» 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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» Share Event Photos on EventWire and Celebrations.com with RealEventPics!

Share Event Photos on EventWire and Celebrations.com with RealEventPics!

We hope you’ve checked out RealWeds.com, where you can submit real wedding photos for publication on WeddingWire and Project Wedding. But what about photos from all of those non-wedding events, from Bar/Bat Mitzvahs to birthday parties to baby showers, corporate events, and more?

We’ve just launched RealEventPics.com, where you can share your non-wedding event photos for editorial publication on either EventWire or our partner site, Celebrations.com! You can learn more about the submission process, upload your photos directly through the form, and share all the details of the event with us.

If you are selected for a feature, your work will be credited and we will link to your EventWire Storefront, and the Storefronts of all vendors who participated in the event. Being featured in editorial is a great opportunity for publicity for your business. Any questions? Email realevents@eventwire.com for more information!

» Be Your Own Wedding Publicist

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

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

As a wedding professional, you are an expert at what you do. You’re your own personal storyteller and brand ambassador. So when it comes to publicity, it’s a natural fit to represent yourself in the media.

Sound intimidating? Have no fear. Committing to below steps will help you be your own wedding publicist and bring you that much closer to your next press mention.

Be Your Own Wedding PublicistWhat many don’t realize is that there are a few steps to consider before diving headfirst into public relations. First, assess your brand to make sure it’s truly at its best. If your logo needs a refresh or your web site is outdated, now is the time to work on these things. After all, the point of PR is to direct people to your brand and if it isn’t at its very best, it makes little sense to invest time into promotion. Additionally, take time to consider your goals for introducing PR into your strategies. Do you, for example, want to be considered a leader among your peers, or among engaged couples? Is there a particular region that you’d like to target or a niche bride? Defining your goals will give you much needed focus as you move onto your next step.

From there, ensure you have a streamlined system for assessing your return on investment. Install Google Analytics (or a similar program) on your web site, as well as make sure every prospective couple is asked, “How did you hear about us?” Being able to measure your efforts is key to determining what strategies, PR or otherwise, are successful.

Next, you’ll want to devote time to a research phase. Fill your shopping cart with wedding magazines that have piqued your interest as well as commit to reading wedding blogs more regularly.  Spend time with some of the local publication as well. The goal is to create a list consisting of targeted media outlets that you’d like to pitch over time- whether that be a swoon worthy real wedding, a guest blog submission or a press release announcing something about your company.

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» WeddingWire World Tour 2014: Chicago

WeddingWire World Tour 2014: ChicagoWe had a great time at WeddingWire World Chicago!

The WeddingWire team was thrilled to come together with hundreds of wedding and event professionals for full day of education and valuable information from industry experts, along with networking and fun surprises. Thanks to all our Pros who attended the event!

Our guests received great educational information to power their businesses from our team of presenters. Sessions included main stage presentations from WeddingWire Education Experts Alan Berg, Andy Ebon, and Kathryn Hamm in addition to several presentations from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly. We were also pleased to include a panel of local wedding professionals, featuring Holly O’Neil of Apple Blossom Chapel and Gardens LLC, Mike Staff of Mike Staff Productions, Taneel Fraley of The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms, David Rothstein of David Rothstein Music and Carolyn Burke of Carolyn Burke – Wedding Coordinator/Officiant.

WeddingWire World Chicago also featured two breakout session tracks, which gave attendees the option to choose between sessions on a variety of topics, including blogging, same-sex weddings skill sets, and a deeper dive into WeddingWire tools.

We hope all our Pros enjoyed the day as much as we did! In addition to the main presentations and educational sessions, some highlights from the day include:

  • Starting the day learning more about guests in attendance and playing a special version of bingo at the Networking Breakfast
  • The opportunity for Pros to meet with our Customer Success team members one-on-one to discuss their WeddingWire accounts
  • The great key takeaways tweeted throughout the day to @WeddingWireEDU using the hashtag #wwworld
  • A new networking roundtable session to facilitate new connections both within Pros’ service category and with other types of local professionals
  • Announcing the winners to our raffle prize drawings, including an iPad mini, WeddingWire prize pack, Amazon gift card and tickets to WeddingWire World 2015 in DC
  • Free t-shirts and luggage tags for all attendees

Finally, a big thank you to our fantastic partners who helped make this event a success: event photos by Colin Lyons Photography, acoustic guitar tunes provided by Jim Perona Guitar, Inc and the beautiful venue provided by The Art Institute of Chicago!

For more information on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014 and to see where we’ll be headed next, be sure to check out www.WeddingWireWorld.com.

Check out some of the photos below, and see our full event album on the WeddingWire Chicagoland Facebook community!

WeddingWire World Chicago

WeddingWire World Chicago

WeddingWire World Chicago

WeddingWire World Chicago

WeddingWire World Chicago

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» How to Prepare for Your Face to Face Meeting

Pro to Pro Insights

Ariane Fisher

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.

As a wedding professional, you may find yourself asking, “How do I better qualify my appointments?” We all understand that if we come prepared to the appointment, it means we have a higher probability of being able to close the sale (assuming that the couple is ready to buy). These tips will help you do your best to set-up the face to face meeting so that you’ll be able to better close the sale.

There are a few crucial elements to a proper appointment. These two key tips make a big difference:

  1. All or most decision makers/influencers will be there
  2. They understand what will happen at the appointment (primarily how much time the appointment should take)

How to Prepare for Your Face to Face MeetingHow to prepare for the appointment

The first part of preparing for the appointment is all about who is attending and getting the key decision makers involved. Many wedding professionals ask “who else will be joining the couple at the appointment?” The problem with this question is it leaves a wide gap for the couple to sneak through by simply saying something like, “Oh I will be there by myself” indicating other decision makers may not be there, and therefore that they may not be ready to buy. After that response, you have no room to move. If you ask them a follow up question related to who is coming then you are acting “salesy” which will put the couple on the defense.

The best way to get the decision makers/influencers is to ask the following question:

“Who will help you in making this decision?”

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» Today is WeddingWire World Chicago!

Today is WeddingWire World Chicago!WeddingWire World Chicago is the third of five stops on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014!

Today, at The Art Institute of Chicago, wedding and event professionals from the Chicagoland area will learn about the latest in the wedding industry and how to keep their businesses on top of all the most important channels, including sales, reviews, marketing, business management, networking, and more!

Attendees will have the unique opportunity to hear from leading wedding industry professionals and special guest speakers, and our Customer Success team will be available all day for on-site consultations to answer questions and help our members take advantage of everything their WeddingWire account has to offer.

Below are a few other helpful notes for WeddingWire World Chicago attendees:

  • Check in and start the day in the Columbus Lobby, where WeddingWire staff will be ready and waiting to assist you.
  • Download theProWire mobile app on iTunes or Google Play and select WeddingWire World Chicago so that you’re able to access everything you need to know, on the go!
  • Catch up and create new connections with your fellow Wedding Pros at our Networking Breakfast from 8am-9:30am.
  • Earn raffle tickets throughout the day to be entered in our drawing to win an iPad Mini, $100 Amazon gift card or tickets to WeddingWire World 2015!
  • Tweet your own takeaways and follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter, where @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting and responding to Pro feedback and more! We’ll also post some behind-the-scenes photos on the WeddingWireEDU Instagram account.

Be sure to check back later this week as we continue to share photos and highlights from the event.

Thanks to all the Pros joining us today!

Not in the Chicago area? Join the WeddingWire World Tour in a city near you – there are still two tour stops left! Check out the schedule and sign up to get updates to find out when tickets are available by visiting http://weddingwireworld.com/.

» MONDAY: WeddingWire World Chicago

MONDAY: WeddingWire World Chicago

We can’t wait for WeddingWire World Chicago on Monday!

The 2014 WeddingWire World Tour officially kicked off in June with WeddingWire World Miami and was quickly followed by WeddingWire World DC, and we’re excited to bring our full day conference to a new city on the WeddingWire World Tour – Chicago!

WeddingWire World Chicago will feature main stage presentations from our industry experts and guest speakers, including WeddingWire’s own CMO Sonny Ganguly, plus Education Experts Alan Berg, Kathryn Hamm and Andy Ebon. Attendees will also have opportunities for some 1-on-1 time with Customer Success Managers as well as several chances to network with other local Pros at our Networking Breakfast and Cocktail Reception.

WeddingWire World Chicago will also feature a number of breakout sessions, including:

  • Make Blogging Your Business – Andy Ebon
  • Walk the Talk: Refining Your Same-Sex Wedding Skill Set – Kathryn Hamm
  • Peer Insights: Service Category Networking Roundtables – Chicago area Pros
  • Reach. Attract. Impress. WeddingWire Tools for Success – Kyle Mihalcoe

Don’t forget that you can still follow along with the fun by searching the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter! @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting all day with key takeaways, Pro feedback and more. You can also see some behind-the-scenes photos on the WeddingWireEDU Instagram account.

Your wedding business will be joining hundreds of other wedding professionals for a full day of education and networking to help grow your wedding business.

For full details about WeddingWire World Chicago, including full schedule and session locations, please visit http://www.weddingwireworld.com/chicago.

» Handling SEO for Your Wedding Business

The wedding industry can be challenging, as wedding professionals need not only to be great at their chosen service category (officiating, wedding planning, etc.) but Pros also need to understand how to succeed in the world of business – and there’s a lot to consider!

When you commit to having an online presence for your wedding business, you’re accepting responsibility for a lot of additional considerations. Along with your WeddingWire Storefront, you need a business website with descriptive, fresh content as well as good search engine optimization (SEO). Strong, relevant SEO is what makes it easy for search engines to crawl your content, and your potential clients to find your business online! It’s a lot to take on, and it begs the question: should you hire an SEO expert or attempt to optimize your website yourself?

Handling SEO for Your Wedding BusinessIf you have some experience in SEO, take time to do the research to find out what keywords, meta tags and more would be relevant and help your business reach grow online. Google has some great tools and resources to help, such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

As search engine marketing is a specialized area, it can be tempting to hire an outside SEO company to help you understand what you need and where to spend time and money making improvements. Unfortunately, there are questionable SEO firms out there looking to use black-hat tactics to boost your business’ SEO for a short period of time (until Google catches you). If you decide to hire an outside company, be sure to do the research and make sure they’re a reputable company who can truly help your business achieve success.

Regardless of your SEO experience, there is something you can easily do to help boost your SEO with your WeddingWire account!

The WeddingWire Search Engine Optimizer for Premium Pros helps you optimize your search engine results for your business so more couples can find you. Whether they’re searching the WeddingWire directory or just searching on Google and other top sites, this tool will help your business get relevant exposure to more potential clients.

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» Gmail Tips and Tricks to Save Time

Email was originally invented to help us communicate faster and more efficiently, and to ultimately make our lives simpler. However, in these days where an overflowing inbox is all-too-often the norm, it can feel like taking the time to read all your emails and respond is a job in itself. Below are a few helpful Gmail tips and tricks available to help make your email work for you!

Gmail Tips and Tricks to Save TimeCanned Responses

If you feel like you are consistently sending the same email over and over, take advantage of canned responses. Gmail’s canned responses are pre-scripted emails at the tip of your finger tips which you can edit before sending. Canned responses are a great time saver, and you’ll also be certain that your messaging is consistent.

Pro Tip: Consistently sending out your price sheet? Rather than copying and pasting from a word document or somewhere else in your computer, set up a canned response you can easily add into the body of any email and then edit quickly to personalize.

Undo Send

Have you ever sent an email without proofreading or just wish you could take it back right after clicking the “Send” button? Gmail’s Undo Send allows you to stop the email from leaving your outbox if you change your mind within a few seconds of sending. You’ll have to be quick with this feature, but it’s worth it for those last minute, silly mistakes!

Pro Tip: Undo Send saves you from appearing unprofessional if you accidentally mistype your client’s name or notice a typo right after sending. This support article will walk you through adding this feature to your Gmail settings.

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» 5 Ways to Network Your Way to New Business

Networking is an important way to stand out and get new business in the wedding industry!

We know expanding your professional network can be tricky at times, even if you’re a member of a industry association or group. Check out our infographic with top tips for being a super networker from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP.

Network