I just returned from this year’s Wedding MBA, a conference for wedding industry professionals and specifically focused on the business side of weddings. The very first speaker at this year’s conference spoke about how many wedding pros decry the DIY trend in couples (including “hiring friendors”), and yet DIY so many things in their own business, especially their branding – their logo, their website, their marketing materials and collateral. I laughed and nodded my head, as that’s so true of so many businesses I know!
Here is a great piece about that exact topic, as, truly, we are setting the tone from the very start with potential clients about just how professional we are about ourselves and our businesses. Please take that part just as seriously as you do how you do what you actually do.
I mentioned last time – in talking about knowing your why and your ideal client’s why – about the importance of knowing your ideal client, but maybe we should talk more about that. It seems very clear to me, but I know that some business owners don’t approach it the same way.
Can you take any and all business that comes your way? Sure, you can. Should you? Honestly, no, I don’t think that you should. I know that it is tempting, especially in the early stages of a business, when we are hungry and trying to pay our rent and expenses, and trying to build a business. However, the reality is that there is no way that we can be all things to all people. You have some sort of specialty, whether you’ve thought about it that way or not, and whether it is a broad or narrow one. It may be a specialty that you fell into, or one that you intentionally created for yourself, but I expect that you have one. And if you aren’t sure, at the very bottom of this post I have some suggestions for next steps in figuring out your ideal client.
Let me use my officiating business as an example. I have learned over the years that my ideal client is a couple for whom the ceremony is a priority in their wedding, and who wants their ceremony to be fun, personal, meaningful, and non-religious/non-traditional. When that client comes my way, the connection is deeper on both sides as we see eye-to-eye from the start about what their ceremony could and should be, which means that I can much more easily deliver a result that will make them happy, plus I have way more fun doing that wedding, and it therefore is a much more successful and satisfying experience for us all.
By the way, it’s not necessarily their budget nor the size of their wedding – not at all for me, actually, as my couples have a wide range for both. For some of my couples, I am the largest part of their wedding budget, while for others I am the smallest of their expenses, and for many I am somewhere in between. And I do just as many elopements as I do larger weddings, while many are somewhere in between. But in the wedding industry those can be great factors to start with, to figure out who you are best a fit for. They just shouldn’t be your only factors to consider.
I’ve learned that I really can’t say words that I don’t believe. So, when a couple asks me to do quite religious content or tells me from the start that that is what they would want (or that they want a traditional or religious focus), I know that that is not my fit. For the same reason, I also really can’t officiate for a couple where I don’t see the connection between them – again, it’s tough to say these really loving and emotional words if I don’t feel and see the connection between them. Same thing for when the ceremony isn’t a priority for them or important to them – I’ve been asked if I will do a five minute ceremony, or to just do all of the standard and traditional words, and I know that that will not be satisfying or enjoyable for me.
I am not saying, in any of these cases, that they shouldn’t have that kind of ceremony/wedding if that it what they want – not at all. It’s their wedding and they should have whatever they want. I’m just saying that I am not their fit, and therefore I am not the one to officiate for them. There is someone out there for them, but it’s just not me.
It’s funny, but I found that knowing who my ideal client is, and sticking to that as much as possible, is actually freeing and empowering, not limiting. There are plenty of couples out there who fit my criteria for my ideal client – and I think that they are just as excited to find someone who considers them as their ideal client as I am to have them find me. Plus, the more I worked with my ideal client, and therefore the more satisfying each of those relationships and “jobs” were, the more raving reviews that came from them, which also leads to more just like that.
So, here’s my suggestion: think back to your favorite past clients, and then think about what it is that made them your favorite or the most satisfying, and think about what it is that they have in common. This is your first key step to not only knowing your ideal client, but also then attracting and working with more of them too!
Do you know your Why?
If you haven’t yet watched it, I highly recommend that you watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on the Golden Circle:
The full version is here (18 minutes):
And then here is an abbreviated version (only six minutes): Watch it on YouTube
The first time I saw it, I sat there with the biggest grin on my face, as he put into words what I had figured out over the first two years of my business: if I know why I do what I do (as the why comes first and the what and how follow from that), and if I know who my ideal client is and then think about their Why, and I can express both my why and their why to them, it will be a more satisfying and fulfilled and successful relationship for all of us.
So, here’s my suggestion: watch this video, and then write down first what you think your “why” is, and second, what you think your ideal client’s “why” is. And, yeah, if you haven’t yet figured out your ideal client, that’s definitely something you should do as well. Enjoy!
Who am I, and why am I doing this?
Most folks who know me from the wedding industry here in San Diego weren’t surprised when I said that I was creating and launching a business coaching and speaking (and training) business called Elevate by Bethel. They told me that they were glad to hear that it would be alongside officiating (as we all know that I love celebrating really great couples way too much to ever completely stop), but with many fewer weddings each year. Why weren’t they surprised? Because much of what I was talking about doing in this new business were things they knew I was already doing on a more casual basis – and this would just make it more formal and expand it.
I’ve always known that I was a touch unusual – and very lucky – in that I came from a business background, with both very large and relatively small businesses, before finding my passion (officiating non-religious weddings for really great couples) and wanting to create a business around it. Most solo-driven or passion-driven businesses start with someone having their passion and then needing to learn how to do the business stuff around it to make it work. So, as I’ve designed and built my own wedding industry business over the past almost six years, I’ve also enjoyed helping my friends in the industry to figure out some of these things for their own businesses.
Elevate by Bethel is really focused on helping solo-driven/couple-driven or very small businesses – largely in the wedding industry, but definitely not exclusively – to build and grow and have the business that makes them happiest, whatever that looks like for them. As we all know, skill and passion are not enough, and many business owners need help with the business aspects around their great skill and passion, and that is what I love helping with and seeing progress in.
The five key areas of focus are marketing, social media, business processes, reviews and reputation, and financial management. And this is done through one-off assessments (resulting in a plan that the person/business runs with themselves), coaching programs (where we work through that plan together), workshops on a specific topic or business area, and a mastermind-type group too.
Join me on this new adventure, and please feel free to reach out at any point if you think that there is a way that I can help you and/or your business!