Shannon Underwood is the speaker and profit coordinator for Wedding MBA. She helps to develop the topics, speakers, videography, as well as the conference. She’s a Jill of all trades! We asked her to share a bit of her expertise, and (lucky you!) she did!
Let’s get started…
What is the Wedding MBA?
Wedding MBA is a series of educational seminars for wedding professionals. The seminars are all about the business side of the wedding industry. Vendors won’t find out how to improve their skill, but rather how to increase their bottom line. Wedding MBA is a family business, and is on their 9th conference. It was originally created for videographers, and has grown as the bridal fashion show has increased.
The seminars all have real stories behind them. For example, The Runaway Bride and Contracts classes that are coming out next year were developed after talking to a vendor who was booking brides that bolted. All of the Wedding MBA seminars are created to help vendors with real problems, and are inspired by a real back story, bolstered by additional research, surveys, and intuition.
What trends/changes are you seeing in the wedding industry?
More and more wedding professionals are offering diverse services.
Wedding planners no longer just offer planning, they also do decor, lighting, and DJ. Invitation services now offer linens and twinkle lights…. Whether it’s a good or bad thing, it’s up in the air. Vendors are trying to branch out to increase their revenue, and it may sacrifice their expertise in one specific area.
Vendors need to differentiate themselves from the other vendors out there. Vendors who can find their niche (if they’re willing to travel) will find lots of business, and have a much higher price point. It takes time and work, but being open to the idea of being one step ahead is very, very smart.
Etsy is a great example. There’s an invitation designer who has a brick and mortar shop, as well as a shop on Etsy. When her ideas have been copied (think pop up books, screens, magnetic invitations), she just moves to the next thing. Make it a little bit better and a little bit different. Vendors need to realize that there are other vendors out there. Just being good at what you do just levels the playing field, it doesn’t give you a leg up. Being different does.
What challenges are wedding vendors facing today?
The biggest challenge facing vendors is in the changing economy.
Brides are more conscious now, and it’s important that vendors are able to educate brides about the actual value of their product. Because brides haven’t been married before, they don’t know what questions to ask. They center on price, rather than quality.
Often, brides do not realize that what vendors consider upsells or extras are not included in the base price, and it falls to the vendors to educate them about the price of the service, and explain why that Craigslist photographer won’t give them the same quality of service or equipment.
Additionally, social media has made the world of weddings so small that brides can find a myriad of prices, information, and inspiration…and Pinterest is the WORST! Brides see tons of pretty pictures and don’t realize the actual dollar value of the weddings, trends, or that it just doesn’t fit into their budget. It’s a real challenge, especially for long-established vendors.
If you could tell wedding vendors ONE THING to help them build their businesses, what would it be?
Ask for help.
So many wedding professionals are their own accountant, bill collector, the nanny, the gardener…it’s draining.
Vendors don’t necessarily have to hire an additional employee; they could hire someone to just work on their social media, someone to just work on mailings. It really doesn’t cost as much as you may think, and you can outsource items that are cost effective and will help you focus on your high leverage activities (the ones that make you money!)
What are some of the best resources for wedding vendors?
For finding the best bridal shows:
You have to do your research for your area, because there are good and bad ones. It’s important to do the research and get visual proof. Get photos, video, behind the scenes. If you can, ATTEND!
- Bridal Show Producers International, a club for the best bridal show producers.
- Arizona Bridal Show – run by the folks at the Wedding MBA, it’s the largest bridal show in the country!
For business services and advice on a tight budget:
SCORE (Senior Core of Retired Executives) – They provide expert business counseling for far less than you might think. This service is amazing for helping out in situations where you may need legal advice, design help, or just can’t afford to pay someone $200 per hour.
For getting more leads:
Open houses (events hosted to showcase the venues) are a great resource. So many wedding professionals get to the right people by attending them.
Offer to help or bring something of value that brides can walk away with. You’ll be steps closer to getting that referral.
For more information about the Wedding MBA and how to attend this year’s conference October 2nd – 4th in Las Vegas, visit www.weddingmba.com. Hurry: tickets prices are increasing soon!