» 7 Steps to Establishing a New Wedding 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.

No matter how active your current business or how big your aspirations, it’s not unusual to wonder about your next steps as a business. Whether you’re brand new to the wedding industry as a whole, or you’re considering moving to a new market or category, I’ve outlined below what I believe to be some of the best places to start when establishing a new wedding business.

7 Steps to Establishing a New Wedding Business1.  Jumpstart your experience and passion

Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned professional who needs a booster shot, there is no better tactic than spending time as an intern with another professional in your field of endeavor. For the beginner, staying local (just be sure to share clear intentions) is a great place to start. Reading books, attending seminars, and the like all have their place; however, there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty and observing.

If you’re an experienced Pro, you’ve hopefully made peer contacts through wedding and category-specific conferences. Identifying a peer who is strong where you are weak and offering to work for free for a week or two is a fast-track approach to finding a spark. One of the keys in either situation is to offer something of specific value (think ‘skill’) to contribute. That value for value relationship is most likely to create a successful collaboration.

Approach these opportunities with clear goals, making sure you can achieve the experience and knowledge you desire, and arrive at a clear agreement on arrangement.

2.  Seek out educational and networking opportunities

There are local, regional and national entities offering a wide variety of education and networking opportunities. Even those choices can be daunting. Consider breaking it down like this:

  • National Conferences – Whether general industry conferences or category-specific conferences, there are a number to choose from. An example of wedding industry conferences would be WeddingWire World or Wedding MBA.
  • Regional Events – Depending on your resources and the curriculum, these are also a good place to start. Examples are hosted by NACE (National Association for Catering and Events), ISES (International Special Events Society) and ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants).
  • Local Groups – These can be local chapters of national associations or individually formed local groups. There are many wedding-specific organizations. To become educated or to stay current in your local market, you should sample multiple groups and pick a couple which fit your ambitions and goals. There is networking, education, seminars and more. Beginning to build business relationships and a personal fan club starts here.

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» WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond

Last night, Wedding Pros gathered at Maggiano’s Little Italy for WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Richmond area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond board in the Pro Forums.

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

We’re also excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to Andrea Pesce of Andrea Pesce Photography!

Finally, as mentioned at the conclusion of the presentation, we encourage you to take advantage of your discounted registration for WeddingWire World! As a WeddingWire Networking Night Richmon attendee, you may use the promo code provided at the event for your ticket. Please email events@weddingwire.com if you have any questions!

WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond

WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond

WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond

WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond Continue reading

» Congratulations to the Winners of our December Review Contest!

Congratulations to the Winners of our December Review Contest!During the month of December, we asked WeddingWire couples to leave reviews for their wedding professionals for a chance to win a $1,000 Amazon gift card for themselves AND a $1,000 Amazon gift card for the Pro they reviewed.

We’re happy to announce that the winners of our December Review Contest are Brian and Amanda of Dallas, TX for their review of Black Tie Sounds and Lighting!

To make it easy for our Pros to prioritize and collect reviews, we added pre-populated messaging in the WeddingWire Review Collector tool to help spread the news about the contest. The Review Collector allows premium Pros to create email templates for review requests and schedule them to send on a future date.

When it comes to collecting reviews, WeddingWire is the most trusted resource for engaged couples searching for their wedding team, with over two million reviews and counting! And don’t forget – you can earn awards for the quantity and quality of your reviews through annual programs like the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® and WeddingWire Rated.

While this contest ended in December, we offer an ongoing review program that rewards reviewers with up to $75 in gifts just for writing reviews. Feel free to share with your clients as an added incentive all year round!

Congratulations again to Brian, Amanda and Black Tie Sounds and Lighting, and good luck to all our Pros collecting reviews all year round!

» Pro Forum Buzz: Responding to Reviews, 2015 Weddings and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Responding to Reviews, 2015 Weddings and MoreHow do you deal with inaccurate reviews?

Pros discuss the best way to professionally respond to negative reviews, especially those which you feel misrepresent facts or opinions. Feel free to jump in and share your tips for responding to reviews!

Share your tips >>

Turning down clients

At what point is it right for your business to turn down a client? If a potential client isn’t the right fit for your business, how do you deal with it? Pros weigh in on possible strategies.

Give your opinion >>

2015 wedding schedule

How is your 2015 shaping up? Pros across all categories discuss whether or not they’re seeing more or less bookings than in 2014, and what could be affecting the low number of events many Pros are seeing.

Join the conversation >>

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» Customer Success Profile: Katey H.

Did you know that all premium WeddingWire Pros have access to a dedicated Customer Success representative?

Our Customer Success Team is there to share ideas and tips to help you get the most out of your account. No matter if you have a specific question or you’d like recommendations on best practices, the WeddingWire Customer Success team is dedicated to helping you grow your business.

In our Customer Success Profile series, we interview a member of our Customer Success team each month. Get to know your Customer Success representative and learn more about how they can help your wedding business!

Customer Success Profile: Katey H.Name: Katey H.

How long have you worked for WeddingWire?

2 glorious years and 7 months!

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

The many opportunities our team has to meet our vendors face to face (through Networking Nights, Mix & Mingles, Workshops and WeddingWire World events). It is incredibly rewarding to meet our advertisers and hear about how WeddingWire has brought them success.

What’s your favorite tip to help Pros?

Utilize your network. A vendor can build a strong reputation by getting their friends, family, clients, and colleagues involved in spreading the word. This can be done via word of mouth, social media, events, email, and the collection of reviews.

How do you keep up with technology trends?

I’m a big fan of following tech blogs. My two favorites are Mashable and TechCrunch. I also follow them on Facebook and learn a lot directly from their posts.

How do you keep up with trends in the wedding industry?

Hi, my name is Katey and I’m addicted to Pinterest. Pinterest is a fantastic way to keep up with the ever evolving trends in the wedding industry. I follow all of the top wedding blogs and sites on Pinterest to keep myself informed. I always suggest this to my advertisers – it’s important to know what is trending so that you are well informed when working with today’s couples.

If you’d like to learn more about the WeddingWire Customer Success Team or find out who your Customer Success representative is, please email pros@weddingwire.com!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

On Tuesday, Wedding Pros gathered at The Westin Charlotte for WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Charlotte area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Greater Charlotte Facebook Community!

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

We’re also excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to David Stelzl of Something Gourmet Bakery!

Finally, as mentioned at the conclusion of the presentation, we encourage you to take advantage of your discounted registration for WeddingWire World! As a WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte attendee, you may use the promo code provided at the event for your ticket. Please email events@weddingwire.com if you have any questions!

WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte
WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte
WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte
WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte Continue reading

» Top 10 Business Resolutions for 2015

Top Business Resolutions WebinarWebinar Recap!

Yesterday, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly hosted our annual webinar, Top Business Resolutions, to kick the new year off right. Sonny shared his best tips for a successful year for your business from brand to website, reviews and more.

Here is a sneak peek of the top 10 tips, and be sure to watch the full webinar in the Education Center!

  • Brand: Focus on brand consistency for your business, and work to create a quarterly PR plan.
  • Website: Make it easy for website visitors to contact you. Create an easy to use contact form and place it very prominently on your site, then use Google Analytics to see how your site performs.
  • SEO: Every page on your site should have a page title, meta description, meta tags and H1 tag to build strong SEO.
  • Social: Commit to being active on Facebook + two other sites at the least. This year, we recommend Instagram and Pinterest to reach your target audience most effectively.
  • Video: Create and post videos across all your sites – from your website to your Storefront to social media. Video is very engaging and a great way to showcase your work.

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» The Opportunity Cost of Not Asking for the Upsell

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.

Are you getting the most profit from each wedding or event? I gave a presentation recently on closing sales and how none of us should sell a client something they neither want nor need. That doesn’t mean we don’t sell them things they didn’t come in for. Most couples don’t know how to shop for what you do, so they don’t always know what’s available.

The Opportunity Cost of Not Asking for the UpsellDiscover the interest

Part of your job in the sales process is to ask good questions to find out if your client is interested in hearing more about some of the things you do, but they haven’t asked you about. That’s called the discovery phase. If they’re not interested, move on. If they are then show them how those things can enhance their event, and then see if they’re interested in adding them. In other words, go for the close.

What if they don’t buy them today?

For most wedding and event professionals there is a gap between when you make the sale and the event date. Therefore there’s plenty of time to revisit some of the upsell opportunities with your client. But do you? Is the sale done and complete the first time, or do you call, email or bring up the other items during subsequent meetings? If not, why not?

What’s the opportunity cost?

If you’re not asking for the upsell with your client (I’m talking about upsell items that will legitimately benefit them), both you and the client lose. They lose the chance to enhance their wedding or event (and of course they can decline them) and you lose the revenue. The revenue you lose is called the “opportunity cost,” or more appropriately the “opportunity lost.” Over the course of a year this can add up to a lot of revenue. Just imagine an extra $50, $100, $200 or more, in profit from each event. What would that mean to you?

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» HR Tips for Establishing Company Culture

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

HR Tips for Teaching Company CultureFor many wedding professionals, hiring new employees is a simple process of identifying potential candidates based on experience and selecting the most qualified. However, when adding new employees it’s important to be strategic!

If you’re trusting someone other than yourself to work with or manage clients, you should be making sure that person is an extension of you in every way. Often times business owners will bring in new businesses and start the initial contract, but the client ends up dealing with a different employee throughout the rest of the process. This is very common for venues, which often have different sales employees from their day-of coordinators.

Everything you stand for as a business owner or manager should translate to every single employee to ensure that the customer gets the same experience (great experience!) no matter who they speak with at your business. The following HR tips will help your business identify your company culture and values and extend them to each new hire.

Confirm your company’s vision

It may seem old-fashioned to new wedding professionals, but setting a company vision or mission statement is necessary for any small business. Although no one will be grading you on it, it will guide you as you grow and start hiring more employees. If everyone is aware of your company’s vision and the values you strive to emulate, there’s a common goal in everyone’s eyes. There’s less confusion in the long run if employees break from that vision; it’s something to point to as a goal for everyone.

Consider fit, not just experience

When hiring a new employee, don’t just hire based on the resume – consider the candidate’s fit within your company culture. Think about the ideal employee, a person who shares your values and who you can be confident will do the best job representing your business. Is this person willing to go above and beyond what’s required of him or her to satisfy a customer? Even if a candidate meets the requirements, he or she may not be the best fit in your company culture.

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» Get Featured in the WeddingWire SpringBook

Showcase your favorite spring inspired work, inspire couples, and grow your business reach by being a part of the WeddingWire SpringBook!

Submit photos of your past spring real weddings and spring-themed styled shoots to be featured in our upcoming e-magazine. If your work is selected, we’ll link to your Storefront and share your photos with thousands of couples across WeddingWire, social media, email and more.

We are actively looking for the following:

  • Weddings taken place in the springtime within the past two years.
  • Inspiring and creative details (bouquets, centerpieces, stationery, food, favors, and more!) – and lots of ‘em!
  • Submission must include at least 50 photos, mostly in color
  • High-quality images with no watermarks

We can’t wait to see what you share! Easily upload your photos at RealWeds.com by Wednesday, February 4th to be considered for inclusion.

What are you waiting for? Submit your photos »

Submit to the SpringBook

Also, be sure to check out our newly launched WinterBook to see examples of real weddings we love!

Photos by Sun & Sparrow Photography

» 5 Steps to Executing a Content Plan

5 Steps to Executing a Content PlanFor those paying attention to marketing trends, content marketing is the shiny “new” strategy. Only, it’s not new. The idea that writing high-quality, educational content can help you book more business has been around a long time, and it’s not going away any time soon! Your wedding business should come up with a content plan to help you walk people through your sales process.

Easier said than done, right? Below are five steps to help you start a content plan and maintain it this year and beyond!

1.  Conceptualize

Writing requires a good deal of forethought; there are a lot of things to think about before you open up a blank Word document. Before you dive in, take the time to think through the topic and its relationship with your audience. Is your idea something they want? Something they need? Something that will help them learn more about your business or the wedding industry? Answering these questions will help you decide if your topic will be popular with your audience. You should also consider the format of your content. A blog post can be short, sweet and informative, while a denser topic may require a longer format such as a guide or a white paper. Don’t limit yourself to one or two types of content – decide on the format on a case-by-case basis. If you need help coming up with topics and committing yourself to writing, see our post on jump starting your blogging efforts (applicable to other types of content as well!).

2.  Write

OK, now that you’re ready to write, write! If you’re prone to writer’s block, try skipping the introduction and coming back to it later when you have a better idea of how your piece will end up. Give yourself time to write and try not to self-edit as you go. You’ll have time to edit after you get all your ideas out! It’s also smart to have a coworker or employee look over your content to proofread for errors and give general thoughts on the way you expressed the topic. At the end of your post or article, be sure to include a call-to-action which instructs the reader what to do next. For more guidelines to help you write, check out this PR Daily content marketing checklist.

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» Couples’ Choice Awards® 2015: Hear from the Winners

Couples’ Choice Awards® 2015: Hear from the Winners

Last week, we were thrilled to announce the winners of the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2015!

Our annual awards program recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Unlike other awards in the wedding industry, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® are solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with their wedding professionals.

We are always excited to start the year by celebrating the success of these top-rated wedding professionals! In our seventh year of the awards program and now with over two million consumer and peer reviews, we continue to emphasize the power of reviews and their proven impact on these award-winning businesses that are committed to quality, professionalism and top-tier service.

Below is some of the feedback we received from a few of our wonderful winners who have seen how their WeddingWire reviews and awards have helped grow their businesses:

617 WEDDINGS ENTERTAINMENT“Our team is thrilled to be a recipient of the Couples’ Choice Awards 2015 from WeddingWire. Our primary focus is developing a collaborative planning method and empowering couples to actively create their day with us. That’s why we are so proud to have our business practices recognized by our clients on WeddingWire. We could not be more excited to be awarded this distinction by our couples, especially when entering a New Year!”

– Jimmie Espo, 617 Weddings, Woburn, MA

 
Carolina Event Design“It’s always encouraging and humbling to win the Couples’ Choice Awards. Past clients and referrals from WeddingWire are our biggest lead source and avenue for new business. It says a lot about any vendor when they receive so many reviews. And since people are usually pretty honest when reviewing companies, products, and services online, it speaks volumes of any business that receives this award.”

– Heather Bryson, Carolina Event Design, Charlotte, NC

 

For additional information, read the full press release. Congratulations again to all our 2015 winners!