Hands up if when you started your business you tried to appeal to as many people as possible – my own hand is most definitely up, and I know I’m not alone in this. The very understandable urge many of us have, whether consciously or not, is to debut into the wedding industry with a brand that appeals to everyone, offering services that attempt to cover lots of different clients’ needs. And for some, this path leads them swiftly to success, to lots of bookings, and to an enduring business model that is perfect for them. I wasn’t one of those people though: I didn’t truly feel comfortable within my own brand and business until around three years in, and this also coincided with the milestone of my wedding planning company becoming fully booked and profitable for the very first time. Everyone’s journey is different, and nobody can tell you or predict what business choices will be right for you: but what I can say is that embracing my niche was the turning point that I didn’t even realize I needed. Let's talk about niching your business!
What does niching your business really mean?
To me, it means understanding and owning the fact that the persona of my target audience, or my “ideal client” as many business strategists call it, is more specific than I had originally imagined. It means not only accepting but celebrating the fact that I’m speaking to a smaller group of people. It may seem counterintuitive, and a little bit scary, because it sounds like you’ll be found by fewer prospective clients, and in turn, take fewer bookings; but in fact, by leaning into your niche you will be receiving more of what is right for you. Once you know your specialty and put it out into the world clearly and loudly, you will make it easier for clients to recognize that you are exactly what they were looking for – and it will also make it easier for those clients that aren’t right for you to know. You may receive an overall lower number of inquiries for your services or products, but you will undoubtedly convert a higher percentage of the inquiries that you do get. In other words, the number of inquiries may decrease, but the quality will increase.
So how do you figure out your niche?
Some people may tell you that they decided what their niche would be, and made it happen; others may tell you that they realized that all the work that made them happiest followed a particular pattern, and so they chose to make a niche out of it. For some, it’s a bit of both! In my case, it was a very organic process: I started sharing more of my love for travel and mindfulness, being more open about my approach to wedding planning, and being more vulnerable online about my personal life too. This led to receiving more inquiries for destination weddings, from couples who love travel as much as I do, and also to receiving more messages from couples wanting to have intimate, meaningful, considered celebrations of their love. Speaking to these couples during those first discovery consultations lit me up: it was like connecting with lifelong friends and seeing my own passion reflected in their own. The more inquiries like this I received, the more I learned about these couples’ hopes and dreams (and the way they aligned with my own) the more I was able to open up about this in my social media and my website copy. Check out Using Your Values & Beliefs to Connect With Like-Minded Clients for more on this! Before I knew it, I had well and truly niched into elopements and multiple-day destination weddings full of opportunities for togetherness; unsurprisingly, the latter is what my husband and I had chosen too, back when we were planning our own wedding (which was years before I started my business and got to know this incredible industry).
Once you've figured out your niche, learn How to Market Yourself as an Aisle Planner Pro!
Growing up, I used to move to a new country every few years with my parents, following them on their professional journey as Italian diplomats working for embassies all over the world; so it’s unsurprising that my international heart has led me to become an international wedding planner. It seems obvious to mold your business on your personality, but it is actually a conscious and frightening decision that many of us have to make: we have to be ourselves, and that’s one of the bravest things we can do. Finding your niche might arise from sitting down and drawing a mind map with your business coach, brainstorming over wine with a friend, or (really) listening to what your clients say about you; it might be something that hits you at 2 AM when you can’t sleep, or that you grow into over the course of several years. For me, it was the global pandemic of 2020 that gave me a chance to slow down, reassess, and reflect – and that gave me time to turn my business gaze inwards and be more self-aware. The most important thing to say is that a niche isn’t necessarily a comfort zone, and that’s ok - I remember being terrified when I started planning my first destination wedding! I thought I was supposed to follow the beaten path first, and gain years of experience planning weddings locally before I was “allowed” to start planning weddings abroad. But that simply wasn’t true: creating weddings in new places, places I’ve never been, is my calling – it’s what makes me happy – and I could feel it as soon as I let myself try.
"It seems obvious to mold your business on your personality, but it is actually a conscious and frightening decision that many of us have to make: we have to be ourselves, and that’s one of the bravest things we can do."
How do I embrace my niche?
Everything I’ve said so far may feel a little abstract or conceptual – so you may be wondering, in practice, what niching looks like. This will definitely vary depending on what kind of business you have, what tools you use to market what you do, and how far along the business journey you are. There are however things we can all do when looking to niche our wedding businesses:
- Be really honest and open with yourself about what you love doing, and what you don’t. Write it down on a post-it note, and stick it to your computer screen.
- Brainstorm words and sentences that embody that niche, and put them all over the place: your website, your captions, your business cards – everywhere.
- Every day, make business decisions authentic to you, and to what excites you, rather than what you think you should be doing. Say yes to things that feel right, and say no to things that don’t.
- Don’t put any work out there that you aren’t 100% proud of, and that doesn’t represent what you want more of. Your portfolio is your shop window, your magazine cover, your catwalk: what do you want people to see and know you for?
- Audit your website and tailor everything to the client you want to attract: the words, the images, the inquiry form – the whole experience. Keep looking at that note on your screen: is the content you’re putting out there doing that post-it justice? Check Out All of the Branding Features in Aisle Planner!
- Every time you post on social media, write for that client, and for yourself too: think about what matters to them, what language they use, what worries they have, and what wedding feeling they daydream about.
- Be ready to receive fewer inquiries, and remember that that’s a good thing. It means what you’re doing is working. The filtering process is two-way though: you need to be prepared to turn some inquiries down too. Listen to your instinct, to the red flags, and to that feeling of “wrongness.”
- At the end of each event season, reflect on the work you’ve done: what made you feel most fulfilled? What client relationships were the most in-tune? What did you learn? Write a new post-it note, and start all over again.
"Don’t put any work out there that you aren’t 100% proud of, and that doesn’t represent what you want more of. Your portfolio is your shop window, your magazine cover, your catwalk: what do you want people to see and know you for?"
In some ways, it’s trial and error. It’s about trying stuff – some other stuff – and some more stuff – until you find what works for you. But when you do, you’ll know every step of the journey taught you something, and every plot twist was worthwhile. When you get there, you’ll know that this is where the magic happens: when your values and your zone of joy align with that of your business, which in turn align with that of your clients. And remember that, although you’ll be on a journey of refining your target audience, it’s still paramount to create a welcoming, safe space for anyone who comes across your brand voice or your online presence. Whatever niche you choose and however you choose to go about it, never stop using positive language that champions the beauty and validity of every couple’s wedding choices.
If there are three things you take away from reading this, let them be this:
- For the right client, you will be irreplaceable exactly as you are. Don’t try to be like everyone else.
- Creating a brand that is long-lasting, that brings you joy, and with which you can make a living takes time – in fact, it takes as long as it should.
- Niching your business is the ultimate superpower: you’ll receive less of what isn’t for you, and more of what is.
I hope this has been a thought-provoking, insightful brainstorm for you today – I appreciate you taking the time to read and listen to my experiences, and I wish you so much joy and success on your own business journey!
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Hero photo courtesy of Wyldbee Photography