This is the Transcript of the #WeddingMarket Chat on October 14, 2015 with Meghan Ely from OFD Consulting. The answers were made on Twitter so responses will appear different.
OFD Consulting owner, Meghan Ely, combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding marketing and wedding PR to empower her clients to take their businesses to new heights. Meghan is a WeddingWire Education Expert as well as a regular contributor to Wedding Planner Magazine, Book More Brides, Catersource and SpecialEvents.com.
Meghan represents wedding professionals throughout the world, and has recently enjoyed press with Style Me Pretty, Brides.com, the New York Times, HGTV Gardens and Out.com, among others.
She is a sought after speaker, presenting regularly at a number of national and international conferences. She is the national conference education chair for the National Association for Catering and Events, and the Director of Communications for the Wedding Industry Professionals Association national board.
Q1: How did you get involved with the wedding industry?
Meghan Ely: My life in weddings began arbitrarily one day driving to the grocery store while in college as a PR major. I thought the wedding industry seemed like a happy place to be, so I thought it could be a nice fit. I graduated and spent 6 plus years working in Virginia wedding receptions before launching my firm in early 2009.
Q2: How would you define filling your off season?
Meghan Ely: The idea is essentially that you create a productive off-season with revenue building opportunities to grow your business.
Q3: How the off season can be different for companies involved with the wedding industry?
Meghan Ely: Weddings are decidedly seasonal so there is a set period of down time (which varies vendor to vendor) .
Q4: Why is important to make sure you include a break too?
Meghan Ely: Wedding season can be exhausting- you’re essentially “Go Go Go” for months on end. It’s important to give yourself time to decompress- for your health and your sanity! Give your mind and body a chance to rest and you’ll feel refreshed and recharged for the season ahead.
Q5: How having a less cluttered life helps improve sales?
Meghan Ely: When you have systems in place, you’re in a better position to serve your clients. Happy clients= referrals. Without the clutter, you have more time to seek opportunities and to really focus on prospects too.
Q6: How should we look at our processes to see what we can improve on?
Meghan Ely: Set aside a few hours to review ALL processes- from prospects and new client intake to post-event follow up. Sit with your team (or a latte if solo!) and go through each, creating/writing a standard operating procedure. Ask yourself- how can we be doing it better for the future?
Q7: What are some other alternative streams?
Meghan Ely: The sky is really the limit here. You could freelance through sites such as @freelancer or @upwork. Turn those “let me pick your brain” requests into a mentoring business for up-and-coming event pros. Speaking and mentoring are also great options for established veterans.
Q8 How can wedding pros make money being a speaker?
Meghan Ely: First- develop a platform. Ask yourself- what is my expertise? What do people also ask me to help them with? Then, research! Make sure that you can carve out a niche for yourself. Don’t offer “been there, done that” content. Next, start small. Look into local opportunities to build your speaking portfolio. Think beyond speaker fees. Can you sell a tangible product that complements your expertise?
Q9: How can wedding pros make money being a mentor?
Meghan Ely: If you’re constantly being asked to coffee to have your brain picked, it’s time to consider mentoring. Again, consider your platform and research what is already out there in the marketplace. Develop mentoring packages or consider a la carte hourly. Consider the POV of the wedding pro- what do they need? Look to B2B press opportunities (speaking, guest blogging, etc) to establish credibility.
Q10: How can wedding pros obtain strategic partnerships or side hustle?
Meghan Ely: First, it’s a matter of seeing what opportunities are out there and can elevate your current offerings. Build relationships with wholesalers (such as @100candles or @silkandwillow) to offer additional products/services. Partnerships! Great example: @wherewillthey can do room blocks for your clients- perfect for planners/venuses.
Q11: Why wedding pros should think about corporate and social events?
Meghan Ely: Corporate is a natural complement to weddings (I used to do both!). Think of all the elements you already have to balance! Corporate is still quite different so review options- galas, fundraisers, holiday parties, etc. Some are better fit than others.
Q12: What steps should wedding pros take to get started filling their off season?
Meghan Ely: First, streamline your business. Make sure you’re running like a well-oiled machine and clients are happy. Then, brainstorm the different opportunities discussed today. Decide the best fit for your business. Finally, it’s time to make it happen!
Q13: Should your Website be updated to include different revenue streams?
Meghan Ely: Absolutely! Don’t assume everyone knows- put it out there. Include professional copy and images, just like you would ordinarily do.
Q14: What other things should wedding pros keep in mind for the off season?
Meghan Ely: It’s also a great time to explore your goals (financial & otherwise) for the year- make sure your efforts have purpose.
Q15: What would you like everyone to take away from this #weddingmarket chat?
Meghan Ely: The off season is a great time to recharge but for the sake of productivity and cash flow, use your time wisely!
@Fawnthomas Sorry I may have missed it when you mention freelance .. what services can be freelanced via those sites?
Meghan Ely: So many options- I’d encourage you to visit their sites & explore. Writing, social media- even personal shopping!
@DowntheaisleCT Meghan, what would you suggest as some examples of local speaking opportunities?
Meghan Ely: Great question! Chambers of commerce, Rotaries, SCORE workshops, NAWBO, NACE, ISES, ABC, etc 🙂
@FawnThomas Is it beneficial to separate websites one for weddings and one for corporate, family event planning etc.?
Meghan Ely: It depends but typically, separating does make sense. Don’t want to confuse prospects.
@HappyHanky Do you have any PR advice for pitching a product for an editorial?
Meghan Ely: Research the heck out of media opportunities. Pitch stories, not products. Also- make sure to ONLY pitch outlets with a history of doing those kinds of features. Find a unique angle too!
@NoraKaren What’s new in online shopping and selling for the bridal market and during the season?
Meghan Ely: I’d say optimizing your site (SEO) still is the top way to reach couples online.
@Fawnthomas Do you have suggestions 2 attract corporate clients? I have a travel agency and planning service?
Meghan Ely: Yes! Network where they are going- ISES, etc. Search the CMP directory online for a list of area planners. Also- make sure your current clients know that you do corporate and that you promote on your site.