of ways to save money and when to spend it is an important task for any small business, whether you’ve been open for 10 months or 10 years. All of the points outlined below are meant to simplify your business; utilize the points as they apply to your company and business plan!

1. Go Green – Go Paperless

You’ve always been told to keep detailed and accurate records but there are many ways to go paperless while maintaining comprehensive files. Saving money by cutting the reams of paper you buy is just one way to save. Sorting and managing all of your files takes up time and manpower when your employees’ time is best spent completing role-specific tasks. Utilizing online file sharing such as Google Docs and Dropbox will save time and money! Additionally, the WeddingWire Clients tab makes it easy to manage your clients, payments and store and share important documents – all in one easy to manage place!

2. Utilize Free Resources

Resources such as Microsoft Office and Quickbooks are software packages that many businesses take advantage of to create, organize and prepare content, orders and invoices. Google Apps Marketplace is another useful site to search for online tools that are easy to use and free or low cost. Programs like these allow a business owner to complete all necessary tasks just as they would with tools like Microsoft Office Suite but with a lower cost option.

3. It’s OK to Be a Guinea Pig

When choosing computer programs, it is always more comforting to know that you are investing and using products that have run the gamut of testing and are tried and true. That being said, a sensible option for saving money on what is typically very expensive software are Beta products. These releases are “not-quite-there products” but in most cases, the products are very refined. Because these tools aren’t yet released to the public, you can receive the Beta software for free while the creators apply the finishing touches before release; therefore, saving some green. If you are a flexible company, with patience to roll with the punches, this is a good option for you. However, because these products may still have some unfound glitches, if you don’t have the time for the unknown, stick with certified, publicly-distributed releases.

4. When to Spend

While it is important to mind your dollars and cents as you are launching and building your business, there are a few ‘splurges’ that financially-cautious companies should make.

  • First impressions are everything. Don’t skimp on a basic site building program; invest the budget necessary to create a website that effectively portrays your company’s brand and vision. Search Engine Optimization is also a worthwhile expense to invest in while building your site.
  • These days, it is essential to make sure your business is mobile. With the ever-changing access to technology, your customers are always on the go; therefore, you should be, too. Not only should you be accessible to your clients, but you should have access to your files, documents, important contacts, etc. While in a client meeting, being able to quickly show examples of your work could make the difference in a new deal. We make it easy with the WeddingWire Mobile Website Creator!

Read this full article and more great insights for your business in our Education Center!

» Reviews 101 – Showcase Your Feedback

In addition to the great ways to collect reviews in  Reviews 101 – Getting Started, you can add our Review Us button to your website! Adding the button to your website will lead potentail clients checking out your site straight to your reviews page on WeddingWire, and show off your great feedback from past clients! Ready to add the button? You can find this button in the Reviews section of the Home tab under “Get More Reviews.” This button can be customized to match your website, as shown below.

As you’re working to build your reviews, it’s important to monitor your online reputation. Double check your Email Settings to make sure that the Reviews notification is turned on. To do this, once logged into your account, click your name at the top of the screen, then go to “Employees”. Click on “manage” next to your name and check the box in Email Settings next to “Send an email notification when… You receive a new review from a past client.”

“Okay, I am working to get more reviews. What now?”

As you’re working to build your reviews, it’s important to monitor your online reputation. Double check your Email Settings to make sure that the Reviews notification is turned on. To do this, once logged into your account, click your name at the top of the screen, then go to “Employees.” Click “manage” next to your name, and check the box in Email Settings next to “Send an email notification when… You receive a new review from a past client.” This will ensure you are notified of any and all new reviews as soon as they are submitted.

Once you have reviews on your listing, there are a couple of different actions that you can take, should you choose: highlight a review, respond to a review, dispute a review, or share to a social network, shown in the image below.

Highlighting a review will put that review on your Storefront. Select this option for your best reviews that reflect your business in a positive light, and that would make an impact on potential clients checking out your business. To do so, visit the Home tab in your account, and select “Storefront.” Then, sort through your list of reviews and click “highlight this review” on the top reviews you would like showcased. A great review often leads to an Inquiry!

Remember, you can respond to any review that you receive! In the same screen shown above, you can select to respond to a review. We recommend responding to some top positive reviews that couples leave you to show your appreciation for their kind words and show that you value their time spent reviewing your business. Responding to reviews also shows other engaged couples who are looking at your listing, or who have yet to review you, that you really do value the experiences of your couples. If you are comfortable, you can also respond to a less than perfect review to acknowledge their feedback and professionally explain any misunderstanding. Remember, not all reviews can always be perfect 5.0’s, so don’t get discouraged by positive, but not perfect, ratings.

Your business also always has the option to dispute a review. Once you dispute a review, our Review Dispute Team will contact the couple who wrote the review to verify it, and will follow up with your business on next steps. Check out the guidelines if you have questions about the process.

Finally, show off your recent review on your social networks! Select the “share to a social network” and pass along a per-populated message about your new review on your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.

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» Reviews 101 – Getting Started

Here at WeddingWire, we believe that it is important for Pros to have many reviews to showcase your work through the eyes of clients! Engaged couples browsing our vendor catalogs are more likely to click into a listing with 10 reviews than a vendor with 1 review. Consider when you are shopping online at a site such as Amazon. Do you purchase from a seller with only one review (even if it is a perfect score), or do you go for the more consistent seller with a very strong but not perfect rating, but over 20 reviews? The large majority go with more reviews, which indicates consistency.

We know that reviews can be a pain point for some Pros. Sometimes, no matter how amazing your services were, it can be impossible to please a couple which can result in a not-so-great review, or you may feel uncomfortable making the request. We encourage Pros to request reviews from all clients, to grow a strong, consistent database of valuable client feedback. Having many reviews also helps to deflect from the one review that may not have been as positive as you would like. WeddingWire provides you with tools to make requesting and tracking your reviews easy.

How do I get reviews?

Make sure that you’re discussing reviews early in the planning process with your couples. If you mention that you’re going to be asking for a review from the couple early in your relationship, then when you actually request the review it will simply serve as a reminder for them. Keep in mind: couples do not have to make accounts on WeddingWire to write you a review. They simply have to provide us with an email address and password in case they want to edit their review or if we need to contact them regarding the validity of their review.

The easiest way to request reviews from past clients is to use our Review Collector Tool, located in premium member’s Home tab under “Reviews.” In this tab, we provide easy ways to upload your clients contact information, an email template that can be personalized, and a tracking tool to see if the request was received and added.

With these helpful tips and tools, requesting reviews from previous clients is easy! Check out Reviews 101 part two – Showcasing Your Reviews!

» 5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation: Part 3

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire. You can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

 

As the final installment in the “5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation” series, we will focus on how to turn negatives into positives! Also, be sure to review  Part 1 featuring the importance of knowing what your audience is saying about you and your business, and Part 2, focused on the importance of collecting feedback and how to gather effective reviews.

Turn Negatives into Positives – Unfortunately, sometimes we all get negative feedback. Don’t let the fear of a negative review, post or comment hold your business back! The biggest key to handling negative feedback is to take emotion out of the equation. You want to make sure you stick to the facts, but at the same time be understanding of someone else’s point of view. Try to stay positive and take the high road with any negative comments. By responding in a sincere and understanding manner, others will see and respect your professionalism. Additionally, we have found a few outlier reviews that are less than perfect can help actually enhance your overall credibility and drive more client interest. After all, no one is perfect all the time! Today’s consumers simply want to make informed decisions for their big day.

Engaged couples have a plethora of choices when it comes to planning their wedding. Make sure to stand out from the competition by building a great online reputation full of great reviews, testimonials, social mentions and endorsements.

What are you waiting for? Take credit for a wedding well done and request reviews today!

» 5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation: Part 1

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire. You can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

 

In today’s digital world, it is critical to develop and manage your online reputation. A businesses reputation can be found across many online platforms, including search results, wedding and event sites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube…the list goes on and on! We all know that people love to talk and post online, especially when it comes to their big day. You want to know what people are saying about you and your business.  Most importantly, you want to get credit for a job well done!

One of the most effective and easy ways to build a powerful reputation for your business is through gathering great reviews! Client ratings and feedback offer a unique window into your business practices, while providing insight into your track record and quality of work. We know reviews can sometimes seem scary, but all reviews—even the less positive ones—can generate buzz about your business and create new client interest. That is why at WeddingWire, one of our top recommendations for closing more sales is to build a strong set of reviews! Engaged couples want to make informed decisions and often turn to previous client feedback. Therefore, strong online reviews make it simple to convert a potential client from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘booking.’

While it can seem overwhelming to take control of your reputation in the online world, we have compiled five key steps will help you build a great online reputation. Review the first two steps below, and check back soon for the final steps!

Know What They’re Saying – It is extremely important for you to know what is being said online about your business and even your competitors. Staying on top of the conversation gives you insight, feedback and knowledge to grow and improve your business.

Pro Tips:

  • Be active on social media sites and monitor your mentions with tools like HootSuite
  • View public posts about your business on Facebook by using the search filters
  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, business name, competitors and industry terms so the latest articles or mentions will come right to your email inbox

Make it a Business Process – Be sure to make feedback an important part of your business process from the start of any new client relationship by mentioning the value of feedback for your business. Clients will know that you care about their event’s success from the beginning, and will be more likely to leave a review after their wedding.  The same way you have a specific time when you send a contract or request a deposit, make sure to have a set time to ask each client for a review post-event. It never hurts to ask!

Pro Tips:

  • Include reviews in your marketing materials and email signature
  • Make it easy to share a review by providing your clients with a simple link
  • Make sure to drop hints early, but be sensitive to when you ask for the review (i.e. don’t ask during the honeymoon!)

» Build Your Reputation: One Review at a Time

Yesterday, WeddingWire Education Expert, Alan Berg,  joined Wedding Wire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, to present ‘Build Your Online Reputation: One Review at a Time’ as part of our monthly webinar series.

Each one hour webinar for upgraded WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry trends and give you the tools you need to grow your business. This month’s webinar focused on:

  • The elements that create your online reputation from social media to your business website
  • The impact of reviews for building your business and developing your brand
  • How to effectively request reviews and professional endorsements using the Review Collector Tool
  • The positive side of negative reviews!

All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for upgraded Pros. Learn more about and register for our next webinar in September, Get Social: Whether You #Like It or Not!

» Avoiding Review Woes!

Generating reviews is a very valuable small business tool for gaining word of mouth notoriety by sharing personal accounts for the quality of your work and raising awareness for your local business. Also, reviews serve as a helpful tool to the public, and allow for the best business matches to be made for clients and vendors.

We understand that this platform can be seen as an open tool, which can sometimes draw in less than perfect reviews and individual’s unique perceptions of situations.

In addition to WeddingWire’s protection for the validity of claims, there are several key ways to manage your review sites, and work to build a strong, well-balanced review portfolio—ultimately leading to more storefront activity and exposure to potential clients!

Keep up-to-date with your reviews. The best way to stay on top of your reviews is to be aware of all the comments that are being associated with your business. Regularly log in to your WeddingWire account, and be sure to review your recent activities. If you have any reviews from clients that you never had a contract with, flag the review for our team to follow up. Don’t stress if you receive a less than perfect review, not all reviews can always be perfect! Having a large amount of reviews typically generates better activity for your account, and engaged couples appreciate reading a variety of responses and experiences. Also, reviews are great feedback tools for your business.  If you have consistent compliments or complaints about one aspect of your business, you can identify areas of particular strength that resonate with your clients, or areas of  improvement that can help improve your business.

Review your options. When you come upon a negative review, take a moment to consider what is really prompting it. Weigh each complaint equally and look for an opportunity to resolve the issue.

Decide your response. Decide if you would like to respond to the reviewee, and the best way to address them. Clients like to feel that their questions and feedback is vindicated, so if appropriate you can acknowledge their feedback. If you would like to resolve any issue, it is best to take the conversation off line, and follow up via phone or email. If you did not do business with the client, flag the review to the WeddingWire team, and we will work to resolve the issue, and  will consequently remove any invalid reviews.

Generate more reviews. The best way to improve your rating (and combat those negative reviews) is to get more reviews. Reach out to previous clients, and let them know you would really appreciate their feedback. After account log in, visit your My Reviews tab, and you can quickly send out emails to your clients to request their reviews.

For more information on how to get WeddingWire reviews, read here!