» Still Waiting to Hear From a Lead? Here’s Why.

Securing responses to your lead replies is a common pain point for wedding professionals and it’s easy to understand why. When potential couples reach out to inquire about your services and you reply only to never hear back, it’s frustrating. Maybe the person was busy or forgot, or maybe your reply accidentally landed in their spam folder. But the harsher truth may be that it was your reply that cut communication short.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg explains that there is always room for improvement when it comes to your lead replies. If you’re not getting the responses you desire, Alan has some explanations and tips to help you turn your response success around.

You’re taking too long to reply

7 in 10 couples say that vendor responsiveness is the most important factor they consider when looking to book their wedding team. That seems totally rational, right? Our research also shows that after submitting an online inquiry, 40% of couples note that they didn’t hear back from vendors within five days. As wedding professionals, you should stay on top of your inquiries because if you aren’t, it’s probably costing you sales. Think about it: if you inquired about a product or service that you wanted to purchase and had to wait at least five days, wouldn’t you consider finding it somewhere else?

Approximately 50% of couples choose the vendor that replies first. Because time is clearly of the essence here, do your best to reply as soon as possible. Alan recommends waiting no more than 24 hours to respond.

You’re asking for a phone call or meeting

When a couple reaches out for the first time, it’s usually in reference to something specific (“What is your price for x?”, “Are you available on x date?”). Remember that they did not ask you to have a phone call or a meeting— they asked a question. Replying back “Are you available anytime to chat or come in for a meeting?” instead of answering their question could cause a missed opportunity for a reply.

You suggest a new communication channel

Along with timeliness, nearly half of all couples express frustration when their communication channels aren’t reciprocated. To better your chances at a response, use the same communication channel to respond until your back and forth exchange gets to the point where another method might be better. If a potential customer emails you, you should email back. As a matter of fact, more and more bookings are being done entirely over email, without a single phone call. Remember: “If they wanted to call you, they would have called.”

You’re not thinking mobile

If your replies aren’t crafted for mobile, you’re severely lowering the chances of securing a reply back. Approximately 80% of couples use emails to inquire about services and 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices. To fit mobile’s demands, keep your replies short. As we mentioned, couples are usually asking you a simple question. By keeping things short, not only are you guaranteed not to overwhelm, but you are maximizing the readability of your reply, too.

Another mobile-first tip: Alan suggests that you don’t send attachments in your first few replies. Most attachments fall into the “overkill” category and can overwhelm a couple with information they don’t yet need. But, more importantly, most attachments are designed for desktop so they can be hard to both read and display on a mobile device.

You don’t ask a single question

Not asking a question in your reply can be detrimental. While it may seem that ending with a friendly “I look forward to hearing from you!” suggests to the couple that you are expecting a reply from them, this line doesn’t demand a reply from them.

Instead, Alan suggests that you should ask a “low commitment” question in every single correspondence to guarantee a reply back. Unlike “high commitment” questions such as “When would you like to come in to meet?”, low commitment questions like “How many guests are you expecting?” or “Do you have a venue secured yet?” begins the conversational back-and-forth needed to make a sale.

You’re avoiding pricing

Price questions shouldn’t be something to fear. Be upfront about price and don’t duck the question. Put yourself in their shoes: when you ask about price and someone tap dances around it, how do you feel? If you are concerned about sharing an exact price, give a price range instead. That way you are not overwhelming a couple with every price, and can leave it open ended to ask the follow up question “what services in particular were you thinking about?”

You’re starting your reply with “Congratulations on your engagement!”

It might sound nit-picky, but we promise it’s not. Most wedding professionals start their reply with some form of congratulations to the happy couple. When couples are doing their research and are beginning to contact vendors, every preview line in their inbox starts to look exactly the same. Change things up to ensure that you get noticed!

You’re using automation or copy and paste

Sounding disingenuous is not going to result in a sale. When a couple sends you an inquiry and they receive an automatic reply saying “someone will be in contact with you shortly” it doesn’t add anything to the conversation, even if you end up sending your reply within five minutes of that message going out.

Additionally, it can be really obvious when things are copy and pasted. When a couple is under the impression that the email you sent to them is also sent to everyone else, they probably won’t believe that you can offer them the personalized services they want. If you do have copy and paste text that is generalized and you just can’t part with it, consider having someone who is completely unfamiliar with your business read it. If they believe that the segment reads like it is copy and paste text, it’s time to nix it.

It is easy to get defeated when lead replies don’t turn into sales, all the more so when conversation quickly dies out. However, if a couple is reaching out to you, it’s because they are interested in you.Know that in reaching out, a couple has eliminated a huge portion of your competition. While they might also be reaching out to a few more similar wedding professionals, you are still a part of the select group that they liked and wanted to hear from because they want to book you.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Replying to Leads” with Alan Berg, WeddingWire Education Expert and CSP. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» Top 5 Wedding Trends for 2018

With 2018 in full swing and busy season right around the corner, it’s time to dive into the top wedding trends couples will be requesting this year. We have the inside scoop from Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire’s Associate Director of Content and Creative Services, on the top five trends you can expect to see pop up. Many of these trends may come as a surprise, as couples begin to stray away from the “traditional” and opt for the “unconventional”.

1. Metallics, marbles and geometrics

Photo by Jennifer Weems Photography

So maybe this one doesn’t come as a total surprise, but the biggest decor trend from 2017 will be a highlight yet again for 2018 weddings. Metallics, specifically gold-toned metallics, are still in! Smaller metallic decor pieces, such as votives and charger plates, are as popular as ever because they are small enough to be understated, yet still manage to pack a huge punch overall. Not only do metallics add an extra layer of “umph” to any look, but metallics are a great way to help make everything look and feel more luxe.

Couples are also choosing metallic pieces with geometric shapes to make their wedding feel more modern. Geometric shapes provide a cool break between the ultra-softness and romance of floral elements. Stone elements, such as marble pieces, are also being utilized for the same reason. We don’t care if this is a repeat trend, we love it and are happy to see these favorites stick around!

2. Keeping it casual

Photo by Tracy Shoopman Photography

Weddings are becoming more of a casual affair, believe it or not! Younger couples have been choosing to go for a more laid-back route during their wedding festivities. In what might be the biggest departure from “traditional” style weddings, casual affairs have been trending because they are “no fuss”. Guests are able to feel more at ease and couples have less to worry about on their big day. Ultimately, comfort and simplicity are the main goal of casual weddings, and we think they look great!

Grooms and groomsmen have arguably kicked off the casual trend, as the popularity of less formal male attire started popping up more and more. However, this year, casual groom attire is set to take off. Expect to see less suit coats, more unconventional shoes, and even silly socks on grooms. Females have also begun to adopt more casual styles, too. Brides in particular have opted for more natural, effortless hairstyles for their big day as opposed to the previously popular ultra-sophisticated updo.

Formal styles aren’t the only thing to disappear in 2018. Formal traditions are also becoming less popular with millennial couples. Sorry Mom and Dad, but it looks like the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances are quickly fading! Revered traditions like these dances, and even couple send offs (particularly involving sparklers) are now starting to be seen as “outdated” and “cliche” by millennial couples. While it may be sad to see some old traditions go, know that couples are opting to nix certain elements in order to replace them with their own creative and new traditions.

3. Greenery

Photo by Blueflash Photography     

While floral elements have always been a huge aspect of weddings, never before has such an emphasis been placed on natural greenery. From moss decor walls to leafy table runners, greenery isn’t just for bouquet filler anymore. Dare we say it, but greens might even surpass flowers this year! Greenery provides freshness and brightness to any arrangement, and can also can provide a lot of diversity, too. Beyond looking great, greens are also a more cost-friendly option for couples to consider when compared to flowers. So where will you find the most greenery this year? Jeffra notes that our couples are loving their natural greens in large wall or hanging displays, low table centerpieces, and in cascading bouquets.

4. Outdoor space

Photo by Patrick Nied Photography

Couples love outdoor weddings! Outdoor venues have always been popular with our couples, but their popularity is only expected to grow. Garden venues, followed by barn venues, are the most popular places amongst couples for their wedding celebrations. Even though the warmer summer months still make up “prime season”, more and more couples have been hosting fall weddings. As a matter of fact, 1 in 3 couples now get married in the fall, and nearly 15% of all weddings take place in October. In many locations, Autumn weather is still perfect for an outdoor celebration, if not cozy. So too, nature’s seasonal change provides the most beautiful backdrop for photos. With the ever-increasing popularity of outdoor venues, your calendars are bound to be filled with outdoor bookings this year!

5. Food displays

Photo by Dana Lynn Photography

We saved the best for last: food! +50% more couples are choosing to eliminate plated service in favor of food displays. Food displays, different from a buffet, are highly stylized tables and offer unique, themed food options where guests can help themselves. Food displays allow for couples to customize their offerings to fit their personalities and can be much more flexible in execution when compared to a more regimented plated or buffet service. From pizza to a bacon-lovers spread, couples are picking these personalized setups over all other meal options because they are easy, fun and most importantly, delicious. Displays are also cost effective, as they can be significantly cheaper than a plated service.

We are so excited to see how these trends adapt and grow in 2018. The biggest takeaway that we have learned (other than knowing that great snacks lie ahead!) is that couples are striving to implement unique designs and traditions that are truly their own. Simply put, customization is important to couples as they plan their 2018 weddings. If you are able to offer custom services or work with your clients to provide them a unique service, you can expect your couple to be over the moon with your work. We hope that this personalization-craze allows both you and your clients the opportunity to work creatively and create incredible new experiences and content. Who knows? Maybe you will set the next big trend.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “2018 Trends: Insights from Today’s Couples” by Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire Associate Director of Content and Creative Services. 

» Want More Reviews? Start Doing These 5 Things.

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

Every wedding professional should be utilizing busy season as a time to collect reviews and other content, even if it’s far from your top priority. Building reviews into your process from the very beginning gives you a better chance at getting reviews after the event. Being on top of this process and collecting recent reviews will allow you to freshen up your WeddingWire Storefront, website, and social media channels before the influx of newly engaged couples start pouring in from engagement season.

Remember, 87% of couples use reviews to select their vendors and recency is the most important factor when couples are evaluating your reviews! Couples like to hear (and see!) what they should expect – not from the vendors themselves, but from past couples who’ve been in their position.

Whether you’re new to collecting reviews or an expert, here are some top tips to remember:

Build reviews into your culture. Make reviews a priority in your business so that they are top of mind for your clients from the very beginning. Our best advice? Mention reviews early and often. Start talking about them in your sales process so that clients aren’t surprised when you ask for a review later on. In addition to talking about reviews in client communications, you should also build them into your team culture by training your staff to talk about reviews frequently, and try incentivizing them to collect reviews. By making these two adjustments to your reviews process, you can make it a natural part of the process in no time.

Dedicate 10 minutes a day to reviews. During busy season, we know that time is a precious and limited resource. However, if you can, set aside just 10 minutes a day to send emails to past clients reminding them to leave you reviews, responding to new reviews, or updating the review section on your website. Taking time everyday to keep your review system organized will save you time in the long run and maximize the impact of your reviews. Instead of putting it off until the workload “grows” to the point of no return, tackle any “new news” as it comes.

Just ask! Most newlyweds are very busy, and might forget to write you a review without a reminder, so start by asking them directly. If the first ask doesn’t translate to a review, make sure to remind them! 1 in 3 clients will write a review if they are reminded at least once. You can remind the couple how important reviews are to your business and how much you and future couples appreciate them.

Give them time. Don’t ask for a review the day after a wedding— there is an ideal gratitude period that is around 2-3 weeks for most businesses. However, photographers, videographers, invitation designers, and any other service that happens before or after the big day, should send a review request after the product is delivered to the couple.

Respond to ALL reviews. Whether the review is positive or negative, responding to reviews gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality to future couples, demonstrate your responsiveness, and express how much you care about each and every client. Remember to thank all reviewers for taking the time to share their opinions and feedback. If a review is negative, make sure to respond with a future couple in mind and don’t write the response while you are upset. Keep the response simple and don’t play the “he said-she said” game.

Focusing on these great habits now will ensure that reviews are fully integrated into your process and culture during busy season. While reviews might not be the most ‘pressing’ task on your to-do list throughout this busy time of year, remember that they still play a huge role in your business and you’ll be thankful you have recent reviews when engagement season rolls around!

These tips came from our Premium webinar, The Power of Reviews. Premium members can access the webinar here.

» 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!

» The 6 “T’s” of Client Communication

Client communication in the modern market can be very confusing. Technology has transformed everything about the way we communicate, so it’s important to be familiar with the best communication practices. Check out this infographic featuring 6 simple tips to connect more effectively and get more replies from engaged couples from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

For more tips on client communication, check out this webinar for Premium members with WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

Client communication tips infographic

» 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.

» A Match Made in Heaven: Video and Social Media

february-premium-webinar-tileWebinar recap!

Videos are a great way to capture the attention of your audience. In fact, videos account for almost 70% of consumer Internet traffic! But how do you create and distribute videos to best showcase your work if you don’t have video expertise? 

During this month’s webinar for Premium members WeddingWire Education Experts Alan Berg and Andy Ebon offered their their tips to easily use video combined with social media to attract and impress your audience even if you’re a video newbie.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Try out new Instagram features. Instagram Stories and Instagram Live videos are great tools for showing ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos of your work. Posted Stories are available to your followers for 24 hours, which can drive a sense of urgency for your audience. Live videos are only available while you’re broadcasting so it can be helpful to notify your audience in advance if you plan to go live.
  • YouTube is critical to video efforts.. As the second largest search engine after Google, YouTube is a vital component of any video strategy. In fact, 80% of 18-49 year olds watch YouTube each month. Product demos make great videos — just remember to keep videos under three minutes to hold your audience’s attention.
  • Optimize your YouTube videos. In addition to posting compelling video content, make sure to use best practices when creating your YouTube video posts. The right taglines, titles, descriptions, and calls-to-action can help your videos get discovered and viewed.
  • Use Facebook Live to engage followers. Facebook Live videos are an easy way to engage your audience in real-time. Check your phone’s connection before you go live to ensure your stream isn’t interrupted, allow enough broadcast time so that followers can join your live feed, and get creative with your ‘set’ to make your video more visually engaging.

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

» Infographic: Top 10 Business Tips from 2016

The start of a new year is the ideal time to evaluate your business success! Take a moment to read these insider’s tips on how businesses like yours have achieved their goals over the past twelve months.

These 10 highlights from WeddingWire’s Senior Director of Customer Success Ashley Conway include advice about how to impress more newly engaged couples and improve your marketing techniques to generate more leads and clients.  Read on and set your business up for success in the coming year.

December16-Infographic (1)

» Top 10 Business Tips from 2016

december-premium-webinar-tileWebinar recap!

As 2016 comes to a close, it can be helpful to look back on your business success over the past year and consider what learnings you can apply in 2017.  

During this month’s webinar hosted by WeddingWire Senior Director of Customer Experience Ashley Conway, we reviewed her seasonally-themed top 10 business tips based on conversations with numerous wedding professionals this year.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • ‘Tis the Season. Update your Storefront and website with seasonal imagery to keep your photos fresh and capture newly engaged couples’ imaginations.
  • No re-gifting. Avoid showcasing duplicate content on your website, WeddingWire Storefront and other sites, as having identical content in multiple locations hurts your SEO.  Make sure to differentiate your copy, images and reviews across your online presence.
  • Pack on the #s:  Use hashtags strategically in your social media posts to increase your visibility.  Consider adding hashtags as comments on your Instagram posts to reduce clutter in your original posts.
  • Better to give than receive:  Always reply to reviews, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.  Remember that your reply will be seen by potential clients — it’s another chance to impress them.
  • Make a list, check it twice:  Put together a price list, then compare it to your competitors’.  Don’t inadvertently confuse potential customers by offering similarly named packages as other wedding pros that contain different features.

For 5 more tips and additional details about how to leverage these recommendations for success in 2017, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member’s 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.

» How to Take Home More Industry Awards

A key way to expand your business and stand out from the competition is through winning industry awards. Whether you’re a new business or a seasoned pro, earning both recent and frequent accolades, collecting stand-out client reviews, and sharing your best work is a pivotal part of your business success.

In our latest infographic, get insights from Education Expert Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting with these six helpful tips to earn more industry awards!

earn-industry-awards

For more information, watch the full webinar! All past webinars are available within your WeddingWire account under the Education tab for Premium members to view on-demand at any time.

» Go for the Gold: How to Take Home More Industry Awards

september-premium-webinar-awardsWebinar recap!

An easy way to expand your business and stand out from the competition is through winning industry awards. Whether you’re a new business or a seasoned pro, earning accolades, collecting client reviews, and showcasing your hard work is a pivotal part of your success.

In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert and Owner of OFD Consulting, Meghan Ely, shared her tips for how to submit for and win more prestigious awards that build your credibility in the wedding industry.

Here are a few steps to earning more industry awards:

  • When deciding which awards to apply for, first take a close look at your business goals. Ask yourself how earning the award would help you meet these goals and then pick your top choices to actively pursue.
  • Once you decide to submit, always read and then reread the guidelines. It’s easy to overlook an element that could make or break your entry, or notice it too late in the process, simply by not paying enough attention to detail.
  • Create a plan for your submission before jumping in. Once you carefully review the guidelines and submission details, draft an outline of what you need to do and strategically plan your approach before you start writing.
  • Use facts and figures to stand out and impress the judges. By bringing your work to life with stats and examples, you can showcase the difference your business has made, and why you deserve to earn the award through a compelling story.
  • Share images that help support your story where applicable. However, it’s important to get approvals you may need from photographers to use their images. Also, make sure you do not rely on the images alone to tell your story.
  • Ask a friend to review and proofread your entry. A second set of eyes is key to making sure your story makes sense to an outside point of view, and that you are not overlooking and grammatical mistakes that could be easily avoided.
  • If you win — spread the news! Share your win on social media, and showcase your expertise by adding your award to all your marketing materials on and offline. This will impress clients and industry colleagues alike, and help you stand out in a competitive industry.

To learn more great tips from Meghan, watch the full webinar now!

Did you know that you can view all past webinars any time in your WeddingWire account? Watch recorded webinars at your convenience on a variety of topics to support your business growth from SEO to social media to sales and beyond.