» 4 Tips for Better Client Communication

WedInsights

	Understanding the New Rules of Client CommunicationApproximately 80% of engaged couples use email to inquire about their products or services – that’s a huge shift from the more traditional phone calls and appointments that many pros may be used to! Because more and more client communication is taking place online, understanding the communication preferences of today’s couples is important for setting your business apart from the competition.

Response time and method can make a huge difference in whether or not you get the business, so check out thesetips to help you better manage your client communication with statistics about consumer communication preferences.

Know when to be ready to reply

Roughly 33% of all online leads are submitted on Monday and Tuesday. During the weekday, lead submission is generally the highest between 11am-4pm; however, a second peak occurs after couples are home from work between 8-10pm.

Since most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours of sending an online request for more information, it’s vital that you take note of these peak periods so you can dedicate time to reply. With those two peak periods spanning most of the work day, plan to reply to last night’s inquiries first thing in the morning and the day’s inquiries at the end of your work day. This way, you can address incoming inquiries in a timely manner without interrupting your day each time you see a new message appear.

Respond as quickly as you can

39% of professionals say they respond to an inquiry within 24 hours, meaning that the majority take longer than a day to respond due to busy schedules, appointments, and other events. In fact, 40% of couples say they haven’t heard back from a vendor within 5 days, leaving a negative first impression and giving other wedding pros the opportunity to win their business instead.

Want more insights surrounding consumer preferences for response time, method, and style? Download volume 4 of our WedInsights series.

If you’re not able to respond within 24 hours, try sending your prospective client a quick message thanking them for their interest in your business and letting them know you will respond with more information specific to their questions soon. This small effort can go a long way with clients who expect a timely response, especially if you know you won’t be at your computer for a few days.

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» 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Productivity

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

When you look back at your day and remember how busy and stressed you felt, take a second to think about what you actually accomplished. If you are able to check a number of tasks off of your to-do list, good for you! If you are realizing that you may not have spent your time so productively, it is time to make some changes in your day-to-day routine.

	5 Tips for Maximizing Your ProductivityHere are some tips on getting organized and maximizing your productivity!

1. Start the mornings off right: There’s nothing more stressful than running late and trying to grab everything you need for the day last minute, nervous that you’ll forget something. Mornings like these always put us in a frantic mood. A productive day usually begins with the previous night. Before you go to sleep, pack your bag with all of your work essentials. If you are going to be in the office all day make sure you bring snacks, lunch, and a water bottle. It can be hard to focus if your stomach is growling.

2. Plan it out: At the very beginning of the day decide what you are going to accomplish. If you have a game plan, you are more likely to stick to it and finish the work you need to get done. This is also a great way to measure your productivity at the end of the day. It is extremely satisfying to cross tasks off your list as you finish them.

3. Focus on one task at a time: While we think that multitasking is so important in the office, often times we are much more productive when we give all of our attention to one project. At the beginning of the day, read and respond to all of your emails so you can feel good about an empty mailbox, even if it’s only empty for a minute. Concentrate on what you are doing instead of becoming preoccupied with other things you have to do. By following this rule you will finish complete projects instead of jumping from task to task.

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» Wedding PR: How to Prepare for a Crisis

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Crisis: Not necessarily the first word that comes to mind when you think of the wedding industry. Sure, the buttercream could melt off of a cake on a hot summer day, and on occasion, the event itself may cancel. But for the majority, the wedding industry is a relatively low-key place to hang your hat.

Creating a plan for dealing with a potential crisisThat said, things can and will pop up. Unhappy clients or vendors could blast you on social media. You are preparing to announce a major shift in the company but word gets out before you share it.  A former employee decides to go out on their own without telling you. Photos from your portfolio are taken and used on someone else’s site. Sound familiar? I have no doubt that either you or a friend has experienced at least one of the above.

It’s all the more reason you should put a crisis plan in place – with the hopes that you never have to use it. So how do you go about preparing for the worst?

Outline the scenarios

Now is the time to ask yourself – what could actually go wrong? Carve time out of your schedule to start listing potential scenarios and revisit it every six months. Find yourself coming up short? Ask employees and trusted colleagues to chime in. Some common situations include:

  • Poor review from unhappy clients
  • Negative public backlash from a fellow vendor
  • Employees (former or current) who receive negative press as a result of something that’s not even connected to your company
  • Accusations regarding business practices from a competitor

The list goes on and on and varies depending on your offerings. This step is absolutely essential to the process because it gives focus to what you should be preparing for.

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» Objection Overruled! 4 Ways to Handle Sales Objections

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.

One of the most misunderstood parts of the sales process is objections. Those of you who are not natural salespeople hate objections; you see them as road blocks to getting the sale. I’m here to ask you to see them differently. If they tell you what they want, you give them a price, and you make the sale without them presenting any objections… you didn’t make a sale, you took an order. There was no selling involved. This is what happens in most retail stores these days: you go and pick out what you want and pay for it at the register. There may be a bit of merchandising to get you to find the items that they want you to buy, but unless someone helped you buy something other than what you came in looking for, there was no selling involved. For reference, see my top down selling webinar for ideas on how to increase your average sale.

Tips for handling sales objections in the wedding industryObjections are buying signals and opportunities

If you go through your sales pitch and give them the price, and they ask “what if…” or “but…” – that’s when the selling starts. Sales objections are buying signals and opportunities. If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t bother asking the question, or voice the objection. When they say “what if….” or “but…” they’re really saying, “I’ll be closer to buying if you answer this well.” It’s really just a mindset shift to see these as opportunities. If they weren’t interested, you never would have gotten the inquiry or the appointment. If they aren’t still interested they would either stop replying or leave the appointment.

Even price objections are buying signals. They’re signaling that if you can show them the value, or another option, they might buy. Again, if they weren’t interested at all, the sales process would just stop. But it isn’t stopping – they’re hanging in there with you. I’m not saying you need to lower your price to get the sale. I’ve done many webinars and live presentations about value, so please don’t lower your price without getting something of value back in return.

Agree when they disagree

One of the best ways to diffuse an objection is to agree with them. If you’ve tried to close the sale and they say, “We want to go home and think about it”, you can say, “Of course you do. I wouldn’t expect you to make such an important decision at our first meeting.” However, if you hear “You’ve given us so much to think about, we need to go home and process it”, and that’s why you don’t close many sales on the first appointment… that’s your fault, not theirs. Your job is to help them reduce the choices down to only the most appropriate, not confuse them with everything you offer. No one needs everything you offer, so listen first, then pitch them.

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» 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

November-Webinar_10-Creative-Ways-to-Use-Your-Reviews_TileWebinar recap!

Reviews are a key way to showcase your expertise – all from the voice of happy clients! Don’t just collect reviews, make sure you showcase them with creative ways to use your reviews.

During this month’s one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire’s Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for using your reviews to help you set your business up for success during engagement season and into next year!

Check out some highlights below, and watch the full webinar any time in the Education Center.

10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews:

  1. On your website: Add your reviews and sound bites from happy clients to your website, and not just on a testimonial page! Consider adding a testimonial on all your website pages – especially your homepage.
  2. In your marketing: Add testimonials or reviews to your marketing collateral. Reviews should be on all important materials that would reach new potential clients. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!
  3. On your packages or pricing info: Reviews and testimonials from past clients are a great addition to your pricing or packages to show the value behind your services. This will also help to justify your cost and connect with the client, so they are encouraged to book you for their wedding or event.
  4. On your business cards: Make a lasting first impression by adding a great review sound bite to your business cards. Not only will this help to make you more memorable, but will also show your value in addition to your basic business information, and is a great way to stand out from the rest of the competition!
  5. In your promo videos: Easily add a quick testimonial right from a happy client’s mouth through video. Video testimonials show a real client and capture their genuine appreciation for your services which can make a big impact.
  6. In your wedding show booth: Create materials such as postcards, signage and more to show your reviews in your wedding show booth. This will help make your business stand out from the rest by making a client to client connection. Also be sure to showcase any review related awards you have won, such as WeddingWire Rated™ or the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®.
  7. In your email communication: Consider adding a favorite review to your email signature, and definitely add a link to your WeddingWire reviews URL to your business signature. That way, interested clients can quickly click through to read your great reviews, and this will help encourage them to leave you a review post-event by showing they matter to you!
  8. On social media: Share your new reviews on social media to reach a broader audience. This is made easy through the Facebook share buttons in the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account.
  9. On your blog: Add your Review Widget to your business’ blog and website to showcase your reviews on those sites. Also consider adding the Review Us button to those sites as well to encourage past clients to review your business to continue to collect new reviews.
  10. In your photo gallery: Couples love to see photos of your work, and tend to go to that section of your website or Storefront when reviewing Pros. Make an even better impression by posting quick testimonials to those pages to not only visually showcase your work, but also share how happy it made your clients.

Ready to put your reviews to use for your business? Visit the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account to collect more reviews with the Review Collector tool, add your reviews to your website with the Review Widget, and set a customized Review URL and grab some of your best review sound bites for your marketing!

Plus, the more reviews you have on WeddingWire, the more you stand out! Earn badges through the WeddingWire Rated™ review program, which instantly recognizes how many reviews you have and boosts your badge level with each new milestone. Aim to join the 100 Review Club for Pros with over 100 wedding reviews!

» Infographic: How to Reach Industry Expert Status

Are you looking for ways to take your business to new heights and reach industry expert status? Building your reputation as an industry expert will help you stand out from the competition and increase the value of your personal brand.

This infographic shares top tips from our September webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely, and reveals the key factors for leveraging your talents to become an industry expert and gain brand awareness for your wedding business. To learn more, watch the full webinar here!

Sept_Webinar_Infographic_TakeYourBusinesstoNewHeights

Want more great education? Sign up for upcoming webinars here!

» How to Be the Experienced Wedding Pro (Without Sounding Old)

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.

I’m just back from another great conference and I had the privilege of speaking about a touchy subject… getting older. Why is it a touchy subject, after all aging is inevitable? As a matter of fact getting older beats the alternative! The reason it’s touchy is because in our industry, wedding pros, like you, get older every year, while your target market, engaged couples, stay about the same age. In my over 25 years around this industry couples have only gotten about 5 years older, while I’ve added those 25 years to my total (that’s not fair, but it’s true). I have a survey about this topic, so if you’d like to have your voice heard you can take the short survey here.

How to market your wedding experience without sounding oldSo, what’s the problem?

Actually I don’t think there is a problem, but for many wedding pros it can become an issue. At a certain point you find yourself the age of the parents of your clients, while you need to relate to the couple and understand their needs. Any of you who have children know that relating to your kids is not as easy as relating to people your own age. And therein lies the issue, or does it?

As with many other of life’s issues there are many ways to see this.  Do you need to be the age of your couples to relate to them? I don’t think so. You just need to work to understand their needs as it relates to your business and service. You also need to constantly adapt to the way they want to do business.

Technology changes all the time

One of the most fundamental ways our market has changed over the past 10 years is the advent of email. For many, if not most of you, getting a prospect on the phone is your preferred first method of contact. But we all know that doesn’t happen these days and email is, and will continue to be the way they reach out to us for the foreseeable future. It’s not up to us to try to change them, it’s up to us to adapt. A basic rule of business is to communicate with your customers using their preferred technology. If they email you, email them back. If they call you, call them back.

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» Tips for Managing Your Email Communications

Tips for managing email communicationsWhen it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. Engaged couples prefer to email vendors during the planning process, primarily because they can fit in emails between other activities or while they’re at work. Plus, many couples like to have their initial conversation via email so they can easily reference it at a later date.

If you can’t get a bride or groom on the phone, don’t worry about it! While email takes a bit longer to get all the appropriate details, the more conversations you have, the more opportunities you’ll get to set up an appointment and close the sale. Use these tips for managing your email communications to better your chances of booking your leads for each email type!

Inbound inquiry emails

Whether you receive them through WeddingWire or through your business’ website, an inbound inquiry email is an extremely strong buying signal on the part of the prospect. The prospect has already filtered through a large number of possible choices to select your business, so the sale is now yours to win! Despite the fact that most couples know you’re busy, responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. Our research shows that about 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value.

Consumers want a response from a real person and not an auto-reply that states obvious information such as, “Thank you for contacting us, we’ll respond back as soon as possible.” If you feel the need to have an auto-reply, make sure you tell them something they don’t already know or can’t find on your website. Consider being more conversational and adding only helpful, more personalized information the recipient needs to know so you still provide value.

Ongoing communication emails

Whether your client likes to email or talk on the phone, data shows it’s important to take a cue from your clients and respond in the form you received it. 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. If a prospect starts a conversation via email, continue using email to communicate until it’s necessary to take the next step.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Same-Sex Wedding Advice, Contract Mistakes, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Same-sex wedding adviceSame-sex wedding advice

A venue coordinator is about to host her first same-sex marriage and wants to make sure she doesn’t offend the two brides. Other experienced Pros offer advice for same-sex wedding etiquette and special considerations for newer traditions.

Offer your opinion >>

Handling contract mistakes

What happens when you make a mistake in your initial contract? A southern wedding planner seeks advice on a contract mistake which has resulted in an unexpected fee. Who should be responsible for paying the difference?

Weigh in >>

Working with verbal contracts

A beauty Pro expresses her frustrations regarding a client who keeps changing the services requested, but there is no written contract to enforce. How do you suggest she work with this client to find a good solution based on a verbal contract?

Share your suggestions >>

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» Cultivating Win-Win Event Relationships

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.

On the big day, engaged couples simply want one thing: a memorable event. They are counting on the professionals they’ve painstakingly researched and hired to handle everything as planned and minimize any potential bumps in the road before they cause issues.

Vendors at a wedding must work togetherHowever, brides and grooms tend to select one or two vendors at a time, often not considering the teamwork advantage of businesses working well together. Regardless of where your company lands in the planning/buying process, it’s to everyone’s advantage to guide the clients toward equally-skilled and team-oriented professionals.

Serving a couple on their wedding day requires teamwork, cooperation, and coordination, regardless of who does the hiring. It’s natural to value one’s own contributions as important; however, any professional who does his or her job without regard for other vendors at the event will undoubtedly cause conflict. All wedding professionals need to act cooperatively to be truly effective.

Below are a few common day-of conflicts Pros may encounter:

  • A busboy walking a direct path between the kitchen and guest table, unaware of the photographer’s line of sight, ruins the photo opportunity the photographer was after.
  • A photographer taking formal shots – planned for only 20 minutes but actually taking 60 minutes – delays the start of the meal. The caterer is working on a timeline for preparation and service, so now the food is cold and the chef is angry.
  • The DJ needs adjacency to the dance floor and clear space for speakers, but he arrives to find that tables are placed between the music source and the dance floor. He’ll have to play music at a lower volume to avoid making those guests closest to the speakers unhappy.

These conflicts can easily be avoided through more awareness and communication. Communicating your needs to your fellow vendors and listening to theirs in return will give you a better understanding of how the event will flow. The flow of the event and the ceremonial moments need flexibility to maintain the maximum energy; every interruption in the action resets the energy. The minimum number of stops and starts will result in a fluid and upbeat event.

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» 4 Components of a Great Social Media Post

Social media postsWe’ve written about the importance of social media for wedding businesses, detailed upcoming changes to the popular social networks, and explained how to effectively use social media, but there’s still a ton of social media strategy and tactics to cover!

In addition to posting at the right times with the right frequency, there are a few key components you should include in your posts to help your posts get noticed. Below we list the top four components of a great social media post:

Tags and mentions. Networking is important in the wedding industry, and it’s just as important online. Tagging, mentioning, or sharing posts from fellow Pros opens up the channels of communication between you and your peers, but also between you and prospective clients. A “ripple effect” is caused when you mention or share a post from another Pro – you’re now reaching their audience in addition to your own. Tagging and mentioning other professionals in the industry often leads to a friendly relationship with that business, which can lead to more online exposure for both parties.

Examples of your work. The best way to generate leads through  social media is by providing your followers with plenty of examples. Sharing a photo or two of your most recent or favorite wedding gives couples a glimpse into your work and helps them get to know you better. Sharing experiences and work from real weddings also gives prospective clients an idea of your style, so they can determine if it matches their wants and needs. WeddingWire also has a real weddings website where couples and wedding professionals alike can submit weddings to be published on the site.

Professional voice. If you wonder what “voice” means in terms of social media, you’re not alone! Just as it is in blogging, your voice on social media is the tone and feel of the posts. This voice should be consistent across all your social networks, and it should reflect your business’ professionalism. Posting in text/email speak isn’t a good idea, and it’s best to find other ways to shorten your posts without abbreviating words or phrases. We get it – staying under 140 characters can be hard, but abbreviations often come across as juvenile and unprofessional. For example, “Brides love our hairstylists and you’ll love the way you look on your wedding day!” looks much better than “Brides luv our hairstylists & you’ll love the way you look on ur wedding day!”

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» Points of Pride: Happenings and Happiness

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had ‘come out’ and attended my first Pride celebration in Philadelphia. It also doesn’t seem that long ago that my wife and I exchanged vows for the first time, because doing so felt right for our relationship even though we had no access to legal rights at the time. Ultimately, though, it’s been almost a quarter century of celebrating Pride months and I’m thrilled to celebrate once again with the help of WeddingWire.

Wed We Can Vow Renewal

Celebrate with us at Capital Pride DC to kick off Pride Month

On Saturday, June 13, WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com will kick off the celebration of Pride month at Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. We are starting the day with an exciting Vow Renewal Celebration at The Embassy Row Hotel from 10am-12pm. We’re thrilled to celebrate a re-commitment to love at the event and have some wonderful sponsors on board to help! Then, at 3pm we are meeting at the Capital Pride staging area to march together in the parade (and rock a free t-shirt!). Would you like to join us at the Vow Renewal celebration and march with us afterwards in the annual Pride parade? Register today to save your spot!

New Badges We’ve Made For You

I often receive the question: how can I show that my business welcomes same-sex couples? Listen to one of our WeddingWireEDU webinars for more specific tips, like updating your GayWeddings.com profile image or consider adding this new badge to your website or blog. In addition to being able to show that you are a member of the GayWeddings.com family, you’ll also be able to showcase your listing via the badge link. Learn more about our new badge program and embed yours today!

Questions I’m Happy To Answer

On May 19, more than 2,600 of you enjoyed access to a webinar called “The Same-Sex Marriage Evolution: From Niche to Modern Market.” We reviewed some background on the legal landscape of the marriage equality movement and how considerations of the emerging LGBTQ wedding market has changed over the years. I also took questions from registrants leading up to the webinar so that I could share answers to the questions YOU are asking.

Even with 30 minutes of extended discussion time, we ran out of time to cover all of the questions asked and promised you some bonus content. The first includes the videos and links we referenced in the webinar and published earlier this month. The second bit of bonus content, found here, includes very brief answers to the following questions I didn’t have time to address.

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