If you feel like it’s getting harder and harder to stand out in a saturated market, you are not alone my friend. While I would love to share some fancy new marketing hack or tell you to use these magic hashtags, the truth is that it IS hard. That doesn’t mean it’s unachievable for you, though. As your business coach, today I’m going to encourage you to go back to the basics. What do you really need to do to stand out? I’m going to guide you through conducting a SWOT analysis as a wedding planner so you can evaluate your current place in the wedding industry and decide what your next steps should be.
Before we dive in – have you written your business plan yet? I’m a no-fluff kind of business coach so if you DON’T have a living and breathing business plan that you check back in with often, I have a free outline to get you started. Grab your copy here!
What is a SWOT Analysis?
Put simply, SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It's a business tool to evaluate internal and external factors that may impede your overall vision (whether you want to plan weddings as a “side hustle” or plan on building your own wedding empire).
Strengths and weaknesses are internal, meaning there are things inside your business that you can control. Opportunities and threats lie outside your business. They are external, and they're things outside your business that may or may not be in your control.
The truth is, a SWOT analysis is applicable to anything in the business world, but it often feels like something out of corporate that “nobody really does” in their wedding business. Not the case my friends! You know I’m a big believer in treating your business like a business (with a business plan and all!), and today, I’m going to walk you through this incredibly powerful exercise.
Why Perform a SWOT Analysis as a Wedding Planner?
A SWOT analysis will help you to first know exactly what your internal and external blind spots are. The goal, then, is to turn those weaknesses into strengths and those threats into opportunities. If you don't know that problems exist, how are you supposed to solve them? And if you don't know what opportunities or threats are in the marketplace, how are you going to combat the threats and take advantage of the opportunities?
Second, it's going to help you make tough decisions. Listen, you need tools and resources that are going to help you and your team make tough decisions. It doesn't just live inside your business plan. You should perform a SWOT analysis anytime you’re making a decision, from opening a new store or a new location, hiring new team members, adding new services, the list goes on and on.
Start With Strengths
Get out a piece of paper – this is not an article you can skim and move on to the next thing. The magic is in the ACTION. Ask yourself: What does your company do better than anyone else? Where do you soar (in your company as a whole BUT also as a person!)?
The reality is, in the wedding industry we are NOT some faceless organization most of the time. Let's not forget you as the owner when we look at your business’ strengths because you truly are the heart and heartbeat of your business. You are the visionary. So, your business can only go so far as you are willing to take it.
Don’t rush this step. I want you to really think about what makes you strong as a business, compared to your competition. This might come really easily to you. You could be bubbling with ideas of where your strengths lie. Or it might be difficult for you – that’s normal too. No matter what you are working on inside of these four quadrants, take your time, think thoughtfully about it and be honest.
Next, Let’s Talk About Weaknesses
We all have them. We're not perfect, and neither are our businesses. What are some of your business's biggest weaknesses? What gaps does your company have in marketing, in team building, client relations, processes, or your values? What limitations does your business have? Again, don't be afraid to turn this on yourself because you ARE the visionary for your business. It’s important to examine what weaknesses you bring to the table that have not allowed your business to get to where you want it to go.
Our goal here is to take these weaknesses, acknowledge them, and flip them from weaknesses into strengths. We can't do that unless we identify what they are, no matter how painful or even small and insignificant they might feel. We've got to get clear on what our blind spots are and where those gaps are in our business so that we can ultimately work to fill those gaps.
What Opportunities Do You Have Right Now?
This one can be hard when you feel like you are operating in a saturated market, but trust me, they ARE still out there. Ask yourself: what opportunities exist in the marketplace? As a business coach for wedding planners for over a decade now let me just say: as we are embedded and entrenched in the day-to-day operations of our businesses, we don't always look outside to see what opportunities are happening and what we are missing. I want you to change that. I want you to have your finger on the pulse of opportunities in your marketplace so that you can quickly seize on those opportunities if they get you closer to your vision.
A few other questions to ask to start the brainstorming are:
- What has been overlooked by your competitors?
- What are your competitors not doing?
- Who are they not serving?
- Who are they not talking to?
Lastly, We Need to Evaluate Threats
The last stage of our SWOT analytics is evaluating threats. What things outside your sphere of control have already threatened your business? In this part, I find it's a good idea to just take a look at things that have threatened your business in the past already. Maybe you’ve already moved through some threats before? I’ll give you a freebie: the pandemic! If you’ve been in business for a couple of years, you’ve had at least this one threat outside of your control!
Once we've examined the threats that have already taken place (and might be currently taking place), what things outside your sphere of control could threaten your business? As we look into the future, what threats could lie in the future that could threaten the livelihood and the success of your business?
This can be everything from a super dense and competitive market or something more specific. For example, if you're located in a destination wedding location, losing your grip on the tourism market could be a threat to your business. If you're located in a place that has hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes, those can definitely threaten your business. Economic instability with your ideal customers can be a threat.
No matter what: being prepared is so important. Shout out to all the wedding planners reading this because you are the most prepared people on earth anyway. I don’t have to tell you that being prepared is so important. If we can visualize and see what obstacles might be in our way, we can find the way through those obstacles.
Applying Your SWOT Analysis to Your Business Plan
Did your eyes just glaze over? Come back to me! A SWOT analysis can be done on its own or within a larger business plan, but no matter when you do it, don’t let it sit filed away in some Google Drive folder you never open. Use it to inform your decisions and strategies. Make sure that when you do business, you are taking the right risks at the right times, and doing everything possible to secure long-term success. That’s what a SWOT analysis can help you do. And it’s INCREDIBLY important in every business, but especially when we are dealing with a saturated market!
Here’s an example of your Wedding Planner SWOT Analysis:
- Strengths: you've got a plan. You know exactly where you're going in your business, and you've created a strategy to get there.
- Weakness: you don't have the team in place to grow the business that you want. In order for you to get to where you want, you'll have to grow a team. And right now, you don't have one.
- Opportunity: See the weakness above! You have an opportunity to grow your team. Further, maybe you’ve discovered an underserved section of the marketplace after you went through the ideal client cocktail (shameless plug).
- Threats: A worldwide pandemic that can halt your business. How can we make sure that this never becomes a threat again? You can't find vaccines and cures, but you can certainly create a business that isn't going to collapse if your industry gets quiet.
What’s Next? Complete Your Business Plan!
As a business coach, I strongly believe in the importance of using more than just intuition to run a successful business. While intuition can play a role, it is so important to complement it with a real, well-rounded, strategy. That's why I encourage the wedding planners I coach to begin by conducting a SWOT analysis – now you can too! After analyzing the results, it's crucial to place them into a solid business plan. If you don't have a business plan yet, don't worry! I have a valuable resource that can help you get started on the right track. Grab your copy here!
Is 2024 the year you finally stop settling and grow the wedding planning business you have always wanted?
If you are looking for real advice on growing your wedding planning business, I would love to invite you to sign up for the Planner’s Playbook waitlist. Unlike some of the other “wedding planner courses” on the market, this one is less about making it look like you have a good wedding planning business and more about what it takes to actually RUN a wedding planning business.
Yes, each month I give you a marketing plan, but the Planner’s Playbook was not created to teach you to “grow” your wedding business on Instagram. Instead, each month, we dig deep into one part of your business and make it 100x better with about 50-75 pages of advice (whether that be creating a design dossier or what to include in your onboarding process). Sign up here to get access to the waitlist (and any special offers as they come your way – I promise they are worth it!).
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