For us who have been in this industry for a long time we see the landscapes change, it is inevitable.
After Bernadette's surprise announcement this week she had made the decision to close the UKAWP I know this decision will have made many wonder if the wedding industry is still the right place to be hanging out.
It would be impossible for it not to change, over the past 15 years we have seen technology move at an alarming pace and it will continue to do so.
When Priorities Change for Wedding Business Owners
People change too, what was once a priority fades into the background as new territories and responsibilities arrive.
My take on this is for a long time my priorities were with my children, I wanted to be around as much as I could, and still am for my youngest daughter.
After the death of my father my priorities shifted as my mother became much more dependent on me to get out and about to the shops, appointments, etc.
A lot of 'mid-life' women whose children have flown, or are fleeing the nest, then find they have other responsibilities with aging parents, maybe a retired partner and everything changes yet again.
What once Lit us up Doesn't Anymore
I can see why Bernadette has made her decision and can't imagine it was done lightly, it would have taken years and I think the pandemic probably shifted it along a little.
I maybe wrong but as I mentor the wedding world I am acutely aware of the ongoing impact this has had on so many in the wedding industry.
Others just out grow it and recognize where their strengths really lie and pursue this which is exactly what Bernadette has said.
I also completely relate to her mental exhaustion watching businesses she had grown close to grind to a halt through no fault of their own. That pandemic has a lot to answer for.
Reflecting back on the Wedding Industry and how it has changed
However this announcement also bought some wonderful memories back.
I have been revisiting them and now wonder had I been more present, instead of rushing around, if my path would have changed earlier.
Yet actually I realise and recognize a couple of things that would have made it impossible.
In 2016 I was asked to attend a Wedding Conference in Barcelona along with some top wedding industry leaders at that time. One was Bernadette, then Kylie Carlson (as she was known then) and Matthew Oliver.
It is something as an introvert I would usually turn down but I thought what the hell, let's go for it!
It was a short flight up the coast and I wanted to visit Barcelona.
Was I nervous was an understatement. I had been asked to prepare a presentation about marketing to Millennials. Was this a sign way back then?!
I remember Bernadette being very bubbly and full of energy, Kylie was one of the best networkers in the room and took me under her wing as we moved from table to table to answer questions after the conference.
I can't remember the details exactly but there was a problem with no conference materials and no decoration at all which was a poor show of the organizers.
I loved being present with all the wedding pros trying to resolve it of which Matthew Oliver was one and Jonathan Waterman was also a brilliant leader and problem solver.
All the problem solvers in one room!
I do recall 'shaking in my boots', Kylie being the much more modern Aussie was holding video interviews with everyone, who knew then video was a thing!
After my presentation and during the networking I was so surprised when everyone kept coming up to me congratulating me on such fab marketing insights.
Again did I miss an opportunity and did the penny drop way back then, no!
I do realise now I had massive imposter syndrome.
Especially with the amazing business empire Kylie had built educating the wedding industry and never felt I could ever match it or even wish to.
I was very invested in my own destination wedding business and didn't have the time, energy and knowledge to devote to such a thing.
The Changes that Evolved in My Wedding Business
During 2016 I had a new website built, I had becoming the go to person to talk about the wedding industry here in Spain.
I went onto the local radio to be interviewed and was also featured in newspapers.
I was being asked to mentor others who wanted to set up their own wedding businesses, so I did.
Some just picked my brains over a free lunch (always a sucker for a free lunch!) and others joined my weddings, as team assistants, to learn and be there on the day.
When the Penny Dropped
I am not sure when the penny dropped but as I said previously priorities changed. I have changed too as finally the menopause hit me with a bang! Trying to manage symptoms once I had hit my early 50's was like trying to stop a runaway train from crashing at first!
Eventually I had to concede I was not the same as I was in my forties and to go up a 10ft ladder probably wasn't the best idea anymore! I was the queen of stepladders!
I knew I loved teaching people how to enter the wedding industry, an industry I adore.
I witnessed the successes being built under my guidance with my support and advice.
Most importantly I was changing women's lives.
Grabbing Opportunites in the Wedding Industry
When Kylie contacted me again, she was running a 24 hour wedding business marathon and wanted me to do an hour's presentation all about blogging for your business. Should this have been another sign!
This was pre-pandemic and I remember my slot was early at 8am, it was still dark! I am not a morning bird and had the proverbial shirt on top and still in my pj bottoms away from the zoom camera!
When I had finished my presentation my step son from my second marriage popped up to say he and his girlfriend had watched it and it was brilliant!
Whilst I write this post it also turns out one of my more recent wedding planner clients is besties with my step son's now wife, what a small world!
Marketing for the Wedding Industry
Marketing is now very different to 15 years ago, we relied on press, blogs, SEO and networking.
We didn't have social media but I do recall an incidence about my middle daughter being bullied after school on MSN, I wasn't keen that once she had left school people had access to her.
Little did I know what was coming. Facebook, an online community at that time, as parents we could stalk our children!
Eventually the 'children' got fed up and moved over to Instagram! This is now still where this generation hang out.
Instagram started as the perfect place to feel inspired, everyone building their online 'portfolios'.
It was a creative and calm platform, more like Pinterest, again it was great for being visible, creating a community and sharing our work and world.
In the past few years video content has taken over, You Tube was always around, but we are now constantly being bombarded with reels and videos, what was once a peaceful place to hang out on has become a battle of capturing peoples attention and getting the algorithms on your side.
I have seen introverts trying to manage the whole jumping around content we are supposed to be creating now, awkward is the only word that springs to mind, others seem to have nailed it!
With Tik Tok now taking over the battle between the social media giants is huge but where does this leave the average small business owner who really doesn't want, or have time to spend days creating video content?
But what if I go Viral?
A big but what! Ok hear me out on this one.
My daughter does recipe reels, one went viral with over 17k views. Did she get anymore followers, maybe a few but a handful were interested enough to follow her.
I also recall a coach I follow saying when one of her posts went viral it attracted thousands of spammers, many horrid comments and it took her 2 months after taking it down to delete these people from her social media accounts.
Whilst social media is a given must for most businesses it isn't to be the all and end of your marketing. If you don't like making video content don't do it, simple.
I play around sometimes and get more views but that isn't convincing me they are going to be customers.
So where are your Customers?
Some might be on Instagram, maybe some on Tik Tok, particularly if you sell brands and products.
Most of them will be using good old Google, think about what you have looked for on Google this week.
Customers planning their weddings are on Pinterest.
Wait, what Pinterest? I am far too busy on Instagram to have time for this as well 😳
A pin on Pinterest will be there forever quietly working on your SEO, a reel will last 72 hours and if you go viral, great! All your super customers are on Pinterest.
So has the Wedding Industry Changed?
Yes it has, there is a lot more competition, there are a lot more pressures to be seen constantly on social media, suddenly everyone needs a social media content planner, apps, so much more just to market their businesses.
It is up to you which platforms you use as only you knows what works best for your business but I will always go back to my old adage of focus on your content in-house and keep plugging away at your SEO.
The 2 Giants of SEO for the Wedding Industry
Google and Pinterest. It is that simple.
If you are keen to give your business some SEO love this autumn then come and join me on my next Blogging Brilliance Signature course.