Better Late Than Never...My TSE Recap!

The Special Event 2017 Recap

By Kevin Dennis

 

Now that The Special Event is behind us, I’m excited to share a recap of my wonderful experiences in Long Beach! Overall, my trip was very productive and left me feeling motivated and inspired.

 

We had a great turnout for my talk about lighting and décor trends, which is always a favorite area of mine to discuss. I also enjoyed being a part of Honeybook’s panel about business technology – lots of great info was provided and it was an honor being among so many esteemed colleagues. 

 

I especially had a blast at the Opening Night Party, which was held at the Aquarium of the Pacific – what a fantastic experience! It was an incredible space that paired well with the inventive menu. The party was such a great way to reconnect with friends, as well as make some new ones!

 

I wrapped up the week by connecting with my colleagues (and enjoying the company of my fellow WIPA members at the WIPA tables!) at the Wedding Event. It was so great to see my friend Rrive’s pieces in action, as he was one of the main sponsors and provided many of the décor elements for this memorable event. 

 

Most importantly- it was wonderful taking in some great educational sessions. I enjoyed engaging with my colleagues, and potentially bringing on board more contributors to WeddingIQ. 

 

Up next, we’re looking ahead to more great inspiration and networking at Catersource in New Orleans in March, followed by WeddingWire World in Anaheim in May. 

 

I hope to see you along my travels- be sure to say hello if you see me!

 

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.

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Establishing Yourself as an Industry Expert

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

 

With wedding budgets consistently on the rise, it’s a good time to be in the industry. However, with the boost comes the inevitable inundation of new wedding professionals that are bursting onto the scene with flashy websites, high hopes, and lower prices.   

 

Now more than ever, in order to grow your business, you need to establish yourself as an expert in your field. This will not only help to attract the clients you want, but also better focus your marketing and PR.

 

Let’s take a look at some of my tips for getting out there and showing everyone what an expert you are.

 

Didn’t You Know? You’re an Expert

In a lot of cases, you’re the last one to know that you’re an expert because you’ve just been hard at work getting things done. However, if you sit down and ask yourself, what is it you find colleagues and other wedding pros asking for your advice on? What specialties garner you the most accolades? Do you find that you’re specializing in certain types of niches, like LGBTQ or destination weddings? You should be able to quickly find the answer. 

 

Put Yourself Out There

After figuring out your expertise, it’s time to put yourself out there and show everyone that you’re an expert. Initially, it’s easier to go through your own channels, like writing regular blog posts sharing tips and tricks and promoting via your preferred social media outlets. 

 

Once you’re ready to take the next step, start reaching out to the pros you already know and trust in your region and see if they would be interested in featuring you as a guest blogger- from venues to planners, many businesses are looking for relevant material to share. 

 

Submit Your Weddings

One of the most effective ways you can put yourself on the map as someone who is great at what they do is simply by getting your weddings featured on blogs. Take some time to research which outlets are the best fit for you, and then dig through your weddings over the last year and choose a few of your favorites that really reflect what you do and are a good fit for the chosen outlet(s). Make sure you follow the submission guidelines to the letter and promote it like crazy when you get featured. 

 

Talk About It

This may not be for everyone, but developing a speaking platform is a great way to impress the market. Speaking allows you to get your brand and expertise out to a larger and more diverse audience. While you’re not likely to start out at a national conference on your first try, talk to your local groups and associations that have speakers at their meetings- they would probably love to hear your point of view. Local universities are also usually looking for professionals to speak in classes – consider looking into events and/or hospitality departments to reach out. From there, work your way up to more national engagements and you may eventually find yourself traveling the globe!

 

Standing out in this industry is a huge part of your business’ success. You may be the best at what you do, but if no one knows about it, it may not be enough. By using these tips, those competitors will quickly become a distant memory.

 

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. 

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Managing the Crossroads Between Planning and Design

By Kim Sayatovic, Belladeux Event Design

If you’re looking to foray into full-service event design and planning, there are some considerations to keep in mind when taking on an event from start to finish. Design and planning go hand-in-hand and bringing them together can make for a simple and seamless event timeline for your clients. While they’ll love the chance to work with you throughout the planning process, be sure that you’ve worked out all of the details in the event process so it runs like a well-oiled machine.

Design

For many couples, this is the fun part and some may even come bearing Pinterest boards full of color palettes and DIY projects. In this stage, it’s all about fleshing out the details of the couple’s vision. Is there a certain feel they are after? Do they want a specific theme? What colors do they love? Take in all of their ideas and create a mental picture of the wedding that they’ve dreamed up. At this time, it’s also good to get some of the early to-dos knocked out, like narrowing down vendor options and finalizing the budget and guest list. I set aside approximately three to four months for the design stage before getting into the nitty-gritty of planning and execution.

Planning

The planning stage is generally longer than design, as it involves a lot of the smaller details that come together to create the perfect wedding. We typically allocate seven to eight months on planning, just to ensure that everything falls into the right place. The planning phase is perfect for your type-A couples – you know, those who are all about organizing spreadsheets and breaking schedules down to the minute. Work alongside them to check off the remaining to-dos on the list, including things like ensuring vendors deposits are paid in full, keeping the event team on top of things, and checking in with the venue to share any updates. It’s up to you to make sure everyone is on the same page for the big day!

Execution

Once everything is in place, it’s time for the final execution of the event. The week leading up to the wedding is for tying up loose ends, finalizing the day’s timeline and ensuring everyone knows when and where to arrive and drop off their equipment, if necessary. At this point, most of the event should be ready to go, but take the last week to firm up all of the plans and stay in communication with the event team, as well as the couple.

Together, these three stages form the basis of any remarkable event – while each a distinct step, they all come together in the end for a couple’s dream come true!

 

Kim Sayatovic is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

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Jumpstarting Your Wedding Season

By Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events Group

There is no such thing as a quiet period for the wedding industry – am I right? 

Even now, when it’s ‘off season’ and we’re not slammed with back to back events each weekend, we’re in the throes of engagement season and always actively preparing for the months that lie ahead. 

Luckily, we all love our businesses and, even more than that, we love weddings. So, despite the fact that your calendar isn’t filled with events at the moment, it’s important that you’re spending your time jumpstarting your wedding season. I promise it will be here before you know it.

So, how can you jumpstart your wedding season so you can be primed and ready to hit the ground running? Read on, my friends – read on.

Organize your to-do’s

There’s no time like the present to sit down and put together a business to-do list. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you like – just make sure it’s comprehensive. Ask yourself what urgently needs to be done for your company and write it at the very top. Underline it, bold it, highlight it – whatever you need to do! Then, ask yourself what other tasks could help your business operations to run smoother and add those to-dos underneath your main priority. Having a list of your tasks is a great visual tool to ensure you’re knocking them out in a timely manner.

Update all of your files

Despite the collective groan that comes with organizing files, this is a must-do for all event professionals. Between April and October, chances are you’ll have just enough spare time to eat and sleep but not to update files that need it. Give your files (whether digital or physical) a run-through and make sure all of your proverbial ducks are in a row. You’ll be grateful you did once your busy season picks up!

Schedule planning meetings

Now is the perfect time to start mapping out the year ahead and getting a head start on those clients’ work. You will be getting new clients in the new year, so you certainly don’t want to fall behind on current client work. Sit down with your clients to plan out their wedding day – it’s always better to do this sooner rather than later!

 Meet with your team

Every year, we get together to create off-season chores list – essentially we allocate any and all housekeeping that needs to be done so that we can all work together to prepare for the next season. Divvy up the to-dos between everyone and have a monthly check-in to evaluate progress. Consider adding a reward system into the chore list, just as you would with kids – there’s nothing like a staff lunch out to motivate the team to finally finish that newsletter template.

Try out new tools

There are numerous apps and programs out there to help simplify your life. However, the last thing you want to do is try out a new app on a major wedding with an impending deadline. Experimentation is not for moments when you’re in the thick of things! Take some time to take some apps for a test drive and see if they make the cut for the wedding season. My favorites are Aisle Planner and Wunderlist, but everybody has their own preferences so don’t hesitate to try something new.

Of course, off-season strategies will vary depending on your business and its specific needs, but these tasks are a great foundation to start your push. What are you waiting for?!

 

 

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

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3 Things You Should Do to Make More Money in 2017

By: Michelle Loretta, Owner and Chief Strategist of Sage Wedding Pros

If you’re like most, you want to have a stronger business in 2017 than you had in 2016. Better can mean different things to different people. But, I know a lot of wedding business owners that want to be more profitable. I wouldn’t mind having a little more money in my pocket each week. AMIRIGHT?

Financial profitability for the small business owner is made up of a LOT of moving parts. BUT, based on my experience over the last 8 years of working with wedding businesses on their financial strategies, there are 3 areas that I see most people missing the mark. 

3 Things You Should Do to Make More Money

1.) Raise Your Prices

Most business owners who are struggling to create a healthy profitability in their business don’t have enough profit margin. This stems from pricing being too low. Even if your prices are exactly where they should be at, you can likely do a little bit of a price boost. Even a small boost of 10% on your pricing can lead to big results. Pricing is the #1 way to be more profitable. Now, keep in mind: pricing is a marketing decision. Your price needs to match your market strategy (your target market, your niche, your level of service, etc.) BUT – when I test things financially – it’s always pricing that is the culprit for a business’s small profits.

2.) CUT Out Waste

Most small business owners in the wedding industry don’t spend a lot. Honest. It’s very rare that I see a business that is being excessive in any of its costs or overhead. So, when I say ‘cut out waste’, I’m talking about making small tweaks to your expense budget to see results. Here are a few wasteful things to look for:

  • Ads that don’t give you any ROI
  • Software subscriptions you no longer use (or that you can downgrade)
  • Staff meals (or: getting excessive with how often you buy the office lunch)
  • Rent (do you really need to be an in office – or is it for ego?)

When a new spending opportunity presents itself, get in the habit asking yourself: “Is it more important that I spend this $100 on my business or would this $100 be better off in my pocket?”

3.) Examine Your Marketing and Selling Strategy

Often when I’m looking at a business’s finances I learn that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their financial strategy. The problem doesn’t lie in their money decisions, but in a weak marketing strategy. This is where you need to go from beginning to end of the process. Examine every step from beginning to end. How are people learning (or not learning) about you? How are you promoting your business? Are you actively networking? Advertising? Getting press? Is your website up to snuff? What is your sales process like? Are you considering your brand in your sale? Or – are you just talking about services? Are you creating a connection with the client? Are you short-selling yourself? Are you underselling yourself? Are you not listening for true needs?

Like I said – making money is a strategy that has many layers. But, beginning with these 3 things will help you shift your business. I guarantee you’ll see more profits over time!

What do you think? What’s been helpful in creating more profit in your business? Share in a comment below!

If you are looking for better ways to create a strategy for the New Year, you can plan out your 2017 by downloading the world-famous Sage Wedding Pros’ Action Plan here. If you need more help with your financial strategy, sign up for Accounting 101 .

Michelle Loretta is a consultant for wedding and event professionals and founder of Sage Wedding Pros. She blends her past as an accountant for Deloitte, a sales and marketing manager for DDLA, a merchandiser for Coach, and a stationery entrepreneur to help entrepreneurs better their businesses. Sage Wedding Pros produce The Simple Plan Workshop, The People Plan Workshop, and Be Sage Conference. Michelle has been asked to speak at NACE Experience, ALT Summit, ABC, NAWP Conference, Biz Bash Live, and a number of other seminars and workshops.

 

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