Almost every week, I receive in my inbox a notice that a wedding business that was once alive is now going out of business. There are reasons why this happens so often. It feels sometimes like we are trying to nail jello to a tree in finding a successful model for our business. Interestingly there are businesses who report back to me (again almost every week) that they are having their best year ever. There are four hard truth about the wedding industry that are not fun to acknowledge, but necessary to succeed.
Here are the 4 hard truths:
#1- Never before, rarely again clientele. It is approximated that 85% of Brides are first time brides and have not been married before. Typically your prospects have not purchased what you sell before and even though statistics suggest that many will re-marry, rarely will they come back to you to buy again (mostly due to not wanting to have anything to do with the memories of old yucky face)
#2- Low Value/No Value competitors. The barrier to entry (starting a wedding business) has never been lower. It doesn’t cost much to hang your shingle out and say that you are a wedding planner, dj, photographer, florist, etc… Couple that with the economy always getting harder and the fact that most wedding businesses are also fun hobbies, people will jump in with low monetary expectations. In other words, they don’t run their businesses like a business, they run it like a hobby and lower their prices to be able to compete as they do not have the same or similar qualifications of the veterans of the business.
#3 Many moving parts. Unlike a regular business where you either sell and are done, or in the case of the buy again client, you make money every time you sell again, we have to fight for each and every sale. In the wedding world, there is a very long ramp up to the event (where you give them what you sold) and many times follow through work afterwards that could last weeks. Add to that you have other people you have to interact with (wedding professionals) and you have a continuous process of educating your clients (even though they have already purchased). We may know and do what we sell very well, but because of their limited previous experience, they rarely know what to expect.
#4 High maintenance business. Whether you are dealing with a high maintenance client (weddings are about the most emotional purchase there is) or it is having to go out and get a new crop of clients every year, there is a lot of continuous work that you must do. The reciprocal client or the client who knows how to buy and use what you sell are rare.
As I mentioned before, this is hard truth of the wedding industry that I have seen some embrace and thrive when they do it well. The reason why they thrive is they find solutions for each of these struggles to take the sting out of the problem. In working with hundreds of wedding professionals, I have found you can never work too hard on your marketing and sales strategy.
You can learn some new strategies as well as tweak your current model to make sure it is functional as well as productive.