Today I am sharing all of the lessons that I learnt whilst at the IADWP Eurasia conference in Northern Cyprus. Whenever I travel and go to events I always bring back fresh ideas and inspiration to help you grow your wedding business. Today I am sharing some of the lessons I learnt along the way and how you can apply them to your business.
From investing in high-quality imagery, being confident in your unique selling proposition, and realizing the potential for money in the wedding industry there are lots of lessons for you to take away from todays episode!
Knowing Your Niche [00:01:52] Importance of understanding your market and ideal client, using Northern Cyprus’ niche of casinos as an example.
Not Listening to Everyone’s Opinion [00:06:46] The danger of listening to everyone’s opinion, using an example of a stranger’s negative opinion affecting confidence in making a flight connection.
Lesson 1: Trust your gut [00:08:05] Importance of not always listening to others’ opinions and trusting your instincts.
Lesson 2: The power of imagery [00:10:18] The importance of investing in high-quality imagery to up-level your brand and business.
Lesson 3: Stand out in a crowded market [00:14:53] The importance of identifying your unique selling points and setting yourself apart from the competition.
Knowing Your Niche [00:16:44] Importance of standing out from the crowd and being memorable by knowing your unique selling point.
Money in Weddings [00:17:32 – 00:19:51] Realization of the potential for high budgets in the wedding industry and the importance of not limiting oneself based on personal money mindset.
Becca: A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Northern Cyprus as I was invited to speak at the I A D W P Eurasia Destination Wedding Conference. As with all events, there were lots of experiences and things that I learned along the way. So today I’m gonna share with you my experiences of Northern Cyprus and how you can use them to grow your own wedding business.
I am Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you are 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. Whenever I travel or go to conferences or have new experiences, it always opens up my mind to new opportunities. I think because we spend so much of our time doing the same things over and over again, whenever we go somewhere different or somewhere new, it just makes our mind think differently, which is why I wanted to share some thoughts with you in today’s podcast episode.
When I traveled to Cyprus recently, there were loads and loads of things that happened, which just made me think differently or bigger about my business, and I wanted to share them with you as well. Now, I’d never been to Cyprus at all, especially not Northern Cyprus. So I didn’t know anything about the country before I left.
Now, while I was there, I learned a lot about the political situation and the history of the country, which you can go and read about or watch some documentaries about for yourselves. We’re not gonna get into that during the episode today. However, there were lots of things that happened, which just made me think a little bit differently that I wanted to share with you.
Know your niche:
So the first thing was the importance of knowing your niche. Now, we often talk about that. When it comes to our wedding business or our marketing, we talk about things like ideal clients or knowing who you are talking to because you’re not just talking to every couple, but actually when you focus on one kind of couple or one kind of niche, often it gives you a stronger offering.
And if you know what that is, then you can really go for it with your marketing and your messaging, and it just makes everything feel better. Now, when I was flying over to Northern Cyprus, you have to fly via Turkey. I couldn’t fly there directly, so I flew via Istanbul and then I got an Istanbul flight over to Northern Cyprus.
And while I was there, the guy on the shorter flight started chatting to me and it was really interesting having a conversation with him. He was a British guy living in Turkey, and he said to me, do you know why so many people from Turkey, especially Turkish men, go to Northern Cyprus? And I didn’t, as I said, I didn’t know a whole lot about the country before I left and he said to me, you’ll notice as soon as you land in Northern Cyprus, that there are loads and loads of casinos and adverts for casinos everywhere.
And now I said, oh, that’s funny cuz I did notice there was a casino in the hotel where the events being held. He said to me, the reason that that happens is because Turkish men aren’t able to gamble in Turkey. So casinos are not allowed in Turkey currently. They’re not allowed to gamble, and therefore if those men or women want to gamble, then they need to go to Northern Cyprus to do it so they can hop on a short haul flight.
It’s only a less than an hour flight from Istanbul over to Northern Cyprus. And then they can go there for the weekend and they can gamble and spend time and money in the casinos. It’s also a great place for them to go on holiday. It’s a short haul flight for people in Turkey to go there for a beach holiday.
I thought this was really interesting, and as soon as I landed in Northern Cyprus, I saw exactly what he meant. Even within the airport, there were booths and massive signs advertising all of the different casinos. As we drove in our transfer down to our resort, there were signs. Everywhere down the side of the road advertising all of these different casinos with flashing lights and the casino inside the hotel where we were staying was stunning.
The only time I’ve ever seen anything like it was when I was in Las Vegas, it was almost like Northern Cyprus was trying to be a mini Las Vegas with these huge resort style hotels, with these gorgeous casinos, with tables and slots and shows and all of the things that you see in Vegas. Now what I found really interesting about this was that Northern Cyprus clearly know their niche.
They know their ideal client, they know who is coming to their country. They know why people in Turkey are gonna be attracted to come to Northern Cyprus on holiday and what’s gonna make them spend money. So to help them stand out, they really make the most of that niche, and that’s why they’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of time, and a lot of marketing.
Promoting these casinos. It really works for them and it’s clear to see as soon as you land in the country that they’re going for it full throttle. So what can we learn from this? Well, it’s important that we understand our market. We understand what’s gonna attract people to us and who we’re talking to.
When we can get that really clear in our minds, just like they did with these casinos, then it’s a lot easier for us to market and we can go. All in on that person. Now, Northern Cyprus could advertise themselves in the same way as all of the other different Mediterranean countries and all of the other different resort style places where you can go and it’s sunny and you can sit on a beach, but they understand their market and they’ve gone for it, and they’ve built the most beautiful resort hotels with these huge casinos.
Like I said, I’ve never seen anything like it outside of Las Vegas myself, and they’ve gone all in on the marketing. You need to do the same. In your wedding business. Do you really know who you are speaking to? Do you know who you are aiming your messaging at? Which part of the wedding market are you trying to go for?
Where is the gap? Have you done your research? Do you understand your customer base? And do you understand how to reach them and give your U s P so you stand out from the crowd? Okay. The second lesson is also from the man on the plane. Maybe one day he’ll discover this podcast and realize I was speaking about him.
Don’t listen to everyone’s opinion
Now, the second lesson is that sometimes it’s not a good idea to listen to everybody else’s opinion. We are bombarded with thoughts and opinion all of the time, whether it’s just talking to people, meeting strangers, or on the internet, but sometimes it’s actually not that helpful to listen to everyone’s opinion, especially when it comes to our lives and our business.
Sometimes we know better. Now, why am I saying this? Well, Once again, I was talking to the man on the plane and we were talking about how I had to make a transfer in Istanbul and I didn’t have very long. He asked me when my transfer was taking off and how long I had, and basically our flight was a little bit late, so my transfer time had been reduced and I think it was only about 45 minutes, and he said to me, You might as well give up now.
You’re never going to make that connection. Now, I’ve never met this man before. This is the first time we’ve met. He explained to me how he lives in Turkey, how he makes these flights really regularly, how he goes through the airport all of the time, and he knows for a fact that there is absolutely no way that I’m going to make my connection and I might as well not even bother, and I might as well start thinking about how I can get another flight to get to my final destination.
Now, there was a part of my brain that thought to myself, Hmm, he does this all of the time. He knows this airport better than me. He’s perhaps an expert in this field. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am going to miss my next flight. And I started feeling a little bit anxious. And then I thought to myself, if he hadn’t said that to me, I would feel confident that I’ve got absolutely loads of time to get to my next flight.
Yes, I’m gonna have to rush. Yes, I’m gonna walk fast. I’m not gonna stop for a coffee or I’m not gonna stop for too long. But actually, no, I think I can make this. So why is this random man’s opinion starting to influence me? Well, what happened was I got off the plane, he said to me, good luck. You’re never gonna make it.
Which was, A, a great parting gift for me. So I grabbed my stuff and I walked fast. I didn’t run, I walked fast. Then I looked quickly at where I needed to get to, and I paced it down to the gate and you know what happened? When I got there, the gate wasn’t open yet. I had time to stop right by the gate and get myself a drink and a snack.
I even had time to sit down, use the bathroom, and then comfortably get on my flight. So what’s the message here for us? Well, it’s that not everybody’s opinion. Needs to be listened to. If I’d have listened to that man’s opinion, if I’d have assumed that he was the expert and not gone with my own gut, I might have given up before I even started.
I might not have tried to get that flight, or I might have just realized, oh, I’m never gonna get it, and just given up and tried to rebook another one. Perhaps I could have walked slowly. I could have been defeatist, but thankfully I didn’t listen to his opinion because I knew in my gut that I had time and I was gonna try and make every effort to get there.
So I ignored it and I got there with plenty of time to spare. Now, it might not be a flight for you, but often people like to give us their opinions about our business. They might say, yeah, you shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t charge that or you shouldn’t do it that way. You need to do it this way. That doesn’t work.
And while it’s good to get expert opinion, while it’s good to listen to other people’s opinion, and sometimes it’s good to make change, not everybody’s opinion is always valid. And if you know in your gut there’s a reason why you do what you do and it’s working for you. Then you don’t have to listen to everyone else’s opinion.
People have opinions on everything. This is particularly important when it comes to people having an opinion that don’t really understand the market. Perhaps your friends and family have an opinion on your business, but they don’t really know. They’re not your ideal customer. They don’t understand how your business works, so why are you letting their opinions influence you?
Next time someone gives you an opinion or tells you something’s not gonna work or tells you it’s impossible, I want you to remember the man on the plane telling me that it was impossible for me to get my flight. Cuz guess what? He was wrong. He may have lived in Turkey, he may have done that a million times, but he was wrong.
Images speak a 1000 words
I got my flight. I had plenty of time and I’m glad I didn’t listen to him. Okay, let’s go onto my third lesson learned in Northern Cyprus. Now, this third one is from the conference itself. Over the two days, we heard some incredible speakers. There were panels, there were people from all around the world at this event, and there were people talking about what they did.
And as part of that, quite often, if it was a wedding planner or an event designer, they would show. Imagery as part of their presentations or as the intro to their presentation or talk. And there was a couple of people who spoke and shared images and. I was blown away by the images that they showed on the screen.
These weddings were humongous. They were clearly million pound weddings. The floral design, just the sheer scale of some of these weddings, thousands of people attending, some of them, just huge on a scale that we just don’t often see here in the uk. It was absolutely insane and I was. Blown away and thought, wow, these people who are showing these videos must be incredible.
They must be amazing planners. And they must be having the best clients. They must be charging a fortune. People must pay them thousands and thousands of pounds. And then I thought to myself, Actually know anything about these people, know anything about their business. I’m making all of these assumptions and all of these conclusions based on one thing, their imagery.
Now, when they got up to speak, they weren’t necessarily the best speakers, but they clearly knew what they were talking about. But really what made them so impressive was the images and the videos they showed of their work. And it got me thinking. Images are so, so important for you in your business and in your marketing.
If I can come to those conclusions by just seeing a few videos and a few images, then those are the conclusions that people are gonna come to when they come to your Instagram, to your Facebook, to your website. If you wanna charge your worth, if you wanna blow people away, then you need to spend money on.
Imagery. You need to have incredible photos of the work you want to be doing. I think you need to create style shoots or be part of style shoots. You need to invest in brand or product photography to showcase your products, your services, in a way that’s gonna make people go, wow. If you wanna command a higher price tag, if you wanna reach the more luxury end of the market or the bigger budgets.
If you want to be above where you are now, then I highly recommend that you invest in some really, really good. Imagery. I don’t know if the people that I heard speaking on stage while I was in Cyprus were as good as their images looked. I’m sure they were, but it wasn’t what they said that spoke to me.
It was the photos and the video footage they showed on the screen. Now, I understand it’s difficult to get good images, but I really would urge you to think about it as a budget priority for your business, especially if you’re looking to up-level your brand and your business. The other thing that works really well is if you are going to be at a wedding, maybe you’re a florist or a venue stylist and it’s in an incredible location and the photos really matter to you, why not take a photographer of your own along with you to take photos of you doing the setup to take photos of your work?
In that venue or take video footage of you putting it together. So you are guaranteed to have some incredible footage. Now, you will need to get permission, usually from the couple. You may need to get permission from their own photographer and videographer and explain why you’re doing it. But if you take your own person to do it, you are guaranteed to get great footage of yourself and of your work, rather than relying on the photographer for the wedding, remembering to send you something or getting the images you need.
Don’t lose the opportunity if you are gonna be doing a wedding this season and an incredible venue that’s right up there for your ideal client. If you’re gonna be doing big installations or things that are gonna make people go, wow, be sure to get amazing photos or video footage of it by taking someone with you to do it for you.
Know your USP
An image speaks a thousand words. We know that. So why are we not prioritizing it in our business? Okay. The fourth thing that I learned while I was in Cyprus was that actually you need to be confident in who you are and what you do and what your U S P is. Now, you will know that there are hundreds of other people that do the same thing as you.
If you are a wedding florist in your area, I’m sure there’s loads of other florist, there’s loads of other photographers, DJs, there’s loads of other wedding planners, and sometimes we can feel like we’re in a crowded market. Now. First of all, I want to remind you that there is enough work to go round.
There are hundreds and hundreds of weddings happening every week in your area, and you couldn’t possibly do them all. So never feel like there’s not enough work to go round because there is. But also, I want to challenge you in the podcast today to think a little bit. Differently about yourself and stop thinking of yourself as just another wedding planner or just another wedding florist, but think about what your USPS are, how you can stand out in the market, and how you can set yourself apart from the crowd.
And two people on stage in Northern Cyprus that really caught my attention when they described themselves to the crowd and explained what they do. The first was Rui, who I absolutely love. We met last year in Turkey at another conference, and he is just fabulous. He is. By all intents and purposes, a wedding planner on paper.
However, he doesn’t describe himself in that way. When he talks about what he does, he markets himself as a wedding creator. I absolutely love this. This tiny change on words is really important because as he explains, he’s not just planning someone’s day, he’s creating an experience, he’s creating the perfect setting, he’s creating their love story, and I love how confident he is in this term.
Why he. Calls himself that and how much it stands out and why he can explain himself to couples or to people on stage and it resonates with them so much. I absolutely love the term wedding creator. The other one was zamashka. I dunno if I’ve said that right, who was an incredible magician, illusionist that I saw on stage a couple of times during the event.
He was incredible. I loved what he did. I loved how. Amazing. It was, it blew my mind, and I hope that I get to work with him or see him at another event very soon. Now, to all intents and purposes, again, you would call him a magician, maybe an illusionist, but how he described himself was this an exclusive mystery producer, once again, so out of the box, so different.
And when I spoke to him about it, he said, well, I’m not just a magician. I create mystery. I’m very different to other people. My work is exclusive. There are no other people who do the same things as me. I produce a mystery. I produce an event, especially for your day, which is gonna be different to everyone else’s.
Once again, it stood out from the crowd. It was very memorable for me as well, and I just loved his way of thinking differently. Both of these men had the confidence to set themselves apart from their peers. They know what they do, they know what makes ’em different to everyone else, and they’re not afraid to explain it away.
So I wanna challenge you. Do you know who you’re talking to? You? Are you clear in your U S P? Is there a way you could think differently about what you do or describe yourself differently? So you are not just another wedding florist, just another wedding dj, but you’re something that’s gonna sparkle and shine and be memorable.
There is money in weddings
I absolutely love how they describe themselves, and if you come up with some good things and ideas for yourself, I’d love to know them too. Drop me a message and let me know. Okay. That brings me on then to my final lesson learnt in Northern Cyprus, and I think this one is a huge one. There is money in weddings.
When we were there, I heard talks from all sorts of different people, panel discussions from all sorts of different people. And there was one thing that was said, and it was kind of just dropped into discussion and it just made me sit back and think, did he really just say that they were talking about a wedding that he’d planned?
Uh, it was an Indian wedding, so it was a huge wedding and it was a destination wedding as well. He said, The budget for this wedding is a hundred million. And then he carried on with the rest of his sentence and it stopped me in my tracks because I realized, did he really just say that the budget for this wedding was a hundred million?
And not only did he just say that, did he say that as if it was just a totally normal thing to say, like any of us would say, yeah, I just went to the shop and bought some milk. It was two pounds. It really blew my mind to think that there are people out there spending a hundred million dollars on a wedding as if it’s totally normal.
Now, I don’t know how you feel about this ethically, I don’t wanna get into that discussion, but the point is, there is money in weddings. Now, I’m not saying that there’s lots of people out there with huge budgets like that for weddings, but the wedding industry, Is a place where there is a lot of money to be found.
So if you feel like owning a wedding business isn’t a good idea because there’s not a lot of money in it, well then I would challenge you to get out there, think bigger, think differently, and realize there are a lot of people out there willing to spend a lot of money on the biggest day of their life.
And even if you wouldn’t spend that kind of money on your own wedding day, it doesn’t mean that other people don’t Often we’re held back in our beliefs by our own money mindset, so we feel like, well, we don’t spend a lot of money on our weddings, so why would anyone else, well, I can tell you for a fact, there are people out there spending thousands, hundreds of thousands.
Millions of pounds around the world on their wedding days. So the next time you think there’s no money in weddings, you need to think again. You need to think bigger. You need to look in different places and realize actually there are people out there willing to spend their money, and sometimes it’s our own money mindset that holds us back.
It absolutely blew my mind to hear that number banded about as if it was totally normal. It is normal for some people, it might not be normal for us, but you need to realize that there is money to be had in weddings. If you wanna up your prices, you are going to attract a different kind of person, but there are people out there willing to pay your prices.
It’s about finding them, it’s about marketing to them, and it’s about blowing them away with that incredible. Imagery. If you wanna be inspired, you need to go listen to podcasts. You need to go to conferences and hear people talking in this way to help you realize it absolutely is possible. I had such a great time at the event in Northern Cyprus, and I hope that some of those lessons that I’ve shared with you help you along the way in a couple of weeks time.
I’m off to speak at another event in the Dominican Republic, and I’m sure that there’ll be lots more lessons to be learned there too, which I’ll be sharing with you on the podcast very soon. I’ll see you next week.