Your competitor can also be your greatest ally.
I came into the wedding industry from the fashion industry. I worked for a company that imported and distributed apparel from France. We sold to huge department stores and tiny boutiques. My job as West Coast Sales Manager was more of a game in mediation and dispute resolution between competing stores. The bad energy between people was poisonous to their businesses and it was poisonous to the industry.
So, naturally, I began my business thinking that anyone who also was an invitation designer was EVIL. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. I moved my teeny little business (at the time) from LA to Seattle in 2005. Seattle people are very friendly and warm and inviting. Businesses blossom by word of mouth.
When I did my first Seattle Wedding Show in 2006 I was in uber-disbelief that my competitors actually came up to my booth to introduce themselves to me. “Wait. What? Huh? Did that just happen?” is what I thought to myself. And, slowly the ice began to melt.
Over time, I’ve learned more about my competitors. I’ve also learned more about my business. I’ve learned about my niche. I’ve learned about their niches. And, I’ve learned that we all add value to this industry. We all have a different place in this market. There are very few people that do it just like I do it. And, there are very few people that do it just as my competitor does it. I’ve also learned that these businesses are amazing and unique and different and beautiful. By better knowing my business and their businesses I can better inform the customer. I can better teach the customer about stationery. They have been a great resource for me to refer someone who is not a match for our style of product, thus making me a “go to” for stationery knowledge.
So, this is something that you should know…
Get to know your competitors. Knowing them and their businesses will help you carve out your niche. It’ll help you add value to the wedding industry and your industry segment. It will help you differentiate yourself. And, having a unique niche in your market is what will give your business value without taking away from someone else.
And, with that… go hug your competitor… I dare you!