» Bridal Show ROI: Avoid These Common Misconceptions

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis guest post is by Brian Lawrence, developer of Sellthebride.com and Alan Berg’s business partner. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He has spent 30 years in the wedding and stationery industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

Bridal shows are an extremely important part of today’s wedding industry. They are the major platform that gets couples off of their computer screens and face to face with wedding professionals. However, many wedding businesses are disillusioned that their mere participation in a bridal show automatically leads to booking weddings. This article will help clear up some misconceptions and include an action plan to getting the best return from bridal show participation.

Bridal Show ROI: Avoid These Common MisconceptionsMisconception #1: “Bigger is not always better”

While the prospect of participating at shows with thousands of attendees is exciting, smaller bridal shows often offer Pros a greater possibility of quality contact with potential clients. It is good practice to be mindful of the show’s ratio; a show that has 75 attendees should not have 40 vendors exhibiting. There just are not enough opportunities for vendors if the attendee to vendor ratio is less than 4 to 1.

Here are several alternative formats that give vendors high visibility at a small show for the best bridal show ROI:

  • Mock Wedding: Usually organized by an entertainment company, this showcase invites a smaller group to experience what it would like to be a guest at their own wedding. It is a collaboration of wedding professionals who simulate the entire experience but narrate as it is being done. At that type of event there is usually exclusivity among vendors and a well – executed event can create a high percentage of attendees hiring many of the attending vendors.
  • Wedding Seminar Event: If you are part a seminar event that educates couples about wedding planning, you are being perceived as an expert while showcasing your services or products. You may have a small attendance but book a high percentage of the attendees.

Misconception #2: “Brides will remember seeing me at the show and contact me when they are ready to book”

Many vendors make that mistake and fail to do the necessary follow-up to maximize the amount of business from show participation. It is important to have a strategy in place.

It starts with deciding how you are going to promote your business in your exhibition space. Do something that stands out and can be referenced in follow-up mailers, phone calls, and emails to the mailing list that you may receive at the show or compiled from registrations at your booth. It is especially important that you know who visited your booth.

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» What’s Next in Social Media: September 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 September 2014:

Facebook enforcing “real name” policy

While Facebook’s name policy is not new, the social network has made headlines this month as it began enforcing the policy. Facebook’s policy maintains that it requires “everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you’re connecting with.” This policy affects personal, individual Facebook profiles, not business pages – but if you have yet to create a real business page for your business, now’s the time to make the switch!

Read more on the Guardian >>

Twitter unveils Twitter unveils “Buy” button

Twitter took its first steps towards fully integrated e-commerce this month with the “Buy” button. While the process is still early and the button is only available for test partners, this new feature allows retailers to monetize their Twitter followers by allowing them to buy while on Twitter. This is especially easy for mobile users to purchase through their smartphone with fewer steps.

Find out more on Twitter’s blog >>

Pinterest to launch conversion tracking

Great news for Pros looking to advertise on Pinterest: the network is releasing new advertising products that will help grow your Pinterest following and help you track conversions! Promoted Pins have been an advertising product for a while, but Pinterest is getting serious with its tracking abilities to help you determine ROI and give you insight into your audience.

Learn more from TechCrunch >>

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» Pro Tip: Embracing Inclusive Language

Photo by Carly FullerThis 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, Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, now available in nationwide release.

Be sure to check out Kathryn’s full, original post on GayWeddings.com!

Fifteen years ago, when GayWeddings.com founder Gretchen Hamm set off to find suppliers for our groundbreaking online boutique, she encountered lots of blank stares and bemused looks, with a sprinkling of big grins and open hearts. At the time, few realized that there were same-sex couples looking for wedding products and services. Her job was attempting to convince them to join her in her effort to help LGBT couples plan their weddings and find gay-friendly services.

These days, wedding professionals have finally gotten the message. As marriage equality makes its way across the United States, more wedding professionals than ever not only want to work with same-sex couples, they also want to figure out how to better serve them.

The starting place when I speak with them about best practices? A conversation about language.

Pro Tip: Ditching “Bride” And Embracing “Engaged Couples”Ditch ‘Bride’ and Embrace ‘Engaged Couples’

The most important message I can offer to the wedding industry as a whole: it’s time to ditch the language of speaking to the bride as the only wedding client there is to be found. At conferences and in collegial conversations, the professionals talk about the bride, the bride, the bride. The habit is so deeply engrained that I’ve even encountered professionals who have spoken at length with me about the emerging same-sex wedding market and the LGBTQ community, and I’ve addressed this bad habit directly and still, they talk to me about brides.

Old habits die hard, but the reality is that it takes two people to exchange vows and make a life-long commitment to one another, so begin by recognizing the role that the engaged couple plays in planning a wedding and making decisions as the client. Not only will the couple appreciate it, but any groom — straight or gay — who has felt neglected and ignored will appreciate it, too. Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Tips to Get You Published

Webinar Recap!

Wedding PR Tips WebinarWedding PR can be an intimidating concept, yet it’s an imperative step for reaching (and impressing!) your target audience. No matter your business category, you are an expert in what you do and deserve to get noticed for your work. This month’s educational webinar for premium members focused on how to generate publicity for your business.

WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely shared her insights on how to be your own wedding publicist, ways to make connections with the media, and how to submit a stellar real wedding or event.

Interested in getting featured? Check out these top best practices for real wedding submissions:

  • Read the submission guidelines thoroughly: Make sure you carefully read all submission guidelines, so you don’t take yourself out of the running! Usually real wedding submissions require all contact info, lots of photos, the couples’ name, a wedding date – and more unique stipulations. Don’t miss your press opportunity because you didn’t pay attention to what they wanted.
  • Offer exclusivity: Some publications want to know your work isn’t going to also be showcased by a competitor. You can get an edge up by proactively offering exclusivity. You may need to be willing to be exclusive if you want the publication to take your submission seriously or to make your submission more attractive.

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» 5 Smart Hiring Tips for Your Wedding Business

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

It’s important to avoid getting so caught up in weddings and events that you don’t find time to evaluate the internal portion of your business. Do you have the right tools in place to work efficiently? Are there new tactics you should consider to help your business be found? Or, most importantly, do you have the people in place to help your business grow?

If you think your wedding business is ready to progress to the next level by hiring some fresh faces, check out our smart hiring tips to make the process simple!

5 Smart Hiring Tips for Your Wedding BusinessAsk your network to help

Whether you’re asking friends and family if they know someone looking for a job or you’re asking another business you admire for hiring tips, leverage your network to help you hire. The best hires are often in the right place at the right time, and you never know who has the perfect connection in mind, waiting to be given the chance. Also, since the wedding industry is much more specialized than most job markets, other Pros might be able to offer some tips for getting your job posting out there on more niche job sites.

Do some interview prep

Especially if you’re planning to have more than one employee involved in the interview, prepare for the interview ahead of time to decide which questions you’d like to ask, what qualifications you’re looking for and other traits you would like in the candidate. Take into account any feedback from employees the candidate would potentially work with to make sure they feel good about the questions you plan to ask, too.

Check out their social profiles

In addition to checking references, many companies in today’s job marketplace will check out candidates’ social media profiles to determine whether or not the candidate is a good fit. These days it’s pretty easy to make your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account private, but it doesn’t hurt to check for anything unseemly or unprofessional posts. If the candidate’s account is indeed private, don’t pry – just rely on the other resources provided to make your decision. If the candidate’s account is public, it doesn’t hurt to double-check that he or she acting responsibly and seems like a good personality fit.

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» Infographic: How to Build a Buzzworthy Brand

In today’s marketing landscape, 72% of internet users are active on social media and 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision. Those are impressive statistics! Is your wedding business taking advantage of these statistics to reach couples planning their wedding?

If you need help building a buzzworthy brand in the wedding industry, our infographic has tips for using social media to grow your business’ presence!

Infographic: How to Build a Buzzworthy Brand

» WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night Austin

Yesterday, local Austin Wedding Pros gathered at the Westin Austin at The Domain for a special WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night series of events, focused on education and networking with area Pros!

Austin Pros kicked-off the afternoon together with a WeddingWire Workshop, a comprehensive training on the tools available within the Clients Tab of premium members’ WeddingWire account. In addition to receiving hands-on WeddingWire account training, attendees also met their local WeddingWire representatives and enjoyed light snacks and beverages. Immediately following the Workshop, attendees joined us for a Networking Night, sharing conversation and tips with other local Pros and the WeddingWire team.

WeddingWire hosts a 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, as well as tools trainings such as WeddingWire Workshops. We look forward to hosting more local WeddingWire Workshops and networking events in the near future!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop and Networking Night. 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 WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night Austin possible:

Finally, congratulations to Norma Beissner of Angel Springs Event Center, the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night Austin

WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night Austin

WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night Austin

WeddingWire Workshop & Networking Night Austin

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» Highlights from Wedding MBA 2014!

The WeddingWire team had a fantastic three days of education, meeting wonderful wedding Pros, and fun at the annual Wedding Merchants Business Academy 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada last week.

Missed the event or want to recap some of the best moments? Here are some of our favorite highlights from the conference!

Great education:

Our team enjoyed checking out all the great educational presentations for Wedding Pros, which included five WeddingWire sessions hosted by WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly and CEO Timothy Chi. Additionally, WeddingWire Education Experts Alan Berg, Andy Ebon, Kathryn Hamm and Meghan Ely all shared their expertise with engaging sessions and Wed Talks throughout the conference.

Finally, be sure to check out our new Education Guide e-magazine for great tips to take your business to the next level including how to get more reviews, networking musts, marketing strategies, client tips and more.

Meeting wonderful wedding Pros:

Industry conferences such as Wedding MBA and WeddingWire World are a great opportunity to get to meet some of the fantastic wedding and event Pros we work with in person! Attendees stopped by WeddingWire’s main booth and lounge for one-on-one account support sessions, to say hello and meet team members, re-charge devices at our Power Stations, and learn more about WeddingWire.

After parties:

Every year, we host our annual WeddingWire party to bring together the team and attendees for an evening celebration to have fun and mix and mingle. This year, we had a blast at the Ling Ling Club, located within Hakkasan in the MGM Grand.

Also, we were excited to sponsor the Wedding MBA’s first ever networking Happy Hour event on Wednesday evening to have a drink and chat with new friends. A special thanks to our partners The Slow Motion Photo Booth and A Very Special Day for the fun pictures and awesome entertainment.

Fun surprises:

We love to share our “WeddingWire swag!” This year, each WeddingWire session had its own themed t-shirt, along with a bonus party t-shirt. Additionally, we had fun sharing our duel action stylus-pens, WeddingWire koozies, WeddingWire shades, brand bags, and more limited edition swag such as a teal hoodie and mobile charger.

To go along with our Back to the Future presentation theme, we also were excited to showcase a real Delorean in the Lounge, with special thanks to Delorean International Las Vegas NV, and a 3D Printer in action to showcase the future of tech.

Want to get an insider’s look at Wedding MBA? Check out some photos below and on WeddingWireEDU’s Instagram, and also review the Wedding MBA edition of our Featured Pro Tweets series.

What were your favorite Wedding MBA 2014 moments? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

WW Lounge

Timothy Chi presenting at Wedding MBA

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» Featured Pro Tweets: Wedding MBA 2014

In our Featured Pro Tweets series, we highlight great comments that we receive to @WeddingWireEDU. All this week, WeddingWire staff and our team of Education Experts joined Wedding Pros from across the country at Wedding MBA 2014 in Las Vegas!

WeddingWire had a great time at the conference with our presentations, meeting wonderful Wedding Pros from throughout the country and abroad, having one-on-one sessions at our Expo booth, and chatting at our Power Stations as Pros charged devices. Finally, we celebrated an exciting week at our WeddingWire after party at Ling Ling Club, located on the third floor of Hakkasan Nightclub in MGM Grand Las Vegas!

Check out some Twitter highlights of the conference! Thanks to all the Pros who tweeted us while at Wedding MBA 2014, and we hope to see you all next year!

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Smartphone Vows, Late Payments & 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.

Pro Forum Buzz: Smartphone Vows, Late Payments & MoreHere’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Smartphone vows

How do you feel about the couple (or officiant!) reading from a smartphone during the wedding ceremony? Is it “tech savvy” and eco-friendly, or just a distraction?

Share your thoughts >>

Dealing with late payments

What do you do when a client is late on their balance payment? Do you tack on a late fee or reserve the right to cancel the contract?

Weigh in now >>

Venue photo shoots

How much should a venue charge to rent out grounds for photo shoots? Photographers and venues alike weigh in about an acceptable fee for using a venue’s grounds for non-wedding photo shoots.

What’s your opinion? >>

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» Closing the Sale Through Education

Closing the Sale Through EducationOne of the hardest parts of the sales process in most industries is closing the sale. In the wedding industry, once you get the lead, getting the appointment is typically the next logical step and (hopefully) takes a bit less work. However, when you get through an appointment it can be hard to walk away with the sale. WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg addressed this topic in his discussion of the “dreaded” price question.

Why do couples always ask about price first? They ask “how much” because they don’t know what else to ask. It’s not that they’re price shoppers or that they can’t afford your services; sometimes they just don’t know where else to start the conversation or how much to expect. After all, everyone needs to know how much a product or service they want costs at some point and no one wants to overpay.

Remember that each couple you meet is trying to plan an event they have never planned before (for the most part). They’re not always looking to haggle on price. Sometimes they just don’t know enough about your business to differentiate it from the rest of the Pros out there. That’s where closing the sale through education becomes a viable strategy.

Avoid the immediate “How much?” by educating your prospective clients about your offering in general as well as about your business! Think about the most important things a couple should know or might not have considered. Then think about how your business goes above and beyond to meet those needs. These are the talking points to use during your appointment!

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» 7 Productivity Apps for Wedding Professionals

Wedding and event professionals are often out of the “office” a lot, which means you’re depending on mobile devices to keep you up to date with everything. It can be frustrating enough to get work done while you’re on-the-go, so it’s important to use the right apps to keep everything straight! Here are seven of the top productivity apps for wedding professionals from our Pinterest board, Apps to Make Your Life Easy!

	7 Productivity Apps for Wedding ProfessionalsCarrot

Have trouble keeping up with your to-do list? More than just a to-do app, Carrot rewards you for completing items on your list! Each time you complete an item, Carrot awards you points which unlock other features. These upgrades to the app make it easy (and addictive) to keep checking off the tasks on your list. We promise you’ll want to keep adding tasks so you can cross them off!

Chronos

If you’re wondering where all your time goes, look no further than Chronos. Without having to manually enter your time and tasks, Chronos automatically categorizes your time to help you analyze what you do each day. You can also track progress towards personal goals to make sure you stay on track.

DocuSign

The DocuSign app provides a simple and secure way to electronically collect signatures. This app eliminates the hassles, costs, and lack of security in printing, faxing, scanning, and mailing documents! If you don’t have access to WeddingWire Client Sites, it’s the next best thing to being able to quickly and easily get the documents you need from your clients.

Mailbox

Have trouble managing your email? The Mailbox app is for you! Mailbox combines your accounts to one place where you have the option to snooze certain email conversations so you can focus on more important items in your inbox. Plus, the app learns from your actions to help keep your accounts under control – the way you would organize it yourself!

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