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As we all know, the wedding industry is essentially like living on a rollercoaster that never ends. This goes for the people just entering the market, as well as those already earning 6-figures. And I can say that with confidence because I have personally felt that entire ride (and continue to do so myself).
So, I took it upon myself to have 200 discussions with wedding pros around the world to see what they are really experiencing in the 2019 wedding market.
And as with every industry, you must either keep up with the industry trends, industry outlook, and ever-changing client demands — or your business falls by the wayside and eventually goes out of business. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s a true one that nobody likes to really talk about in the wedding industry.
And if you want to hear this on my podcast, check it out there!
More than ever, I have been seeing discussions happen within Facebook groups, at networking events, and behind closed doors… because the industry as a collective is (mostly) embarrassed to admit that they aren’t booking as many jobs as they once were. And yes, this doesn’t apply to literally every person out there, but after having 200 discussions with wedding pros from around the world – the vast majority feel this way.
So, here’s what I found after having many, many hours of raw & real chats with photographers, planners, florists, wedding venue owners, caterers, filmmakers, and just about everybody else.
Most wedding pros are not receiving as many quality leads as they have in previous years.
Most wedding pros are not booking as many 2019 brides as they have in previous years.
Most wedding pros are not making as much money as they’d like (realistically speaking) – which goes without saying knowing those first two things.
This goes for the pros with 20 years experience as well as the industry newcomers with 1 or two years of experience. It’s the same across the board.
Nearly everybody is also seeing that brides are booking their wedding vendors closer to their wedding day.
And they’re seeing more and more undercutting from other industry vendors, which creates a race to the bottom if that practice keeps up. That said, it’s important to note that
The market is actually more saturated than it used to be. And those fears of having photographers low-ball budgets time-and-time again could actually be affecting all of us as a whole.
Yes, it’s true. Those “fears” are valid, and I totally get it.
The market is more saturated because it’s a super low barrier to entry. Getting into the wedding business is so easy. It’s one of the easiest businesses to start, in reality. All you need is a business license, a bit of investment into equipment, and a website. Notice I didn’t mention good equipment or a good website. Then, start up an Instagram account – and presto, a wedding vendor is born.
And depending on the quality of their branding, marketing message, and copywriting, that vendor might even look like they’ve been in business for years.
Most wedding pros have relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, referrals, preferred vendors lists, and relationships to fill their calendar. And as you might have read in this blog post about why you shouldn’t be relying on referrals, it’s not something I recommend that you focus on. (Yes, it should be a part of your overall strategy, but not the entirety of your marketing plan.)
Most wedding pros aren’t actively using their time wisely (don’t worry, this might not be YOU, but it’s the majority of people who I spoke with after having these honest discussions). Most people are watching Netflix while working in front of their computer, getting distracted from friends inviting them places during business hours, allowing disruptions one way or another – and just losing focus. They’re spending too much time on Facebook, doing trial & error marketing, and too much time scrolling on Instagram aimlessly with lackluster results.
Some of these people have the right information and right knowledge, though. Quite a few people I spoke with have attended large conferences, intimate workshops, or have taken online courses. But a large portion of those same people have not actually implemented everything they have learned. And even more have implemented, but only for a short period of time and then they get back to their old habits.
One, focus more.
A lack of focus is by far and away the #1 problem I have seen across these couple hundred chats. Photographers who complain about not having bookings are also the same photographers who give excuses about why they aren’t getting much done each week.
They’re watching Netflix while they edit. They’re hanging out with friends during work hours. They’re not building out their SEO because they don’t know how, but they’re also not investing their time or money (or both) into learning how.
Excuses are the #1 killer of growth.
So, if you’re looking to learn more about time management, make sure to check out the podcast episode I did with Natalie Franke from the Rising Tide Society. And if you’re looking to learn more about mindset, you can either check out my blog post about having a growth mindset, or you can simply pick up the book I highly recommend. It’s simply called Mindset by the author Carol Dweck.
Two, be more proactive with your marketing.
Don’t wait for leads to just land in your inbox or for them to give you a call. Get out there, run some targeted ads, really build out your SEO, have more discussions, do some cold outreach, and work on converting that cold audience into your warm audience through nurturing them over time.
You can do that through a blog, a podcast, your Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, email marketing, open houses, networking events, workshops… or whatever it is that you do to put out free, valuable content that resonates with your ideal customers. Always, always, always be leading with valuable content that your ideal clients are searching for via Google.
Now, let’s say that you’re having a creative block. Let’s say that you have no idea about what type of content to put out into the world. All you need to do to solve this problem is to put yourself in their shoes.
What are they searching for? What problems do they have that you can solve? What questions do they have? Solve that for them. Even if it’s something as simple as questions about wedding venues in your area, guest blogging with experts in your geographic area and niche, or _____ (again, think about what your ideal client wants to learn more about, then create content around that thing.)
Three, take more action.
This one is the simplest of all, yet at the same time, it’s the most difficult.
But in the 2019 and 2020 wedding market, it’s so so so important. (And every year thereafter). Brides are more educated, the talent is greater, and the level of sophistication is only rising.
Creative entrepreneurs have a thousand different ideas all the time. Some are incredible, some not-so-incredible… but a lot of those ideas stay as ideas. And then they get distracted. And I totally get it. I get distracted as well. We’re all human. But the best advice I have ever received – is that done is always better than perfect. Imperfect action beats perfect inaction, every single day of the week.
So, if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the saturated market… you don’t need to be the smartest person in the industry, you don’t even need to be the most talented person – you just need to be taking more action.
And there’s a LOT of things to potentially take action on.
So, now you might be wondering what *you* should be taking action on.
Well, there’s no black & white answer.
What you need to be doing is taking a hard look at everything you’re doing in your business to see what can be improved on.
This will look different for everybody.
And if you’re not sure where to start, that’s where I highly, highly, highly recommend to everybody who’s unsure to book a professional website review or entire client funnel review from someone who has the experience to back it all up. (I offer this, just reach out to me if that’s what you’d like to get done.)
Some people might need to update and optimize their website. A “pretty” website just doesn’t cut it anymore. It needs to be much more than just a pretty design.
Other people might need to update their marketing message copywriting, their social media content, they might need to blog more often and blog with intention based on market research, they might need to create better lead magnets, they might need to improve their SEO, they might need to improve their online ads… or really any other sort of thing.
In short, determine was is leaking inside of your lead & client funnel and plug that hole.
Even shorter, it’s about becoming more intelligent with treating your business more like a business.
Getting higher quality leads isn’t as easy as it used to be.
You used to be able to just toss up a couple industry storefront listings, and leads just came in. Plain and simple. It’s not like that anymore.
If you can’t figure out where it’s leaking yourself, hire a coach, buy a course, get peer feedback, and get outside eyes on what you’re doing. It’s a lot easier to see what’s going on when you’re outside the fishbowl.
So, as a quick recap – after having 200 discussions with wedding pros of all types from around the world, most are seeing and feeling that shift in the market.
They’re feeling that it’s becoming more saturated.
But living in a market that’s saturated is totally okay, and you can still definitely thrive in it. You just have to plug those holes in your leaky funnel and you have to take more action than the competition in your marketplace.
I hope you found that information helpful, and I hope it gave you some clarity that you’re not alone in your feelings on the shift in the market. Just know that as long as you’re aware of it, you’re totally okay. Just keep taking action inside of your business to stay ahead of it. And that’s why I created my signature online course, Book More Weddings for those who are interested in taking their wedding business to the next level. If that sounds like what you’re wanting, check it out at weddings.kylegoldie.com.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me with all your questions. I am here to help.
In the meantime, check out these free resources for your creative business. They can help in the 2019 wedding market, the 2020 wedding market, and beyond.
– Kyle Goldie
Where & How To Invest Your Time To Propel Your Business Forward
- with Natalie Franke
The Raw & Authentic Truth of Owning a Wedding Business
- With Susan Stripling
Profitable Photography Business Building Tips & Strategies
- with Sal Cincotta
How to Build a Massive Facebook Group
- with Arne Giske