When Sharing Becomes TMI

Recently, I was invited by Aisle Planner to write a feature for their Aisle Planner Community Blog.

They were doing a series on couples who were in business together or who both operate businesses in the wedding and events industry.

Social media allows potential clients to see some of your personality and form a connection, however, when you live and work together there need to be some boundaries to keep sharing from becoming TMI

Be sure to check out the Aisle Planner feature TMI: Finding the Right Blend of Personal in your Professional Voice. 

Blogging - social media - wedding blogger - freelance writer

Mind The Gap

No, I’m not talking about riding the London Tube when I say mind the gap.

It’s wedding award season so I’m talking about taking a serious look at how you display any of the “Best Of” awards you might receive.

Wedding Professionals - Best Of Awards - branding your wedding business - marketing in the wedding industry - wedding blogger

If you have ever walked into a restaurant and seen them proudly displaying a Best Of Award from 2010; you might have some idea what I’m talking about.

My brain automatically skips from whatever is in front of me in the restaurant to what have they done wrong in the last nine years that they have not won again. Not even once in nine years?

Wedding Professionals - Best Of Awards - branding your wedding business - marketing in the wedding industry - wedding blogger

Did they just stop displaying them? Do they have new owners? Has it really gone downhill? Do I really want to eat here?

Same thing with wedding businesses!

If you have won a wedding award in the past and have a gap of more than one year before receiving that award again; get rid of the old ones!

Start fresh!

That gap of two years or more may be enough to wipe out all of the positive juju your beautiful website, social media, and blogging have put in front of a couple.

Be proud that you have won the recent awards and move on from there!

 

 

Are You Hard To Do Business With?

What obstacles do you put in front of potential clients that might be driving business away?

This year I took a card from our church’s “Christmas Giving Tree.” The card was an easy gift to fill – “Gift cards for fast food such as…,” and it listed a few companies by name.

So, I set out to a few fast food restaurants and had no issues getting gift cards. I was headed to an appointment later that day and saw a Burger King.

BK logo

When I went in and tried to purchase a gift card the manager told me that they were sold out, had been for a while and didn’t know when they would get more cards.

At the time it was fewer than 12 days from Christmas! Not the time to be out of gift cards!

A few days later, I was out and saw another Burger King. I parked, went in, and stood in line only to find out THEY had none.

Needless to say, I’m not going back to Burger King anytime soon. They made it too hard to do business with them.

In most cases the first barrier to doing business with wedding professionals is accessibility.

You cannot imagine how many times, in the past, I have gone to a wedding professional’s website only to struggle with finding contact information, only finding a contact form.

Nothing else, no email address, no phone number…NOTHING!

Most people don’t want to take the time to fill out a form. When I owned a wedding planning company or was a Director of Weddings for a resort; I certainly didn’t want to fill out a form to refer you business.

Put your email and phone number multiple places on your website so clients can find you; ideally on every page.

The second biggest barrier tends to be how you respond to potential clients. If they email you, email them back. If they wanted to talk to you on the phone, they would have called.

I’ve even gone as far as listing a phone number where potential clients can text. Working with millennials texting is HUGE to be able to communicate with them in a method they are most comfortable using.

You want to remove as many barriers to doing business with you as possible.

Look at your website like a potential client and see how easy it is to do business with you.

Better yet ask a millennial.

All I Want For Christmas

The ONLY thing I want for Christmas this year is for wedding, event and catering professionals to learn how to set a table.

Wedding Ghost - Ghost Blogger - Mark Kingsdorf - Master Wedding Planner - wedding blogger - curated content - freelance writer

Don’t get me wrong, a winning lottery ticket and world peace would both be nice, but I’m OK with manageable pieces.

As a blogger and content creator for the wedding industry, few things make me this crazy. Also, from what I’ve heard in some of the wedding groups I am part of I’m not alone.

I see hundreds of submission of styled shoots that have AMAZING tablescapes; breathtaking floral designs, luxurious linen, vintage or interesting china, unique flatware, and even fun glassware.

It is pretty apparent these professionals have painstakingly taken the time curate a tabletop design that fits with the overall theme of the shoot.

However, then there are glasses placed on the wrong side of the plate or the knife is on the left and the fork on the right. Ah-mazing!

As someone who is curating images for submission, this often means that I cannot use some of the best pictures you have submitted.

I have had to select images with the specific intention of not showing that setting. Too often that means that an awesome charger plate, custom menu card or napkin accent is not showcased.

Could I go ahead and use the image anyway? Yes, I absolutely could.

But the idea of a styled shoot is to showcase the creativity and expertise of a team of professionals. Is it fair to the rental company, linen company or stationery designer who lent their talent to this team?

It’s a pretty simple process, most weddings or events follow an Informal Dinner Place Setting.

Wedding Ghost - Ghost Blogger - Mark Kingsdorf - Master Wedding Planner - wedding blogger - curated content - freelance writer

We’ve taken liberties with napkin placement and folds and often add a champagne glass to the setting but nothing else in the setting changes.

So this Christmas, take a few minutes and share a little knowledge with your colleagues; and help grant my Christmas wish!

 

 

Hello, My Name Is

Confucius once said:

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.

And, this could not be truer when it comes to branding your business and especially concerning your website and blogging.

business branding - business name - abbreviating your business name - SEO and your business name

When I launched my wedding planning company in 2000, I very specifically chose the name, mostly because of the need to register it with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I chose the name The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants because there was already a company called Queen of Hearts and a catering company with a similar name.

It was a long name, but it was mine; we shortened it to QOHWeddings for our URL because we were afraid that people wouldn’t type out the whole name. Websites were still pretty new, and I was naïve.

But, in every situation we spelled it out entirely; so we wouldn’t be confused with anyone else.

Recently, I’ve seen businesses shortening their company names on their website or their blogs.

I get it, I’m a LOL and TTYL junky when I instant message or text with friends and colleagues.

However, search engines don’t get it. Shortening it to QOH and Queen of Hearts would have been easy, but it would have confused web crawlers cataloging our writing.

Potential clients were not searching QOH, people searching for the caterer were probably searching Queen of Hearts, and I’m sure people searching for a Juice Newton song were too.

Every time search engines cataloged our writing, our name written out entirely helped our SEO and visibility on the internet.

Don’t get cute by referring to your business in slang or initials. It’s not benefitting your business, and unfortunately, some of the best attributes of your business and all of your blogging efforts might go uncatalogued.

Diversify Your Portfolio

What you put out you attract!

When was the last time you looked at the gallery of work you share on your website and social media? I mean really, really looked at it?

When I had my wedding planning company, I had a bride who liked the style of a vendor’s work but had some concerns as none of this vendors work showed curvy women.

If I break it down to the most basic level, it looks like this. If all of the work you feature on your wedding business website is of basic, DIY looking weddings; you are very likely to continue to attract reasonably basic, DIY weddings. The price point you can charge will typically remain reasonably low as well.

The reason being is that higher-end clients, clients who may have booked venues with higher package prices will not see the wedding they envision reflected in your portfolio.

As your business begins to grow focus on showcasing work that is more décor and detail intensive, more opulent linens, more ornate wedding cakes and be sure to mix them up. 2018 might be the year of the purple wedding; however showcasing different color palettes create broader interest as well.

 

Now that I have been PC for as long as I can stand.

The vendor I had mentioned was someone I had worked with many times but never really looked at the body of work on their site. I was astonished to see that all of their galleries showed size 00, blond, petite, white women… so I called him on it.

Does your portfolio show African American couples, South Asian couples, Latino couples, Jewish couples?

multi cultural weddings - wedding blogs - ghost bloggerIs your language inclusive to make same-sex couples feel comfortable? I’ve found that unless I am talking about a specific wedding with a bride and groom, I refrain from using terms like the bridal party or bridal suite. Instead, I opt for gender inclusive terms such as the wedding party and a ready room.

mission Inn Resort - Rhodes Studio - same sex weddings - lgbtq friendly wedding vendors
Yes, that is my husband and me

If my husband and I were looking for vendors for our wedding and saw no same-sex couples and the entire site referred to bride and groom; we would have probably moved on. Much the same way my African American, curvy bride saw no one that looked like her on the vendor’s website.

The bottom line is that diversifying the weddings you showcase will help you attract additional clients from varying orientations, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Jewish weddings- luxury weddings- Cliff Mautner Photography
Image by Cliff Mautner Photography

So at the end of the day attracting more business is the primary business goal for most people I know.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Authentic Self

My friend in my head*, Kellie Daab of the I Do Collective,  recently made a huge point in a recent conversation about blogging.

If you are going to whine about it, blog about it. I LOVE IT!

Wedding Ghost - Authentically Mark - ghost blogger - content marketing- wedding blogger

So, this has set me off and running.

In looking at potential clients, I always check out their websites. I looking to see if they already have a blog built into their platform, if they do I look at things like how often are they blogging, are they incorporating keywords and phrases to help their SEO, as well as what the content looks like.

However, I also look at the About Us page. This has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves, somewhere right behind not holding the door for the person behind you, not saying please and thank you and saying sure, uh or yup when someone says thank you!

I’m AMAZED at how many professional websites talk about “Us” in some vague terms. I get it some smaller companies are trying to look like bigger companies and some bigger companies are genuinely an ‘us’ and might offer bios of key players someplace else.

I’m talking wedding companies, many of the companies I’m speaking about are sole proprietor wedding planners, cake artists, photographers, and decorators.

These are companies where there is one primary person who you plan with, design with, do engagement photos before your wedding with, and they are the face of the business.

It’s straightforward, look at your reviews! If there are one or two names that appear consistently in your online reviews you are About Us page needs to reflect that. It’s that simple.

People do business with people they know, like and trust! This is a fundamental law of human attraction. Our online reviews prove this time and time again.

Millennials are reading online reviews of our businesses, from people they don’t necessarily know; but they feel a connection to them because they are sharing intimate details of the biggest day of their life with us.

{side note: this is another fantastic reason to share quotes from client reviews in your blog post; including at least a first name (or couple’s first names) and possibly a venue}

Why are so many people shutting out potential clients by posting an About Us page that says we are the best blah, blah, blah in our city?

We have the best most up to date DJ equipment on the market and keep the dance floor packed! Good thing, that’s what they pay you for!

I cannot tell you how many people I connected with when I shared that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was eight and fought like hell until losing her battle when I was 27! The connections, especially with brides and moms who were intimately connected to this experience amazed me. And this escalated when I founded a charity wedding cake competition, for a cancer hospital in her honor.

To this day, the most significant response I have ever had to a Facebook post was of our late West Highland Terrier sitting at the steering wheel of our Mini Cooper.

Most of the world knows that I am a pizza junky, that I love cooking and that my husband Chuck and I live to travel the world.

Mark Kingsdorf - Wedding Ghost - ghost blogger- travel blogger - Thailand - visiting a school in central Thailand

I actually started a blog for fun called Authentically Mark, and we also have one where we chronicle our travels called In Search Of Neverland.

Letting people into your world and being your authentic self helps to build professional relationships with clients who can relate to you and you would be amazed how much you will enjoy spending time with them.

 

*Kellie and I are actually Facebook friends and PM on a pretty regular basis. We’ll FINALLY get to meet in person at this year’s Association of Bridal Consultants Annual Conference, held here in Tampa later this year. And I can’t wait!

 

 

Styled Shoots Make Me Crazy!

OK, I said it!

1f92f

In blogging for some national sites and looking at images from styled wedding shoots that clients have been involved with, I see some crazy stuff.

Here are some things that make me crazy when I read blogs or submissions.

Do Something Unique!

I’ve seen your ‘original concept’ on Pinterest a hundred times. If it’s there, it is no longer original. Look at a new venue and build something around the interesting architectural details, the Brussels sprouts on caterers fall menu or something outside of the box.

Buy A Steamer!

More importantly, look at the details. I hate linen that is wrinkled and silverware that is set improperly. People come to you to be an expert in your field, regardless of what it is that you do. LOOK AT YOUR DETAILS!

If you are not the photographer or planner overseeing the event and your product is being represented, you should still be there protecting your best interest!

Show Something You Can Sell

I see centerpieces that are HUNDREDS of dollars, even thousands of dollars with the rest of the tabletop. If this concept is more than a slight reach for your current higher end client, you might not be helping yourself. Can your clients afford to do ten, fifteen or twenty of these tables?

Is it showcasing something you really can and want to reproduce over and over again?

Does it showcase something that is your brand? Don’t get talked into being part of a photo shoot that isn’t a product that represents you.

If you are planning a photo shoot and looking to submit it somewhere, don’t be afraid to talk to the publication to see what they are looking for.

When you submit please, please, please make sure that the images you share on your blog or send to a publication match the story you tell. The photos need to support the story you tell.

Once again, images are not read by search engines, the SEO rich text is.

You’re welcome!