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”

Wedding Industry Biz

7 Ways to Build an Email List for Busy Wedding Planners

Relationships = Sales

 

If people know you, they are more likely to buy from you.  But, you have so many other things to do to run your business.  How do you build relationships without spending all of your time in meetings? There are so many regulations to stay on top of, adjustments to make, and operations to run that fostering genuine connection can seem impossible.  Turn to digital relationship building via email marketing to engage your audience with less stress.

READ MORE “7 Ways to Build an Email List for Busy Wedding Planners”

Wedding Industry Biz

Gen Z: How to Connect with the Tech-Driven Generation

For some, the phrase ‘Gen Z’ may feel like uncharted territory, and maybe even a bit intimidating. It’s been reiterated over and over about their short attention span, their need for automation and ease of access, and how difficult it can be to connect with them.

It’s a common misconception that they’re worlds away from any similarities in regards to older generations – in fact, business owners and entrepreneurs alike have actively been making strides to be tech-driven for years in order to meet the needs of our evolving clients. In many ways, these have been natural progressions, whether that’s implementing new programs or expanding your social media reach by exploring new apps.

But the question remains: how can we consistently keep up with a generation that’s wildly intuitive and tech-driven?

 

How communication has changed with clients

Long gone are the days of handwritten contracts and in-person meetings (thanks, COVID). When you think about it, business owners have really been forced to grow up in a sense due to the restrictions of the pandemic. This alone has created shockwaves in the event industry, especially as we’re accustomed to planning face-to-face with our clients. Now, we’re suddenly relying on tech for things we wouldn’t necessarily have before. Whether you want to believe it or not, we’re now in the Generation Z mindset.

Emily Loxtercamp of The Renaissance says, “Being a part of Gen Z myself, even with everyday situations I find myself in, I will adapt the way I communicate with my peers depending on what generation they’re in, and I do it at my workplace as well. With younger clients, a lot of emojis and abbreviations (or texting lingo) are used, whereas with clients in generations before Gen Z, I’ll format my messages to them more of an email style.”

Jamie O’Neill of The Bridal Finery agrees, noting: “In previous years, communication with clients has always been very professional with only speaking during business hours and through telephone or email. Being a bridal boutique, we tend to chat with our brides whenever and however it’s easiest for them. This means chatting with our clients based on their preferred form of communication. For some clients, they prefer to reach out to us through DM on Instagram at midnight when they’re off work and laying in bed. For other clients, they prefer email over text, text over email, or third party messaging apps like WhatsApp.”

 

Apps that can help you connect with Gen Z

Zoom is a household name now, and there’s no question that it’s been a lifeline for many industry pros that need to continue with client meetings and developing one-on-one connections without skipping a beat. But there are a plethora of other apps that can not only help streamline communication and tasks – they’ll also keep you at the top of mind and never leave your Gen Z client second-guessing.

Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services says, “Evernote is an amazing tool when it comes to planning virtually with a client. Beyond anything that you could put in a text or an email, this app allows you to scribble notes, send voice memos, photos, and keep track of tasks and deadlines. Everything is housed in one place, so there’s no need for multiple programs.”

Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com suggests, “Google Voice has really helped us connect with Gen Z. Their primary preferred communication method is a text message and it was hard to track and save. Because we can use it both on desktop and mobile, it makes it easy for us to track responses by copying and pasting into our CRM. This way we have a record of our conversation!”

JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli lists a couple of her favorite apps: “Allseated is recommended when we are working on the floor plans for the venues, it gives the couple easy access to help with the stressful seating plan. And Paperless Post is what we use to invite guests to other events associated with the wedding. The best part of this platform is the tracking of emails, so you can see who received and opened it and those who did not. It gives them a minute-by-minute [head]count for their events.”

 

Successful social media strategies

For years, it’s been said that social media is the key to attracting the attention of Gen Z, and with so many people stuck at home, it’s never been more true. So, how can you step your game up and generate more traffic?

For Kylie Carlson of The Wedding Academy, Instagram Reels is the next big thing. “Unlike Instagram Stories, Reels don’t disappear after 24 hours. These videos can serve as mini commercials for your business and live on your profile. You can either educate, entertain, or inspire your audience, and it’s fairly user-friendly! My follower count has already gone up since I’ve started incorporating Reels into my feed.”

Loxtercamp adds that they’ve found success with, “Posting interactive Instagram stories such as polls, Q&A segments, etc. TikTok is also an extremely popular social media platform within Gen Z, and I’ve started to make videos that kind of mimic 60-second TikTok videos of different things going on around my workplace. The main thing I’ve been doing is creating ‘setting up’ montages where details and big picture shots of an event or wedding coming together are shown with some kind of catchy song playing with it.”

It goes without saying that we’re more in-tune with tech than we may have been in recent years, so don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage when connecting with your younger clients.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

Wedding Industry Biz

The Ins and Outs of Diversifying Your Business

If COVID has taught us anything in the way of owning a business, it’s that we can no longer remain stagnant with our offerings or our revenue streams. Diversification has been a lifesaver for many, particularly in an industry where our livelihood relies on weddings and events.

That said, it’s understandable that diversifying is no easy feat – it takes a lot of trial and error, market research, and identifying the needs and wants of your clients to ensure that it’s a successful, worthy investment.
READ MORE “The Ins and Outs of Diversifying Your Business”

Wedding Industry Biz

Stay Focused While Working from Home

By now, most of us have settled into a comfortable work-from-home routine due to the pandemic. Yet, even if you’ve been working remote for six months or more, it can still be a challenge to stay focused — especially when you have spouses sharing your workspace and kiddos home for virtual learning. The balance between work and home life has been particularly difficult in the wake of nationwide stay-at-home orders, so you’re not alone if you feel like you’ve been carrying too much weight on your shoulders.

While there isn’t much we can do about returning to work outside the home, there are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you set boundaries at home and find more focus and flow during your working hours (even if it’s at the kitchen table).
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