BSPI Bridal Show Producers gather in Florida

BSPI (Bridal Show Producers International)BSPI Bridal Show Producers are gathering in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this week for their annual conference. The 3-day conference has a star-studded group of presenters, including both members and industry leaders.

Wedding Industry Speakers

Some of the industry presenters are: Bevin Stella (The Knot), Sonny Ganguly (Wedding Wire), Andy Ebon (Wedding Marketing Expert – The Knot), Alan Berg (Wedding Marketing Guru – Wedding Wire).

BSPI is an international association with member companies throughout the United States, Western Europe, and New Zealand.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Wedding Industry Magazine Launched

inspire smart successNew Magazine Positions Itself as the Go-To Business Resource for the Discerning Wedding Industry Entrepreneur

The first issue of the business-minded publication features: Smart Marketing, Smart Networking, Smart Business, Smart Social Media and Smart Inspiration. Each issue will showcase a true entrepreneur with an inspiring and compelling story as the cover feature.

“In addition to mentoring and attending the events, business owners now have access to ISS Magazine, a go-to guide for business trends, tools and techniques. This magazine is all about providing real businesses with actionable ideas from real experts,” Francombe says.

“Along with valuable insights from such renowned wedding industry entrepreneurs as Preston Bailey, Diann Valentine, Sonny Ganguly of Wedding Wire and Dana LaRue from the popular blog, I want to give wedding professionals throughout the country an opportunity to share their stories and in doing so, inspire their business peers.”

The first issue will feature Kathy Romero of Kathy Romero Weddings & Events discussing the faith and dedication it took for her to start her own business after so many years of doing events in the corporate world.

ISS has also re-launched its website and blog to give wedding industry professionals with all the business tools and information they need in one easily accessible place. The new site will allow visitors to stay up-to-date on everything ISS has to offer – they can register for upcoming ISS Experience Events, connect with Stacie to schedule a mentoring or marketing consultation and subscribe to the new ISS Magazine.

Stacie will also be using the new Smart Blog to interact with wedding business owners, updating the blog daily with new content, providing useful information and inspiring stories. ISS uses a three-tiered approach through the ISS Magazine, ISS Experience and ISS Mentoring, and the new website brings all three together to become the one-stop to a better and more enriching business.

“The new and improved website will give entrepreneurs with an educational and dare I say, fun resource for connecting with information to help their businesses,” says Francombe. “The website will be user-friendly, making it easy to subscribe to ISS Magazine, and find tickets for ISSE events.” ISS events travel the country providing inspiring and educational seminars and networking opportunities for business owners.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

SmartPhone eMail formatting, matters, in a BIG WAY!

SmartPhone eMail formattingA while ago, the tireless Sonny Ganguly, Chief Marketing Officer, WeddingWire, was the guest speaker at the Las Vegas Wedding Network meeting. It’s always good to hear Sonny speak, for several reasons.

  • He’s a cogent, clear, and entertaining speaker.
  • For me, he confirms many things that I speak about. As micro-business man, it’s always good to get confirmations from a mega-business man.
  • Regardless of how many times I cross paths with Sonny, at meetings and conventions, during the year, there is always a nugget or two that jumps out it me. And that, keeps me on alert, at all times.
Sonny’s presentation, Get Social, Go Mobile, recapped various wedding industry social media statistics and introduced‘s mobile marketing service for its advertisers.
Above all else, there was one statistic that jumped out at me.
“55% of people use their cellphone to check mail at various times, during the day.”
The meaning of that stat might not be self-apparent. Here’s what struck me.
  • Over time, many people have added graphics to their email signature block. Awards, photos, and more. While that is OK on a desktop or laptop email program, on a cell phone, it creates a number of issues.
  • Graphics of any kind, slow the loading time of email on your phone. More than one graphic, naturally, compounds that problem.
  • The resolution of smartphone screens, measured in pixels, varies from brand to brand, and with different email software choices. Translated: What you see on your phone may vary from another phone. AND, any cellphone resolution is narrower than on desktops or laptops.
  • The different smartphone viewing results present both a practical problem and an annoyance, sometimes causing people to set your email aside, until later… or perhaps never.
  • Imagine, for example, the hotel catering sales manager, who is away from his/her desk at many points throughout the day. If you send an email (because a text message doesn’t provide enough characters), it would be wise to do so in the most concise method, making certain it reads easily,  and can be responded to, on any cellphone.
  • Might I suggest that if you think (or know) that your recipient is using a cellphone, on the job, it would be wise to use an alternate email signature. Make a transition from signature with graphics to signature without graphics to alternate signature, with less information. By less information in the signature block, I mean: Delete your life story, awards won for the past five years, mailing address, or anything that is unnecessary. 
  • The cellphone-friendly signature block probably includes only these few items.
  • Name
  • Company
  • Cellphone
  • Email address
We (and by WE, I mean YOU and ME) tend to over-communicate, and then wonder why things get missed or deferred.
55% is a BIG NUMBER. We should all fall in line.
Thanks Sonny!!

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Client recommendations: Are they losing their value?

Client recommendationsIt always seemed like a good marketing tool to have a running stream of kudos-from-clients. Brides and grooms who gush with praise about your company and its service ring authentic with prospective customers.

Recently, the ability to capture live testimonials with a Flip Cam or Smart Phone has brought added reality and spontaneity.

There is a growing trend that is beginning to devalue praise from clients. The ease of leaving reviews on wedding websites, such as WeddingWire and The Knot has started to make positive reviews so commonplace as to render them far less useful.

First, the upside: In a conversation with Sonny Ganguly, (WeddingWire) a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that there is 106% increase on click-through for businesses that have 10 or more reviews on WeddingWire.

Here is the BUT: As businesses accumulate more reviews, the increase in click-through does not increase proportionately. For example, having 50 reviews isn’t demonstrably better than having 17 reviews.

The Big Issue

It has become so easy to post positive reviews on wedding websites that many businesses in individual categories show a rating of four and half or five stars.

If your business is one of 25 in its category and two-thirds of the listings have very high ratings, the prospective customer begins to see high-ratings as a commodity.

Are the majority of companies, in your category, doing 5-star work?

Probably not. It’s likely that you know the quality of your competition. From the reviews, though, the bride who is shopping service has a tough time telling the difference.

The Review Challenge

In my opinion, with this trend of high-ratings-as-commodities, I suggest a different approach. Seek out both written and video testimonials from your professional peers.

Ultimately, a bride and groom can only project their satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the companies they hire. As a customer, they cannot make comparisons. Wedding professionals, however, see their peers in action, week in and week out. The see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

They know which cakes taste and look good; which centerpieces not only look and smell good, but don’t block the view of a guest sitting across the table; which disc jockeys not only fill the dance floor, but make concise announcements, keeping the photographer, videographer, and banquet manager, in the loop. The list goes on…

The issue is not just that a peer likes you, but WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO THAT IS SUPERIOR?

The Reciprocal Link Example

Giving praise to peers is tricky. It’s OK to give a pat-on-the-back to more than baker, photographer or other professional, citing their particular strengths. However, just like asking for a reciprocal website link, you can never ask for a link, if you wouldn’t give one (because you think that company is below par).

Ultimately, if you give earned-praise, and ask for praise you deserve… from fellow wedding professionals, it will standout against the commodity-reviews of brides, the 1-time customer.

Understand, that when you her hesitancy, in response to your request, it may mean that there is some element of your service that is sub-standard in some way. Finding out what the issue is, will be a solid source of constructive criticism. Hearing the truth about what improvements you can make will only make your company better, and strengthen your peer relationships.

Is this a radical idea?

Not really. Just a fresh suggestion. The challenge of selling is in differentiating your company from others. Peer testimonials is one way to help carry out that differentiation.

Get out in front and be the first company in your category to accumulate peer testimonials. Then watch your competitors trying to play catch-up.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog