» Pinch Me. Did Marriage Equality Just Happen?

View More: http://carlyfullerphotography.pass.us/kathryn-amy-weddingThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

I still have days where I feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Is it really true, I ask myself, that the Supreme Court validated marriage equality? Is my union (sealed spiritually in 1999 and then legally in 2013) recognized in all 50 states? Was I really standing on the steps of the Supreme Court on June 26 with our company founder (my mom, Gretchen) and my colleagues from WeddingWire, watching the staffers run the Justices’ decision to their reporters and then celebrating the news as it spread through the crowd?

WeddingWire on the steps of the Supreme CourtAll of this is true. And it’s only one small part of what I can only describe as the best Pride month I’ve ever enjoyed.

Gretchen and I kicked off the month of June with the announcement that GayWeddings.com was acquired by WeddingWire. Our decision to make this move culminates 5 years of collaboration, 4 years of offering the most comprehensive LGBTQ-friendly directory of wedding professionals (which is now more than 120,000 strong), and an unbroken streak of same-sex wedding education on the main stage at WeddingWire World, beginning with its inaugural conference in 2012. We’ve worked hard to build a thoughtful and inclusive platform for all couples at WeddingWire, and now we have the opportunity to design a stronger online resource for same-sex couples who still desire a niche-oriented site for their planning.

Since we announced our acquisition, our site traffic has grown by 36% (compared to the same period last year), and, even more impressive, interest in our directory of LGBTQ-friendly professionals has already doubled. Same-sex couples are looking for your services and they know they can count on the professionals who have taken advantage of the wide-range of offerings in the WeddingWire Education Center and who have the reviews of real couples to endorse their services.

In addition to sharing the news of our acquisition, we also enjoyed a marriage equality vow renewal event at the Embassy Row hotel, with the help of Capitol Romance and Pop Wed Co, and, together, we walked in the annual Capital Pride parade. And, finally, we decided as a team that June 26 would be the day that the Supreme Court would announce its marriage equality decision and, donned our Wed We Can shirts and all headed down to the steps of the Supreme Court to await the decision. It was a joyous morning!

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» What’s Next in Social Media: July 2015

What's Next in Social Media

Social media is constantly changing. Each network has its own strategy and features, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest news. Never fear! We’ve got your monthly update, all in one place, so you can be prepared for what’s next in social media!

Here’s what you need to know about what’s next in social media from July 2015:

New Facebook News Feed controlsFacebook updates News Feed controls

In an update following the initial News Feed control tools announcement in November 2014, Facebook has released additional ways for users to personalize their News Feed. In addition to quickly unfollowing or hiding certain posts or people, Facebook has added controls to allow users to select friends and pages they’d like to see first. Facebook has also taken a page out of Instagram’s book and made it easier to discover new pages based on the types of pages users (and their friends) have liked in the past.

See the details in the Facebook newsroom >>

Twitter introduces persona targeting

When Twitter launched audience insights in May of this year, advertisers gained access to additional targeting methods for reaching demographic groups. This month’s update allows businesses to apply those demographics to their ad campaigns and tailored audiences. Furthermore, the new persona targeting feature enables brands to target shorthand categories of audiences, including Millennials and small businesses. Additional targeting can be applied, but persona targeting offers a great starting point for businesses to reach their target audiences.

Continue reading on Marketing Land >>

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» Achieving Success through Appreciation, Reviews and Endorsements

Acheiving Success WebinarWebinar recap!

This month, as part of our monthly educational webinar series for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon shared his insights into the value of showing appreciation to the people in your life and business – from employees, to clients, to other Pros.

Plus, great Reviews and Pro Endorsements are more likely to happen for people who not only do their job well, but are helpful and approachable, so sharing and showing appreciation can go a long way in building your reputation!

Here are nine simple ways you can show appreciation, inspired by a recent Inc. article:

  1. Write it by hand: An electronic thank you is fine, but if you take time to write the perfect message of appreciation, why not consider writing it by hand? A note shows you really took the time to say thank you and is always a fun surprise!
  2. Offer small gestures: A small gesture requires little additional effort for you, but removes a burden for a colleague or client, and makes their day a bit better. It also shows you know they are working hard. A small gesture can be as simple as bringing them a cup of coffee or offering to take an item of their to-do list, and can make a big impact.
  3. Acknowledge an absence: If you are going to be out of town or wrapped up in events, make sure you are up front with your clients and potential clients about any changes to your normal schedule, so they understand if you take a bit more time to get back to them. Also, try to set an expectation on when they may hear from you, or who they can contact with immediate needs.
  4. Give back: If another Pro takes the time to write you an Endorsement or recommend you to a client of theirs – say thank you and return the favor if you can. Write them an Endorsement as well, send them a note, give them a call, or keep them in mind for any future client needs. If a client takes the time to write you a Review, respond to the review and the client to show your gratitude for their time and acknowledge the personal impact it will make on your business by those who read it in the future.
  5. Offer public praise: It feels good to be told, “You did a great job!” and public praise is even more appreciated. You can offer praise to your co-workers, employees, or even clients and other Pros. Post on social media to say how incredible their wedding was! Or, give a shout out about how talented another wedding Pro that you worked with is at their job. Genuine compliments and praise pay off – from helping create new connections to simply making others around you happy!
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» New Event! WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Boston

On Tuesday, local Boston venues and caterers gathered at the Hyatt Regency Boston for our first ever WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition, an event created specifically for these businesses!

At the WeddingWire Workshop, Pros enjoyed a brief presentation that included the latest insights on today’s engaged couples followed by an interactive Peer Insights Panel. In addition to the presentation and panel, guests also had the opportunity to chat with their local WeddingWire representatives, and network with other local  venues and caterers.

WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition is the newest addition to our variety of educational events and networking opportunities created for Wedding Pros, which include our annual user’s conference WeddingWire World, networking events such as WeddingWire Mix & Mingles and WeddingWire Networking Nights.

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop, including our panelists Jennifer Nicholson from the the Hyatt Regency Boston, Salvatore Degeorge from the Taj Boston, Alexis Eliopoulos O’Mara from Unique Weddings by Alexis, and Susan Earabino from Himmel Hospitality, which includes Grill 23 & Bar, Harvest, and Post 390. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Boston board in the Pro Forums.

We’re excited to share some highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide for more business tips, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

Finally, congrats to Taylor of the Le Meridien Cambridge, the winner of the WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Boston
WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Boston
WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Boston
WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Boston Continue reading

» On Sale Now: WeddingWire World 2016!

Join us at WeddingWire World 2016!We’re thrilled to announce that WeddingWire World 2016 tickets are now on sale!

Join us on February 9-11 in Washington, DC for three days of the latest education to grow your business. Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in all the new presentations, networking opportunities, and fun surprises we have in store.

WeddingWire World first began in 2012 in Washington, DC, and we followed up with another one-day event in 2013. In 2014, we took our conference “on the road” to visit WeddingWire Pros in four other major cities (Miami, Chicago, Houston, and Long Beach). In 2015, we brought WeddingWire World back to DC but extended the event to be two full days of presentations, education, and more.

With a new three day schedule, WeddingWire World 2016 will be bigger and better than ever before! Here’s what you can expect this year:

  • More presentations. WeddingWire World 2016 will feature exciting main stage presentations by big names and new sessions in segmented business tracks from top industry experts.
  • More education. In addition to the great presentations and speaker tracks, enjoy supplementary workshops to maximize your WeddingWire membership and answer your account questions.
  • More connections. Our 2016 event will provide new networking opportunities, daily celebrations with conference attendees, and one-on-one sessions with your account rep.

We will share more about our agenda, speakers, and presenters as we get closer to the event date! If you’re interested in submitting your information to be considered as a WeddingWire World 2016 presenter, please fill out our new speaker interest form.

Register now to take advantage of our lowest standard ticket price or book one of our new limited-quantity VIP tickets! Start here >>

» Keyword Best Practices for Your SEO Strategy

Google searchesWhen users find your website or blog via organic search, they’re typing in certain keywords or phrases that direct them to your website. Many of them may be general search terms, but some of them may be more specific search terms. With all the potential words a prospective client could type into their search bar, how do you know what keywords to target? And where did you put them all?

Below we’ve outlined some keyword best practices that will help your wedding business continuously optimize your website and blog as part of your SEO strategy!

Conduct keyword research

What phrases would you use to describe your business? What phrases would your customers use to describe your business? This will help guide you to understanding how you’d like potential clients to search for your business and find it. Use keyword research tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to shed some light on the popularity of the keywords you’re looking to use and how many times they’re searched monthly. You can also go through your biggest known competitors’ websites to see the content and keywords they’re using, or check out the websites of the first five search results on your target keywords or phrases to see how they incorporate these keywords.

In addition to those keywords you come up with in your research, think about longer phrases and sentences a prospective client might search. It’s becoming increasingly rare for a single keyword or short keyword phrase to drive the majority of your website traffic because those using Google on mobile devices or tablets are often searching complex, long-tail search queries using natural-language rather than keyword strings. While it’s still important that your business identifies those keywords and short keyword phrases, it’s also just as important to start targeting some longer, natural-language phrases.

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» Top Tips for Working with Photographers

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

In the wedding industry, we all rely upon one another to make our events fabulous and to market our businesses. Perhaps no vendor type is as integral to the marketing process as photographers. Photographers hold the key to the images of our work and of the happy couples and their guests enjoying that work – and it’s pretty hard to create a website, blog or social media presence without those images! That’s why it’s important to build good relationships with photographers, which requires a combination of respect, courtesy and (sometimes) patience.

Photographer guiding clientsI spoke with my friend, colleague and WeddingIQ co-editor, Kyle Bergner, who also happens to run a photography business of her own. She was happy to share some tips for working with photographers and getting the images you need.

Here are five things you can do to respect, and receive images from, photographers:

Ask permission, not forgiveness. Obviously, we all want pictures, and it can be frustrating to wait – especially when those pictures are sitting right there on the photographer’s blog or website, or when our clients have offered them to us. It’s important to remember that the photographer owns the copyright to his or her work, and only the photographer can grant permission for you to use it. Keep in mind, also, that requiring images as part of your contract with your clients doesn’t obligate the photographer to provide those images – a client can’t control the photographer in that way!

Be patient. Photographers are ridiculously busy people! Unlike many of us, their work isn’t done when the wedding is over – they still have post-production, and sometimes album creation, to finish before they can move on. And that’s in addition to all the other things that go into running their businesses and living their lives! Email the photographers with your request, and feel free to follow up if you don’t hear back, but remember that “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” Don’t wait until the last minute before your marketing deadline to request images, because you’ll likely be disappointed.

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» Updates to Your WeddingWire Account: July

Yesterday, we rolled out some exciting new additions and improvements to your WeddingWire account. Updates include enabling new ways to help you get more leads, how to better track your leads, improvements for customizing your event types, and personalizing your client response emails — all designed to help deliver your business more success.

Check out the highlights below!

Lead trackingIntroducing lead tracking

Use the new easy-to-read Leads tab in your account Analytics to see the leads you’re generating from WeddingWire. Plus, find out what traffic sources (desktop vs. mobile) perform best for your account. See my leads »

Custom event types

Need to send an invoice or a questionnaire for non-wedding events? Based on your feedback, we’ve added a new open-ended text field into our Client Management system so that you can customize the event type to keep you organized and personalize contracts for all of your clients. Update my events »

New email template features

Update your Client Response Email Template using the new attachment feature to provide your clients with the information they need. Add up to five attachments, such as pricing information, floor plans or brochures, plus, you can also customize your email signature to keep your branding on point. Get started »

New features for couples

We’ve add new features to give couples the best experience finding their perfect vendor team, including an updated FAQ layout to help users quickly digest your business information, a new Recommendation Module after they submit a lead, a ‘Pin It’ button  on all Storefront photos, as well as the photo and video count to your respective Storefront tabs.

Questions? Review the Support Center for more information about your WeddingWire Analytics and how to read your Leads Analytics, or email support@weddingwire.com any time.

» How to be an Effective Entrepreneur: Tips for Growing Your Business

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Small businesses are fueled by an initial vision, enthusiasm, energy, and generous amounts of caffeine. But most businesses, no matter how well-planned, rarely follow a straight-line growth pattern. Businesses do not operate in a vacuum. They are affected by various external factors: New direct competition, indirect competition, changing policies and perspectives of referral sources, evolution of customer preferences, advances in technology and changes in marketing platforms.

Entrepreneur working in coffee shopFinding time to tweak your business and marketing goals requires blocking time, a planned agenda, and commitment to the exercise. An annual or twice-yearly refresh might involve business partners and/or key employees. If you are a sole owner, consider hiring a marketing/business coach/consultant to be both a facilitator and sounding board.

If hiring a facilitator or consultant isn’t in the budget, you can still take the time to evaluate your business goals to be a more effective entrepreneur on your own. Take the following steps to think about where your business is now and where you want it to go based on where you’ve been. These tips for growing your business should help you frame your thoughts!

Ask yourself:  What is your wedding customer profile today?

  1. What percentage of weddings in your area are local versus destination?
  2. Is there a profitability difference between local customers and destination wedding couples?
  3. Is there a distinct demographic profile for most clients?
    1. Is the profile random or does is result from target marketing?
    2. Do you want to focus your marketing to reinforce the existing profile, or do you want expand/contract the target audience?

Knowing your company’s strengths and tendencies can be fine-tuned into one or more specific target audiences suiting your company skills or profit motives.

Ask yourself: What is the state of your competition?

  1. Which businesses do you compete with on a regular basis?
    1. Is your business winning a reasonable proportion of the clients?
    2. If not, what do you see as your disadvantage/advantage over these competitors?
    3. In what elements of your marketing/sales process/customer service is your business superior or could use improvement?
  2. Are you often annoyed by the visibility of competitors on social media, local print coverage, trade associations, charitable activities, or awards competitions?
    1. What kind of marketing upgrade would accomplish comparable or superior visibility?
    2. Are there avenues your business excels in, but is not currently capitalizing on?

Don’t obsess about competition; just be aware of them, and how you measure up. Become friendly with businesses, like yours, in distant market areas, and discuss similar competitive challenges.

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» Tips to Leverage Top Down Selling

Boost your bottom line by leveraging top down selling techniques!

Bringing in more revenue does not have to mean a lot more effort, or even more clients. Learn how to work smarter, not harder, by applying these proven sales strategies when interacting with your clients from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg. You will close larger sales from your clients, be quicker to book their business, and have more time to dedicate to your business growth!

Top Down Selling Tips

 

» 5 Ways Wedding Professionals Lose the Inquiry

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.

By the time you get an email inquiry about an upcoming wedding, there have been many buying signals on the part of the prospect. Think about the normal trajectory of a bride or groom when they begin vendor research:

Replying to an inquiry

  1. Visiting WeddingWire – They’re here because they need more wedding information
  2. Viewing your local directory – That means they’re looking for vendors in your area
  3. Choosing your service category – They’re interested in hiring someone for your service
  4. Clicking through to your Storefront – Something about your listing caught their attention
  5. Clicking through to your website – Good job! They like your reviews, photos and videos
  6. Submitting an inquiry – Fantastic, your website has gotten the conversion from prospect to inquiry

My feeling is that once you get the inquiry, it’s your sale to lose. Your prospect has already filtered a large number of possible choices down to your business (and possibly a few others). Whether they’ve also inquired about services with two, five, or ten other businesses, we can agree that there are way more who will never get that same inquiry, so they’re not in the game. In fact, they don’t even know there’s a game going on!

So I started thinking about things that wedding professionals do to derail the process and lose the inquiry. Some of these are obvious and some feel right on the surface, but they just don’t work. Here are a few of the most common ways I’ve seen Pros lose the inquiry:

1.  Trying to force a phone call right away. Like it or not, when someone emails you they are expecting an email reply. Consumers indicate their preferred communication method with the method they’ve used to contact you. If they call you, call them back. If they email you, email them back. If they text you, text them back. Unless their message says “Call me…” use the same method they’ve used.

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» WeddingWire Workshop Miami

Yesterday, local Miami wedding professionals gathered at Hyatt Regency Coral Gables for the WeddingWire Workshop Miami, an event focused on managing your business!

At the WeddingWire Workshop, Pros gathered for an in-depth presentation on the tools available within the Clients Tab of premium members’ WeddingWire accounts. In addition to receiving this tutorial, attendees also enjoyed a Peer Insights Panel, met their local WeddingWire representatives, and networked with other local Pros during a closing reception.

WeddingWire Workshops are the newest addition to our variety of educational events and networking opportunities created for Wedding Pros, which include our annual user’s conference WeddingWire World, networking events such as WeddingWire Mix & Mingles and WeddingWire Networking Nights.

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop, including our panelists Rabbi Robert Silverman, Camille from Signature Inspirations, Josh from Event Factor, and Rabbi Michael Raab from Jewish & Interfaith Weddings. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Workshop Miami board in the Pro Forums!

We’re excited to share some highlights from the event and additional resources including access to our WedInsights SeriesClients tab Quick Start Guides, the WeddingWire Education Guide for more business tips, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

Finally, congrats to Rhona of the The Yellow Canopy, the winner of the WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop Miami, 2015
WeddingWire Workshop Miami, 2015
WeddingWire Workshop Miami, 2015
WeddingWire Workshop Miami, 2015 Continue reading