» Wedding MBA 2018: See the Highlights!

We had such an exciting week in Las Vegas for another great Wedding MBA conference! We loved connecting with thousands of wedding industry colleagues and friends from across the globe. From outstanding education to a fun-filled celebration, our WeddingWire team was thrilled to see so many of vendor friends doing what they love!

Here are a few of our favorite highlights:

Expert Education

We loved sharing business tips, industry insights and a range of education with you. Our Education Experts presented 16 times at the event — on a wide variety of topics from marketing, to websites, to sales and more. We were also so pleased to include some category-specific education from our Experts. Check out the slides from our presentations here.

Passport to fun

We had so much fun with everyone who stopped by the WeddingWire booth to say hello to the team, and collect passport stamps for swag. Our team loved seeing your selfies in our photo booths provided by The Brand Booth, and watching you contribute to our coloring wall. We were also able to meet with hundreds of pros to share account advice, set their businesses up for success on WeddingWire, and collect product feedback for future updates and improvements. Our team loved seeing friends—old and new.

Celebrating with pros

It wasn’t all business insights and education — there was plenty of fun along the way! We took the time to unwind, after a full day at the conference and take in some Vegas nightlife with great music at the annual WeddingWire party at the Foxtail Pool & Nightclub. Jason Jani of SCE Event Group spun another amazing set, featuring electric violinist Lydia Ansel.

For more event takeaways and to stay up-to-date on all the latest WeddingWire happenings for pros, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU on Facebook and Instagram. We hope you see you again next year!

 

» WeddingWire Networking Night Denver

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Maven Hotel for our WeddingWire Networking Night Denver!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful new venue right in the heart of Denver! Guests met with other local vendors across all service categories as well as  members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and how to maximize your SEO to attract more couples, presented by Associate Director of SEO, Mike Anderson!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. You can also see the entire album on our WeddingWire EDU Facebook page!

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

» 5 Resolutions for Wedding Professionals in 2018

The beginning of a new year brings excitement about resolutions and goals, but often they can be forgotten or pushed aside, especially when busy season comes around. To make 2018 your best year yet, set business resolutions that you can actually keep and that will have a positive long-term impact on your business. It’s important that these goals are challenging, yet achievable resolutions for both you and your business.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg has highlighted 5 resolutions that wedding professionals can put into action:

  1. Be respectful of time.

    As a busy professional, 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, by simply keeping your communication direct and concise. Also work to respond to all inquiries or questions in a very timely manner (aim for 24 hours or less!), even if it is just an acknowledgement of the inquiry.

  2. Be less connected to technology.

    While we all love technology and how it can help us stay in sync and organized, it can also be a distraction from personal interaction and taking the time to live in the moment. Challenge yourself to set some specific time to disconnect completely from technology each day, and focus on connecting with people, enjoying experiences or taking time to reflect on the goals you have set.

  3. Avoid hypocrisy.

    Wedding professionals often have similar complaints when it comes to some clients. Next time you feel frustrated, take a moment to truly consider the client 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 money where you could? Work on seeing 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 longer ‘to-do list.’ On this shortened list, prioritize a handful of key actions that you must meet that day. Then, when the list is complete, move onto the next priority round of to-dos, or catch up on emails, calls or errands. You will feel accomplished and more relaxed, while keeping focus on higher 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 bookings? A bigger team? Consider what a better business means to you. From there, set three goals you hope to reach in 2018 that will take you to that 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. Checking in monthly will provide reflection and help you stay on track with these goals.

Whether your list of resolutions for 2018 is long or short and concise, adding these five actionable items is a great way to put your best foot forward in the new year.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Dover Hall for WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning event space fit for royalty! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and insights on working with millennial couples in the wedding industry, presented by WeddingWire’s Associate Director of Customer Success, Kyle Mihalcoe!

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. For additional photos from the evening, check out our gallery!

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Katherine from The Westin Richmond!

» 7 Essentials of a Great Website

An online presence is vital for any business, but a poor online presence could be costing your business money. As busy season starts to wind down and engagement season ramps up, you should start thinking about using the next couple of months to tune up your business, including your website. Doing so will make sure you are putting your best foot forward for all of the newly engaged couples!

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?

Here’s a roundup of seven website essentials from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg:

  1. Personalized Content: 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 life to your business.

  2. Fresh Imagery: When was the last time you refreshed your website photos? If it’s been a while, it may be time to do so! Make a great first impression with high quality, modern images that will resonate with newly engaged couples who are seeking inspiration. Not only is it a great way to show off your work and service, it’s a great way to establish credibility with a couple.

  3. Relevant Information: Take a look at your site from an outside perspective, and determine what information they need to make a simple decision of whether to contact you or book your services. Then, delete everything else. Often, too much text is overwhelming and causes your site visitors to bounce. Focus on your key takeaways and make them easy to read and digest.

  4. Simple Contact Form: Long forms get in the way of more leads! The shorter the form, the less daunting it will seem to reach out. Plus, shorter forms are more mobile-friendly. For the form, only ask for the key information you need. When you respond to their inquiry you can ask them to provide more details.

  5. Narrated Photos: Consider adding captions or other narrative context to the photos you showcase on your site. Explain the photos and how your business brought a couple’s wedding day or event to life and tie in relevant keywords to boost your SEO. Keep these brief, but it can help create a personal connection.

  6. 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.

  7. Straight Forward Calls to Action: 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 videos, content downloads and more.

» 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!

» 5 People Every Wedding Business Owner Needs on Speed Dial

As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” That sentiment rings true when it comes to owning and operating your own business. You want to surround yourself with smart and capable people that will contribute to your success and growth. Who those people are tend to be a bit different for everyone, but we’ve put together a list from fellow wedding pros on who you may want to add to your speed dial.

Website Consultant
Kylie Carlson of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning relies heavily on her website consultant, “Since we are an e-learning company, I speak to my Website Consultant daily for his advice on different things I need to maintain 6 websites and a Learning Management System.” Most of us can relate to running a business primarily through a website, and when emergencies pop up or you need something added quickly, having your consultant’s number at the ready is a must.

Social Media Groups
In the age of social media, sometimes a phone call isn’t needed when you belong to groups of like-minded individuals that you trust. Jenny DeMarco of Jenny DeMarco Photography shares, “I am a part of a group of about 35 peers from all over that met while attending the same workshops and conferences every year. We are diverse in age, experience, income levels, business models, photography styles and much more. We have an online Facebook group that I turn to all the time when I need advice or encouragement.”

Business Partner
When you need a second opinion, or are struggling with some of the bigger decisions, oftentimes the person you should be speaking with is your business partner. “Running a business is often a fast paced environment that needs quick decisions, creative problem solving, and innovative ideas. So I find myself regularly calling the person that I know is just as invested as I am- my business partner.” explains Audrey Isaac of 100 Candles.

Publicist
Kevin Dennis of WeddingIQ doesn’t make any marketing PR decisions without first getting on a call with his publicist, “For us, our speed dial list is really two-fold, because different people are valuable in different areas. Our publicist is the first person we call when it comes to any marketing or insider wedding industry questions, but when I am thinking on a new idea or need advice outside of PR and marketing, I turn to a few trusted veteran peers for help.”

Massage Therapist
You may read this with a confused expression, but relaxation and recharging are an absolute necessity when working in the wedding business. “After a weekend of weddings, you need that massage first thing Monday morning,” says Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events. If not a masseuse, then perhaps call your tennis partner or yoga instructor- whatever you need to do to enjoy a little rest.

Now it’s your turn! Pull out your phone and create a speed dial list that’s right for you.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» 3 Reasons Marketing in Facebook Groups Can Hurt Your Business

Have you ever joined a Facebook Group for local wedding vendors and couples, excited to find a place to connect with potential clients – only to find that every group is flooded with vendor after vendor pitching themselves, each one offering a lower price than the last?

This is a common scene in local Facebook communities, often titled “Wedding Buy/Sell/Trade” or “Yard Sale” groups. Couples will post in these groups looking for vendors, but because it is so easy for anyone to join and market in these groups, it becomes oversaturated with local vendors who fall into the trap of competing to offer the lowest price.

The tricky part is that with so many posts popping up from couples planning their weddings in Facebook groups every day, it is easy to fall into the trap yourself and start commenting on posts that ask for vendors with rates way under your standard pricing.

Here are three reasons this is hurting your business:

  1. Since there are so many vendors trying to quote their lowest rates in an effort to compete for business in these groups, the couples who join and post in local Facebook wedding groups tend to be deal seekers. Of course, this is not always the case, but if you have higher end pricing or simply do not want to discount your rates, it can become difficult to find prospects willing to pay full price. 
  2. If you spend a lot of time in these groups marketing to couples that aren’t your ideal clients, you are losing time that could be spent building your business elsewhere – like updating your WeddingWire Storefront, preparing for bridal shows, or working on a referral program. If you feel like you post and comment often in Facebook groups, but it’s getting you nowhere, try focusing your energy on other avenues that you know work for you. 
  3. Participating in lowest-bidder comment threads in these groups can devalue your work. If you find yourself commenting on every post and handing out discounts to all of the couples who contact you in these groups, it makes your discounted rates the norm – meaning it will become more and more difficult to find couples and get referrals from people who are willing to pay for your full priced packages.

So what should you do instead? Focus on your ideal client. These couples are the ones who are most likely to love the work you do and write reviews that will attract more ideal clients in the future. Think about how your ideal client researches wedding vendors and the unique qualities they are looking for in their search. Then use those things to determine how to market to them and how to convey your brand on WeddingWire, from your photos to your profile description.

Make sure to highlight the characteristics they are looking for in a wedding vendor throughout your profile so that your ideal clients will be even more interested in what you have to offer. Then when you do get inquiries, you won’t feel as pressured to give discounts or “beat” other vendors in the market – all while saving time after leaving those Facebook groups!

» Do You Hate (The Boring Parts of) Your Wedding Pro Job?

alan bergThis 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.

I once heard a very famous speaker friend say on-stage: “I hate my job!” We, in the audience, were very surprised, until he continued that he loves speaking, he just hates all of the other things related to his work: prospecting, administration, sales, etc. Sound familiar? Do you love the creative parts of your work, but hate the business parts? Many wedding pros I meet feel that way.

Love it or hate it, those business tasks are what separate a hobby from a business. When I started selling wedding advertising many years ago, I remember visiting with a wedding photographer in his studio. His bookshelf had lots of photography books, but it also had business books. While his work was very good, there were other, more artistic photographers in his market. That said, he had a better, more viable business than many of the more artistic photographers, because he understood that he also needed business skills.

What are you good at?

Which parts of your business are you best at doing? Chances are, you didn’t say sales and marketing. If you did, good for you! If not, then what are you doing to enhance your business skills? Are you attending conferences like WeddingWire World? When I started giving presentations at conferences many years ago, the business sessions were lightly attended, compared to the sessions on improving your craft (floral arranging, video editing, etc.).

Over the years, I’m pleased to see more business content become available and more people choosing to attend. After all, you can have the best creative skills and not have a viable business. If you have great business skills, you can always hire the creative talent. When it comes to the business tasks, you can either learn to do them better or outsource them. I know how to do my accounting, but I use a CPA to do my taxes. They’re up on the latest laws and deductions, and have proven their worth to me, over and over, through their actions. I understand graphic design, but I hire a professional graphic designer, because they’re more creative than me. I understand website design, and I’ve written a book on websites, but I use a professional website designer for the more technical aspects, which are not my strength.

 

TGIF or TGIM?

In the 9-5 world, you hear TGIF from people who are looking forward to Friday, because it’s the end of their work week. In the wedding industry, Friday is the beginning of your work. Sure, you’ve been preparing for these weddings for weeks, or months, but you get to see the culmination of your work on the weekend. Yes, weddings can happen on other days, but the recent WeddingWire Newlywed Report said that, in 2016, 22 days accounted for half of all weddings. They were all Saturdays, and the 3 most popular dates were all in October. So, I can say, with confidence, that the weekend is likely when you’re performing your services.

Do you look forward to Friday, TGIF, because you’re excited about being able to bring to fruition your hard work, and to show your couples, and their guests, an amazing experience? Or, do you say TGIM, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, because your work is done? Yes, there’s a sense of relief in knowing that the wedding went off, hopefully without a hitch. Yes, there’s a sense of satisfaction in delivering your products and services, at a high-level, and having your customers pleased with the results. That said, some of you don’t get to see the faces of the guests, as they arrive at the wedding, or as they dance the night away. You deliver the tent, tables, flowers and décor, before the first guest arrives. You see brides in their dresses, in your shop, but not at the wedding (until they post or send you photos). You see grooms in their tuxes and suits, but not at the wedding. You see the invitations, but not the look on their guest’s faces when they go to their mailboxes and then open, with anticipation, the first impression of their wedding. So, do you look forward to delivering your service, or for the relief of it being over?

 

Inner pride

The most intense sense of pride comes from within. Yes, it’s nice to have others say your work is great. Yes, it’s gratifying to see their wonderful reviews. But, as I said on my recent WeddingWire EDU webinar, “Your ROI (Return on Investment) is in the WHY,” you should work the same, whether anyone sees you or not. Satisfaction of a job well done should be internal first. Know that you’ve done the absolute best you could for that customer. Take pride in that, and then look for validation from the couple and their guests.

Like it, or not, not everyone posts a photo or review. You often get little or no feedback from your customer, and rarely from the guests (unless you’re physically at the wedding). While there’s no shortage of egos in the wedding industry, your first goal is to feed your family, then feed your ego. Do what’s right, because it’s the right thing to do, not because anyone will notice. Then, get validation that you did, through their photos, social posts and reviews. So, love your job, or hate it (and outsource more of it), feel very blessed we’re in an industry that allows us to share our creativity on one of the most special days of their lives. TGIF!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Los Angeles

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Noor for WeddingWire Networking Night Los Angeles!

At the Networking Night, LA wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a gorgeous venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about building relationships in a business with little to no repeat customers from WeddingWire Contributor, Bethel Nathan.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the enjoyable evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Heather from Lisa’s Bon Appetit!

» 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.

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» 4 Easy Ways to Reduce Distractions at Appointments

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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.

These days it often seems like everyone is busier than ever, with shorter attention spans.  Knowing this may be true for your clients, it’s your job to keep appointments focused and distractions to a minimum. This advice goes for everything from the physical design and décor of your meeting space, to the background and lighting.

Customize your space for your audience.

If your business has multiple audiences for weddings, corporate parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, even funerals, it’s a good idea to have a way to change the visuals when you meet with them. When a bar mitzvah parent is coming in for a meeting, they should be seeing bar mitzvah art on the walls, bar mitzvah videos playing on your TVs and bar mitzvah images on your printed collateral materials. The same goes for your other audiences. I’ve seen quite a few wedding pros’ offices that use flat screen TVs instead of printed photos, so they can change the imagery. So, unless you’re the photographer, and you’re selling large printed and framed photos, you can try this, too. You can put a nice picture frame around the TV to make it look and feel more like artwork.

How do they see it?

Sit where they will sit and see what’s in their line of sight that might be a distraction. Is there a large window behind you with distracting movement of people, or vehicles? Are there any maintenance items that need to be addressed, from dusting, to spider webs, to touching up paint and fixing broken ceiling tiles? Looking at it from their perspective is one of the things I do when I come for an on-site training. You can’t see it the way that they do, because you see it every day, another example of the Curse of Knowledge.

wedding professionals meet couples wedding vendor

Say what?

Are there sounds coming from outside or adjacent rooms that might be a distraction? Here’s another area where you don’t get credit for getting it right, but you lose points for getting it wrong. No one will thank you for reducing the distractions, but they’ll notice when it’s too noisy, dogs barking, babies crying, and when there are people talking or playing music loudly in the next room. Actually, that wasn’t totally correct. You will get thanked in the form of additional business by getting it right.

Give them your undivided attention.

While you’re in an appointment, and I know this sounds obvious, but don’t take phone calls, check your smartphone, or email. It’s rude and it shows them that they’re less important than whatever else you’re doing. When you’re the customer, you don’t like that, so, unless someone close to you is about to have a baby, or come out of surgery, silence your devices, and tell you staff (if you have a staff) not to interrupt you unless it relates to this customer. Most of our communication is non-verbal. People believe what they see more than what they hear, and your actions speak volumes. Giving them your undivided attention is key to gaining their trust. I’ve said this already, but it’s worth mentioning again; people buy from people they know, like and trust.