Wedding Industry Biz

Give Your Clients Easy Digital Solutions with E-Bration

Easily Commemorate Every Wedding

As a planner, one of the most important elements of helping couples is making sure that everything from their Wedding Day gets commemorated. After all, they are going to want to look back on the memories of their special day and even share it with their family and friends.

This generally means two things. First, you help them with hiring an amazing photographer to capture all of the day’s beautiful photos. Secondly, you help them with hiring a phenomenal videographer so all of the day’s moments are always remembered.

But there’s another emotional component of the wedding that oftentimes gets forgotten when it comes to commemorating them forever… and that’s the cards that are received from all of the guests. Many of these cards include personal and sentimental messages from family and friends, but what does the couple do with these cards? Do they get stored in a shoebox? A drawer? A folder? In an era of never-ending new technology, isn’t there a way to save these digitally?

Well, now there is, and it’s E-Bration! Based on our own wedding experience, we created this perfect digital solution!

E-Bration is an online platform that saves the memories of every card and message collected from important life event celebrations.

And when it comes to important celebrations, weddings are right at the top of the list!

Choose E-Bration to Give Your Clients Digital Solutions

So, how can E-Bration help you and your clients? There are two ways that you can offer couples this digital card storage solution.

Read More “Give Your Clients Easy Digital Solutions with E-Bration”

Wedding Industry Biz

You’re Invited – to The Bridal Society’s 2021 Wedding Planner Summit!

You’re Invited!

The Bridal Society would like to invite those from the Timeline Genius community and the event industry to join our 2021 Annual Wedding Planner Summit on December 6, 7 & 8, 2021.

This virtual event is open to any wedding planner, catering manager, or wedding venue owner/employee. If you work with any engaged couple on any level, then you will not want to miss out on this three-day event!

The Bridal Society is the largest group of Certified Wedding Planners in the world. With the goal of raising the standards in the wedding industry, we support successful wedding planners and help elevate new ones.

This year, we have teamed up with AllSeated and ExVo to offer our 2021 Wedding Planner Summit in a safe, interactive, and online environment. This conference will give you an opportunity to engage with other conference attendees, participate in fantastic educational content, and attend optional after-hours events, all from the comfort and safety of your home or office.

Read More “You’re Invited – to The Bridal Society’s 2021 Wedding Planner Summit!”

Wedding Industry Biz

Why You Need to Support Causes That Are Meaningful to You in Your Business

There’s no question that philanthropy is a worthy endeavor for a business to pursue. Still, it’s not always a priority — especially when client demands keep leaders immersed in operating the company. Not to mention, supporting a cause usually involves a financial contribution, whether it’s a monetary donation, a gift of free products or services, or a promotional partnership.

But, let’s be clear: generosity comes full circle, so what you donate will come back to you. This is particularly true as the market evolves and we see younger millennials and Gen Z on the scene. These socially-minded generations want to spend their dollars with brands that align with their values. So, it’s no longer just about sharing your product or talent with followers; you now need to demonstrate how you’re giving back to your community.

Here are a few tips for ramping up your goodwill and spreading the message about your cause.

Select a cause you genuinely care to support.

When it comes to charity, most folks can see right through an inauthentic play for attention. Don’t tack your brand onto organizations or causes that you personally don’t care to support. If you do, you’ll find that you’re less motivated to make an impact, and your inattention will be transparent for all. Philanthropy is about action, not lip service.

Of course, you also need to consider whether your ideal clients will connect with the cause as well. For example, you may be a big fan of seals, but a Save-the-Seal program may not be as widely applauded as a cause such as LGBTQ+ rights advocacy that could have a greater impact on more people. Before contributing anything, confirm that the organization is legitimate on CharityNavigator.org. This site provides unbiased evaluations of non-profits based on financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Look beyond direct monetary donations.

You have a lot of charitable opportunities at your disposal! While financial contributions may be an easy solution, consider getting your hands dirty and investing your time and energy for one of your chosen causes. I recommend event pros to take on at least one pro bono event each year.

Whether you’re a planner, venue, photographer, florist, or other event pro, you have a service that is sought after by non-profits that host fundraisers, galas, and other large-scale celebrations. By contributing your services, you can give them far more than a paper check. You can help them to elevate their events, draw in more interest to the cause, and boost fundraising and marketing efforts simply by donating your professional time and talent.

Put the word out to your followers.

A big part of corporate philanthropy is being loud and proud about your efforts! Not only does it tell your audience that you’re committed to a cause (that ideally aligns with their values), but it also educates and encourages your followers to get involved as well. Integrate your philanthropic endeavors into your social media and website content organically. Tell your clients and colleagues about what your go-to organizations do to make a difference. Simply put, become a brand ambassador for your cause!

Beyond your direct association with an organization, educate yourself about the cause so it can become a consistent part of your marketing. For example, suppose you promote your contributions to the LGBTQ+ community only in June for Pride Month, or you only share Black Lives Matter support when a tragedy happens. In that case, your followers will see that your efforts are merely performative.

No matter how large or small, your business has a platform, and it’s your responsibility as a leader to use your space as a channel to share about causes that are near and dear to your heart. In all ways, we are better together than alone — so harness the power of community and do what you can to give back to the causes you care about most.

 

Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., one of the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publications. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She served on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Wedding & Events.

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Effectively Turn Inquiries into Profit-Generating Bookings

When we talk about sales strategies, we tend to think about the tactics that will win over a client on the other side of a sales meeting or call. But let’s not lose sight of the first step in a successful sales funnel: the inquiry response. Without a compelling inquiry strategy, you will not even get those meetings on the books. Every booked client starts in your inbox (or DMs these days!).

If you’re receiving plenty of inquiries, it’s a good sign that your marketing efforts are successful. Your website, social media, and emails drive people to fill out your contact form or write you directly to inquire about available dates, pricing, and more.

However, if you’re losing them there, it’s likely your responses aren’t measuring up to those of your competitors. Remember: the average person isn’t sending out one inquiry just to you. They are sending the same thing to everyone else in your vendor category, particularly those on the first page of Google. They don’t know anything about you beyond what’s on your website, but the same goes for your competitors. To a new prospect, you are a commodity—just one of a bunch.

But, when you wow them with an informative and personable response to their inquiry, they will start to form a relationship with you in their head. Suddenly, you’re the one who loves their venue, the one with the cool signature, or the one who attached helpful PDFs they immediately saved to their desktop. You are not the one who sent a templated email with no enthusiasm.

The bottom line: a great reply will earn you the valuable opportunity to get them on the phone, but that begs the question: what does the winning response look like?

It’s Prompt

Nowadays, the average person’s attention span is mere seconds, so you need to be on top of your inquiries. That doesn’t mean you need to be vigilantly monitoring everything so that you can respond within seconds. But it does mean that you need to be one of the first (if not the first) person to answer their email. Otherwise, they’ll forget about you and consider those who graced them with a reply.

The reality is that 24 hours is far too long to keep a prospect waiting. Your competitors aren’t waiting that long, so you can’t either. Aim for a two-hour grace period within business hours and, for inquiries that come in overnight, make it your first priority in the morning to answer them.

If you need more time to provide them with what they need, reply to let them know you’re working on it and give them an ETA. Creating that very first touch point is more important than checking off all of the boxes right away.

It’s Consistent

A consistent brand experience is crucial in sales. Otherwise, your messaging will vary depending on the day you’ve had, and your leads will be left wondering where they fit into the picture. By keeping your tone and message steady, you put your client at the center of the relationship, allowing their needs and preferences to dictate the flow of conversation.

Fortunately, email templates and automated responders can help you stay consistent in all of your inquiries. (Bonus: It also enables you to keep in that two-hour window!) There are a few ways to streamline your inquiries—you can rely on customizable templates from past emails, you can use out-of-office responders, or you can create an email sequence in a platform like ConvertKit or Mailchimp.

The benefit of the latter two is that you don’t actually have to hit send, although you should certainly follow up with a personal email.

Regardless of your chosen method, make sure that your emails still capture the energy and personality of your brand. You don’t have to sacrifice authenticity for automation!

It’s Engaging

Events are exhilarating and vibrant. People don’t want to hire event pros that seem bored and indifferent by the prospect of working on their celebration. You need to match their enthusiasm in your email responses!

Share their excitement by asking them questions and putting out a few ideas to show your brain is already dreaming up the possibilities. If it’s a wedding inquiry, ask them how they met or what the proposal was like! If it’s a corporate inquiry, ask about their mission and how they envision their brand in the world! Help them visualize what you can do for them.

Prospective clients tend to ask a lot of questions about you, your business, and your offerings. Of course, you should answer them, but you should also turn the script back to them. Give them a reason to respond and answer your questions! When you show them you’re interested; the feeling becomes mutual.

Of course, you still need to practice your in-person selling. You need to know how to sell your benefits, overcome client objections, and close a sale. But, before you can do any of that, you have to know how to respond to an inquiry so you can get that chance in the first place.

 

Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development.

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Use Analytics to Optimize Your Messaging

You’re a smart, established professional who runs a successful business. So, why is it so hard to know what your ideal clients want to hear?

You try to be useful. You try to educate. You try to showcase your best work. But something’s not working the way you think it should.

Well, sometimes a big mistake that wedding planners make is unintentionally focusing too much on themselves. They emphasize what they like, what they want, and what they think is important. In essence, their marketing is all about them.

Instead, with a few small tweaks, you can start targeting your ideal clients with strategic messaging that makes them feel seen and understood.

Because when you make your ideal clients feel understood, it builds trust in you and your services.  Importantly, it’s how you can demonstrate, rather than just talk about, the value you offer.

But, how do you know what will make them feel this way? Fortunately, it’s easier than might think – you already have valuable information at your fingertips.

Here’s how to maximize your presence throughout your marketing channels, with the help of some light research and a little bit of data.

Your blog

Since your blog lives on your website, you can use Google Analytics to get an idea of the content that resonates with your audience best. The first thing you’ll want to look at is a traffic report to identify the blog posts that received the most visitors. These numbers can hint at the topic categories that garnered the most interest, but it’s important to note that traffic per post can also differ because of your promotional efforts. A heavily-promoted blog post will naturally see more visitors than one that is only shared once or twice.

For this reason, you’ll want to look at a few other metrics: time spent on each post, bounce rates, and conversion rates. If you notice that a blog post saw a much higher average time spent on the page, it’s a good sign that visitors stayed around for a thorough read. Lower times and high bounce rates signify a post that doesn’t keep a reader’s interest.
So, conversion rates are a vital piece of data as it’s where the money lies. Check out the blog posts that garnered the most conversions —what sets them apart? You might have had a particularly strong call-to-action, or perhaps it was a well-written piece that nailed your ideal client’s pain points. Follow the data to the highest-performing posts and continue to replicate the success.

Your social media

All of the top social media platforms have built-in analytic dashboards that are pretty robust, providing valuable data points to inform your marketing strategy. Review your top-performing posts to see what kind of content draws in the most engagement. Perhaps your audience loves sharing input when you ask them leading questions in a post. Maybe your weekly advice posts attract a lot of attention. Take note of the type of content that is most interesting to your audience, and adjust your content strategy to align with it going forward.

Of course, social media likes don’t translate to cold hard cash. That’s what conversion rates are for! Take it one step further by looking at the Social data report to see which social media platform sends the most traffic and conversions. You can then match up the dates with your social media posts to identify the content that truly drove the most conversions.

Once you’ve gathered enough data to tell you what your audience loves (and what they don’t), you’ll be able to answer the three core questions that drive a great marketing strategy:

  1. What should I start doing?
  2. What should I improve?
  3. What should I stop doing?
As you learn more and more about your audience’s preferences, your messaging and overall marketing strategy will hone in on your ideal client with precision, and your bottom line will grow accordingly. All it takes is paying a little bit of attention to your data, and you’ll be well on your way to a more profitable future.

 

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA, and the ABC Conference.

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Bring Your Industry Peers Onboard with Tech Solutions

Technology is a beautiful thing and, when we implement it in our businesses, it helps us to grow in otherwise impossible ways. Thanks to tech advancements, we can automate annoying tasks that take up our time, enhance the client experience, and provide seamless collaboration with our event teams.

But, wait. What if your creative partners don’t want to embrace the digital solutions you’ve implemented in your business?

Everybody deals with change differently. While many event pros are quick to adopt the latest tech, there are plenty who are perfectly content sticking with their old-fashioned business methods. After all, it has worked for them for years —why fix something that isn’t broken?

While old-school techniques aren’t “broken” by definition, they can hinder a business from reaching its full potential and, as a result, leave clients with a disappointing experience. Think about it: hand-filing might work, but it’s an extremely time-consuming task and one that will inevitably lead to missing files.

Likewise, paper contracts might have worked for decades, but with digital solutions available, they are now a tedious chore to put on soon-to-be clients. Nobody wants to print, sign, scan, and email it back —or, worse, put it in the mail! Why not save everyone the trouble by implementing an e-signing program that takes no more than a few clicks of a mouse (or smartphone)?

If you’re reading this, you’re likely already on board the virtual train. But, in an industry that relies so heavily on teamwork and collaboration, it can be challenging to bring our peers along with us.

Here are a few strategies to help guide your creative partners to the promised land of productivity, efficiency, and—most importantly—satisfied clients.

 

Be honest about your experience.

Put on your sales hat and start pitching your tech-averse partners about all of the benefits you’ve gained since adding a new app or software to the mix. In many cases, people shy away from new tech because it seems like too much trouble for a questionable gain. Let them know how easy it is to ramp up and how valuable it has been for you. When they see how your business has taken strides, they’ll be more inclined to listen to what you have to say. It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to have more time and profits.

 

Help them empathize with clients.

One of the greatest benefits of event technology is its ability to optimize the client experience to ensure the process runs smoothly for everyone involved. Encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone by showing how your clients have appreciated your digital approach. Today’s market demands digital competence, so make it clear that being stuck in the past can be damaging for their clients and, ultimately, their bottom line. Event pros are people pleasers at the core. If you make the transition about the client, your peers will see the value in trying something new.

 

Provide a helping hand.

Even if someone is willing to jump into the world of tech and automation, they may not be ready to be fully immersed. Instead, offer yourself as a resource to guide them through the early stages until they’re comfortable enough on their own. Fortunately, modern software tends to be very user-friendly—even for the luddites in the crowd!—so it’s fairly easy to pick up. However, even just the idea of knowing you’re there to answer questions and help them catch up to speed can ease the overwhelm of trying a new program.

While it may take some time and patience to get your go-to creative partners on board, it will be well worth the effort when you can collaborate effortlessly with one another. A little bit of guidance goes a long way in helping your peers’ businesses grow, making your life easier, and keeping your clients happy and engaged.

 

Nora Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. She is also the founder and lead wedding planner of award-winning firm Bridal Bliss. She was recently recognized by Portland Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 series.

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Incorporate Personal Branding into Your Workflow

We are so excited to bring the thoughts of Brand Photographer Amanda Richardson to the blog today.

Personal branding is a critical part of marketing, especially for small businesses and solopreneurs. We recently asked Amanda to share her thoughts on how to create sustainable workflow that included personal branding and this is what she had to say:

“Incorporating personal branding into your content workflow is important for differentiating yourself from other planners, establishing a personal connection with new clients, and making sure your ideal clients are finding you. There are so many couples getting married, but only some are the right clients for you. Personal branding helps make those connections with the right people.”

We had a few more questions for Amanda and know you will walk away with some actionable advice.

Read More “How to Incorporate Personal Branding into Your Workflow”

Wedding Industry Biz

Why You Need to Perform a Digital Audit — and How

The term “audit” can feel scary and unapproachable, but when it comes to your business, it’s a necessary step for moving the company forward. You might have performed marketing audits or operational audits before, but shining the light on your technology is a whole different story.

You see, technology is always evolving. If you don’t keep up with it, you’ll likely fall behind and lose touch with modern tech. Just like your phone needs regular software updates, your business also needs a tune-up every now and then to ensure you’re in good digital standing.

A streamlined digital environment is particularly important this year as businesses will have to face recovery efforts in the wake of the pandemic. Technology was already seeing extraordinary growth prior to COVID-19 and, thanks to stay-at-home orders, the consumers of today’s market are increasingly tech-dependent. Virtual solutions abounded as people’s habits shifted and companies sent employees home to work remotely.

Going forward, there simply is no excuse for falling behind in the digital world. Companies must embrace virtual tools in order to build back stronger after the pandemic, and it all starts with an audit. Follow these steps to assess your current tech and make a plan to grow in 2021.

 

Review where you currently stand.

You might be eager to see all of the digital tools available for trial, but you need to first start by looking at all of the tech you have in place — as well as the areas that are sorely in need of help. Set some time aside to sit down and take a hard look at how your business is functioning.

Consider the different aspects of your business, from sales to client communications to event production. Do you have a invoicing tool that helps you stay organized? Has social media become a burden without an efficient solution? As you review your workflows, you’ll start to see gaps that could be filled with a new app or program. Write down these areas and note the ideal features that would simplify your life.

 

Focus on the client experience.

Today’s client doesn’t just like technology; they expect it. They’re accustomed to doing virtually everything from pocket-sized devices and they’ll look to your business to meet them on their screens. That’s not to say you need to replace every in-person meeting with a video call, but it’s important to provide clients with digital options for every step of the process, from electronic contracts and online payments to convenient channels for communication and collaboration.

Before diving in headfirst, think about your target market and what they would value most. Corporate clients may be more inclined to communicate by email whereas young couples may prefer texting or instant messaging. Evaluate each of your touchpoints to determine if there is a way to harness technology for a more efficient and enhanced client experience.

 

Ease into the transition.

Once you’ve got a game plan to upgrade your tech, you might be eager to sign up for every trial that you see. Avoid getting click-happy with new tools, as that’s the quickest way to overwhelm yourself and give up. Start small, focusing on one or two areas to optimize.

Research your options and be sure to read the reviews for each. Past and current users will provide you with unbiased opinions that can influence your final decision. On the same note, you may consider reaching out to your industry peers for recommendations (and even a referral code or two), as they may share with you solutions that you haven’t yet come across.

While you may have gotten away with old-fashioned techniques in the past, the pandemic has brought to light the importance of virtual solutions that can support collaboration with clients, colleagues, and employees. A regular digital audit will help you to stay on top of the latest tech so your brand maintains its role in today’s contemporary market.

 

Nora Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. She is also the founder and lead wedding planner of award-winning firm Bridal Bliss. She was recently recognized by Portland Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 series.

Wedding Industry Biz

How to Make the Most of Your Next Virtual Summit

Conferences and summits are a fantastic way to continue learning while staying connected to the wedding community. In fact, Timeline Genius was built on the opportunity to connect with planners at large in-person events. But now that safety has required a little more distance between us, we’re grateful to still have the opportunity to connect virtually with our current customers and with other valuable members of the wedding industry through online events. Choosing the right virtual conference or event isn’t always easy, so we spoke with wedding biz guru and all-around awesome person, Heidi Thompson to get the inside scoop on how to make the most of your next virtual summit.

Oh and P.S. Heidi has an opportunity for you to put these tips into practice, keep reading to find out more!

Read More “How to Make the Most of Your Next Virtual Summit”