Recent articles from claim that the wedding industry is finally beginning to wipe the “fairy dust” from its eyes and realize that it’s time for a change.

A toe tag representing the death of a wedding business

You can read these articles here:

What is WISN Selling?  It Could Be Common Sense

A New Generation of Wedding Professionals Is Not Buying What the Older Generation Is Selling

The Facts Don’t Lie

Wedding budgets are smaller than they were before the recession hit in 2008.  But they are also slowly beginning to increase again; the average wedding cost increased 21.9% as reported by The Wedding Report in the first half of 2010.

The average wedding guest list has been shrinking and brides are increasingly cutting costs on services they perceive as “luxuries,” like flowers, décor and video.

Competition has increased with the rise of unemployment, especially for photographers, DJs and wedding planners.

The conclusion reached in these articles is that diversification is necessary for wedding businesses to survive.

An example of “diversification” might be a wedding officiant who also offers wedding planning services, sells invitations or becomes a travel agent.  Another example might be a wedding photographer who creates two separate business identities, one for the mid-range market and one for the budget bride.

The idea is that it’s better to not have all your eggs in one basket, so that when one of those baskets drops you’ll have another basket full of eggs to turn to.

Diversify or Die?

My concern is that we will hear this call to “diversify” and start chasing down every new business idea and marketing strategy that crosses our path.  That’s the “fairy dust” this post warns against.

But diversification can be fairy dust, too. 

It’s what my husband calls, “chasing rabbits.”  In this case, the rabbit is new services, marketing and strategies we can use for our business.  If we chase too many of them, we won’t catch any.

Wedding businesses with excellent reviews and good solid marketing practices are still thriving during the recession.  Sure, they noticed changes like everyone else, but they had structure in place that allowed them to respond and adapt.

Most of the wedding professionals who are suffering didn’t have this structure in place.  A lot of them weren’t actively marketing their businesses and they completely missed the changes taking place around them.

Just like the housing market, the wedding market was inflated and over-priced.  Since the recession hit, many couples and their parents are no longer willing to mortgage the house to pay for a wedding.  Just like the rest of us, they realized that they’d been living and spending beyond their means for a long time.

Warning: Don’t Change a Thing Until You Read This!

Before you start trying something new, please, please consider a few things.

  • It takes more time, energy and money to start something new than you’d expect.  Do you remember how hard it was to get your business started in the first place?  It’s going to be that hard…and then some…to make a new service succeed.
  • You only have a limited amount of time and attention available.  When you add new activities, you’ll be splitting up those precious resources.
  • What you focus on grows; what you don’t focus on whithers and dies.  The same holds true for your wedding business.  If you stop attending to your bread and butter to chase down something new, you’ll risk losing what you’ve already established.

Focus On What Already Makes You Money

Before we start diversifying all willy-nilly and find ourselves with 20 new daily activities, none of which make us a penny, ask yourself these power questions.

Of course, if NOTHING is making you money then radical change is exactly what you need…and fast!

  1. What are you doing that is already working to make money for your business?
  2. Which of your services, products or packages do your brides just eat up?
  3. Where do your very best referrals come from right now?
  4. What products and services are your brides asking for more of?

Do more of these things!

Before you spread yourself too thin, focus on what’s already working for your business and do more of it.  You’ve already put in the time and energy; you’ve already proven that it works.  Now you just need to do it better.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Go with your strengths; the path will be easier and much more effective for growing your business.

A few examples:

  • If your most profitable weddings come from one particular venue, build that relationship by taking the banquet manager out to lunch, sending them a gift or calling them.
  • If your best source of booking leads is visitors to your blog, do more blogging or start writing some guest blog posts.
  • If most of your couples are buying up a particular package, promote that package and make it easy and attractive for them to select it.

What do you think the wedding industry needs to bounce back from the recession?  How do wedding professionals need to change?  Leave a comment and make your voice heard!

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