» Infographic: Building Your Reputation Through Wedding Industry Relationships

A strong reputation is one of the best marketing tools you can have as a wedding professional – so don’t be afraid to network locally with potential clients and build relationships with other wedding pros! By reaching out to your peers, you can create professional connections that can lead to more referrals which means more leads. It’s important to get involved in your community to spread your name and your business skills in order to develop a powerful reputation.

Check out our latest infographic, which provides important highlights from our recent webinar all about building your reputation through wedding industry relationships, hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon.

June_Webinar_Infographic

To learn more, watch the full webinar available any time to all Premium members. And check out the latest industry data and reports available at WedInsights.com!

» 6 Ways Photographers Can Make Wedding Vendors Happy

Pro to Pro Insights

Christopher Lin, Lin & Jirsa PhotographyThis post was written by Christopher Lin. Chris is the co-founder of Lin and Jirsa, an award-winning Los Angeles wedding photography and cinematography studio founded in 2006. Chris has used his marketing, SEO and business expertise to help build Lin and Jirsa into a company that shoots over 300 weddings annually serviced by over 30 talented creatives. Along the way, Chris and his two business partners also created SLR Lounge, where an international team of writers and photographers share their education with the community.

Having consistent referrals from wedding planners, florists, DJs, videographers, makeup artists, and other wedding vendors can make a huge impact on your photography business. In fact, it’s not uncommon to encounter photographers that rely solely on the referrals from two to three wedding planners for most of their bookings.

How do these photographers establish such a strong, beneficial relationship? It starts by making all the professionals involved in the wedding happy; and here are 6 ways that wedding photographers can do just that:

1. Provide Images Immediately. Preempt the other professionals asking for images by sending them out to them as soon as they are ready. At Lin and Jirsa, we have our blogger personally call each one to let them know that the images are on the way. The feedback from this method has been overwhelmingly positive, since the other pros can better plan their blog posts, real wedding submissions, and more.

Lin & Jirsa Photography

Lin & Jirsa provides watermarked images to all vendors as soon as they are ready within one month of the wedding.

2. Give Social Media and Blog Credit. When we first started out 8 years ago, we didn’t think much of giving credit to the vendors involved when posting to social media or our blog. It takes a lot of work hunting down every vendor, and we were very understaffed at the time. However, since we’ve started taking the time to find each vendor and mention them on our blog and social media, our shares have increased as well as our referrals. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of each vendor’s Facebook URL, Instagram handle, Twitter handle, and email address – it will come in handy! As a photographer, you may have done an excellent job capturing the details of the wedding, but these other vendors made that possible with their artistry and hard work. A shout out goes a very long way, and a failure to mention someone can even be seen as a sign of disrespect. Continue reading

» The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral List

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.

Many wedding venues maintain their own referral lists of preferred vendors, and getting on those lists can feel like finding the proverbial “golden ticket” when it comes to more inquiries and more sales. As a bonus, when a venue you love is sending business your way, you get the pleasure of returning again and again – you know the layout, the load-in procedures and the staff, and that makes your job that much easier.

The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral ListSo what’s the secret to getting on a venue’s referral list? Here are some secrets that have worked for my business, and should work for yours, too:

Start where you already have a foothold. Take a look at your calendar – which venues have you worked at recently, and where are your weddings taking place over the next few months? Those venues are a great starting point, because you’ve either had or are about to have the opportunity to do your very best work and make a great impression. It’s always easier to approach a venue contact about referrals if you’ve just done a great job at that site.

If you are flying blind, choose venues for which you’re well-suited. Consider your branding (is it classic, modern, edgy, sophisticated, whimsical, something else?) as well as your target client – do these align with the branding and target client of the venue you’re soliciting? Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but using my own segment of the industry as an example, I wouldn’t expect a five-star historic hotel to be too excited to refer a DJ whose website blared loud party music upon loading, or whose DJs wore glittery bow ties to every event. By focusing your efforts on venues for which you’re a good match, you’ll increase your chances of earning their referrals.

Be respectful of the venue, always. This is so important, and something on which I train my entire team. Virtually every venue has rules – some stricter than others – and you need to follow them if you want the contact person to refer you. When you work an event, make sure you’re loading in where you’re supposed to,  you’re not causing damage to the venue by placing tape on delicate surfaces, you’re no standing on furniture and – by all means – you’re not rude to the staff. Continue reading

» The Art of Acknowledgement

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.

Growing up, there were several occasions that my parents required that I send thank you notes – birthday parties, graduation parties, and so on. Today, it’s still good advice; it’s just more complicated. How we give and how we receive gratitude is a tricky, but it’s an important element of personal and company interaction. It says volumes to others about the soul of you and your company.

Below I share some of my best suggestions for both thanking others and accepting thanks in return!

The Art of AcknowledgementAccepting Praise

During the course of an event, most wedding professionals will respond to verbal appreciation with something like, “No problem,” “It’s no big deal,” or “Just doing my job.” I know what you mean by those responses, but as the customer, hearing responses like that can seem dismissive, somewhat clueless, and disconnected. It makes one walk away, shaking your head as to why the appreciation didn’t register.

Don’t underestimate the power of acknowledging that appreciation! Simple responses like, “You’re welcome,” or “It’s my pleasure” can go a long way towards connecting with that customer. Accepting a compliment with a warmer response shows that you are appreciative for their business.

Unexpected Appreciation

You can also put a smile on someone’s face before you work with them to set a warm tone for the upcoming event. I suggest day-of wedding professionals send handwritten notes to the venue representative and the wedding couple. A simple note lets the couple know that you’re looking forward to working with them and will set you apart from all other wedding professionals. Whether your business is present at the wedding or reception, just know this communication, unrelated to logistics, final payment or anything else, is a ray of sunshine.

Continue reading

» Top Word of Mouth Strategies to Get More Referrals

Top Word of Mouth Strategies to Get More ReferralsWhether they advertise their wedding business on one site or dozens, many wedding professionals still believe that a lot of their local business comes from word of mouth – and for good reason! Having happy customers who refer you to their friends and family is a great way to get more business, and it’s not going anywhere in the near future. Even as online presence becomes more and more important, word of mouth marketing should not be overlooked.

Although word of mouth may seem like a more casual form of marketing, it’s not accidental! You can create a deliberate, planned strategy to build an army of fans and leverage them to help you attract more engaged couples. Below are some top word of mouth strategies to get you started!

Know when to ask

The most important part of any word of mouth strategy is to ask at the right time. The best time to ask for a consumer referral is after you’ve completed your work for their wedding or event – right when they couldn’t be happier with the way it all turned out. Ask at the event (if the moment is right and you have the opportunity), include it in your review request emails, or put reminders on your website and even on your receipts and invoices. Remind them to tell their friends about your business if they know anyone recently engaged, and let them know you would really appreciate the help. Happy customers are typically more than willing to pass your business name along to others if you truly exceeded their expectations. All you have to do is ask!

Offer something in return

If you’re really trying to grow through word of mouth strategies, consider offering something in return for those customers who provide a referral. This takes a little more work on your end – you’ll need to be sure you can track referrals in order to provide incentives – but the prospect of receiving a benefit can help activate happy clients who need a little push to help you out. Offer a special discount code if the event hasn’t yet occurred, or throw in a free or discounted product if you can. If your business does repeat business (florists, bakers, photographers, DJs), offer a free or discounted product for the future. These sorts of perks will make clients more likely to tell their friends about your business.

Continue reading

» 5 Easy Ways to Get More Referrals

Referrals are key to making your wedding and event business thrive! Reviews on top industry sites, exposure on leading social media sites, personal word of mouth recommendations, referrals from other industry Pros, (and more!), are all great ways to gain powerful business exposure and build trust with potential new clients.

Referrals are one of the most powerful tools available for  growing your business, yet many Pros are hesitant to actively ask for them! Don’t miss out great new clients. We have compiled 5 simple tips you can start with today to get more business!

  • Set expectations: Early in the client process, let your client know that feedback, reviews and referrals are very important to you. Explain this feedback helps you better your business, and gain new clients. Indicate that you appreciate and value all clients feedback, and that you will be following up to ask for it after their event. Having this conversation during the planning process will let them know it is important to you, and they will be more likely to act on your request and expect that it is coming!
  • Ask for feedback: It’s time to act! Request reviews as part of your standard post-event follow up routine. The WeddingWire Review Collector tool makes it super easy to import your clients, and pre-schedule request emails. If you are not sure you want the client to submit a review, still follow up and ask for feedback and if they would recommend you to another engaged couple. They will appreciate that you care to check in on how you did, and all feedback can be valuable as you build your business. You may even remind them they have another friend to refer you to with the polite nudge!
  • Consider an incentive: If you really want to encourage past clients to refer your business consider offering some sort of an incentive. Offer a discount on another service, or a fun freebie related to their event or your business.
  • Say thank you: Always, always say thank you for your reviews and referrals! Let the referrer know that you appreciate their feedback, and be sure to acknowledge their support for your business. They took the time to write you a recommendation or share your information with a contact, so it is important you show the same respect and address their referral to maintain the positive relationship. It could lead to many more in the future!
  • Network: In the wedding and event industry, networking is key! Many Pros are asked who they recommend in the local area for a wide variety of service categories, so making connections with other professionals is very important and an easy way to book more business. Join local organizations, national Associations in your service category, attend local networking events, and always take the time to introduce yourself to other vendors working the events you book. Not a comfortable networker? Check out our tips!

Get started with these 5 easy tips, and start building your business to the next level with more clients, more booked events and more inquiries today!

» Be a Super Networker this Year!

The start of a new year is the time to set personal and business resolutions. Networking is an important and powerful element of the wedding industry, so consider making the commitment to being a better, more effective networker in 2013!

Photo credit: Andrew Jordan Photography

We know that attending networking events, reaching out to people you only met once, or making the introduction to a new contact can seem challenging at times. To help make your resolution a reality, check out Entrepreneur Magazine’s 7 Key Habits of Successful Networkers, highlighted below.

  • Ask insightful questions: Anticipate who will attend the networking events and opportunities you are participating in beforehand to gather an idea of who you may meet and any potential connects to explore. Social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to learn a bit about individuals and companies so you will have the opportunity for an insightful conversation.
  • Add value: When you meet a new person that you would like to develop a connection with, look for ways that you can work together, and how you can help them. Take action by making an introduction of a contact to an engaged couple looking for a Wedding Pro in their service category. This is a great way to show a Pro that you value their business and work (and they will likely return the favor!).
  • Learn their ‘story’: Find out how they got in the wedding and event industry, and how they got to the business and more about the position they have today. Not only do people love to share their passion, but this is an easy ice-breaker as people enjoy sharing their story, and will likely lead to common connections and new topics of conversation about the industry.
  • Share a memorable fact: Make a lasting impression! When you meet a new contact and they ask you what you do, mention an interesting reason why you got in the business, a favorite business memory, or even a networking tip. This way, when they reflect on the people they meet and the business cards collected, they will remember meeting you over all the other connections made.
  • Keep a list: Make it a routine that after you network, you make a note of your new connections. Immediately add them to your contacts and draft a follow up email (to be sent in a day or two) expressing that it was great to meet them that evening, and personalizing it with a memorable topic shared in your conversation. Adding notes to business cards or your contact list about when you met, what was discussed, or any item to follow up on makes it easy to place your new contacts when you get in touch, or pick up on your conversation where you left off!
  • Make small promises and keep them: After meeting a contact you would like to get to know better, let them know you will be in touch and follow through! Whether it’s sending an email, making a social media connection, giving them a phone call or meeting for a coffee date, but sure to follow up in a timely manner to maintain your new connection and work to develop your professional relationship.
  • Reward your ‘power’ contacts: It’s a good idea to keep a list of your top networking partners for the year, and keep in touch with them. Finally meet the new events director at the venue you have always wanted to do an event at? Make a connection with a successful vendor in your service category from another city and want to get to know them and what works for their business better? Add them to your list and check in a few times over the year to touch base and maintain a professional relationship, which could help you develop your business!

Follow these top tips and you will be a super networker in 2013!

» Get More Referrals

In the wedding industry networking and referrals are an important part of your business. Follow the tips below to help ensure your past clients refer you to their friends and family.

Meet Up. Take the time to meet with your clients one-on-one. This will help you form a stronger bond and build your relationship so they are more likely to feel a connection and refer you to their network.

Say Thanks. Don’t forget to say thank you after the wedding! Whether its with a card or a small gift, make sure you do something and wish the newlyweds well in their new life together.

Check In. Keep your relationship strong for years to come by checking in on anniversaries. Use this time to wish them well, while reminding past clients of what a great job you did for them and could do for others!

Share the Love. If you are booked on a certain date, keep a list of other Wedding Pros you know will take care of the client you can refer them to. Usually they will return the favor – expanding your reach and exposure!

Endorse Others. Use WeddingWire to endorse other Wedding Pros you know. It’s simple – just log into your account and search for their business. The majority of the time, the other Wedding Pro will be sure to vouch for your business as well.

What has been the best way for your to receive referrals in the past? Leave a comment below to let us know!


» Get More Online Referrals

How do you generate new business? This is very good question to ask yourself.  Through surveys and discussions, we have found that a significant amount of vendors in the industry rely on referrals from their happy customers (“word of mouth”) and networking groups for business growth.  Relying solely on these two ways of generating new business can make it very challenging for vendors to sometimes predict and control business growth.  This is where the internet can play in.

I found a good post that highlights some key things to consider when looking to use the internet to get more referrals.  Here is a quick summary:

  • Great product and service = happy customer. Word spreads fast online so having happy and satisfied customers will help your business (subscribing to your blog, connecting with you on LinkedIn, following you on Twitter, etc.). On the other hand, unhappy customers can easily cause harm to your online reputation. So make sure to maintain a high level of your product and service!
  • Be committed! Your clients have to be willing to refer you, so you have to be committed to making sure they see success and are please with your product and service. To do this, you have to know your client and develop a level of understanding and trust. Look for ways to always maintain and improve this relationship to make sure expectations are being met.
  • Give good reason. Find ways to connect with your clients online by engaging in inbound marketing – create good, educational content on your website (that is easy to understand), blog about yourself and your business, engage in social interaction with your clients (via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.). All of these ways will help you connect with your clients and in return give them a good reason to refer you.

So I turn the question over to you, how do you generate more business?  Share in the comments section!