» 7 Ways to Improve Your Website Before 2017

november-premium-webinar-tileWebinar recap!

Your website’s job is to provide key information about your business, showcase your best work and impress clients to drive leads. When was the last time you considered if your business website is working hard enough for you?

In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips to assess your current website’s success and target areas for improvement to boost your business — all before the end of the year!

Here’s a roundup of the seven tips:

  • Update your website text: Aim to use conversational text on your site that connects with your target audience — engaged couples. Instead of making your content all about your business, make it all about your customer and bring to life your business.  
  • Do a text purge: Take a look at your site from an outside perspective, and come up with content that they don’t need to make a simple decision of whether to contact you or book your services. Often, too much text is overwhelming and causes your site visitors to bounce. Focus on your key take aways and make them easy to read and digest.
  • Shorten your contact form: Long forms get in the way of more leads! The shorter the form, the less daunting it will seem to reach out and to ultimately work for you. Plus, shorter forms are more mobile-friendly. Focus on just the key info you need, then when you reach out ask them to provide more details like wedding date, location and style.
  • Update your old images: When was the last time you refreshed your website photos? If it’s been a while, it may be time for an upgrade. Make sure you’re making a great first impression with high quality, modern images that will connect with newly engaged couples who are seeking inspiration and wanting to see your work in action.
  • Narrate your photos: Consider adding captions or other narrative context to the photos you showcase on your site. Explain the photos and how your business brought their wedding day or event to life and tie in relevant keywords to boost your SEO. Keep these brief, but it can help make a personal connection to your site visitors.
  • Add testimonials and reviews: Potential clients want to hear from others like them who have used – and loved your services, so make sure your reviews are easy to find! Add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to your website, and place a soundbite from an approved client testimonial on every page so they won’t be overlooked.
  • Put calls-to-action on every page: Make it easy to connect with your business. Consider adding a contact form or clear button to learn more about your business to every page of your website. You can also use calls-to-action to get visitors to engage with content you would like to promote such as a real wedding video, content download or more.

To learn more about these easy ways to improve your website, watch the full webinar now! Plus, Premium members can view all past webinars any time in your WeddingWire account.

» 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.

» Set Business Resolutions that You Can Keep in 2016

Business Resolutions You Can Keep Webinar recap!

Every January starts with excitement about New Year’s Resolutions, but all too quickly they can be forgotten or pushed aside. Make 2016 your best year yet by setting business resolutions that you can actually keep, and that will have a lasting positive impact!

During this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg discussed the importance of setting challenging, yet achievable resolutions for yourself and your business each year.

Review Alan’s Top 5 Resolutions for Pros:

  1. Be respectful of time. As a busy Pro, you know that often, it can seem like there are simply not enough hours in the day! Save your own time, your clients time, and other professionals time, and keep your communication direct and concise. Also, work to respond to all inquires or questions in a very timely manner (aim for 24 hours or less!), even if just to acknowledge them.
  2. Be less connected to tech. While we all love technology and how it can make our lives more in sync, it can also be a distraction from personal interaction and taking the time to enjoy the moment. Challenge yourself to set some specific time to disconnect completely from tech each day, and focus on really connecting to the people and experiences in your life.
  3. Avoid hypocrisy. Wedding pros often have similar complaints when it comes to some clients. Next time you feel frustrated, take a moment to truly consider their point of view. After all, they are planning and investing in a once in a lifetime event. Wouldn’t you have questions, expect the highest quality service, and want to save some money if you could? Work to see their perspective, show empathy, and then use your experience to help them feel confident in their decision to do business with you.
  4. Shorten your to-do list. There is an easy way to shorten your to-do list without simply saying ‘no’ to more work! Make a daily ‘must-do’ list to go with your larger ‘to-do list.’ On this list, prioritize a handful of key actions that you must meet that day. Then, when the list is complete, move on to the next prioroity round of to-dos, or catch up on emails, calls or errands! You will feel accomplished and more relaxed, while keeping your focus on high priority items.
  5. Resolve to think bigger. Challenge yourself this year! What is the next big business step you hope to achieve? More revenue? More booked events? An expanded team? Consider what a better business means to you. From there, set three goals you hope to reach in 2016 that will get you to your next level. Create some metrics or programs that will help you reach your goals, and get started! Don’t forget to visit them regularly to stay on track, and see how you are progressing. A monthly check in can help!

For more great tips on creating and keeping your resolutions this year, watch the full webinar!

Commit to more education this year! All past webinars on a variety of important business topics for wedding Pros are available in the Education Center for premium Pros to view anytime, anywhere.

» Mobile Matters! Create a Winning Business for All Devices

December-Webinar_MobileMatters!_TileMobile Matters!

Today’s couples are planning their wedding while on-the-go. Does your business make a great impression, and stand out on all devices? Thinking ‘mobile-first’ creates an exceptional brand experience from phone to tablet to desktop, and impresses your target audience!

During this one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly shared his tips for how to best engage with mobile-friendly couples, his top ‘mobile mantras’ for your business and the best 15 apps of the year.

Here are Sonny’s seven mobile mantras to set your business up for success:

  1. Mobile first: When designing your website and emails, think ‘mobile first’ with an easy to read and navigate core design, that you can build upon and modify as devices get larger and for desktop.
  2. Mobile end-to-end: Set the goal to make all your communication and campaigns a strong experience from end to end from all devices. For example, if you create a great email, make sure it works just as well from a mobile opener as a desktop!
  3. Mobile conversion: Make sure you add a simple and easy to use contract from to your website for mobile visitors. The form should be large enough to type easily from phones, and not ask for unnecessary fields which will cause drop-offs in your leads.
  4. Mobile mail: 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices, which means your clients are opening your emails on the go as well! Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly by always testing them on a mobile device with clear calls to action for the greatest engagement.
  5. Mobile payment: Accept payments from your mobile devices to close more sales quickly. Devices such as Squares plug right into your smartphone, and with new apps for payments such as Apple Wallet – mobile payments are only going to continue to rise.
  6. Mobile audience: Prepare your business for your clients and store all their important event information in one easy to access place by using WeddingWire Client Sites, available in premium accounts. Both you and your client can log in any time, and from any device to finalize payment, track contracts and add event info.
  7. Mobile me: Mobile devices are becoming even more personal and easy to use. Smartphones, watches and assisting systems such as Siri are getting to know and remembering your preferences, and are more able to be tailored than ever before. Stay ahead with the latest tech!