Sometimes it takes a massive shift in our foundation to uncover the realizations that will help us grow our businesses. In the quietness of 2020, many wedding business owners were faced with the hard-to-answer questions that are typically pushed off in favor of client deadlines, jam-packed schedules, and overflowing inboxes.
With weddings on pause, it allowed entrepreneurs to reconsider their business models and whether they were operating as sustainably and profitably as possible. As a result, new products, services, branding, and business directions were born out of the pandemic hiatus.
Now, as we navigate the return to events, you might be wondering how to make those changes last in a post-pandemic world. How will it look to target a new audience? What will it mean for your brand to launch new offerings? Can you evolve as a business without losing consistency in your market presence?
If you plan on entering a new market in the years to come, here’s how to ensure a seamless transition for your brand and your team.
Be certain you’re ready.
Expanding to a new market before your business is ready can ultimately risk the foundation you’ve already established. A few good signs your business is ready to grow include:
- It is financially sustainable to the extent that you could stay in business even with a zero-profit month. If you are operating from month to month, spend your time and energy on revenue-building activities like prospecting, marketing, and selling. Entering a new market can be costly, so it’ll go much smoother if you wait until your business is sound.
- You are consistently booked but have the resources to increase your capacity and take on more work. If you aren’t at that point, focus on attracting more clients within your current market first.
- Your current market is oversaturated, and you’re feeling priced out by lower-cost competitors. If your local audience is seeking lower price points, entering a new market that values a luxury experience for a luxury price can be a lucrative move.
- You have the team (or the resource to build a team) to support your growth. You’ll likely have to step away from operations while focusing on a higher-level strategy, so you need to trust that your employees and contractors can keep the ship moving forward.
If you can check off all those boxes, then you’re in a good place to start thinking about growth.
Research your proposed market.
Before you expand, you need to have a firm understanding of what your new audience will expect from your business. It also helps to be aware of your soon-to-be competitors! So spend some time digging into your market research to determine your new clients’ greatest needs and how you can solve them in a way no one else does.
Join Facebook groups, browse industry forums, and ask those in your audience for insight. You’ll learn a lot from the source, so you don’t have to make assumptions going into a new arena! This works regardless of whether you’re serving a new geographical area or you’re opening your brand up to another corner of the events industry, like entering the corporate side or becoming LGBTQ+ inclusive. Your market research will help you form an entry plan based on real data, so you can rest easy knowing you’ve done your due diligence.
Refine your brand as needed.
Not every growth plan requires a brand adjustment, but you might find that you need to position yourself differently when targeting a different audience. Set aside a brainstorming session and consider all the ways you plan to promote your business in the new market and determine whether you need to make any changes. It may be as minor as a new tagline, or it could end up being a full rebrand. It really depends on your current brand and how you’re expanding.
If you happen to have relationships with people who fit the bill of your ideal client, see what they think! Send them your marketing materials and request honest feedback. Would they purchase for you? Why or why not? How could you sweeten the deal? Gathering insights from within your audience is an invaluable way to affirm your decisions!
Growing your business in any manner can be nerve-wracking, as there are a lot of unknowns to deal with on the way to your goal. However, with proactive planning and preparation, you can reduce risk and make it as smooth a road as possible.
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.