Pay attention to the industry and to your competitors – within reason.
You should know what’s going on both with the wedding industry and with your subindustry within it. You should also know what’s going on with your competitors. That said, it’s important not to become obsessive about these things, as it can impact your work and creativity in a negative way.
Knowing what’s happening in the wedding industry allows you to know that business is slower in every budget segment except the ultra-luxury market (budgets of $500,000+ USD) and that it’s not just impacting you.
Paying attention to your subindustry allows you to know whether your wholesalers are able to source ingredients or supplies from a different place or if you are going to have to absorb the added costs of trade deal tariffs for clients you’ve already contracted with.
The idea that if people really want what you’re selling they will find a way to pay for it is true – to a point. There are market realities and everyone has a budget. It may be the biggest budget you’ve ever worked with, but every person has an amount where they will say “no more.” Don’t believe me? Quote a price of $10 billion in your next proposal to a dream client with an “unlimited budget” and see if they go for it.
The way this piece of well-meaning but not great advice often plays out is that the client will decide to splurge more on you by cutting what they’re spending on another vendor. Or, as the case may be, they will splurge more on a different vendor or supplier and decide they don’t actually care as much about what you offer.
It also means that you’ll know when you’ll be competing not just with direct competitors, but with other category suppliers whom your clients may prioritize more. If a couple places a high priority on design, then the tariffs on decor and rental imports means they have less to spend on their photographer or on their venue or on their invitations.
It’s also important to have an idea of what your competitors are offering so that you can realistically compete against them. Yes, your work has intrinsic artistic value, but, again, market realities are a thing. This doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on your price, but it may impact what is included in your price or what you prioritize in your business model so that you still meet your revenue goals.
For example, as a keynote speaker for the wedding industry, I do not use speaking as a loss leader in order to gain new clients. Many of my competitors do. That is a perfectly valid decision on their part, but my business model requires that speaking generate direct income for me. Because of this, I turn down speaking requests every month and choose not to compete on volume. Knowing that my competitors speak for free or for below market rate helps me shape other areas of my business to make up for any potential losses, but it does not change how I charge nor does it make me selfish. (Here are different ways to price speaking fees if you’re interested for your own business.)
Stay up on what the industry and what your competitors are doing, but don’t allow it to change anything without deeply considering your own goals and strategies behind it. A knee-jerk reaction to a price difference doesn’t do you any favors in the long-term.