» Top 5 Lessons from the WeddingWire World Tour So Far

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.

Now that we have two of the five WeddingWire World Tour stops for 2014 under our belt, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on what I’ve seen and heard, not from the stage, rather from offstage. I’ve met so many great wedding and event Pros, exchanged business cards, heard your stories and listened and answered your questions. I’ve often said that the best part of many conferences for me is what happens in the hallways, at the meals and at the bar, and these WeddingWire World events were no exception.

Top 5 Lessons from the WeddingWire World Tour So FarSo, here are five things that stood out for me as some of the lessons I’d like to share with you (and if you haven’t made it to a stop on the WeddingWire World Tour yet, there are still three more coming up later this year!):

1) Free and cheap are worth exactly that.

Don’t be lured in by free/cheap websites and business cards. One of my presentations was specifically about your printed marketing materials (business cards, brochures, postcards, etc.). Printed marketing is a multi-sensory experience. When someone hands you their business card you unconsciously take notice of the feel of the card, the weight of the paper and the texture. Then you look at the quality of the design and printing. You’re making judgments about the quality of the business based upon the quality of the card. Don’t believe me? Has someone ever handed you a thin business card? What did you think of it? You probably didn’t think they were the highest quality business, did you?

2) What does your email say about you?

Almost half the business cards I collected had email addresses that were not matched to that company’s website URL. Instead they had Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo or their internet provider (Verizon, Comcast, RoadRunner, etc.). When I survey audiences they always say that using a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. email address makes you look like a new or part-time business, no matter how long you’ve been in business or how high your quality.

Giving someone your email address should give them both your email and website address. Haven’t you ever seen someone’s email address and subsequently gone to their website? Most people I ask have. They can’t do that if your email address is @Gmail or @Comcast. It’s so easy to have an email that matches your website these days. You can even use Gmail as the backend, but everyone will see YourName@YourWebsite.com

3) Consistency is easy.

You should be consistent in your marketing and branding. Use the same colors, fonts, logos, etc. in all of your marketing materials. When someone goes from your business card to your website, or vice versa, they should be greeted with the same brand. There should be “one version of the truth” when it comes to your branding. Everything should match, and when you change your brand, change everything. I recently changed my branding from blue to orange, with an updated logo to match. I’ve printed all new business cards, bookmarks and product packaging.

It’s very easy to be consistent. Just pay attention to the colors, fonts, logos, etc. in everything you do. Everything a customer sees should match. What does better branding cost? Less than the business you’ll lose with bad or inconsistent branding.

4) Act like the business you want to become.

This is especially true for new or growing businesses. When I work as a consultant with a new business, I ask them to describe their business give years into the future. What does it look like? What words do people use to describe it? What is its position in the marketplace? Then I ask them what things they can do now to become that business. More importantly, what can they do to look like that business right now? If you’ve heard the expression “dress for success,” this is the equivalent by dressing your business for success as well. If you want to be a Craigslist business in five years, so be it. Is that where the higher-end clients are going to be looking for you?

5) Adapt, don’t adopt.

One of the things I love about being a member of the National Speakers Association is learning from the best in the business. We’re encouraged to see what others are doing and then, rather than copy them, learn from them and find a way to make it your own. In other words adapt, don’t adopt. The unofficial motto of the National Speakers Association is “How can I help you?” rather than “How can you help me?” Pay attention to what others are doing in your industry, but don’t copy them. You don’t know if it’s working for them, and even if it is, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Their business is different. Their customers are different. What got them to where they are today is unique to them, as it is to you.

What will you learn at WeddingWire World, or at the next education or networking event you attend? Sure, there’s plenty to learn from the speakers, but there’s even more to learn from your peers. Be a good listener but also be willing to share. Just don’t copy everything you see. I look forward to seeing you at one of the stops on the 2014 WeddingWire World Tour and hearing your stories of success.

Photo by Lux Photography