Photo: We Are Diamond Eyes
It's hard to believe that just 10 days ago we were partying it up on the dance floor at Chateau night club in Las Vegas with a couple hundred of our closest friends from Wedding MBA 2016. For those of you who have never been to Wedding MBA, it's a 3,000-plus person wedding industry business conference geared at helping wedding pros better their businesses. We love the show because, not only do we get the chance to show off a taste of our brand right there in the Las Vegas Convention Center, but because the week is full of education sessions, parties, lots of networking time -- plus a few surprises. While we could go on and on about all the fun details at the Chateau night club party, flower crown bar, or our special edition of The Knot LIVE with our founder Carley Roney and friends (Brian Leahy, Allan Zepeda, Dennis Kwan, Andrea Eppolito, Zameer Kassam, Marcy Blum and Preston Bailey, that is), we really enjoyed teaching and sharing all of our data and insights. A sampling of the topics we covered: how to get published, trends across the country, how to rock your SEO, how to better connect with millennials, tips to closing the venue sale and ways to be an effective entrepreneur and build a company that's made to last.
We covered a lot of ground! But if you only could recall five take-aways from the week, they would be the ones below. Here, five questions you honestly need to ask yourself before you walk into 2017:
1. Is your website mobile-friendly?
More than 50% of Google searches come from a phone. That number is even higher when you're talking about the average tech-savvy engaged couple. Take it from us: If your website doesn't look good on a mobile phone, couples will move on and look for a wedding pro with a website that does.
Make It Happen: Not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly? Google has an easy-to-use tool for you to try. Just type in your website URL and it will give you an overview of how well-optimized your site it. (Try it here: Google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly) Looking to update your website but not spend a fortune? Look for an out-of-the-box solution like Squarespace.com or Wordpress.com. Both offer website templates that are automatically optimized for mobile phones so that you don't have to think about it. (Score.)
2. Have you social-ed yourself?
That's our buddy Emily Clarke Events on Instagram -- her account is cute, creative and super active. Why does this matter? She gets clients this way and you could be too. Your future clients are STALKING you on social media long before they decide to reach out to you. In fact, according to one of our most recent tech and social media studies, 46% of couples were influenced by their wedding pros' social presence. If you haven't posted to your Facebook page in over a month, or your Instagram account exists but doesn't have any photos, you're missing out!
(BTW, if you haven't started following The Knot Pro on Instagram, you really should!)
Make It Happen: Just take it one step at a time. To start, take inventory of your social channels. Decide which channels you're most comfortable with and that suit your personality, brand and style. If you have a Twitter account but never use it, delete it. It's better not to have an account than to have one with cob webs. If you're just getting started, know that Facebook is a great foundational channel to start with. Make a plan to update your Facebook feed two to three times per week. Videos and photos that link out to more content tend to perform best. Once you have that going, consider adding in another channel like Instagram. Just make sure that the images you post to your profile are truly inspiring and add value to the person following you. In other words, no selfies that look like you're just bragging! Instead, think photos that communicate an idea (like a wedding cake with mixed tier shapes or a reception room with unique lighting). Before you post, always give credit to everyone involved in the event -- that includes not only the photographer, but also the florist, the baker, the linen company and the venue.
3. Does your website include relevant keywords for SEO?
Simply put, keywords are the connection between search terms and results. If your website doesn't contain keywords, then your website won't end up on page 1 of a search. And because most couples turn to Google to search for their wedding pros, you really want to make sure you've got this down.
Make It Happen: Determine which keywords you need and then add them to your page. There are a few free websites that can help point you in the right direction. Try SEO That, SERP STAT or KeywordTool.io. Once you know what keywords you need, you'll need to find ways to add them to your website. (Note: Don't "keyword stuff" -- it looks spammy and you could get docked!) Another not-so-scientific way to add keywords is to put yourself in the shoes of a couple and imagine how they might search for you. If you're able to add a few of those phrases to your website, you'll be well on your way to being better discovered through search. By the way, The Knot storefronts are all totally optimized for search so that's another way to make sure you're being seen.
4. Have you been published?
Photo: The Knot Instagram
Almost all engaged couples (97%) use websites and blogs to help plan their wedding, according The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study. Add to that, 77% of brides highly value sites that include Real Wedding images with tagged vendors. Getting published exposes you to clients who want to invest more in photography and their weddings. Appearing in a publication also gives your brand more klout and is an easy way of communicating to a couple that they're dealing with the real deal (ahem, you). If you're a photographer, this is especially true -- 70% of couples use published work as a qualifier for their potential photographer (according to a 2015 Two Bright Lights Study).
Make It Happen: Every website, blog and magazine is different. Therefore, they all have different submission guidelines. One of the easiest ways to submit, however, is to use our partner site, TwoBrightLights.com. The site lets you upload your work and pitch it around to 100s of blogs and publications. If you want to submit to The Knot Magazines or TheKnot.com, you can do it for free here: TwoBrightLights.com/TheKnot.
5. Who's your squad?
Photo: Brandi Welles Photographer
We're talking about the photographers, the venues, the wedding planners in your market who you want to work with. Those are the people you should be in lock step with. Why so important? Because in this changing landscape, where instant response times are an expectation (not a nice-t0-have), short attention spans run rampant, and everyone expects to tap an app to accomplish anything and everything, it is IMPERATIVE that we develop deep relationships to build each other up and support one another.
Make It Happen: Write the names of those people down and vow to do more work with them this next year. Submit weddings of your work together, tag one another on Instagram and lift each other up. At the end of the day, our authenticity and deep relationships are what drives true success in this industry and will continue to do so for years to come.
Want More? (Of Course You Do!)