Are there too many people in the Wedding Industry?

Show notes:

Today I’m challenging the idea that there are too many people in the wedding industry. Despite the influx of new people entering our industry, I don’t want you to see this as a negative, instead I am encouraging you to embrace collaboration over competition.

In this episode I am going to talk through and respond to some of the negative comments I am hearing and I am going to share my tips for standing out in a crowded wedding market.

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Time Stamps:

The competition challenge (00:00:00) Addressing the perception of a saturated wedding market and the impact of increased competition on standing out.

Local competition concern (00:00:59) Reflecting on the survey results showing local competition as a significant challenge for wedding professionals and the speaker’s perspective on collaboration over competition.

Benefits of increased suppliers (00:02:52) Discussing the positive impact of more suppliers entering the industry, using examples of commercial spaces and the normalization of new wedding services.

Maintaining professionalism (00:07:17) Strategies for maintaining professionalism amidst new entrants, including embracing newcomers and emphasizing one’s own credentials and experiences.

Dealing with price wars (00:10:51) Addressing concerns about price wars, emphasizing the importance of knowing one’s own numbers, avoiding the race to the bottom, and educating clients on the value provided.

Standing out in a crowded market (00:15:06) Encouraging differentiation and finding a unique selling point to stand out in a crowded market, highlighting the need to avoid being the “vanilla” option.

Diversifying business sources (00:17:39) Advising on the importance of diversifying business sources and not relying solely on one venue or supplier recommendation.

Building Relationships with Venues (00:18:41) Tips for wedding professionals to go above and beyond for venues and benefit from collaboration.

Embracing New Competition (00:19:33) Encouragement to welcome new professionals, learn from fresh ideas, and embrace the industry’s growth.

Dealing with Price Competition (00:20:31) Strategies to handle competitors offering lower prices and reassurance about the value of quality service.

Surviving and Thriving Amid Competition (00:21:27) Reassurance that businesses offering poor quality or extremely cheap services won’t survive in the long run.

Reframing the Perception of Competition (00:23:21) An exercise to reframe the way wedding professionals view their direct competition and identify areas for improvement.

Leveraging Competition for Growth (00:25:13) Using the strengths and weaknesses of competitors to set goals and refine marketing messaging.

Community and Collaboration (00:26:11) Encouragement to build relationships and collaborate with other wedding professionals for mutual success.

Transcript:

Becca: Has the wedding market become overly saturated? Are there too many people doing exactly what you do in your local area? Time and time again I hear people talking about how easy it is now for people to join the wedding industry and in a post Covid world working for yourself is more appealing than ever.

So is this amount of competition a problem and how can you ensure you stand out even in a crowded market? I’m Becca Pountney, Wedding Business Marketing Expert, speaker and blogger, and you’re listening to the Wedding Pros Who Are Ready to Grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level.

If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get going with today’s episode. A couple of weeks back I was watching a webinar hosted by my friend Margo, who runs the Wedding Summit series out in the us.

She runs training summits and workshops for all kind of wedding pros and venues. And earlier this year, she surveyed all of her attendees from her past summits to try and discover what she should teach about next and to find out what challenges wedding pros. Thought that they had right now. And in this webinar, she was revealing all the results.

Now, number three on the list, the number three biggest challenge to wedding pros in 2024 really shocked me. And the answer was given was local competition. It really surprised me that this was being seen as such a challenge. So I thought, why not record a podcast about it and reflect on what I think about this issue.

Now. I know, and hopefully you know as well, that I’m all about collaboration and community over competition. So I already, from the start of this episode, I’m going to tell you that that’s the angle that I’m going to come at this from because I don’t believe in competition. I think there’s enough wedding work out there for each and every one of you and I think we all do better when we collaborate, we work together and have strong community.

However, I probably will refer to local competition In this episode, so when I say that, no, that I don’t really see it as competition, but it’s just an easy way to explain and talk about this challenge that people think they have. So yes, I’m all about collaboration and community over competition, but I may mention local competition as part of this episode.

And all I mean by that is other people doing the same thing in the area where you are based. So in this episode, I’m going to talk about some of the key challenges that people identified and felt that they had in their business. And then I’m going to give you my response to them. So the first challenge is that people feel like there’s too many new suppliers coming into our industry.

So whether you’re a celebrant, a florist, a photographer, a cake maker, a wedding planner, the consensus is that there’s lots and lots more people entering the industry. Now this could be for a variety of reasons. As I mentioned in the intro, people In the post COVID world, people are more likely to want to work for themselves, have flexible working, and especially when people get married themselves, quite often they realize that the wedding industry is a fun place to work, and all of us agree with them, I’m sure.

There’s also lots more online training, online training schools, so it can be easy to qualify, or I put that in a, you know, in little brackets, qualify as one of these different things and do the training online, and it’s very easy to become a wedding planner, or a celebrant, or a photographer. Now we can spend our time moaning to each other, especially those of us that have been around a long time thinking that this is a really negative thing and it’s bad for our industry, but actually I want to flip it on its head because I think that lots and lots of new people coming into our industry is actually really exciting and you shouldn’t see it as a negative, but actually it could really benefit.

Now, have you ever noticed how physical businesses like cafes or petrol stations often open in the same places? So you can drive for a mile, not see a petrol station, and then you get two opposite each other on both sides of the road, or you’re walking along, you can’t find a cafe, and then you get to one part of the road or a retail park, and there’s five cafes all opened up in the same place.

Like, this is what commercial retail space is, and Businesses do. Same with car dealerships. Quite often you’ll see all the car dealerships in the same place. And there’s actually a theory that backs up the benefit of this. It’s called Hotelling’s model of spatial competition. Feel free to look it up if you want to read more about it.

But it basically says that there’s benefit of more of the same people doing the same thing in the same place, both to the customer and to the business. Obviously, I don’t want to go too deep into theory, so I’m going to give you a couple of real world examples of where I’ve seen this happen. So where I live, I live in a small village.

When I moved here nine years ago, there were no coffee shops in this village at all. None, none at all. So you had to drive out somewhere else if you wanted to go to a coffee shop. And then a couple of years after I moved here, one coffee shop opened. And then a couple of years later, another coffee shop opened.

And then very recently, just last week, last year, another coffee shop opened. So now we have three coffee shops all within the village, all within probably a 10 15 minute walk of each other or a two minute drive of each other. In fact, two of them are basically opposite each other on the high street. Now you may think, oh well that’s bad, there’s too many coffee shops now, there was none before, now there’s three.

But actually it works because you now know you can come to this village and For coffee, and there’s lots of choices. Each of those coffee shops attracts a different kind of person. They have a different kind of price point and you might fancy one, one day and one another day. And actually having three has made them all more successful.

I also see this in the wedding industry. If I can take you back in ancient history to 2010, which was when I got married, a lot of the businesses that exist now didn’t exist. And. Weddings were a much simpler thing. When I got married, people often asked me about my own wedding. I’ve talked about it in the podcast before, but really we didn’t have that many choices.

We had the food, we had a photographer, we had a video, we had flowers, but there wasn’t all the extra exciting things you have now. All the signs and the wooden signs and the, all the exciting different favors that you can get, or perhaps the garden games didn’t exist then. We didn’t have the photo booths at the weddings.

All of these things that now you see almost every day. Wedding. Now, actually, because people have popped up doing these different businesses, and lots and lots of them have popped out, these items have become normalized at weddings. It’s now expected that you will have something to entertain guests. At my wedding, people just stood around and had a chat.

But these days, you would expect to have crazy golf or garden games or photo booths to entertain your guests while they’re at the wedding. And because that’s become normalized, more and more business are doing it, then actually everyone makes more money because more people are. Booking those services, it’s become a normal part of the industry.

So more suppliers, more people coming to our market is not a bad thing. In fact, it can raise awareness about the different products and services, normalize them in the market and make them a more popular choice, which leads to everyone making more money. Okay. The second challenge that came out in the survey that Margot did was that people worried with lots of new people coming into the industry and lots of local competition, that it was difficult for us all to keep a level of professionalism.

Now I have a couple of thoughts on this. Now we don’t have the same industry standards. Obviously if you’re catering or dealing with food, then you have like food hygiene standards and things like that. But for most of us, we don’t have those things that we are accountable to. And so we have to deal with our own level of professionalism.

And I hope that most of you, I’m sure all of you do have that level of professionalism. And I think sometimes there’s a worry that people come in and they charge really cheap and they’re not very good. Actually, we can’t do anything to control that. Because we can’t control anyone else’s actions, we can only control our own actions.

So we can ensure that we’re maintaining a level of professionalism, but we can’t force other people to do the same thing. So a couple of thoughts on that. First of all, embrace new people into the industry. If you meet new people who, even if they do exactly the same as you do, Help them to be better because if we help the new people coming in to be better, point them to resources like this podcast, point them to training groups, talk to them about your own systems and how you’ve improved your business from what you’ve learned.

Because if we make the new people better and we share our knowledge and share our experiences, then again, that’s going to improve the industry reputation as a whole. Every single one of us is new at some point. Every single one of us starts somewhere. So embrace people coming into the industry and share and be open about your own experiences.

Together, we all do better. The other thing is that you can be really clear about your own credentials and experience. Although we can’t influence what other people are doing around us, we can influence the messaging we’re putting out ourselves, so don’t be afraid to talk about your experience out in the wide world.

If you’ve worked at some impressive venues, talk about it in your marketing. If you’ve got a degree or a qualification in your subject, then talk about it in your marketing. Make sure that you are showing why you’re professional, why you’re worth working with. You can control that and you can make sure that you are standing out like a beacon of good.

business service and that will always stand out. And the thing you’ve got to remember is customers are more savvy than you think. Just think about going to a shopping center. What if I go to a shopping center and you see all the main players, the main brands, and they have these big lovely shops. They’re well lit.

They’ve got nice signage. We recognize their brand colors. They’re very established. And occasionally you can see that a local business of some kind, maybe it was a market store that’s gone into a retail area. Outlet has opened up in one of the units and quite often they stand out a mile of being very different.

They’re not well lit. They haven’t spent the same money on the signage. They’re a different kind of feel. And as a customer, we are savvy to that. We don’t need someone to tell us, Oh, this person’s only been in business recently, or they’re not a big player in the market. We can see with our own eyes and from our own experience, and we can make a choice about whether or not.

We want to go to one shop or the other shop. Your customers are no different. Okay. They are savvy. They will see that you have a level of professionalism and experience. And yes, there will be some people that might go with someone else and then have a negative experience. But again, that’s on them and their choice.

All you can do is stand out in the market and make sure you’re being clear about what you can do and how professional you are, why the importance of a contract, the importance of the business. people should go with a reputable source, why you should check websites, all of the things I teach you to do all the time.

Make sure you’re talking about why you’re doing those things so that you’re educating your potential clients. Okay. The third challenge that you have said that you have when it comes to local competition is Price wars. Now, I want to address this because, of course, if people come into the market, they’re always going to be price wars.

There’s always going to be someone that’s cheaper than you. There’s always going to be people more expensive than you. You know, we’re not in a world where we set one price and everyone has to charge the same price. That’s just not how it works. So, price wars. Instead of worrying about price wars, first thing is you need to be clear on your own numbers.

Do you know your numbers? Are you happy with the amount you’re charging? Do you know how you got to that figure? Are you able to be profitable with that amount of money or is there any wiggle room to go up? You need to be confident in your own pricing without looking left and right at your competitors.

Secondly, do not try and be the cheapest in your local market. You will never be. ever win that battle. Okay, so it won’t happen if you try and be the cheapest, and here’s why. I’m sure I’ve shared this on the podcast before, but I’m going to recap for anyone who hasn’t heard it. I think it’s helpful to be reminded.

A few years back, I did my own market research where I went into a Facebook group for wedding pros and local people getting married, and I pretended I was getting married. And I asked, would anyone take the photos of my wedding for 500 pounds? Now, most of you listening will know that 500 pounds is quite a long way below the average market value for a wedding photographer, especially an experienced one.

And yet must’ve had 10, 15, 20 comments of people that said, yes, please, I’ll do it for 500 pounds. I then went back in and asked the same question and put a lower price. And I still got a lot of responses. I then went back in and asked if anyone would do it for free for experience. And I still got a handful of responses.

Now, what does this show us? It shows us there’s no point competing on price because there is always someone who’s going to be happy to go out and do it for less money than you. And let them take that job for free because you don’t want to do it for free. It’s not about having as many jobs as you can on your list.

It’s about making a profit. And as I said before, if you’re clear on your own numbers and what money you need to make to be profitable, it doesn’t matter if other people want to do things for much cheaper, there is no point in you doing it because you know it won’t help you be profitable. So do not try and be the cheapest.

It will never happen. Don’t try and undercut people. Stay in your own lane, know your numbers and be confident. In them, actually look at it the other way. There’s a lot less competition at the top of your game. If you look at competing or being the highest price, well, guess what? There’s a lot less competition.

If you look out in the market at the luxury retailers versus the more high street retailers, there’s a lot less of the luxury ones. It’s a much smaller market. So don’t try and be the cheapest one. You’re never going to be the cheapest one. There’s actually less competition at the top. Educate your clients as well on the value that you provide.

Why are you charging that amount of money? Quite often we see these conversations about, you know, why, why are venues charging this much if it’s a wedding and this much, if it’s a birthday party, they’re ripping me off. You know, if you do have different prices, educate your followers, educate your potential clients on why you’ve got to that amount of money.

The more transparent you can be with your pricing, the better. People don’t want to feel like they’ve got everything. Been ripped off. They are savvy shoppers. They’re not necessarily wanting cheap, but they want to know they’re getting value for their money, and they want to understand how you’ve come to that amount of money.

Another example of this, so I’ve recently been to the dentist and when they told me the work I needed and how much it was going to cost, I nearly fell off the dentist chair. It was very, very expensive. Now, I think I probably took the dentist by surprise because I said to him, can you explain to me how you got to that figure because it feels really expensive?

And he did. He said, well, the lab costs this much and then this costs this much and then my time costs this much and this material costs this much and that is why you have to pay all this money for this dentist treatment. I mean, it was refreshing and I left the dentist’s office more willing to pay the money as much as I didn’t want to because at least I understood.

As humans, we don’t want to feel ripped off. We want to understand how someone’s got to the price that they’ve got to. Okay? So be confident in your pricing. Don’t have wars with local competition about pricing. And often what you’ll find is if you want to have longevity in this market, you need to hold your pricing.

There may be people around you that pop into the market and they offer really, really cheap stuff, but actually they probably won’t stay in business very long because they won’t make a profit. And actually they probably aren’t offering the level of service they need to, to maintain a successful business.

So don’t have price wars with the competition. Hold your price. Be confident about your pricing. Explain to your clients and customers how you got to that pricing. Be transparent. Okay. The next challenge is that if there’s lots of local competition, you’ll never go and stand out, you’re just going to be one of the crowd.

Well, again, I would say the onus on this one is on you. As you will know, if you’ve heard me talk on stage quite often, I talk about vanilla marketing and how you don’t want to be the vanilla ice cream flavor is much better to be the unicorn sparkle flavor ice cream and get noticed for that and not be wanted by everyone than it is to be vanilla Blend in with the crowd In a crowded market, you need to find a way to stand out.

That could be from your niche, it could be from your experience, it could be from your branding or website. Having a way to look different to the competition is really strong. So for example, if you are an ice cream cellar, but you specialize in vegan ice cream, or you are gonna stand out from the crowd by being the vegan ice cream cellar, and people are going to start to know you.

And although your market share might be slightly smaller, you’re more likely to get more of those clients that do want vegan ice cream because you’re the specialist in that area. It might be that you’re the most expensive in the area. It might be that you only take on 10 weddings a year. So you’re the most exclusive person in the area.

Think about how you personally can make yourself stand out from the crowd. It might be that all the other florists in the area have these really beige websites and you go in with a bright pink and yellow spotty website. I don’t know what it is for you, but think about how you can make yourself stand out.

Out from the crowd. If there is a lot of people in your market, when they all zig, you need to zag. You need to go the opposite way to them. Do things a little bit differently. Think outside of the box, but don’t feel that you need to blend in with the crowd. You need to do the opposite. You need to stand out.

You need to know what you stand for. I need to shout about it from the rooftops. Okay, next challenge. Quite often I see this from people who are very well established in the industry. Maybe you’ve been in the industry for the last 10 years or more and you have all the venues that serve you quite a lot of work.

And one of your fears underlying of having new people coming into the industry is that what if they take your spot? What if they take your spot at the venue and they start getting the work instead of you? Now, when you have that worry, it’s actually probably more of a reflection on your own business, because if you’re relying too much on one source for your business, then you don’t have a very strong business model.

So if you’re having those worries, maybe you need to look at diversifying your portfolio, looking at other venues to promote you or finding other avenues to income into your business rather than relying on one sole venue. Because if you lost that, you don’t want your whole business to fall apart. I also think that this is a good thing to have.

If you’re worried someone’s going to take your spot as a recommended supplier at a venue, it’s going to make you want to be better and it’s going to make you less complacent. I came across a wedding supply recently who’d been recommended at a venue for probably over a decade and they weren’t, they didn’t have a very good reputation, they were quite rude, they were difficult for the venue, and I ask them why they weren’t, you know, improving, having a website, that kind of thing.

And their answer was, well, we’ll always be on this list. They’ll never get rid of us because we’ve always been on it. Well, actually I challenged that and said, well, actually maybe there’s a better person that could come on this list. And if they’re going to be doing things and treating everyone better, then I think they are going to take your spot.

Eventually complacency in business is not a good thing. If you are looking over your shoulder and realizing there’s new people coming into the industry all of the time, and they might take your space and you need to take on that challenge and make yourself indisposable, go above and beyond for the venue, help them out, do things for them that they’re going to benefit from.

If you’re a photographer, make sure you’re sharing images with them, offered to make an album that they can use at their open days. If they’re going through a choice selection where they’re going to take someone off the list, you. You want to make sure that you’re not the person they want to take off.

You’re the person they go, Oh, we can’t take Becca off the list because she’s doing XYZ and we really benefit from her. So new people coming into the industry and potentially taking your place is actually a good thing because it will make you sit up and work harder to not be complacent and to think about how you can make sure you’re indisposable.

I think one of the things I want to make clear throughout this episode is that new business is actually a good thing. New people coming into our industry is a really good thing. It’s not something for you to be afraid of. In fact, it’s something you should embrace. Embrace new people coming into the industry.

Welcome them in. There is room for absolutely anything. Everybody, there’s so many weddings and events happening, you couldn’t possibly service them all. So it’s good that there’s new people coming in that can do some of that work as well. We can learn a huge amount from new people coming into the industry.

They’re not stuck in their ways. For a start, they’ve got fresh ideas, fresh perspectives, fresh way to do things. And instead of us begrudging that, we should be looking at that and learning from it and seeing what they’re doing. How have they made their way into the industry? What are they doing differently?

How are they standing out from the crowd? How are they marketing themselves when they’re brand new? You know, it’s much harder for them to come into an industry and be brand new than it is for you if you’re already established. So learn from their energy, learn from what they’re doing and remember there’s room for absolutely everyone.

Now, I want to give you some reassurance because if you’re listening to this and it’s making you panic or think, yeah, Becca, but you haven’t said about this, that or the other, I want to give you a couple of reassurances. First of all, as I said earlier, there may be people that enter the industry and they are super.

Cheap. I have that myself. I’ve got a course that I sell for a hundred pounds and someone’s selling a very similar course for nine pounds. And, you know, I can’t do anything about that. Okay. And so, you know, super cheap stuff will happen and it will happen to you as well. However, I know that my work is valued at a lot more money.

I know that my experience, my knowledge, the way I teach, the quality of my equipment and the benefits you’re going to get from that is. Definitely worth nearer to 100. So there’s no point me dropping the price. And people may come into the industry and offer something really cheap, but they’re not going to be able to offer the level of service because if they’re not profitable, then they’re going to go out of business.

Quite often we see these businesses entering the market. Being really cheap and then going out of business, leaving couples out of pocket. So be reassured not to let these things worry you, not to make you think you need to go and price match them or that people will look at you and think that you’re too expensive.

Just let it go. Let people go and book with them. And quite often when we buy something cheap, we end up coming back to the more expensive option. I often talked previously about my ring light. So I wanted a ring light for my computer. I went on Amazon and I was in a cheap mood. I bought the cheapest possible ring light on there.

And it was quite honestly, absolutely naff. It was rubbish. It keeps falling over. It didn’t stand up right. It wasn’t very good. So what happened? I had to go back on Amazon and spend even more money on a more expensive light. I should have just bought the more expensive, more experienced one straight away.

Cheaper is never better. So don’t worry about it. Let those people do that. They’ll find out in their own time why you charge what you charge in order to have a profitable business so that you can pay for things like your insurance and your accountant, so that you can pay your tax and do things above board.

And remember to educate your clients on why you do that. Secondly, if there’s businesses that are not very good, then they won’t survive. Okay. You can only get away with pretending to do something well for so long. Again, customers are savvy. You will get a bad reputation in the industry. There will be people that pop up and say they can do something, charge hardly anything for it, and then guess what?

It’s not very good. And the customer complains or they get a negative review or it word spreads and people don’t recommend them anymore. So again, you can’t do anything to control that. Let it happen. Help them if you can to be better, but if not, or they’re not willing to have help, or you don’t have relationships with them, just let it go.

There will be businesses that will come and go. You want a business that lasts for a long time, is profitable, and it has longevity in this industry. So your business will grow. survive. Just let them come and go and you will still be there after it’s all. There’s an exercise that I quite often do in my in person workshops.

I’m going to talk you through now and it’s trying to reframe the way you look at this competition because quite frankly all of us have people in our mind that we think are our direct competition. It’s not. Even though we know that it should be community and collaboration over competition, there’s those people on Instagram that we secretly look at and see what they’re up to.

So I’m going to talk you through this exercise that you can do. Grab a piece of paper and a pen to help you reframe that. So I want you to write down the names of one to three of these people that do the same thing as you and you see as direct competition. Perhaps it’s another venue in the local area.

Maybe you’re a photographer and it’s another photographer down the road. Maybe it’s a more experienced person than you. them down. You don’t need to share this with anyone. It’s for your own benefit only. Then I want you to write a list of all of the things that that business does better than you do.

Alright, dig deep, reflect and work out what they do that’s better than what you do. Once you’ve done that, I then want you to write a second list of all of the things that you do better than that competition. What do you do that’s better than what they do? Once you’ve done this exercise, you should have a long list of things that other people do better than you and things that you do better than them.

I want you to take the list of things that other people do better than you and use that as a goals list of things you need to improve on. If they’ve got an incredible Instagram page, if they’ve got better terms and conditions, if they’ve got better imagery, well they’re all things that you can improve on yourself.

So spend some money improving things or join my membership and learn how to use Instagram more effectively or how to market yourself. Better. You have control of these things. You can get yourself up to the same level or better than they are. Then take the list of things you do better than them and realize this is your marketing messaging.

These are things you need to be shouting from the rooftops, across your website, across your Instagram, across reels. If you think that you’ve got better customer service, talk about your customer service. Share testimonials that back up that you have good customer service. Because if you’re doing something better than the competition, you want to make sure you’re shouting about it.

As we bring this episode to a conclusion, I want to finish by saying that I believe in this industry we should be making friends with everyone. Make friends with as many different wedding professionals and venue owners as you possibly can, even, and probably definitely, if they do the same as what you do.

You know, We’re such a lovely industry to be part of, and we should be raising each other up, not knocking each other down. We shouldn’t be afraid of people coming into the industry. We should embrace it. So make friends with them. Someone who’s new today might be a really successful business owner in five years time, and you’ll be glad that you took the time to learn from them and work with them and collaborate with them.

Don’t look down on them for being new. New doesn’t mean that they’re not better than you. In fact, you should be looking to them because they may have a fresh idea and a fresh perspective that you could learn from. There’s more than enough work for all of you. And when we collaborate together, we can pass work on to each other when we’re busy.

Imagine if you’ve got friends in the area, if you’re friends with all the people in the area that do the same thing as you, and they all have the odd dates that they can’t do, and they send them your way, you’ll have lots of work. community and collaboration over competition every time. I hope from the end of this episode you’re now thinking that this idea of having local competition isn’t a negative, it’s actually a positive.

So go out there, embrace it and use it to make your own wedding business better.

Becca xo

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