Let’s Get Personal: Competitors are the New Colleagues

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  • August 07, 2013

I’ve been sitting on writing this post for a while – and I am not exactly sure why. I think mostly it’s because I have only had bits and pieces of it formulated in my head, and I didn’t really have one big thought to tie it together and I was waiting for that to happen.

Alas, it still really hasn’t, but I am tired of waiting and hope that maybe it will come together as my fingers dance across the keyboard. So here goes, a personal post (it’s been too long since I’ve done one of these) on competitors vs colleagues in the DC wedding industry.

tim riddick photography (12 of 22)

[taken at At Your Service DC by Tim Riddick Photography]

I’ve heard a few vendors make the claim that the DC area is one of the most saturated for wedding vendors. Though I am not sure if it’s true (and really I have nothing to compare it against), there does seem to be a new vendor popping up every day – and that’s only within my limited view/circle that is nowhere near “all-encompassing”. For vendors that have been here for 5+ years, this can probably be frustrating – watching new vendors pop up continually, eating away at their business, cutting costs and “stealing” potential clients from their prospective client pool.

For newer vendors like me – I find it exciting. I love love love meeting new people, and personally, I am excited when a new vendors shoots me an email, or I find someone new on Twitter – to me, we are all bringing different perspective from our lives and experiences, and bringing that into the DC wedding scene.

Now, you might quickly dismiss my excitement with the fact that I am not an established wedding vendor – so of course I wouldn’t feel threatened by other, newer vendors – but I am not quite certain that it’s fair to discount me that way and here is why:

I believe that seeing your “competitors” as colleagues instead, can only help your business grow and I even have some proof!

Let’s first start with my new DC wedding coordination business – it’s brand new, and therefore just starting to grow, but instead of shunning myself from other wedding coordinators in the city, seeing them as my new competition, I’ve befriended them! I’ve asked for advice, shared stories, conversed about experiences with other vendors (and asked for more than a few recommendations) AND sent inquiries I’ve gotten their way, if the fit wasn’t right for me and I’ve been booked.

Yes, that is right – I’ve sent my “competitors” business. Why? Because I feel that the action is really only beneficial to me and it’s proven true because more than half of them have returned the favor, and sent business back my way too!

And now onto the blogging side of things – which really, is a different beast, but thanks to the ladies at Charm City Wed & Bayside Bride, has found to be no different for me.

Even though we are all wedding blogs, in similar geographic areas, we find camaraderie is more beneficial to our sites than shutting each other out as competitors. Charm City Wed honorably displays badges of both of our sites on their side bar, deeming us “sponsors” instead of traffic stealers and I cannot tell you how many comments and link shares I have gotten from the ladies at Bayside Bride. In return, I read their site, and share their content with my readers too (and when I finally get my new blog up and running – I’ll be proudly showcasing their blog badges as well!).

blog screen shot

Because let’s face it, no wedding planning couple out there only reads one blog any way – so why not help send traffic to each others’ sites, instead of casting each other out? And in all honesty, my blog is for my readers, so if Charm City Wed or Bayside Bride has something that will benefit my readers – I am going to share it with them, regardless of who’s blog it’s on.

So now it’s time for you all to sound off: am I crazy? Am I a terrible business owner for sending ‘business’ to my ‘competitors’? Or is there really a place in this industry for us ALL (vendors and bloggers alike) to be colleagues?

 

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18 Comments

  • Marissa Dimino says:

    Love this, finally Virginia/DC! Vendors in the area should observe and learn from the NJ wedding industry. It’s a team effort and everyone works together to make sure they stay busy and successful. Although ultimately not in my budget, when looking at venues in Jersey I was recommended to various reception sites/DJs/Photographers based on my needs, not on theirs. The vendors all realize by establishing relationships with each other, they aren’t increasing competition, but in actuality helping and growing business.

    • Bree Ryback says:

      thanks Marissa! I def think DC might be a bit behind the curve on this one – and I’d guess it’s because the more established vendors that have been running the show for ages, feel threatened. But it’s not a threat – it’s just a change! :)

  • Abby Grace says:

    You’re not crazy at all- this is one of my favorite parts about how the photography industry is changing! I’m finding I really take joy in working with a very particular kind of couple, which means I’m turning away brides and grooms that I don’t think I’m the best fit for. My awesome friend Rebekah, however, might be an amazing match for said couple, so I send them her way, and she does the same for me. We ‘re both benefitting by sending business each other’s way, and in the end it strengthens me as a photographer because I’m able to perfect my craft as a high-end, luxury wedding photographer by sending on couples who will be happier with someone else.

    • Bree Ryback says:

      thanks Abby :) it’s nice to know I am not alone! I see it A LOT with photographers, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be as popular with other vendor types!

  • tPoz says:

    I agree *completely*!! I love meeting new vendors – especially photographers! Working together has been the best thing for my business – and I love sending referrals to my colleagues/competitors! I even love seeing wedding pics of couples that I met with & booked someone else! Kudos to you for working with your local colleagues to drive more people to each other’s sites!! keep it up!

    • Bree Ryback says:

      teri – i actually attempted to ‘favorite’ your response (twitter-overuse much?). thank you for your input too! i love how people are working together instead of against each other (though there are some that certainly work against me!).

  • Amber Wilkie says:

    Interesting about the other vendors. Definitely the photographers I know are very open, friendly, helpful and we pass referrals back and forth a *lot*. I’ve never been overly concerned with other photographers as competition, but then again, I have a huge ego :)

    • Bree Ryback says:

      I def feel like photogs do it best – I’ve been considering myself lucky to have found a handful of coordinators/planners that are willing .. bloggers are a different story though. Annnnd I love your ego ;)

  • Lisa Marie says:

    Great post Bree! Definitely an interesting topic to spark some change and/or acknowledgement to those that have managed to keep it real :) I do feel lucky to be a photographer in dc and have such a great community of shooters!

  • AwwwWWwww we love you too Bree!! <3 Ya know Serena and I purposely set out to befriend those bloggers who have went before us to get advice, and even sat down with Baltimore Bride too to let them know– "hey, we love what you're doing, and we'll be doing it too, but online and not as a magazine. So let's be friends." And now we have an awesome working relationship with them. It just goes to show, it really does pay to be nice!

    • Bree Ryback says:

      <3 thank you Rochelle!! you and Serena really are so very awesome - and an inspiration for the DC area (and other areas too!). It's nice to know that even print and online can work together too!!

  • Meghan Hale says:

    LOL at Amber.

    Photographers here are awesome. I’m definitely a newbie in the industry and most of the people I have met have been so generous whether it’s teaching a session on business at a get together or sharing tips and tricks over drinks. I feel like I learn something new everyday and hope I get to the point that I can pay it forward because these people freakin’ rock.

  • Maggie says:

    I love, love, love that other photographers are so much fun to hang out with–I feel like they’re definitely more colleagues than competitors–and it’s been incredibly helpful to me to have someone to refer clients to when I am unavailable or when someone else might be a better fit for the project! When it comes down to it, maybe photographers are just awesome…

    :P

  • Rebekah says:

    Aww Bayside love right back at you Bree!

  • Andrea says:

    Completely agree with you! There’s enough business to go around and having industry friends really does pay off. Even more than “pay it forward”, it’s just being a decent person.

    And I’m totally with Maggie…maybe photographers are just awesome :)

  • […] with others that want to get in on this business. As we’ve already talked about in our “competitors are the new colleagues” post, I don’t view these new planners as a threat. Maybe I am naive, or maybe I just […]

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