» Top Google Apps for Wedding Professionals

Top Google Apps for Wedding ProfessionalsIn the wedding industry, a day of work extends beyond 9am-5pm for many wedding professionals. Between actual client events, appointments with prospects and other business errands, you often find yourself out of the “office” more than you’re actually in it! With all the back and forth, you want to have access to everything your business needs.

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you may be using outdated business tools simply because they weren’t available when you first started your wedding business. Google offers a suite of apps that help businesses get work done faster, and the functionality is only getting better by the day. Read on below for the top Google apps for wedding professionals today!

Gmail

For those old-school Pros who prefer Outlook (or Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc.) for their email needs, Gmail is worth a second look! Google’s email product, Gmail, provides a number of helpful features for wedding professionals in particular. Because Gmail is a web-hosted email service, you can access your account from any computer, tablet, smartphone or other device with Internet access! This means that no matter where you are or how you’re accessing the Internet, you’ll be able to communicate with prospects and clients. And with 15GB of free storage, you don’t have to worry about deleting emails to make room. The best feature, though, is that you can also get a custom email with your company’s domain name which runs through Gmail! It’s free for personal users, but for a few dollars a month you’ll get the professional look you’re going for and never lose access to your business’ needs. Check out our list of Gmail tips and tricks to help you save time!

Google Drive

Ever want to share a document with a colleague or collaborate with more than one other person? If you’re emailing Word documents or Excel spreadsheets back and forth, you may experience issues dealing with the multiple versions. Google Drive is the perfect solution for wedding professionals who need lots of data and information at their fingertips at all times! With Google Drive, your business can go wherever you go. You can organize, edit and share documents from any computer at drive.google.com, or on-the-go with the Drive mobile app. Multiple users can be in your documents at one time, and you can add comments/track changes as you would in a Word doc. The spreadsheets in Google Drive are also extremely useful to keep track of all your event information and expenses. You can also upload photos, videos and other files to keep them accessible to multiple people from multiple devices.

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» How to Build Strong SEO in 4 Ways

Building strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important for your wedding business’ online exposure. There’s so much information available about SEO it may be difficult to know what you should, and should not, be doing for your business. Regardless of all the confusion, the goal remains the same: you want your business to be found by engage couples searching for their perfect Pros.

Most wedding professionals are concerned about SEO for their website, but your website is not the only place where you have a presence online. Your business should optimize your presence across your website, blog, social networks and online listings. We break down what you need to know to build strong SEO by optimizing each, below!

How to Build Strong SEO in 4 WaysOptimizing your website for search

Your business’ website is a great place for potential clients to learn even more about your wedding business, but it’s not much use if it can’t be found! For those couples who use a combination of WeddingWire and search engines to find their Perfect Pros, you should make it as easy as possible to be found!

Search engines are looking for the following from your website:

  1. Include relevant keywords in all aspects of your website, including your domain name, title tags, meta tags and long-tail URLs. You can also use keywords within your page content, and use HTML cues like the <H1> tag and the <Alt Tag> on images. Begin by focusing on 10 keywords, and a good strategy is to include the word “wedding,” your service category and your business’ location.
  2. One of the most obvious detractors is lack of quality content. Websites that aren’t trustworthy rarely take the time to write intelligent, descriptive content, so make sure your website doesn’t fall into this trap. Create quality content that is specific to your business and keeps your customer in mind.
  3. Think about your customers’ experience on your website. Is it easy for them to navigate from page to page? Are there any outdated web pages or dead-end links that should be removed? Asking these questions will help improve your website’s functionality to make it more user-friendly, which is another factor in most search algorithms.
  4. Create relevant inbound links back to your website by guest blogging for partners who will link back to your website when they mention you on their website or blog. You should never buy inbound links in bulk from mass directories.

Optimizing your blog for search

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» WeddingWire Networking Night Salt Lake City

Tuesday night, Wedding Pros gathered at This is the Place Heritage Park for WeddingWire Networking Night Salt Lake City!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Salt Lake City 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 educational 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 Salt Lake City 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 excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to Irene Bozich of Utah Vows!

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

WeddingWire Networking Night Salt Lake City

WeddingWire Networking Night Salt Lake City

WeddingWire Networking Night Salt Lake City

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» WeddingWire Networking Night San Francisco

Monday night, Wedding Pros gathered at The City Club of San Francisco for WeddingWire Networking Night San Francisco!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the San Francisco 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 educational 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 Area San Francisco Facebook page!

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

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to Darold Parcon of Flix in Motion!

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

WeddingWire Networking Night San Francisco

WeddingWire Networking Night San Francisco

WeddingWire Networking Night San Francisco

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» Branding in the Wedding Industry

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.

Many wedding professionals are interested in creating an effective brand strategy that goes beyond a name, symbol or design to differentiate their business from the rest in the cluttered wedding industry. This sort of advanced marketing strategy can be tough to implement in such a fragmented industry, but it doesn’t have to be! In this post, I share the basics that will help you be successful in creating a distinct brand for your wedding business.

Branding in the Wedding IndustryStart with the goal in mind

Remember: the number one job you have as a wedding professional is lead generation.  Without leads, your business goes nowhere. To get leads, you need your business to be where couples are spending their time. In the mind of a couple, you need to be more than just “seen,” you need to effectively get them to convert or move to the next step. The most effective advertising that wedding professionals can put out is a multi-pronged approach spanning several different channels.

Most couples are not looking in a singular medium when they start their search for wedding professionals. They typically start on the internet, whether on a planning website like WeddingWire or through online search. I highly suggest that you spend 50% of your energy and budget on internet related marketing, then use the rest of your time going to bridal shows, buying ad placement in wedding magazines or collaborating with other wedding professionals. As you think about the various places your brand will be visible, it’s important to you look at three specific elements of your campaigns: the logos, the slogans and the colors.

Creating a logo

Your logo needs to be professionally done. With all the online resources available, there is no reason why you should not and cannot get a professionally made logo that makes you look like the professional business you are! Homemade logos (and any other marketing materials for that matter) make you look much less professional.

Creating a slogan

Using the same slogan or tagline also helps to trigger awareness. It’s not their job to sort out and pay attention to our advertising; engaged couples will simply pick out the Wedding Pros that they are attracted to based upon the advertisements they see. When you maintain consistency throughout advertising, couples are more likely to remember your business. Just remember: your tagline needs to be specific to you – using some vague slogan like “Providing the best for your special day” doesn’t make for effective branding.

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» What’s Next in Social Media: August 2014

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 August 2014:

Facebook's new Save featureFacebook’s new Save feature

For those who use the Facebook app on iOS, you may have noticed a new option in the drop down menu you see in the right corner of link posts. Facebook is following the lead of services like Pocket and allowing users to “save” links to a list to be found later. This feature makes it easier for users to find stories they may not have had time to look through at the time they first saw it in their News Feed. This feature extends the life of links you post on your page, as your audience can save them for a more convenient time!

Read more on Wired >>

Twitter tests Favorite changes

Twitter has been testing the value of different on actions on Twitter and how they show up in your Twitter timeline. Previously, when a user “Favorited” another tweet, a notification was sent to the other user, but it did not create a story within other people’s timelines. Now, Twitter is testing including Favorites within the timeline, similar to a Retweet. Similar to this test is including tweets from accounts that are followed by one or more of your followers.

Learn more from Mashable >>

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Payment Services, Creating Reception Energy 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, Pros 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 Pro Forums!

Mobile credit card processors

Which service do you use to process mobile credit card payments, Square or PayPal or another service? Pros weigh in on the different rates as well as customer service issues for the various service providers.

Add your thoughts >>

DJs: Creating energy on the dance floor

A DJ’s job during the reception is to create energy through music to get people on the dance floor. Some couples, though, don’t enjoy dancing, which can affect the energy of the whole reception. What’s your advice for working with this type of couple?

Give your advice >>

Accepting final payments

When do you accept final payments from your clients? Some Pros add a specific date in their contracts, while others accept final payments within a certain time frame such as the month or week before.

Share your experiences >>  Continue reading

» Mobile Marketing for Wedding Professionals

Mobile Marketing for Wedding ProfessionalsWith all the components of digital marketing to keep track of, mobile marketing may not be a high priority. Much of the research and articles written about mobile marketing suggest that your business create a fully responsive website, send SMS messages or create a mobile app.

OK, so your wedding business probably won’t be creating its own mobile app, but that doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your marketing efforts for mobile devices! Mobile marketing for wedding professionals is a whole different ball game, and with your limited time to dedicate to mobile marketing strategy you might feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry! There are a number of small things you can do that will have a big impact on your business’ ability to reach couples wherever they’re spending their time.

Below are the areas you should focus on mobilizing for your business so every couple who interacts with your business in some way gets the best experience, no matter the device!

Mobile website: Before you protest that you don’t have enough time to create a mobile website, read further! You don’t have to have a separate mobile website for your business; the key here is to ensure that your existing website functions well on a mobile device. Use your phone to check out your website on your smartphone. Is the text too small to read easily? Do you have trouble clicking on individual links? Do you have to zoom in and out with your fingers to navigate through the site? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you have some optimizing to do! WeddingWire offers our Mobile Website Creator to premium Pros, which simply requires you to paste a quick bit of code to your website and voila! You’re done and have a mobile-friendly site. Some website providers, like WordPress, also provide similar plugins that may be worth checking out.

Mobile-friendly email: Email marketing can be a very useful tool for many Wedding Pros, but unfortunately many of the beautiful emails you design don’t look so beautiful on mobile. Luckily for you, most email marketing platforms now offer desktop and mobile versions of their own templates, or they offer responsive designs that work on all devices. Unluckily for you, there are still a number of considerations you should still be aware of even if you have separate versions of your emails. You should be prepared to examine your versions and make adjustments where necessary. Remember that big buttons are easier to click than smaller text links, and keep your content as short as you can in your mobile versions. It’s difficult to read a lot of text on a mobile device without breaking it up with other design elements, so bear that in mind as you make adjustments and always review your emails on both desktop and mobile before sending.  Continue reading

» How to Build a Buzzworthy Brand on Social Media

How to Build a Buzzworthy Brand Webinar Recap!

How social is your business? Today’s couples are highly engaged on social media and love sharing, posting and liking as they plan their wedding online and on-the-go. 72% of internet users are active on social media and 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision – and this includes decisions for their big day! Social marketing is a must for your brand in the wedding industry.

WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganuguly hosted this month’s educational webinar for premium members and shared his tips for how to stand out online and build a strong brand using social media.

Check out these tips for building a buzzworthy brand on top social media sites:

  • When posting on Facebook, the largest social network, keep in mind the highest traffic occurs mid-week between 1-3pm, and post engagement is 18% higher on Thursday and Friday. Be sure to post great content at these times!
  • Twitter users are three times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users. Learn more about your followers by reviewing the recently launched analytics.twitter.com and tailor your sharing according to your user interest and engagement style.
  • Google+ is the 2nd largest social network in regards to amount of users. While they still working to increase user engagement on this site, take advantage of the boost it can give your posts! Posts see a +350% increase when shared using the +1 button so be sure to add this button to your posts and create a business Google+ account. Not only are 6 billion hours watched per month on YouTube, but it is also the #1 network for 18-34 year olds.

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» First Look: WeddingWire World Houston

We can’t wait to host WeddingWire World Houston on Monday, October 20 at the brand new JW Marriott Houston Downtown, and we wanted to give our Pros a first look at this luxury venue!

WeddingWire World Houston is the fourth of five stops on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014, which has so far hosted fantastic events in Miami, DC and Chicago. We’re less than two months away from our Houston event, and we’re getting excited about the prospect of hosting at such a lovely location.

First Look: WeddingWire World HoustonSet in Houston’s first skyscraper, the JW Marriott Houston Downtown is a new hotel that eloquently carries the rich legacy of Houston into modern day. When it opens to the public in September 2014, the JW Marriott Houston Downtown will also offer direct access to the tunnel system which is ideally located on both rail lines, ensuring plenty of opportunity to explore nearby attractions.

Here’s what you can expect from WeddingWire World Houston at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown:

  • Stunning event spaces – named after famous artists, the event rooms at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown match the contemporary elegance of the rest of the hotel. As you wander from Picasso to Monet during breakout sessions and up to Dalí to meet with one of our customer success representatives, you’ll get beautiful views of downtown Houston to keep you inspired.
  • Plenty of networking – as the fourth largest city in America, Houston provides the perfect backdrop for WeddingWire World Houston attendees to network and connect with other Pros both within your service category and outside of it. WeddingWire World Houston is a perfect time to meet new members of the WeddingWire community, as well as members of our staff!

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» How to Shorten Your To-Do List

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.

Coming back from WeddingWire World Chicago I was reflecting upon all of the great wedding professionals I met and the wonderful ideas they heard and the connections they made. I was sure they all went home with a huge to-do list for their business, and it dawned on me how overwhelming it can sometimes seem when there are so many great ideas and so little time to implement them. So, how do you choose where to start?

How to Shorten Your To-Do ListHow do you shorten your to-do list? First, differentiate your “to-do” list from your “today” list. Your “today” list consists of day-to-day business and personal items like ordering supplies, taking the kids to school or walking the dog. Your “to-do” list consists of those bigger picture items that help you grow, personally and professionally.

So many ideas, so little time

I can relate, as I’m also an entrepreneur with a small business that has grown significantly over the past few years. Shortly after I joined the National Speakers Association I was at a conference in New Orleans; it was 2½ days of non-stop sessions, social events and networking. On the last day, before we all headed home, the president of the association, Marc LeBlanc, left us with a very powerful thought.

He told us to write down all of the great ideas we had heard, both onstage and off, and prioritize them in the order in which they’ll have the greatest impact on our business. Number them 1, 2, 3 and so on, then – and this is where the magic happens – he told us to keep the top 3 things on our lists and then get rid of the rest of the list. And he meant to physically get rid of it.

See the forest AND the trees

He told us we should only have 3 things to focus on, because when you have that short list, you can actually get them done. It was hard for me to conceptualize, because I (like many of you, I’m sure) had a dry-erase board that was packed with things I wanted to do, but admittedly they were things I had also never even started. So, I erased that white-board (I took a picture of it first, just in case!) and started fresh. It was liberating, but a little scary at the same time.

What happened next was empowering: I actually started to get more things done by having fewer things on my list! You see, when you cross off one of thirty things on a list it feels good for a second…until you see the rest of the list. When you cross off 1 of only 3 things, it feels great. If you have a big project, break it down into smaller bites and put those on your list of 3 things.

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» 5 Ways to Build Engagement on Facebook

5 Ways to Build Engagement on FacebookIf your wedding business has a Facebook page, you know it can be a challenge to not only post consistently but also to get likes, comments and shares on your posts! Many businesses make the mistake of approaching Facebook for business in the same way that they approach Facebook for personal use, and the two could not be more different.

On your personal Facebook account, people you know will friend you simply because they know you; they don’t expect anything except for your friendship and a view into your life. On your Facebook business page, people will like your page because they want to gain something by following your updates. They might seek more information, deals, discounts or even just updates into your business, but they are looking for value. Your page should provide value through your Facebook posts, but how?

If you want to build engagement on Facebook and get your message out there to more users, incorporate the strategies below into your social media strategy!

Use more photo and video

As your users scroll through their News Feed, photos and video stick out much more than text posts. It’s hard to ignore a large, colorful photo, and just think about all the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos sweeping Facebook right now! Adding a photo or video to your post will earn you more attention, which means more engagement from users interested in your brand. Upload a photo from a recent event (giving the photographer credit where necessary) or create a quick video of your last event with our Video Builder. It may take a little more time than just a text post, but it’s worth the time to stand out that much more to your customers and potential customers.

Ask questions

When you do post text or a link, try to use questions to engage with your audience. Social media is a two-way medium, allowing for communication between both the poster and reader. Take advantage of this nuance by asking questions of your audience to prompt them to comment with an answer. If you’re a wedding planner, try asking your audience if they prefer one wedding trend over another. If you’re a photographer, ask your audience which poses they view as the have-to-have poses for their wedding albums. You can post a question each week on a certain day, or you can just add them into your social schedule as you see fit to provide some variation in your posts.

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