As promised in Monday's post on tips for getting the most out of a wedding industry workshop,today I'm recapping some of the highlights of my speaking presentation from Cultivate 2016.
We hear all the time how important it is to determine your target client, and to market your business accordingly. Given how many wedding businesses seem to overlook this step, however, I have to assume that either (a) they don't know exactly how to identify their real target client, or (b) they're afraid to narrow their focus to that target client because they might lose business from others.
The thing is, these both hurt your business and hold you back. Before we get into the why, let's first talk about some of the basic benefits to your mindset when you narrow your niche and begin targeting your true dream client:
It prevents burnout. Face it: as smitten with weddings as you may have been when you started, like any service or product, they can get old pretty fast. Producing weddings is incredibly hard work, physically and mentally, and It's easy to get bored and burnt out. However, when you're operating a business that feels true to you, the owner, and you're attracting and working with your favorite kinds of clients all the time, you're able to maintain your enthusiasm and your focus much longer.
It feels more authentic. We all have passions, values, and beliefs - and when you're building your business around yours, you feel happier in the day-to-day work, more confident in your instincts as the business owner, and more proud of the success you earn.
It's more enjoyable. We'd all rather work with people we love than people we loathe, right? It's a no-brainer. By focusing your efforts on the perfect clients for your business, you'll actually look forward to work each day, because these awesome people are loving what you do and giving you constant positive reinforcement. As an added bonus, your dream clients are far more likely to be satisfied with their wedding day(especially your services) because they've bought into your brand - and they're more likely to leave glowing reviews and refer similar, equally dreamy clients to you in the future.
What's not to love about that, right? So why is getting really specific about your target client, and changing up your brand to suit them, so hard?
My guess is that it's fear, plain and simple. Even the boldest among us tends to become risk-averse when we're talking about something as high stakes as our business. Narrowing your focus in your business feels scary, because logic tells you that you should cast as wide a net as possible to catch the most possible fish (or clients, as it were). So we rely on the most typical wedding imagery, wedding color palettes, wedding fonts, wedding descriptors...and we wind up with branding and marketing that looks exactly like everyone else's.
That's why I honestly believe: being generic is getting you nowhere.
If you genuinely love all things traditionally "wedding," and your target client does too, then by all means you should run with it. Go ahead, out-wedding everyone! But if you're just going with that aesthetic because it seems safe and inoffensive, or because you can't think of anything else, then you should reconsider.
Dig deeper with your target client description. Don't just decide it's a 25- to 35-year-old woman with money to spend on your services. Instead, figure out who you really want to work with, and why. What does your target client value? What are her attitudes and priorities when it comes to her wedding? What's her wedding design preference? What's her decision-making style? How involved is her family or wedding party? What does she want her guests to experience at, and remember about, her wedding? What makes her such a great match for you?
If you're stuck, think back to your clients over the past few years and ask yourself, which were your absolute favorites, and what made them (and their weddings) so special? What kinds of weddings get you excited about your business all over again? How do you want to feel as you're doing your job, and which kinds of clients can help create that feeling?
Once you're crystal-clear on your dream client, then you can make the changes necessary to attract and appeal directly to that person. Boring, uninvested clients with boring, uninspiring weddings will find their way to you no matter what you do - we all wind up with a couple of clients each year who clearly aren't that into us, and are just checking a service or product off their list. (I guarantee, however, that none of these people looked at your possibly-generic site and thought to themselves, "OH THANK GOD this business isn't showing any spark or uniqueness - I'm so relieved that they don't specialize in anything and I'm really glad not to know anything personal about who's in charge!")
If you want to appeal to a niche, you need to focus on that niche in every step of your branding and marketing. Show them you understand them, you value them, you have experience that will benefit them, and you have products or services created just for their needs.
Want to work with a diverse clientele? Don't use all white, heterosexual couples in your imagery. Dreaming of doing weddings for quirky artists and musicians who don't care one bit about tradition? Make sure your website doesn't scream pink roses and Vera Wang. Are pink roses and Vera Wang totally your thing? Then pivot your marketing toward a more timeless, elegant aesthetic.
Your target client should be able to see themselves, and envision their wedding, in everything you put in your marketing.
Every coaching client whom I've advised to identify their niche and tailor their brand has been relieved to have finally done so. They didn't lose any business whatsoever, but rather, they began drawing higher-quality, more invested, more enthusiastic clients, who were planning weddings that the business owner genuinely was excited to execute. I've never heard one say "I really wish I could go back to my old brand."
Getting real about your target client, and taking the leap toward marketing directly to them is so worth the risk. AND it will transform your business. AND you'll be happier for it. That, I can promise.