Can your wedding business thrive during a recession

Yes! It is possible for a wedding professional to grow their business during this difficult time. In fact, this may the best opportunity you have had. Fortunately people will always be getting married so as wedding professionals we can count on continuing demand. But to grow (or maybe even to continue) we must innovate to meet the changing taste, style and budgets of today’s couples.

Innovation is the key! If we look to the past we can see repeatedly how difficult economic times have rewarded innovation.

Big things can happen. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building were built during the Depression. GE, Disney, HP, Procter & Gamble, Alcoa, McDonald’s, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Supercuts, Chilis, Cablevision, Industrial Light & Magic, Famous Amos Cookies, and Oakley were all started in depressions or recessions. I think we can all recognize that these companies and projects began and thrived because of innovation. But, their opportunity was even greater because the change of an economic downturn opens the market mindset for new approaches and innovation.

At this time, in this economic reality, here is where we need to look to innovate in our wedding and bridal businesses

1) Branding and positioning. A time for change. As I have pointed out in other posts wedding budgets were never what was so often presented so you need to be sure that your branding positions you for the true spending patterns you want to attract. At the same time this economic environment is making some fundamental change in what brides-to-be value. Until recently it seemed that the appearance of luxury and extravagance were important aspects of many wedding plans. Now it is emerging that meaning and value are much more important. Review your branding and positioning and innovate.

2) Look at your services and products. What were they developed for, luxury or meaning? The innovative changes here are subtle but important. If your demo albums or videos or brochures were developed to portray luxury, consider ways to target meaning and heart. Think of the difference between the old TV shows “Dynasty” and “The Waltons“. The day of the $7 drink coaster has set.

3) Advertising and marketing. Now that we have examined how we can position and brand, and what we need to offer we should look at how we advertise. Remember, this new economic reality is emerging to value meaning and heart. So in all forms this is what you need to emphasis in your services and even your background info. For years many of us have kept low return on investment (ROI) advertising and marketing avenues just because. Now is the time to fully evaluate your advertising and marketing avenues and eliminate the low return spending and invest in new options. (And, by all means, do not increase budgets in low return avenues, thinking all they needed was more prominence. Even with more prominence they will still have a low ROI.)

One of the least expensive and most innovative ways to market is your web presence. The web has continued to evolve over the last 15 years and there are many new options just over the last two years. Your web presence is unique, easy to change, green and it can even create a conversation with you prospective clients and take orders. Plus, natural search is free, Google doesn’t charge you to show up … even on the first page. Being on the first page is like getting a huge yellow pages ad for free, (and it works better). High search results rank mean both more traffic to your business AND more credibility. This means more clients and higher margins. Run your website through Hubspot’s free website grader and see what its score is … if it is not in the 70’s you need to make some major changes. If you have a Flash site you may need to wrap it in a better more search friendly platform like a WordPress based web/blogsite. If you have a separate blog on something like Blogger you may need to move it to your own web URL. If you have an old style HTML site move its content into WordPress. (ps – I can help you with all this, for a very low cost)

If your print ads were stressing luxury, time to change towards meaning and heart. Even look at your fonts, images and most importantly message. Follow through with the wedding guides, get them to change your listings and ads. And if they are still positioning to reach the high-end luxury bride … consider if you want to use your dollars to reach the market of the past.

4) Put it to work! A while ago I posted 17 things that you could do to get 300+ inquiries. Now that you have revamped your branding, positioning, services and marketing, go through the steps. As Nike used to say “just do it“. If you do, with your new message for this economic climate chances are good you can rise above the times and your competitors.