(Editor's Note: This post is a collaboration between WeddingIQ co-editors Jennifer Reitmeyer & Kyle Bergner.)
WeddingWire, the nation’s leading wedding technology company, hosted its annual conference, WeddingWire World, March 16-17 at the Gaylord National Harbor right outside Washington, DC. We were very excited to attend as representatives of both WeddingIQ and of our primary businesses, MyDeejay and Kyle Bergner Photography. Main stage speakers included entrepreneur and original winner of “The Apprentice,” Bill Rancic, as well as Monte Durham of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” and perennial wedding industry speaker Alan Berg. Jennifer also was a featured presenter, leading a breakout session entitled “Growing Your Business While Maintaining Your Brand” - more about that topic in a future post!
Given all the great information that was presented over a very full two days, we thought we’d share some valuable takeaways from our favorite presentations.
The Legalities of Small Business with Caroline J. Fox
One of the first breakout sessions I attended was “The Legalities of Small Business,” presented by Caroline J. Fox. I think this is one topic most entrepreneurs overlook when starting a business, one that can really affect your bottom line when you run into problems. (Notice I said when, not if!) We all get excited choosing our logo, picking out office space and fantasizing about the day clients will pay us to do what we love. But you should at least take a little time to prepare yourself legally to avoid future catastrophe.
This seminar was ideal for the first time business owner and a great introduction into business entities, contracts and liability. Having worked with many clients in the wedding industry, Caroline was able to focus on specific contract clauses all wedding professionals should include, specifically addressing sliding scale deposits that will hold up in court, force majeure (because we can't control everything) and copyright vs. licensing. She also stressed finding out about specific laws that pertain to your industry or state with respect to taxes, transportation and permits. What you don't know could land you with a big fat fine.
In all, I believe her presentation was very succinct and pertinent to our industry. While definitely an introductory seminar, Caroline gave some great tips to take away and implement immediately.
10 Ways Technology will Change your Wedding Business with Sonny Ganguly
Year after year, I always look forward to WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer Sonny Ganguly's presentations on upcoming and current technology. I'm a little disappointed he did not wear his Star Trek Next Generation officer’s uniform (swoon) but he did have some extremely useful and entertaining information about the history and future of technology as it pertains to the wedding industry. Having been to every WeddingWire World, I can attest to the truth of his soothsaying predictions.
Sonny's been preaching the power of mobile for years, and now we are in the midst of that realization. Most of our clients are finding us on their phones or tablets and we have to make sure our sites are ready to receive them. It has also opened up the office to anywhere you are, which may require rethinking where and how you do business in the modern world. The best part was a list of apps to help streamline your business and life including a few I was keenly interested in. Specifically, Tile, which I will be purchasing pronto to help me find things; GroupMe, for better communication with all the different groups of people in your life; and Canva, which helps you with in-house design of flyers, email and more.
In conclusion, Sonny's candid, conversational style and love of all things tech make him a great resource and I always walk away thinking about how I can adapt my business to reach more tech-savvy clients.
How to Succeed in Business and Life with Bill Rancic
Okay, so anyone who knew me when I was 29 can attest to both my obsession with appearing on The Apprentice, and my crush on Bill Rancic. So you can imagine how excited I was to not only be in the same room as him, but also to have my face appear in the same event program as him! It must have been fate.
In all seriousness, I really enjoyed Bill’s warm and conversational approach to speaking as he detailed his start in business. Hearing how he took an idea he was passionate about - a cigar-of-the-month club, of all things - and turned it into a lucrative venture with lots of media attention, was a fantastic real-world lesson. (And something on which I think future WeddingWire World events should focus!) I think it’s easy to feel that public figures always had a simple and straight journey to success, so listening to Bill describe packaging his cigars with dollar-store props to send to news outlets, and hounding talk shows to feature his business, was a nice dose of reality. Bill may be a celebrity, bestselling author, and real estate developer now, but he started out like the rest of us: just hustling to get his ideas off the ground.
I also really enjoyed Bill’s recounting of the recently deceased Joan Rivers’ affinity for bumblebees. I found this quote online in which Joan explained it in her own words: “At a particularly daunting time of my life, my husband Edgar gave me a bee brooch to remind me that anything is possible, as long as one's will is strong and one’s spirit is intact. I took that message to heart, and that little bee has seen me through the good times and the bad. The bee became my personal inspiration...because it accomplishes the impossible every day. In aerodynamic terms, bees shouldn't be able to fly. Their bodies are too heavy; their wings are too small. Yet they do fly! I believe we all have it in us to beat the odds and achieve the impossible.”
Pretty good message, right?
The Art of Being Exceptional with Marty Kaufman
Winding down an intense two days of technology, education and networking, WeddingWire’s Marty Kaufman concluded the event on a wonderful note. His entire presentation focused on the why of what we do - the passion that led us to want to work in weddings, and the importance of our contribution to our clients’ lives and memories.
Using a deeply personal approach to connecting with the audience, Marty included his own wedding photos and anecdotes to communicate the tremendous impact we have on a couple’s wedding day. I really enjoyed his emphasis on how truly connecting with, and caring about, our clients is so much more important than delivering the most technically “perfect” service or product.
Marty’s message of “love, learn, listen” seemed to be well received by everyone in attendance, and it definitely left me with a renewed sense of commitment to the couples my business serves.
...Unrelated to the speakers, we have to give WeddingWire props for being incredibly gracious hosts. You couldn’t look anywhere without seeing a WeddingWire team member in an easily identifiable, bright blue shirt, and they were always there to provide directions and answer questions. WeddingWire also furnished attendees with some very nice “swag,” including tumblers, pens, apparel and more. The giveaways, including a very clever promotion in which the attendee with the most antiquated cell phone received a brand-new smartphone, were both generous and entertaining. Finally, the team did a great job in providing lots of fun diversions through the generous utilization of sponsors throughout the event - there was a fun photobooth, photo magnet souvenirs, complimentary headshots, live DJs spinning, a very hospitable networking reception, and the appearance of the Racing Presidents from the Washington Nationals! Everyone seemed to have a great time, and we were no exception.
Many thanks to the entire team at WeddingWire for planning such a fun and informative event. We’re already looking forward to attending, and hopefully participating in, next year’s WeddingWire World!