There’s never a bad time to think about potential new market growth, especially if you’re in a place to expand your business and take on a new project. In times of uncertainty, operating in multiple markets can provide diverse streams of revenue and a safer foundation.
Of course, you need to ensure that all your ducks are in a row prior to growth. Otherwise, you risk investing time and resources into a move that might not be the right fit. Let’s look at a few things to consider as you map out a game plan:
To Grow or Not to Grow?
Entering a new market is a great direction for those with established and solid reputations. If you are consistently booked and your services are being sporadically requested in a new market, you're in the right place.
However, if you are not booking at full capacity in your current market, it is not a smart idea to expand in a new market. Instead, take this time to understand why you are not booking and perhaps revisit expansion once you’ve found a stronger foothold in your existing market.
Understanding Your Market
Before entering a new market, you need to perform in-depth market research to understand how to be the most profitable with a new set of clients.
Get familiar with the concept of supply and demand. Will you be entering a saturated market? Why is it saturated? One of the best things you can do before diving in is talk to local vendors. Get to know the inner workings of the local industry. Then, decide if it’s the right move for you.
Understanding Your Team
Next, you'll need to turn your focus to your existing team to determine if you have the capacity to grow your business as-is. In most cases, it's easier to relocate an employee with company experience and knowledge instead of hiring someone new. However, the ability to do this will depend on your current business operations, so take the time to connect with your staff and get their thoughts on this new direction.
Understanding Your Goals
You'll need to determine your goals for building your reputation in the new market. What will you consider a success, and how can you reach that? Being intentional about building one-on-one connections with other vendors, joining inspiration shoots, and contributing time for community service are all great ways to help you achieve your goals.
Adapting Your Brand to New Markets
When people think of branding, they often think of the colors, logo, tagline and other marketing materials. While these are all pieces of the puzzle, a brand is so much more than this. Rather, your brand is your reputation — what do people think about when they hear your brand? What are they saying when you leave the room?
Naturally, your digital presence (website, social media, email etiquette) must represent your brand. It’s where many prospects come across your business first, so everything needs to follow with your company’s messaging. This means your website, your Instagram, your Pinterest, and even your email signature should speak to your brand. Consistency is key.
Likewise, all of your internal employee communications should be fully aligned to bring your brand to life. Make it easy for your new team to embrace all that makes your company special. Provide them with simple templates and automate your processes as much as possible--having a great Customer Relationship Management tool or a contract and invoicing platform will make their lives easier and ensure consistency across the board.
Evaluate Your Efforts
If possible, have evaluation measures in place for any type of project or expansion; otherwise, you won't know how successful it was or how to make adjustments for the future. A few things you can do: Be sure to install the free Google Analytics tool on your website and run reports regularly at the beginning of your expansion. Keep an eye on social media, too--look at what posts are performing well and the input that you receive from people in your new market.
If you have future plans to implement targeted ad campaigns in the new market, make sure to install Facebook Pixel on your website. It is relatively easy and will provide you with demographic data for who is visiting your website.
Entering a new market can be a smart and savvy decision for business owners that are looking for growth opportunities, but it can be a risky move if you’re not prepared for it. You must go into the process with a plan that will set up your company for success. The best way to do so is to start with a firm grasp on your market, your team, your goals, and your brand. Then, with the help of technology, you’ll be in a great place to begin marketing your business and reaching new prospects.
Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team.