The Power of Positioning

Positioning your wedding business in the wedding industry

One of the most common statements I hear from new wedding pros is that because they are new, they feel that they have to price themselves extremely low. How many of you have had the following thoughts?

  • I don’t want to be judged by experienced wedding professionals for charging too much when I’m new
  • I don’t want to mislead potential clients , and I can’t justify a higher price point because I’m new at this
  • I just want to get some experience, so I’m charging very little 

While all of the above is completely understandable, it’s a bad strategy for a variety of reasons.  Let’s address each of the above first and foremost.

  • I don’t want to be judged by experienced wedding professionals for charging too much when I’m new

Totally fair.  But here’s something that you may not realize: when you price yourself far below the market, you’re actually harming the very wedding professionals that you don’t want to be judged by.  You’re making it harder for EVERYONE to charge what they’re worth, new and experienced pros alike.  You’re de-valuing the profession itself to the public, and often in a very public forum (i.e. Facebook groups).  And unless you’re straight-up including your reasoning in every single post/response you make (for example – I’m brand new and have no experience, so I’m charging $xxx.xx for a service that is typically $xxxx.xx), then you’re effectively misleading potential clients anyway.

I can guarantee that you’ll be judged more harshly by other wedding professionals for charging too little then you would be for charging too much.

  • I don’t want to mislead potential clients 

Two major points I want to make here:

First of all, let’s let go of this idea that experience in your field is the only determining factor that should go into setting your pricing.  In my course The Pricing Lab, I teach that there are actually 6 factors that go into determining your pricing, and experience in your field is only one of them.  Experience is only a small part of the value you offer to clients, so don’t sell yourself short!

Second of all – let’s think about this for a second. By pricing yourself very low, what are you actually telling your potential clients? You got into this career because you are passionate about it; you’ve identified that you have some skills that apply to the services you’re offering; I’m assuming you’ve done tons of research, maybe even assisted at a few weddings by now; maybe you’ve taken some courses, or worked with a mentor.  The point is – by pricing yourself low, you’re misleading your potential clients by under-valuing your worth, and the value of the services you’re providing.  By all means, be upfront and honest about your direct experience as a business owner and having worked with clients; but also be up front about all of the amazing prep you’ve done to get yourself ready to work with clients and as mentioned in point #1, all of the other value you bring to the table.

  • I just want to get some experience, so I’m charging very little 

Again, totally fair! However, I would question the kind of experience you’re going to gain by straight away working with clients who don’t value your services enough to pay market value for them.  Most experienced wedding pros will tell you that “budget” clients are often the most difficult clients to work with – they expect more for less, and they often lack respect for the very difficult job that you do for them.  You’re better off getting your experience by assisting other wedding pros (which, granted, is an opportunity that can be difficult to find at times).  Another strategy would be to offer “introductory” pricing, but limit it to 2-3 clients and then raise your prices immediately following.  Having said that, there are risks to implementing that strategy – and that brings me to the crux of this post – positioning.

What is “positioning”? 

Positioning is a marketing term, and it’s one of the most powerful marketing concepts. Essentially, positioning is the place that a brand occupies in the mind of the customer, and how it is distinguished from competitors.  

How you position your brand effects the perceived value of the services you offer.  Let’s think about that for a moment. What is “value”? In marketing, it’s the difference between how a potential client evaluates the benefits and costs of your services compared to others.  Your positioning sets an immediate expectation/understanding of the level of service and the price of said service.  

Think about some of the most famous brands.  What space does, for example, the brand Louis Vuitton occupy in your mind? I’ll take a guess- you think couture, quality, and yes – expensive.  They design some of the most expensive handbags in the world, and yet – there is a waiting list of eager customers who can’t wait to spend a fortune on them.  Why? Because in the customers mind, there is value.  Compare this to, for example, a generic handbag from Wal-mart.  You expect it to be cheap, and functional (for awhile). Your standards are lowered, because the perceived value is lower. Which handbag, do you think, will you take extra-good care of?

Uh huh. I thought so.

When I mentor new wedding professionals, one of the first things I do is work with them to determine where they want to position themselves.  Do you want to be a Louis Vuitton, or a Wal-Mart? Do you want to sell quality, or quantity? How do you want your brand to be perceived by your potential clients?

Unless you want to position yourself at the low-end of the market (and listen, I’m not saying there isn’t a viable market there – if your intention is to be in the low-end, then do it, and do it with intention – but make sure it’s purposeful and reflected in your marketing strategy. Wal-Mart doesn’t ever try and be like Louis Vuitton!), then you need to build a brand that reflects where you want to position yourself in the minds of those potential customers. 

And…. drum roll please…. set your prices accordingly.  If your intention is to position yourself in the middle/high end of the market, for example, and that’s the brand identity that you develop, you create brand confusion if you aren’t priced accordingly. 

Think about it – if you went into a Louis Vuitton store and picked up a handbag that was priced at $10, what would you think? *Maybe* you’d think you were getting a great deal, but more likely? More likely you’d assume there was something wrong with that bag. Because there is a disconnect between the positioning and the pricing – and that causes brand confusion and mistrust.

One last thing to keep in mind. Once you position yourself in the market as one thing, it’s extremely difficult to change that perception.  If you’re thinking you’ll start at the low-end and work yourself up – I can tell you that this is next to impossible (without a full re-brand).  You’re far better off positioning yourself where you want to be now, and building a solid brand identity to back it up. 

So what’s the takeaway here? To be blunt, it’s this: Unless your goal is to position yourself at the bottom of the market, stop pricing yourself there.  Be intentional and strategic with your brand – and understand that you offer more value to your potential clients than just “experience” (or lack thereof).

If you want to learn more, I strongly encourage you to get on the waiting list for the Pricing Lab – I offer it twice yearly.  It’s a comprehensive, step-by-step course that will teach you how to price your services with confidence.  In the meantime,  for you to get you started – my Brand Positioning Worksheet.  It’s a great first step to determining your brand identity and the positioning that you want for your company… and the pricing that should match it.

As always, if you have questions or comments, join me in the Wedpreneur Community for supportive, lively discussions about all things wedding industry related.

Mary Swaffield Signature

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