» How to Build an Organizational Plan for Your Business

Small businesses owners often dedicate the majority of their time to managing their business and making their clients happy. In many cases, they get wrapped up in their day-to-day work and forget about themselves. After all, didn’t you go into business for you?

We explored time management and productivity techniques with Vanessa Joy of Vanessa Joy Photography in our recent Premium webinar. Vanessa shared tips for helping you run your business rather than letting it run you.

The workflow exercise below is all about finding what really matters to you and taking action to work towards your definition of success. Whether you want to create more free time to spend with your family, build a bigger client base, allow more flexibility for travel, or whatever else it may be, this organizational plan will help move you towards your goal.

“Parts of a Whole” Exercise

  1. Before anything else, you must define what success means to you in your small business. It’s probably something you thought about a lot at the beginning of your journey, so it’s a great place to start. Ask yourself why you went into this business and write a few of those things down. Are these still the things that equate to success in your mind? If not, do a bit of editing and come up with a full list of how you determine the success of your business today.
  2. Now that you’re refreshed on your why and what success means to you, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a line down the middle to make two columns. On the left side write down the following things: anything you dislike doing for your business, the things you aren’t good at, the tasks that slow you down, any menial ($10 an hour) tasks, the processes you know are broken, and anything you do that you know your clients don’t notice.
  3. On the right side write down all of the things you love doing for your business, everything that defines your brand, and the things your clients do notice (for this, look to your reviews, emails from couples, etc).

Putting Your Plan in Action

And just like that you’ve outlined the priorities for your business! Everything written in the left column should be thoroughly assessed and prioritized. Set aside some time and create a potential plan of action to remove these tasks from your workflow completely. When assessing these tasks, it’s hard to visualize putting them in someone else’s hands. So, ask yourself if keeping them under your control moves you toward your definition of success. If not, it’s time to find an alternative whether that’s outsourcing, automating or hiring an intern.

For everything in the right column, these are the tasks that should continue to be in your realm and under your control. This is where you can make the most impact in your business and where you should be focusing your time. These are the tasks you went into business for.

We’ll admit, making an organizational plan for your business isn’t always easy, but we promise it will help you in the long run. Figuring out where to spend your time is the most important step – from there you can find tools for streamlining and begin to outsource some of the left column work.

Once you have made your plan, do your best to have patience and delegate. There’s no way to see results unless you wait!

» Need to Know: The Do’s and Don’ts of Pricing

pricing team

Receiving a question about pricing can be daunting and tricky to navigate. On the bright side, receiving a price inquiry is a definite sign of interest and should be exciting! When a couple makes an inquiry regarding price, you should see it as a buying signal rather than a red flag. If they are reaching out, it means that they’ve vetted you and you’ve made it to the final round, so making an inquiry is simply the next step for them.

Education Expert Alan Berg shared some of his do’s and don’ts of pricing in our July Premium Webinar last week (Premium Members can watch the full recording in their account Education Center). We’ve pulled together a list of his best tips to help equip you for those often-dreaded pricing questions when they hit your inbox.

DO’S

  • Do reply as quickly as possible to an inquiry. If you respond to a potential client within 5 minutes, rather than 30, you are 100x more likely to connect with that lead. Why 5 minutes? That’s fast! By responding in 5 minutes, you can almost ensure that the person is still mentally and physically in the same place rather than having moved on to other things.
  • Do reply on the same platform that they used for their inquiry. The best practice here is to give couples all the possible ways to contact you, let them choose what works best for them, and then promptly reply on that channel.
  • Do acknowledge a question about price, don’t dodge it. If you need more information to give an accurate price, that’s completely fine! Just be upfront and transparent about it. Let them know that you are going to get them an answer, you just need to gather a bit more information about their big day first! Then, make sure to ask questions to start gathering that information to show that you are taking the necessary steps towards getting them that answer.
  • Do provide some pricing information on your website or WeddingWire Storefront. Couples are likely to distort their budget or may have a skewed sense of it (couples tend to underestimate their wedding costs by 40%!). Ideally, your pricing information would be available to them on your website or WeddingWire Storefront before they even reach out. 88% of couples want to see pricing of some sort before getting in contact with a vendor. That means you could be cut from the short list before you even have the chance to talk to them, so don’t hold out.

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» Niche PR: How to Become the “Go-To” Expert in your Arena

Webinar recap!Niche, Webinar, PR, Marketing, Weddings, Expert, Education

In the often-saturated wedding market, a niche will help you stand out and cut back on competition. Defining a niche allows you to specialize in an area that suits your talents and personality, gives focus to your marketing, and helps you attract your ideal clients.

During this webinar for Premium members, Education Expert Meghan Ely shared the steps to identifying your niche, promoting your expertise to your target audience, and implementing PR strategies to grow your business.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Showcase your niche in your content. Your website content, social media strategy, and any other owned channels should clearly reflect your niche. In addition to your bio, portfolio, and client testimonials, add a press page and blog to your website to highlight your expertise and demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Introduce yourself as an expert to the media. Consider what media your ideal client is consuming and target those outlets. Start by sending a friendly email to introduce yourself as an expert and a resource in your niche field — and be sure to include a few brief story ideas, too.
  • Pitch yourself for guest writing and speaking opportunities. Review your topics and research opportunities; focus on those that will reach your target audience. Hone your messaging and send a concise, friendly pitch with a few examples of your work. When it comes to speaking engagements, start small, evolve your topics overtime, and never stop practicing.
  • Pursue real wedding submissions. Research opportunities, guidelines, and editorial calendars to determine the best fit and strategy for your business. Be sure to follow the rules of exclusivity and prioritize the opportunities that will reach your ideal audience.

For more tips and additional details about these recommendations, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member accounts to view anytime.

» Like, Love or Dislike It: Social Media Matters

social-media-matters-webinarWebinar recap!

It’s challenging to stay on top of the latest social media sites and trends — especially while you are busy running a successful business. However, social media doesn’t need to require lots of time to make a big impact on your client reach.

During this month’s webinar hosted by WeddingWire Chief Marketing Officer Sonny Ganguly, we discussed the ‘big four’ social media sites your clients are loving — and where you need to be active this engagement season. Plus, Sonny shared expert tips to effectively leverage each top social media site to your business advantage.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Visual sharing on social sites is key. This is part of the reason that Instagram and Snapchat have risen to popularity so quickly! Overall, 3.3 billion photos are shared on top social sites daily. Don’t miss an opportunity to show off your work on a regular basis!
  • Your clients love social media. The majority of today’s engaged couples are Millennials in their twenties and early thirties. 89% consider themselves active on social media and 56% report that they would only consider booking pros they can find on social media.
  • How do they use social while planning their wedding? First, they turn to virtual pinboard site Pinterest to get inspired. Next, they move to Facebook to learn more about vendors they are interested in, and also turn to Instagram to see your aesthetic.
  • They follow the wedding pros they’re interested in. 61% of couples ‘follow’ or ‘like’ the professionals they want to learn more about. Why? Most commonly to get inspiration for their wedding, to see the quality of your work and to get more info about your business.
  • Where should you invest the most of your time? The top four sites to invest your time and connect with your clients today are: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. You can cut back on time on Twitter, Google+ and Tumblr due to a lack of interaction with your clients or general sharing traffic on those sites this year.

For more great social media tips, stats and information about connecting with couples on top social sites, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime.

» Oh Snap! Tips to Connect with Today’s Millennial Couples

August-Webinar_OhSnap!TipstoConnectwithToday_sMillenialCouples_TileWebinar recap!

Many of today’s engaged couples are considered Millennials, in fact 80% of WeddingWire couples are in that age range! For your wedding business to succeed in connecting with this tech-savvy and social group, it’s important to keep a close eye on the top trends, preferred communication methods, and best ways to stand out on and offline to ultimately win them over.

In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire’s Director of Market Insights, Andy Whittaker, and Editor, Kim Forrest, provided an inside look into the mindset of today’s couples from how they prefer to connect with pros to the wedding content they are loving.

Here are some of the top take aways from the webinar:

  • Millennials now make up the largest group of the US population! There are 80 million individuals who are between the ages of 16-34, and are your average customer.
  • On average, they are engaged for 13 months, have 130 guests attend their big day, and hire 11 vendors to make their wedding come to life.
  • Millennial couples share the same top challenges when it comes to wedding planning as their more senior Gen Xers. These include budgeting, making decisions, tracking expenses, knowing they are on the right track and finding their vendors.
  • They look for their wedding pros on social media, so it’s important to have a presence and share your work and personality on top sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and beyond. Mostly they are looking for inspiration, to see the quality of your work, and to find your business info.
  • Aim to connect with your clients through visual content as much as you can. They love videos, listicles, infographics and visual-first social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Create your own images or share some you love, and add images of your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new social sites! Millennials are loving Snapchat and Facebook Live to name a few – so if these appeal to you, give them a whirl! You can also enlist Millennial employees to teach you about the sites or run accounts for your business if you lack time to coordinate the efforts yourself.

To learn more, watch the full webinar now! Plus, all past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime and learn about the topics that matter most to your business.

» Can You Hear Me Now? Communication Tips to Get More Replies and Bookings

July-Webinar-ImageWebinar recap!

Communicating with clients in this day in age can be very confusing. Technology has transformed not only the way we communicate, but what we should be saying and how we should be saying it.

It’s important to be familiar with the best modern communication practices in order to get more replies and book more couples! In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for successful communication in the wedding industry!

Here are the 6 T’s that Alan suggests for better client communication:

    • Technology. With literally thousands of apps available for communication–from Messages, to Live Chat, to email, to calling, etc.– it’s difficult to know the best way to get in touch with a couple. At the end of the day, customer convenience is the motto to live by. Follow their lead using their preferred communication type. If you’re making the first contact, email is typically your safest bet, as most couples prefer email over all other communication methods.
    • Timing. The faster you respond to a couple, the more likely it is that they will choose your business over others. Most couples expect a response within 24 hours, so if you know you won’t be able to get back to them before then, at least make contact to let them know you will be in touch soon.
    • Text. Whatever method of communication you choose, be sure to keep your message short and sweet. Also make sure that anything you send can be easily read on a mobile device. Alan suggests that you avoid using attachments and graphics when possible, as those tend not to load properly on mobile devices.
    • Tone. When it comes to your tone, the golden rule is to mirror your client. Get a feel for their manner, and respond accordingly. However, don’t feel obligated to ditch your unique voice, and don’t change your tone once you’ve booked a client. Stay true to yourself and your business personality!
    • Transition. Alan says that one of the most important elements to remember (and one that many business owners forget) is to always provide a call to action. Give your clients a sense of direction, letting them know what the next best step is. However, don’t be pushy; you don’t want to rush them or make them feel forced into an appointment.
    • Tenacity. Don’t give up on a sale if you haven’t heard back right away! Couples are very busy when planning a wedding, so follow up to remind them that you still care about their sale. Ask for the sale if they ask you a question, but avoid seeming impatient. It’s a best practice to follow up 3-5 times on a lead before you let it go, just remain professional and try different approaches to see what gets you a reply.

For more great advice, watch the full webinar, and be sure to check out Alan’s blog all about the business of weddings!

Pro tip: WeddingWire Messages is a fast and easy way to connect with couples, available now in your account! You’ll be notified about new leads or messages, and you can reply using your email, account or mobile device. You’re easily able to send attachments, manage conversations and client details, and move from inquiry to marked as booked instantly. Learn more here!

» Build Your Reputation Through Relationships & Referrals

Build Your Reputation Through Relationships & ReferralsWebinar recap!

Yesterday, we held this month’s educational webinar, Build Your Reputation Through Relationships & Referrals, hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. In this session, Andy explained an important, yet highly underrated part of a successful marketing strategy, which he calls “reputation marketing.”

Andy provided several tips for developing relationships within the industry and expanding your inventory of reviews and endorsements. By following his advice, you can build a reliable reputation, grow your business, and book more clients!

Here are a few ways to build a positive reputation within the wedding industry:

  • Track particular keywords or phrases about your business on Google Alerts to know what people are saying about your business and/or about your competitors. These updates are delivered straight to your inbox.
  • Create a blog where you can promote your own business, as well as those of your peers, whose professionalism you can trust and recommend. WordPress is a great platform to get started!
  • Collect more reviews from past clients and and peer endorsements from other vendors on WeddingWire. This will help to further develop your strong online reputation, and let potential clients know you are reliable!
  • Get involved in your community by attending events, joining associations, or accepting leadership roles in your favorite industry group. Not only can you become a figure of authority in your local community, but you can also demonstrate important skills that people will associate with you as a business owner.
  • Make an effort to learn all aspects of the wedding industry by grabbing a casual lunch or coffee with a peer and get to know the challenges they face on a daily basis, or share business tips. If you better understand each other’s work, you can refer each other when the time comes!

For more information, watch the full webinar, available within all Premium member accounts any time! For more education from Andy, visit his blog.

» Serving Same-Sex Couples: The Real Story

Serving-Same-Sex-CouplesWebinar recap!

Being accurately informed and understanding the real story around what goes into planning a same-sex wedding is key for pros who want to be prepared to proudly serve all couples in the increasingly competitive modern market.

As we approach the one year anniversary of marriage equality in June, this month’s educational webinar hosted by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, and Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, discussed the latest LGBTQ wedding trends, how LGBTQ weddings differ and are the same as opposite-sex weddings, and how the landscape for same-sex weddings has evolved.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the interesting insights shared during the webinar:

  • Gay-friendliness and customer service often outranks industry experience in importance to same-sex couples when it comes time to select their wedding team
  • Self-identified same-sex couples who married in 2014 & 2015 remain much more comfortable breaking with traditionally-defined gender roles than previously-wed couples
  • Same-sex couples are more likely to have blended wedding parties than opposite-sex couples 
  • As marriage equality has become the law of the land, legal elopements and out-of-state ceremonies are on the decline for same-sex couples
  • Non-LGBTQ couples who value inclusion continue to rise as more couples look to work with wedding professionals who serve all loving couples

For more information, watch the full webinar, available within all Premium member accounts. And stay tuned for more in depth information on the latest wedding trends for today’s same-sex couples, coming soon!

Plus, don’t forget to opt-in to the GayWeddings vendor directory and update your main image just for GayWeddings.com to attract more engaged same-sex couples – learn how with our step by step guide.

Already listed on GayWeddings.com? Grab your GayWeddings listing badge to add to your website or blog and get added traffic to your listing!

» Sailing Through Wedding Season Without Losing Your Sanity

Sailing Through Wedding Season without Losing Your SanityWebinar recap!

Busy wedding season is here (or very close!) for many wedding professionals. Along with this exciting time of the year often comes long days, needy clients, and plenty of unexpected surprises along the way.

It’s important to not lose your sales and operations momentum while you are hard at work executing your events so you can keep your business thriving year-round! In this month’s one hour webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer shared tips to manage your business, your clients, and even your stress-levels like a pro!

Here’s the five keys to stay sane during wedding season:

  • Take stock of your business as it is right now. Get real about your business, and take stock of where you are in the important areas of sales, marketing and operations before things get too busy.
  • Create a plan. Determine how you will get all business-related items done while you are also executing lots of events. By setting a basic weekly routine, deadlines, and creating helpful resources such as an event prep list, you will stay organized and efficient.
  • Embrace (and communicate) your boundaries. Most client and vendor-facing issues can be avoided by simply setting expectations. Make your boundaries clear on items such as working days and your service process, and communicate them clearly to each new client.
  • Assess and re-asses. Remember that every good plan is flexible. Set aside time each month to check in with yourself and your business. Ask questions like “Am I continuing to make time to sell new clients?” or “How are my weddings going? Am I upholding to my standards and promises made, or do I need additional resources?”
  • Treat yourself with the same respect and consideration with which you’d treat others. Make time for yourself or you will burn out! Schedule time off, set aside time to do the things you enjoy on a weekly basis, prioritize your sleep, and maintain your physical health. You will stay happy, and so will your business!

For more great advice, watch the full webinar, and be sure to check out Jennifer’s blog all about the business of weddings, WeddingIQ.com!

Don’t forget that your clients also get stressed during the wedding planning process up to the big day! Do you have any expert tips you would like to share with WeddingWire couples? Submit your tips here, and they could be included in an upcoming consumer campaign!

» Infographic: Listen Up… and Sell Even More

The ability to listen is one of the most important sales skills a pro can learn. It sounds simple (and it is!), but listening more than you talk during appointments can help you ask better questions in order to learn more about your prospects and tailor your sale to the custom needs of each couple.

Our March educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. Get Alan’s top 4 tips in our infographic, below!

Infographic: Listen Up and Sell Even More

Don’t forget that all past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» Listen Up… and Sell Even More!

Listen Up and Sell Even MoreWebinar recap: Learn how you can benefit from listening up to sell even more!

Like it or not, sales skills are an important part of every successful wedding professional’s job! Do you ever talk yourself out of a sale? When was the last time you had a couple sell themselves?

This month’s educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. After all, we all want to do business with people we know, like and trust!

Here are a few key tips:

  • If you want more sales, ask better questions – and really listen to the answers!
  • Ditch the pitch and instead focus on what details matter to the individual client to customize your sale to connect with each couple.
  • Let the potential client the majority of the talking so you can learn more about their day, and don’t answer questions they haven’t asked.
  • Don’t try to rush the decision making process, it can be a big decision to choose their wedding team that can take time!
  • Remember that listening applies not only to appointments and calls but also emails and texts, so don’t data dump or over-share without finding more about their needs and wishes first.
  • Close the sale when you see and hear buying signals (such as asking about price, or availability for a specific date), and don’t be afraid to ask for their business!

Want to learn more about these tips? Watch the full webinar! 

All past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» Stay Productive, Purposeful and Profitable During the Off-Season

Stay Productive during the Off-SeasonWebinar recap!

Many pros use the first few months of every year, often considered as the “off-season” to regroup before the upcoming wedding season begins in the Spring. While it’s great to use this time to refresh your business, it is important to maintain a sharp focus and use this time effectively to leverage your impact during the ongoing engagement season, and to set yourself up for a profitable year ahead!

In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon shared his perspective on how to stay productive and maximize your business impact during the off-season.

Here are a few of Andy’s tips focused on improving your profitability:

  • Grow your professional network: Join or attend a local networking group or industry event, and make new industry connections with pros you admire that you can leverage to connect with more clients in 2016, and in turn recommend their services to your clientele.
  • Calculate your gross wedding income: Make sure you take the time to find out how successful your 2015 year was for your business by determining your gross income. To find this number, determine your overall wedding revenue in 2015, and divide that by the total number of weddings you serviced. That will show your overall income per wedding. Set a goal for your gross wedding income for 2016 and evaluate how you will get there— an expanded team, more booked weddings, higher prices?
  • Compute your marketing expenses: Take the time to track your marketing expenses to determine your overall spend, and apply that to your marketing plan for 2016. Expenses include association membership, online advertising, print ads, wedding shows, continued education and more. Review your overall spend, and determine how you will use it effectively in 2016 to help reach your business goals.
  • Determine your variable cost per wedding: How much do you spend per wedding on average? This amount impacts your overall revenue, and should factor into your prices. To find your variable cost per wedding, add up the cost of good, travel and delivery expenses, payroll per event, and any additional costs you may need to consider. Then, simply divide that number by your total number of weddings last year.

For more great tips on staying productive and profitable, watch the full webinar! Plus, all past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime, on topics including marketing, sales, client communication and more.