If I could describe the wedding industry today in one word it would be:
The wedding industry has become competitive now more than ever. Suddenly, Invitation Studios are competing with cricuit machines and the wedding aisle at Hobby Lobby. Wedding and Event Venues are competing with restaurant party rooms. And photographers are competing with--well, practically anybody who has a camera.
Not only are more competitors out there, but couples are inquiring with more vendors than ever before. Services like the Knot, and local wedding listings make it easier than ever for couples to mass message vendors and scope out their options.
So what is a wedding vendor to do in the midst of all of this competition?
Firstly, you need to know your competition
The more I know my client's competition, the more I can create a marketing plan to benefit their service. For me, this step is just more than knowing who the competition is. I also follow their social media pages, sign up for their e-mail list and keep tabs on what they are doing and offering.
Okay, so I stalk.
But let's be clear--what I wasn't and am not doing is stealing their ideas or poaching their concepts. I was analyzing them. For example, if I am representing a wedding venue, I need to know their local competitors. This knowledge allows me to assess what does my venue offer that theirs doesn't? What are they promoting that we aren't? Where are we excelling compared to other venues?
Establish who your competitors are in your location and price range, and keep tabs on them for inspiration and location-specific industry knowledge.
Now that you know your competition, this will assist you in knowing how to sell against your competition.
This is where knowing your competition WELL really comes in handy. Because the more you know about them, the better you can sell against them. When making small talk with couples, I encourage vendors to casually ask where else they have been looking for the service you provide. If they share, they are giving you valuable information in terms of budget, what they are looking for and what edge you may provide.
For example, if a couple mentions they are looking at a venue that you know is high-priced but has no water-view, that may signal you. Focus on your water-view, since you know the competition doesn't have one. Present them a menu on the higher-price scale, as they have been looking in that realm. Use that information to assist your selling.
However, do not overly insult your competition while doing this.
I was working for a wedding venue, when a Banquet Manager shared this experience with me. A couple visited a venue after seeing the one we worked for. The second venue, after discovering where they shopped, insulted the location, bringing up all of the negatives. Instead of the couple being turned off by our venue however, they were turned off by that salesman. Not only that, but the couple returned to us, and brought up all the negative points, which gave the Banquet Manager I worked with the change to explain them all away.
Here is how to make a point against your competition instead.
Let's say a couple mentions visiting another DJ company. This DJ company is 10 years old, and also offers photography.
Don't say: That DJ is a young company. They are not as experienced as me. They are not focused fully on your music!
Do Say: I have been in the business for over 20 years. I am focused solely on your DJ services, and your music and your guests enjoyment has my full attention.
See what I did there? Do not spend your valuable time putting down competition, when you could use that time to boost yourself up. Just like a waterfront venue wants to show off their view, figure out what your wow-factor is. Is it your years of service? Your price? Your relationships with other vendors and venues?
You may think your wow-factor is one thing, but the competition may indicate otherwise. Perhaps you have been in business longer. Maybe the opposite is the case, and you offer a young and fresh perspective. It could even be that you are the only vendor located close to a prime location and venue. Your competition may bring up selling factors about your brand that you had not even previously considered!
xO - I Do Wedding Marketing