» Same-Sex Marriage Evolution: From Niche To Modern Market

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

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity on Tuesday, May 19 to talk about the evolution of same-sex marriage over the years and the key elements that wedding professionals need to keep in mind when marketing to and serving same-sex couples. I’m deeply grateful to WeddingWire for its incredible support over the past 5 years, but also to the more than 2,600 wedding professionals who registered for the webinar and the 120,000 wedidng professionals who are listed in the GayWeddings.com directory.

Same-Sex Marriage Evolution: From Niche To Modern MarketAs I mentioned in the webinar, there is no better indicator of how much things have changed than the fact that 86% of the wedding professionals that WeddingWire surveyed report that they are serving or plan to serve same-sex couples in 2015. It’s a majority that outpaces the approval ratings (reported by an April 2015 Washington Post/ABC poll) of Millennials (78%) and the general adult population (61%). I very much look forward to celebrating nationwide recognition of marriage equality — hopefully as early as this June!

On our webinar, I promised some bonus content. Please find it below. There are two videos and three links.

One video is a trailer from the film, Limited Partnership, which will air on PBS’ Independent Lens on June 15; the other is a clip from my own wedding shower a couple of friends hosted for me and my wife in 1999.

You can read:

I’ll be following up in my next post with more post-webinar content to answer those great questions which went unanswered. We’ve got a long list, but do feel free to tag @WeddingWireEDU and #AskKathryn if you’d like to add a few more into the mix.

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» Top Problems to Watch for in Networking Groups

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

A client of mine recently joined a local wedding association (on my recommendation) and boy did that leave us something to talk about.

Over the past five years, I have seen a rapid decline in local associations. The association my client tried out has always been a good fit for me, but when he showed up he had a very different experience. I have withheld the name of the association, so I want those of you involved in associations to take a long hard look and see if something similar is happening with your group.

Top Problems to Watch for in Networking GroupsHere are the top three problems I’ve noted with many networking groups:

  • There are too many cliques and friend groups
  • They don’t always practice what they preach
  • They have too many wedding professionals in one or two categories

Too many cliques

My client is a master networker as he has led groups previously as well as has 25 years experience in going to meetings like this one. When he walked in, he was not greeted by other members and he felt like an outsider. This is one of the biggest problems I hear about with any networking groups in the wedding industry and beyond. This is actually a big problem because people are uncomfortable in these situations and gravitate to those they know. This gravitation towards cliques makes it harder for new members to feel welcomed.

Whether you are new to your networking group or are an existing member, take this part of my client’s story to heart. Remember what it was like the last time you showed up somewhere and didn’t know anyone. Wouldn’t you have appreciated if someone made an effort to make you feel welcome? Having a group of friends in a networking group is great, but remember to look beyond your own clique and reach out to other members whenever you can.

Not practicing what they preach

At this particular association meeting there was a professional panel, and every panelist agreed that being responsive is key to establishing connections in the industry. They suggested that 24 hours was more than enough time to respond. My client wanted to connect outside of the meeting after meeting them face to face, so he wrote a very professional follow up email with these folks to start building a relationship. As of this writing, 3 of the 4 panelists have yet to respond.

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» WeddingWire Workshop Seattle

Earlier this week, local Seattle Wedding Pros gathered at Mayflower Park Hotel for WeddingWire Workshop Seattle, 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, WeddingWire Networking Nights and more. We look forward to hosting more local WeddingWire Workshops in the near future!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop, including our panelists from Honey Crumb Studio, Dani Weiss Photography, 206 Events, and Seattle Wedding Officiants. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Workshop Seattle board in the Pro Forums!

We’re excited to share some highlights from the event and additional resources including access to our Clients 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 Gayle of Gayle Orth Catering, the winner of the WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop Seattle

WeddingWire Workshop Seattle

WeddingWire Workshop Seattle
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» The Importance of Maintaining Your Blog

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 is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at http://weddingiq.com.

If You’re Holding a Microphone, You’d Better Start Talking!

Most wedding Pros understand the benefits of having a blog on their site. It helps tremendously with search engine optimization (SEO), it gives you the opportunity to interact with and cross-promote other wedding vendors, and it helps you to establish credibility as an expert in your field. It’s also a chance to speak directly to the specific clients you’re trying to target, by creating content that is relevant and appealing to them. All good things, right?

The Importance of Maintaining Your BlogStill, many (if not most) Pros seem to struggle when it comes to keeping their blog updated regularly. Through market research, conversations with my business coaching clients, and just browsing vendors’ websites for fun, I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve encountered that have become a ghost town. The last post may have been three months ago, and the post before that is almost a year old. Yet the blog still sits there in a site’s navigation bar, looking sad and neglected.

This is problematic for many reasons: it implies a lack of good business sense (because if you really understood the benefits, you’d make your blog a priority), and more importantly, it demonstrates a lack of attention to detail and follow-through on your part. Not exactly the image most of us want to portray, especially in the wedding industry.

Still, I get it, believe me. Life just gets in the way sometimes. I took a big step back from my own wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, to deal with personal circumstances and it took me a year and a half to officially relaunch. And while that wasn’t ideal by any means, at that time WeddingIQ was a passion project, not an income source, and I did continue to focus on maintaining the blog for my primary business. So while I can completely relate to the reasons for not keeping up with a blog, I also understand how important a blog is as a business tool. It’s never too late to create a blogging habit.

Here are some tips to help you get back on track and start maintaining your blog again:

To begin, begin. William Wordsworth’s famous quote can apply to lots of things, blogging included. You need to set the intention to become a blogger, and then just jump in with both feet.  Remember that you’ve accepted the benefits of actively blogging, you understand the value in it, and you’ve consciously chosen to invest your time. Your motivation to reach the goals of improved SEO, vendor relationships, reputation and targeted client inquiries will keep you going even when writing feels hard.

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» Special Savings for Wedding MBA: Just for WeddingWire Members!

Don’t miss four days of education for wedding professionals at Wedding MBA this September 14-17th in Las Vegas! Invest in your business’ success this fall with great industry speakers including WeddingWire CEO Timothy Chi, CMO Sonny Ganguly, Education Experts Alan Berg, Andy Ebon and Kathryn Hamm, and more.

Register with this special link to save an extra $20 on the current ticket price, just for WeddingWire members. Hurry, prices increase after this Friday, May 22nd, so sign up and save now!

Why attend Wedding MBA?

  • Great education and the latest industry tips to boost your business! Don’t miss WeddingWire’s presentations including: Wheel of Fortune: Solve the Puzzle of Tech, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Mobile is the Final Answer, Flavor of Love: Win the Hearts of Couples with Social Media, and Jeopardy Daily Double: What are the Top Business Mistakes to Avoid?
  • Networking with other industry Pros from around the country (and beyond!). Hundreds of wedding professionals from across service categories and all around the world will join together to learn, network and have fun. Make new friends and learn new tips from other Pros this fall! Plus, meet with members of the WeddingWire team to discuss your account and best practices.
  • Time for fun! Why turn down a business trip to learn in Las Vegas? WeddingWire will be hosting fun events like our annual party and a Happy Hour at the convention space on Wednesday. Stay tuned for more exciting details!

Check out our highlights from last year’s event post and the Wedding MBA official website for more information. We hope to see you at Wedding MBA 2015!

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WeddingWire Staff

WeddingWire Party

» Taking Time to Re-Adjust Your Annual Goals

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.

With Memorial Day fast approaching, June weddings will be upon us, and the Fourth of July will quickly follow. It’s already almost mid-year!

Think back to New Year’s Day – that’s the time when you made business resolutions and built your goals for 2015. I strongly suggest you start to re-adjust your annual goals by midyear, if not quarterly, to better reflect your current status.

Taking Time to Re-Adjust Your Annual GoalsThe longer you’ve been in operation, the further back you can make comparisons. Circumstances change; expansion, relocation, adding employees, setbacks, natural disasters, and more could all affect your business’ performance thus far this year. That’s all true, but what one should be looking for is consistent profitability and growth, month after month, year after year.

Let’s start with keeping score

Perhaps the first question that needs asking is: Are you effectively tracking leads, appointments, sales, closing rates, reviews, and other activities? Are you applying the most complete and efficient systems to learn the outcomes? If your overall measure of success is profitability, you have to know what’s working and what’s not.

Whether the results are better, in decline, or about the same, the next question should be, “Why?” What changed in your given time period that caused the difference (or lack thereof) in results? Write down the major milestones or events that may have caused an increase or decrease in your metrics.

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» Promote Your GayWeddings Listing with a Custom Button

We’re excited to announce new GayWeddings.com custom buttons you can add to your website or blog to showcase your service to same-sex couples! Get started promoting your GayWeddings listing and boost your Storefront traffic by adding your button today.

Get your button by following our step-by-step instructions!

  1. Choose your button design from our four badge options
  2. Enter your GayWeddings Storefront URL, which you can easily grab from your WeddingWire account under the Networking tab
  3. Paste your GayWeddings Storefront URL into the form to get your custom code
  4. Add the code to your business website or blog, and your button will appear!

GayWeddings listing badgesLooking for more? You can also add a Wed We Can badge on your website or social media accounts, and show your support of all couples by joining in the #WedWeCan social media campaign.

Have additional questions? Learn more about our partnership with GayWeddings.com, get instructions on how to opt-in to the directory (open to all WeddingWire professionals), and learn how to customize your GayWeddings.com profile image. Plus, you can always contact support@weddingwire.com with any of your account needs!

» Stay Connected with Our New WeddingWire Mobile Apps for Pros

Stay Connected with our New WeddingWire Mobile Apps for ProsIntroducing the new WeddingWire mobile apps for Pros, My Reviews and My Clients! These new apps allow you to put your wedding business’ best foot forward and manage the most important parts of your business from the palm of your hand.

These new apps are exclusively for WeddingWire Pros so you can get immediate notifications and respond quickly when you receive new reviews and leads. Research shows that 50% of buyers choose the vendor who responds first – so responding quickly is extremely important!

The WeddingWire Review Manager for Pros allows you to receive instant review notifications and even request new reviews from your clients through your mobile device. Respond to, share or dispute reviews with a few easy clicks, plus view your current review status and any awards you may be eligible for on an ongoing basis.

Our latest addition, the WeddingWire Client Manager for Pros, helps you manage your inquiries and bookings on-the-go! See important client details like date, location and more right at the initial point of contact so you can determine availability at a glance. Manage the entire process and communicate with current clients from start to finish!

Both apps allow our Pros to easily access what you need from your WeddingWire account and sync new information automatically so you are always up to date. We’re happy to announce that they’re free to download for both Apple via the App Store and Android via Google Play.

Find out more about the Review Manager for Pros and the Client Manager for Pros and download the apps to your devices today!

» How to Use Social Media Effectively

How to Use Social Media Effectively

In a tech-savvy and social media-centered world, wedding businesses must have a strong online presence to keep up with competition. One of your first steps should be creating a great website (or mobile site if your website isn’t responsive) and hopping onto – at least – the top social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ve already done those things, that’s great! But to be most effective on social media, you should pay attention to what you’re posting, when you’re posting, and how often you’re posting. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you use social media effectively and make the most of your online presence!

  • Post regularly. Staying up to date on your social networks is crucial to engaging followers. Try to post at least once a day on Facebook and 2-4 times a day on Twitter. This may seem incredibly overwhelming in addition to running a business, but don’t forget that WeddingWire offers the Social Media Manager for premium Pros, so you can schedule posts ahead of time.
  • Post at peak times. What time do people start to get antsy at work? That’s the time to post on Facebook! Weekdays from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. are prime time for Facebook posts – Wednesdays at 3 p.m. is the top time during the week. Tweeting from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. will get you the most views because people tend to scroll through Twitter during their lunch breaks. Our Social Media Manager could also come in handy if you aren’t available to post during peak times.
  • Add photos to your repertoire. Posting photos on Facebook and Twitter not only livens up the pages, but it also helps you capture people’s attention. Instagram can also be a great source for drawing business because any business can use Instagram. Makeup artists can post before and after photos of brides, florists can share photos of different bouquets, and venues can post the different ways to decorate their event spaces.
  • Ask for follower opinions. If you’re a florist, post pictures of two different bouquets and ask followers which one they like better. Not only does this draw more potential views, but it also helps you know what couples are loving. If you’re a photographer, you can post a city shot and a country shot and see which scene draws more likes. The possibilities are endless!

If you want more tips and ideas for using social media effectively, check out our other blog posts about what’s next in social media, Twitter tips, and creating shareable blog posts.

» Wedding PR: Tips for Public Speakers

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and NACE Education Chair for 2014-15. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

As I shared last fall, there are a number of steps you’ll need to consider taking if you’d like to begin diving into the world of public speaking. But what about those who have a few speaking engagements under their belt already? Or for those who have been speaking at the local level and would now like to be considered for national conferences?

Wedding PR: Tips for Public SpeakersWhile a clear understanding of your goals and prioritizing time to practice (and practice and practice!) will continue to be essential to the process, consider these tips and tricks to take your public speaking to the next level:

  1. Allow your topics to evolve – When you begin speaking more regularly, a funny thing happens: the topics that you thought would be most popular may actually be your least requested, and suddenly people are clamoring to book you for subjects you may not have considered. Because of this, it’s important to keep track of the needs of your prospects and evolve along with them. I also typically add 4-6 new topics to my portfolio every year to ensure I can offer fresh and inspiring content to event professionals.
  2. Organize your calendar – Make note of any major conferences where you’d like to pitch and familiarize yourself with their submission guidelines, as well as their deadlines. With the latter, note the deadline on your calendar as well as set a date several weeks prior so you can begin preparing.
  3. Ask for testimonials – Reviews are essential to your wedding business and the same can be said for your speaking career. Testimonials equal credibility, plain and simple, so after a speaking engagement, reach out as appropriate and request a review so that you can share it with future prospects.
  4. Request feedback – Never hesitate to ask for constructive feedback from both attendees and those that book you. Additionally, if you aren’t selected for a particular seminar or conference, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and inquire as to why you weren’t selected. The feedback could be invaluable.
  5. Be a thought leader – Speakers leverage their expertise even when they are not on the stage so take advantage of chances to share your knowledge with a wider audience. Many choose to utilize their blog as a channel while others set aside time to research guest writing opportunities as their schedule allows. Your visibility, as well as your reputation in the field, is crucial when being considered a thought leader in your industry.

Public speaking is a proven strategy for wedding professionals who would like to build an additional revenue stream while also increasing brand awareness for their company. With the above tips in mind and a commitment to better their craft, those just starting out in the field will continue to expect healthy return for their efforts.

» Introducing the WedInsights Series

Introducing the WedInsights SeriesWe’re proud to introduce WedInsights, a new publication designed to provide wedding professionals with actionable consumer and business insights.

WedInsights is a free monthly series that will allow wedding and event professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest wedding industry findings and new client data. Each month we’ll provide you with a new issue aimed at providing relevant and insightful data around important topics for businesses in the wedding industry, including:

  • The importance of a mobile presence
  • The couples’ wedding planning journey
  • Capturing and converting more leads
  • …and more!

Each publication will provide a holistic view of the topic from both the consumer and vendor perspective. We’ll provide relevant behavioral data, quotes and testimonials from real consumers, and peer-to-peer insights to help you understand how to use the information provided to help your business.

Our inaugural issue focuses on Reviews and details how reviews have become instrumental to every wedding business’s success. Download the free WedInsight Reviews report here and keep an eye out for new topics each month!

» Updates to Your WeddingWire Analytics Reporting

Updates to Your WeddingWire Analytics ReportingWe’re excited to announce that as of May 1, 2015 your WeddingWire Storefront traffic in your account Analytics is reported through Google data services and displays Storefront Visits in place of Storefront Clicks.

In order to provide more in-depth Analytics information, we transitioned to Google data services. Google Analytics is regarded as the industry standard for traffic reporting, and we want to provide a consistent experience when reporting your Storefront traffic.

Here’s the breakdown of the new metrics you’ll need to understand and how the data points differ:

  • Unique Visits: A unique visit consists of the activity of a single user on your Storefront. A unique visit ends when a user is inactive for more than 30 minutes. Unique Visits do not reflect how many times someone clicks on tabs and links within your Storefront or how often a single user returns to your Storefront during the visit.
  • Storefront Visits: Cumulative monthly unique visits to your WeddingWire Storefront compared to the median number of visits to other Storefronts in your region and service category.

In reporting Storefront Visits instead of Clicks, you now have a more transparent view into the number of unique visitors viewing your Storefront each month. This update – based on feedback from our members – will give you access to enriched Analytics and set the foundation for future Storefront data improvements.

It’s important to note that your Website Click and Review data within Analytics will remain upunchanged during this update! While we have updated some functionality over the past year, our goal is to continue to surface more information to you in future versions. If you have any feedback or improvement requests based on these updates, please complete this form.

WeddingWire Analytics, along with guaranteed directory placement, is only available to premium WeddingWire members. Learn more about upgrading at vendors.weddingwire.com or get started by contacting us at sales@weddingwire.com.