Today I’m delighted to introduce my very first guest expert to the blog, Elizabeth Shiels of Rock Paper Coin. She’ll be sharing her wisdom and knowledge to help you make sure that 2021 is a year of growth for your wedding business.
I also did a great podcast episode with Elizabeth on Inbox Strategies to Supercharge your Wedding Business so be sure to check that out too.
As we draw to the end of the first quarter of 2021 it’s natural to feel some hope as news of a vaccine motivates the wedding industry to push forward on the road to recovery.
With all of the uncertainty in 2020, one key takeaway for all business owners is the importance of having multiple revenue streams to limit risk.
Providing one service to one market can be lucrative, but this approach leaves you prone to market shifts that are out of your control. Instead, diversifying your sources of revenue helps to ensure that your business can carry on even if one or two of them becomes ineffective.
In the quietness left behind by wedding postponements and cancellations, many event professionals turned their sights inward and focused on how they can safeguard their businesses for the future.
COVID-19 may have caught us off-guard, but we’ve now learned not to take anything for granted.
For many, risk-proofing their business means entering new markets or introducing new products and services, effectively expanding their revenue streams.
What does this look like in action?
Great question. If you’re considering market growth in 2021 (or later), here are the steps to take for a smart and practical approach to expansion.
Determine whether it’s the right time.
Growing a business in any manner isn’t a simple task. It requires time, mental energy, financial resources, and commitment to see it through.
If you’re not fully prepared to embark on that endeavor, you may end up doing more harm than good.
Good signs that it’s time to grow is if you’re consistently turning down business, your services are being requested outside of your market, and/or you are fielding inquiries for services you don’t (yet) offer.
Regardless of how you choose to grow, the most important thing is to ensure that you’re financially solvent and have the time in your schedule to make it happen.
Learn about your new market.
Market research is an essential step, whether you’re entering a new geographical region or targeting a new niche audience.
Interested in becoming well versed in the LGBTQ+ market? It is incredibly important for you to immerse yourself and learn all you possibly can about what LGBTQ+ clients seek when planning a wedding.
Curious about the corporate market? Start talking to business executives. You cannot enter any market without doing your research to ensure a smooth transition.
Before making any major steps, spend some time interviewing people in your target market and monitoring social media groups and forums for more insights.
The more market knowledge you have in your pocket, the better equipped you’ll be to make a splash when you launch.
Prepare your team for the change.
Next, it’s time to think about your company’s capacity. Is your existing team enough to accommodate an influx of new business? Will you need to hire anyone new to fill in some gaps?
Whatever your plan, be sure to connect with your staff to discuss operational changes. You’ll also need to prepare for a timely hiring process if that’s the route you’ll take, as well as any supplementary training required for your new market (both for new and existing employees).
Assess your brand in the context of your new market.
Your brand is the outward representation of your business and, while you might have it nailed down in your existing market(s), it may call for a refresher when expanding elsewhere.
Lean on your market research and get a feel for what will resonate with your new client base. Does your current brand fit in with that ideal?
It may just need a few small tweaks, like a fresh tagline or a new version of your logo. Maybe it’s as simple as adding a new page on your website for a new service, like micro-weddings.
If you are so lucky to be in a city that promotes community over competition, connect with your competitors to see what they’re doing — not to replicate, but simply to understand what each other is doing and how you want to stand out among the bunch.
Expanding into a new market in any way is as risky as it is rewarding. The best thing you can do is to take your time — don’t rush into it and hurry the process.
Otherwise, you may cut some important corners that would make your transition more impactful.
A big part of growth is educating yourself about anything and everything related to what you want to achieve, so get ready to set goals in 2021 and buckle down to listen, learn, and respond.
Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team. She was recently recognized by Special Events in its Top 25 Event Pros to Watch series.