I think that as a new wedding planner in my area, my struggles and approaches to things have to be a bit different than businesses that are already established. I want to talk with other new wedding vendors and hear how you all are facing issues:
- How to build relationships with other vendors in the area if we haven't had the chance to work with them on a wedding?
- Should we advertisie in the same places as the other vendors in the area?
- How do we price ourselves to show that we are new without being seen as "undercutting"
If you have any answers to these questions or would like to pose your own questions for new businesses please share.

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I decided to turn my hobby into a business earlier this year and it has presented some challenges. In my area there are a lot of free vendor oriented events which helps with networking and actually forming relationships with others in the profession. I think the more you actually speak with seasoned planners and other vendors the more information you'll get on how to focus your business and what decisions to make as far as pricing and avoiding undercutting.
I think it is all about networking, get yourself out there as much as you can, every bridal site that you can find that offers free advertising or very very low, put your business there.
As for other vendors and building relationships I think just get out there, let them know you are there, maybe do some cross promotion.
I struggle as well it is difficult to get your name out there, but you just have to keep plugging away.
I think even the people who have been in the business for years still struggle, but they are the ones you will want to talk to.

Great topic.
Networking is a great way to develop relationships with other vendors. You get to meet a ton of great people in the industry.

Advertising? That one is tough. You just have to do your research.

Advertising yourself can be as simple as dressing every day and going out and meeting people, whether it be at the grocery store, the kids schools, the bank, etc... Network where you are. Always.

Pricing, wow.. that one is very difficult. Never undercut yourself is my answer.
Best of Luck.
Speaking of Networking: The NNJ ABC Vendor meetup is this Wednesday. Open to all vendors (ABC Members or not). If you're in the NJ area, I hope to see you there. Details are here: http://www.bridaltweet.com/events/north-nj-abc-networking
I ran and owned a brick and mortar business for eleven years and thought that I was pretty savy with advertising and networking- but starting an e-business just is not the same animal and I find that am looking around and trying to figure out how to spend advertising dollars and even how to navigate the internet- ideas?
I have posted about this elsewhere and I hate to sound repetitive, but I truly believe search engine optimization is a absolute necessity and one of the most powerful marketing tools available to vendors with a web presence. Think about it, what is our target market? Who are today's brides? They are in their twenties and have never even picked up the yellow pages. If they need a product or service, they are going to look for it online. Period.

Here are some interesting stats: Google has over an 80% market share in online searches, and 62% of internet searchers never look beyond the first page of the search results when they search for a product or service.

What does this mean for wedding vendors?

1) If you rely on your website to generate leads, calls, inquiries, or purchases, your website has to be optimized for Google. The other search engines don't really matter when you compare them to Google's market share.

2) Your website has to be on the first page of Google's search results for the right keyword search phrases related to your business and your market. If it's on page two, you might be okay (and there's hope), but if it's on page three or beyond, you may as well not even have a website when it comes to generating new clients via online searches.

I do SEO for photographers and small businesses, and let me be the first to tell you there are a lot of shady characters out there claiming to do search engine optimization and making promises they can never keep.

Unfortunately, this has shed a negative light on the industry as a whole, and many vendors have been burned and/or been warned to stay away from anyone who even mentions SEO as a marketing tool. Which is a shame, because you really cannot compete in today's market without it!

To give you an example of what SEO can do for your small business, our Tampa-Clearwater-St Pete Beach Wedding Packages website was averaging under 30 unique visitors per day as recently as December. I started a full-blown SEO implementation at the beginning of the year, and for the past 30 days, our website has averaged 147 unique visitors per day. As a result, our business is growing exponentially!

I am a wedding vendor and small business owner first, and an SEO Guru second. I think that's an important distinction. I got into SEO to avoid being ripped off myself, and enjoy helping other small business owners and wedding vendors avoid scams and pitfalls, grow their business, and use their advertising dollars effectively!

My point is, don't be afraid of SEO - it is a powerful marketing tool and an absolute necessity. But be careful who you hire to help you. I strongly recommend the book SEO for Dummies by Peter Kent (I have even reviewed the book on my SEO Book Reviews page), even for my SEO clients. The book is a real eye opener, and it does three things for clients and potential clients:

1. It convinces them that SEO is a real field with scientific methods and proven techniques and gets them onboard and speaking the language.

2. It helps them implement SEO practices themselves.

3. It teaches them to avoid scams and rip-offs.

Buy a copy today, or contact me if you have any questions!


Jeff Copeland, Owner/Marketing Director
Simple Weddings by Simple Treasures Photography

Owner/Founder
Tampa Bay Search - SEO and Internet Marketing for Small Businesses
Wow- this was exactly what I was asking, I am going to order the book that you recommend and start my research there-
Thank You-
Crystal Marler
Owner/Creator
RehearsalBouquet.com
Hello,

Yes I think it is important to advertise your business where the brides will find you most readily. If this means spending a bit more or having to pay for the ad, it is a good idea.
One of the websites where we are advertises is very interactive and is friendly to both the brides who frequent the website and the vendors who advertise.
Also important as previous posters have mentioned is website placement.
One of the most important aspects of keeping a business going and staying "in the game" is to be sure you are talking the same language of your clients, being very helpful, replying fast, and giving more not less to the brides/clients. Networking can always help however in my experience the key to staying on track is to never let up in the service, attention to detail and professionalism that you provide.
If you are providing a great product at a fair/reasonable price you will do well even in this tough economic time. You might consider offering several pricing options and packages according to the work, time and service(s) that you shall provide. We work with alot of budgets however we are not able to work with those budgeting for a string quartet at a price that is 50% lower than what a school of music here in NY charges for students. This we cannot do even in these tough economic times.

Best wishes,

Natalie
In regards to pricing - I would say charge what you think you are worth and can say with a straight face without flinching :)
I completely agree on the website search engine optimization, I'm working on that everyday trying to get my ranks up on the google searches etc.
When first starting a business its always good to get in with other vendors in that area. One of the best Associations that you can think about joining or even attending the meetings as a non-member is the Association of Bridal Consultants - membership is open to all types of wedding vendors. Check it out www.bridalassn.com. Without the Association - I wouldn't be in business today.
I am interested in ABC I heard about them at a conference, but here isn't really a chapter near me.
We have chapters in all states. Visit www.bridalassn.com. Each state as a dedicated coordinator to help new members. In additon some states have local networking groups that break down the meetings to a more local level. Contact your states coordinator for more information.

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