In any industry – creative or otherwise – there is competition; from your peers, from seasoned professionals and from amateurs. It’s a fact of business life. Far from being something that you should see as a threat, I am a firm believer that a little bit of competition never hurt anybody.
Competition forces you to be creative in order to stand out, but it also makes you push yourself and your business forward and keeps the industry fresh and exciting. Without new blood coming through the ranks with their crazy ideas, brides would all still be wearing 80s ivory meringue dresses and photographers would still be raving about the beauty of spot colour.
The best chance you have to succeed in an industry rife with competition is to stand out. If a client is faced with ten very similar options at the same price, they’re likely to pick the one that resonates most with them. Never underestimate the power of marketing yourself to a very niche client. Embrace what makes you unique. If you try to be liked by everybody, you’ll end up being loved by nobody.
However this article isn’t my tips for standing out in a crowded market. Today I want to make you realise who are your actual competition, and who most definitely are not. I also want to let you in on a little unknown secret – competition is actually really helping your business.
Do you think the CEO of Prada sits around shaking in his designer boots when a new branch of Primark opens? Does he heck. They might both be selling clothing but they cater to a completely different end of the market. Even if Primark bring out a new jumper that is eerily similar (read: a complete rip off) of one that Prada sold last season, Prada don’t care because they’re not only already onto designing next year’s collections, but their customers would only ever want to buy the original.
Disgruntled small business owners, afraid of a little competition, pop up in every sector of the wedding industry, but most of the time their fears are as unfounded as Prada being upset about what Primark are doing.
There are photography forums fit to bursting with experienced wedding photographers fretting about the ‘weekend warriors’ undercutting their prices.
There are independent bridal boutiques complaining about David’s Bridal and TX Maxx.
There are graphic designers disapproving of wedding blogs promoting DIY stationery ideas.
There are caterers stressing that pot luck dinners, self-catering and food trucks are gaining popularity.
Forgive me, but can we all just give it a rest?
It is not your job to ‘educate’ couples to the fact that they should be spending their hard earned money with you instead of going down a cheaper or DIY route. The kinds of client who don’t see the value in what you do are not there to be convinced because they are not your target market. They never have been and they never will be. Instead of fretting or complaining, use what’s going on in the industry as inspiration to do something new for yourself and to mix things up a bit in your own company.
So instead of bellyaching about competition, let’s embrace it. Realise that not only is it helping your business by keeping the industry fresh and innovative but in the mean time they’re actually catering to a very different end of the market to you.
Look at what they’re doing well and learn from it. Have they figured out a better way of doing something? Is there a customer service technique that you can pinch? Do they sell a product that your customers might appreciate a version of? Is their website blowing yours out of the water?
Competition should be embraced and encouraged, not thought of as something that’s trying to destroy your business.
- Photography: Chellise Michael Photography