Niche (noun)—a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment. In the ever-changing and diverse wedding and events industry, it's far too easy to neglect the important step of finding your niche. You know, that thing you love doing and know only you do well. Our market is 'weddings', which naturally casts a really wide net. Often forgetting this, we find ourselves confused and wondering why our phones aren't ringing off the hook. Then, the questioning begins... Why do we struggle with clients who are outside of our 'comfort zone'? Why are we bogged down with ‘problem’ clients who prevent us from booking additional business?
Not sure what your niche is? Why not let those who've experienced your work firsthand fill you in! Take some time and read through your thank you notes and online reviews. Look at the images in your portfolio and ask yourself which events you've cherished the most. Quite often, we find ourselves being told what we do best, that our brand is often what our clients say about us and our work. You know what? That's a good thing!
Know Your Market
It's difficult to be a standout if you don’t know what or who you're standing out from. Do your research and know who the other players are in your market. What is their brand? What do they specialize in? You can't be a 'niche' brand if you're doing the same thing as everyone else, but chances are there are a few areas of overlap with others. Your work and how you present it is what stands out. Look at your competition’s website, don’t take their word for it. Filter through reviews and see what their clients say about them. Also, consider who your vendor partners are. If you have a running vendor list, look through and consider where some commonalities might be.
Follow Your Passion
Do you get excited when you see an eco-friendly wedding design with a beautiful invitation suite made of recycled materials? Does your heart swell when you come across centerpieces with regionally grown, in-season blooms in upcycled containers? Do you give yourself a high-five when your clients opt for local and seasonal organic foods? Or, are you more about the bling? Do you lean towards the shimmer of gold, the sparkle of crystals, or a fabulous pair of Badgley Mischka sparkling wedding pumps? Finding your niche empowers you to chase your passions by finding and working with clients whose values align with yours to create a business where you enjoy going to work every day. Defining your niche can you stay excited about the work you are doing and stay advocating for the clients you do work with.
Master of None
Since the average wedding budget is ever-evolving, wedding pros often find themselves trying to be jacks of all trades but masters of none. Becoming an "expert" can be the goal, but it's difficult to hit when you're aiming at every wedding that comes your way. Pick a specific category—that thing your past clients came to you directly for. This might be just the place to focus your energy.
Focus on your strong points in all of your content. This will convince your audience of not only who you are and what you're passionate about, but how well you can deliver on their end. Stick to one message and put effort into telling your story really well. Beyond sharing beautiful photos of real Real Weddings or Styled Shoots, create a blog on subject matter that supports your brand. Provide education to your audience with tips and expert advice that show you as an expert in your niche area. To make sure you're found online, focus on keywords that will get you seen as the expert in your market.
Stay In Your Lane
Wedding pros tend to want to grow and expand their wedding services. Given the constant change to the modern wedding budget, this is understandable. There are two potential problems to consider, however, when adding on services or spinning up second (and even third) businesses to capture those budget dollars:
- Are you adding more of the same? If you're considering shifting some of your attention into a new service or product that's fairly well covered in your market(s), you risk honing your skills and refining the experience your clients have in the area you're strongest in.
- Are you at risk of alienating colleagues? Referrals are at the heart of every thriving wedding and special events business. If you're considering creating an extension to your offering or a supplemental business to what you already have, be conscious of the impacts and implications on your business relationships within your professional network.
Especially in the wedding and special events industry, it's easy to forget to take time and step back from the business to look at things from a more strategic perspective. Taking your in-the-trenches pro hat off and putting your CEO/visionary cap on regularly is a requirement for not only managing and growing your business but making sure you're giving yourself the time you need to just be you. An important part of this process is identifying your niche, what makes your brand quintessentially and undeniably you. What is your passion, what do you do well, and what makes you stand out in your market? If you can confidently answer these questions, it will be that much easier for clients and colleagues of yours to answer them as well and confidently give you the business they know you can rise to.
Hero photo courtesy of Angel Sheree Photography