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We all hear the popular phrase, “community over competition.” It’s everywhere. And I want to share a super (un)popular opinion that I have.
But first, if you are a part of my email newsletter community, you at some point have read that email about how I truly believe you have no competition. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Nobody.
So, if you are wondering why you aren’t getting sales, it’s not because of ______ (fill in the blank as you please), I am here with the tough love to simply state that they are better at marketing and sales than you are. Brutal to hear, I know. But it’s the cold-hard truth of it. BUT, now that you know that, you now know what you need to improve on. And that is precisely why I became a wedding business coach. I want you to absolutely crush it. I want those that traffic to be increased, to be targeted, to funnel through your website, and for those leads to convert.
In the past (or even today), you’ve most likely at least seen some posts in some free FB groups. People asking question-after-question wondering what the heck to do with their FB ads, their Wedding Wire/The Knot account, their SEO, or their X-factor that they don’t even know about. Because ‘what you don’t know, you don’t know.’ You want more sales, but you don’t know how. So you take to these FB groups. And more than likely, you feel like you are spinning your wheels in there. Even debating quitting. (Please don’t).
In many of these same groups, people preach “community over competition.”
And let me preface the rest of the blog post by saying that I love the idea of it. LOOOOOVE it. But I just don’t see it. And I’m in a lot of groups online. LOTS. And I am sure you are, too. And yes, so far from what I see online in all of the groups I’m in – it’s just the idea of it. And if I’m wrong – I’m wrong. I just personally haven’t truly seen it anywhere.
Let’s get to it.
Here are my opinions and advice about how to truly become a member and practitioner for the popular phrase of “community over competition.”
Even if you don’t value your own time (currently), value theirs. Don’t be asking a thousand questions to a thousand people and expect deep, meaningful replies with pure gold advice. Don’t expect anything. Anything you get in return online in these free FB groups is exactly that – 100% free. Someone has taken the time to spend their seconds/minutes with you and you have been given their undivided 1:1 attention. Those seconds/minutes, they will never ever be able to get back. They gave those to you.
DO NOT say to someone, “Hey, I’d love to get together and pick your brain. I’ll treat you to coffee. On me.”
Man, when I hear that, I am offended. And if someone asks you that, you should be, too. Why? Because they think that your years of experience and expertise is worth the cup of coffee – $4 bucks. Mmmmm nope.
Want to “pick someone’s brain?” Great! Please do. But pay them. Their time is valuable, so value it. It DOES have a dollar number associated with it. And it’s not $4 bucks. Community over competition is more than just picking someone’s brain. It’s valuing them for their brain, their experience, their expertise, and how they can help you.
Now, if you want to get together to chat and build an actual relationship with me before you just try to gut me for the stuff that YOU want, let’s do that. Seriously. I’d love new friends. Let’s go out for a bourbon. (Build authentic, real relationships with people before you just try to use them for advice for $4 then vanish forever without any sort of gratitude. It’s the most offensive thing you can do.) Now, if you are impatient and don’t want to build that authentic relationship and you want to get straight to all of their expertise, advice, and strategies that will benefit you – pay them for their time and hire them as your coach. If you truly value them, you will pay them.
That said, I totally understand some people truly can’t afford a coach. I know I couldn’t when I started. But that’s also because I had $10,000 in credit card debt and nothing in savings. Like, I really couldn’t afford one. My credit cards were maxed out. Now, if you weren’t in my position, you might just be creating excuses for yourself and you might not be willing to give up those NFL/NBA tickets you have or you REALLY want to go on that week-long vacation. Okay, great. Please go. But just know that your priorities are that way and that you value your vacation more than the success of your business. I would challenge you to invest into your business FIRST, and then take the profits from that investment to go on the vacation you want – and an even better one than you initially planned to take. Shift your priorities. Value yourself. Value others.
Don’t get me wrong, too. I see people trying to help. I see people starting with the advice, but I rarely ever see it go deep. And that is where advice truly becomes helpful & insightful. Simply saying something like, “Hey go do _____. It works for me! Good luck!” That’s honestly not helpful. Sure, they might share the “what,” but not the “how,” the “why,” or even if it’s the right thing to do for your business with your unique goals and your unique marketplace. Every business is different, and every business has unique plans moving forward. That’s a huge reason why surface advice doesn’t help anybody. And that’s why if you’ve ever had a coaching call with me, you know why I talk super fast and our time usually goes beyond the window we set to chat within. Going deep into that conversation is absolutely key.
And because DEEP advice takes so much time on a 1:1 level, it’s incredibly difficult to do that via a FB thread or even personal message. It’s even more difficult to go as deep as it needs to be when someone is asking for free. Your time is worth money. Even when you aren’t working a wedding, your time is worth money. Yes, even when you are away from your computer, your camera, and your cell phone. Time is extremely valuable. It’s the only resource that we can’t make more of. When time is “up” for us, it’s up. That’s it.
So, what I’ve personally done over the years to get those shortcuts is to do my best and eliminate trial and error. I’ve done that by doing a LOT of research on my own by going straight to the source.
And you want to essentially say to someone $4 is all that’s worth.
Then, there are the referrals. Those are fantastic. Truly. Whoever is tossing you that review paid for that traffic by whatever means, and now they are giving you a lead that is worth THOUSANDS of dollars for free. That’s incredible. And if you have people giving you those sorts of leads, please, by all means, give them something in return – whether that be leads of your own or a gift card to go on a date with their significant other. Something. Anything. Go out of your way. Don’t just say thanks and vanish into thin air. Build those relationships. Community over competition should be truly giving back to the community – and you can do this with your leads. Those leads are worth thousands. Especially when you learn how to leverage those leads for more than one job.
And truly supporting community over competition can mean HIRING and PAYING your colleagues for their services. Not just bartering for things for free because you are buddies and you’re both (potentially) struggling. Pay for each other’s services. Be clients of theirs. Hire them. And if you feel weird about paying people for their professional services, you might want to check out my blog post about mindset.
As an example of this outside of the wedding industry, you might want to “shop local” or “eat local.” If you value some great food and you want to support your community economy and the local mom ‘n pop shop, you eat there. Same thing in the wedding industry. If you value something, you pay for it. The idea of “free” is commonplace in the creative industries, and something that we as a community should be working towards of getting away from. Wouldn’t you agree? If you are a few years into your career, you’ve most likely been asked to do something for free umpteenth number of times by now. And how irritating does that feel, am I right? People should value you as you value yourself. Your time and expertise isn’t free. You’re awesome. And awesome isn’t free.
If you are TRULY wanting to live that quote of “community over competition,” then help others. But, only after you help yourself. You are your #1. You have a roof over your head. You have to pay your bills. You have to be healthy, warm, and safe. You need that for your whole family. Simply bartering services with each other won’t food on your table, and it won’t put food on theirs. So, if you ARE going to barter, make sure at the very least that the value is equal and you are doing something completely win-win. Don’t have one person with the short-end of the stick. Over-deliver on your end, too.
When you do help yourself, you get closer to that “win” that you are wanting. That could be the next booking, it could be the next 10. It could be a dollar number, or it could be more time off each week to spend with your family. Whatever your personal and professional goals are, focus internally FIRST. And only after you help yourself, you can start to help others. Your internal success and your own personal development will directly relate to the professional success you have in your business. For some blog posts to get you started, check out this one on time management and getting rid of those time thieves.
So, to truly serve your community and not be their competition, truly be there to support them. Support them 1,000%, or get out of their way. Half-support, half-advice, and half-attention doesn’t serve anyone.
I get it. It’s hard running a wedding business. It’s brutal, especially in the first few years. And multiply that feeling by 1,000X if you are going at it alone with trial-and-error along the way. I’ve been there. So when I say I get it, I truly get it.
It’s also hard to take your emotion out of your business because we as wedding pros are primarily solopreneurs – meaning it’s us, alone, in our home office or studio, working with Netflix, iTunes, Spotify, and spending quite a bit of time totally solo. No employees, maybe a handful of contractors as you expand, and then building out the business. That’s the 99%. That’s me as I am writing this blog post. In my house. In my home office. Listening to Spotify. That’s exactly me. Yes, I have some contractors, but 90% of my business is me solo.
I want you to understand that building your business takes time. SEO results take time. FB ads take time to track, tweak, re-implement and re-start. Be patient. If you are taking steps every single day in your business, you will get there. Just trust the path. And if you ever need help finding that “right” path for you, I’m here. Yes, you will need to hire me as your coach to help identify that for you, but paying someone for their services, IP, and help doesn’t go against “community over competition.” I very often help wedding pros in my local market get more bookings with their ideal clients – the same exact clients that are in my own ideal target market. And that’s 1,000% okay with me because there are far much more than I could ever handle on my own.
In FB groups, I commonly see people just wanting things answered for them. I challenge you to challenge them. Instead of giving them the answer and perpetuating their laziness (sorry, not sorry), challenge them to go out and scout the location for themselves. Tell them to pick up your favorite business book and give it a read. Give them the address for the nearest library. Give them a link to your favorite workshop or coach. Give them a tool where they can help themselves and so they don’t feel the need to rely on free “internet advice” that can be greatly errored & full of misinformation. And if you give someone information for free, do it out of the good of your heart. BUT, if you do this, you won’t be able to do it super often without completely wasting your own time. Good karma can only do so many things before your eviction notice comes in the mail or your mortgage defaults and the foreclosure process starts. Again, focus on yourself first. And if you are the person constantly posting into FB groups wanting free info, I am going to challenge you to do a bit of Googling on your own first. There are countless blog posts on nearly every topic. If you are wanting personalized attention to your specific need, you might be looking for a coach instead of some free misinformation that might not be right for your business.
And while we’re at it, let’s drop the stuffy persona that the wedding industry seems to have. Let’s start that movement, shall we? When you see me at the next networking event, I’ll be that guy with the backward trucker cap.
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The Raw & Authentic Truth of Owning a Wedding Business
- With Susan Stripling
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- with Arne Giske