The cogs have been busy turning in the last few days and I may need some WD40 to keep them going. I’ve started thinking more about my sideline idea and making notes for my business plan and I have come across a few potential hurdles that might come in my way.
1. My USP: My wedding and special occasion stationery needs to be different and unique compared to what is currently available in the market. Welsh and bilingual design is a unique selling point (also known as USP in business talk) but there’s already a few other wedding stationery designers already set up and running in Wales. I need to find another USP for Manylion Bach | Little Details Design in order to make it a success.
2. Marketing: Setting up and marketing an online business is easy and cheap (sometimes free). Would I get enough business this way and by ‘word of mouth’? Or would I need to buy advertising in wedding magazines and book stands at wedding fayres, markets and local festivals?
3. How to sustain a steady cashflow: I can’t rely solely on requests for custom designed wedding and special occasions stationery. There’s going to be peaks and troughs for requests and I foresee that during the winter months will be quiet. Therefore, I need to think about creating a supporting product like a range of greeting cards to sell throughout the year and ensure a steady cash flow every month.
These are only little hurdles which I know can be overcome with a little market research.
The obvious first place to start my market research is online but following my own experience searching for local suppliers in south west Wales for our wedding, many don’t have a good online presence or very poor search engine optimisation. A few only use Facebook or don’t have a website at all!
There’s a few national wedding stationery companies like Paper Themes, Bride & Groom Direct and Wedding Paper Divas that offer a personalised service and they produce some lovely stuff and to your own budget as well. They are also a good starting point if you need some ideas and inspiration for wedding stationery and obtain samples of free or for a low cost.
However, after looking at these websites for the last two years, I’ve noticed that the designs and templates haven’t change much, don’t keep up or feature the newest trends in weddings or have themed designs like geeky, barn dance or Harry Potter wedding stationery. I was half expecting to see a seasonal range, as seen in the fashion industry but it doesn’t seem to exist within wedding stationery.
Looking at the wording of the invites, some companies offer a range of formats like informal, formal and casual which is great to suit your requirements. Unfortunately, some are not willing to accept your preferred wording of an invite and many don’t offer bilingual or an alternative language choice like Spanish, French, German or even Welsh.
These findings are from my enquires when I was researching for our wedding stationery in late 2012.
There’s only so much researching I can do online and I don’t want to spend any money on buying Wedding Magazines. I need to go where most engaged couples go when planning a wedding – wedding fayres!
I thought I wouldn’t need to attend another wedding fayre after getting married but I’m trying to convince myself that I may have to go to a few in the next few months for market research. I will need to go undercover, remove my wedding ring, polish my engagement ring and create a ‘newly engaged and looking for wedding stationery designer’ persona, like Super Fiance. Or I can tag along with a friend who’s currently planning her wedding and use her as a decoy. We could be the Batman and Robin of the wedding fayres!
There are the areas I need to find out:
Costing – how much do wedding stationery designers charge for their services? What is their pricing structure? Do they charge per hour, per invitation, or a set fee?
Timing – how many weeks notice to they require to turn around a job request? Is it weeks or months? Do they charge more for an urgent requests?
Design – do they offer a complete bespoke design service or you have to select one of their templates? How much flexibility is there in the wording?
So, I need to think of a list of questions to ask wedding stationery designers at wedding fayres. Better get some WD40 on the cogs!
This will also be the perfect opportunity to see if there are any gaps in wedding stationery design, such as same-sex/gay wedding stationery or if there is room for another specialist in bilingual/Welsh wedding stationery.
I can’t limit myself to wedding fayres for my market research, finding gaps in the market and a USP. I will need to cast my net wider by visiting other shows, exhibition, events and festivals where graphic designers and illustrators are likely to exhibit. Not forgetting high street shops like Paperchase, Scribbler and Clinton Cards, online retailers like Moonpig.com and Funkypigeon.com and independant gift shops like Craft in the Bay.
I’ve identified potential events to attend and do some market research over the next few months:
Tafwyl, Welsh language festival in Cardiff
National Eisteddfod Wales, Llanelli
Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells
The Handmade Fair, Hampton Court
Creative Craft Show, Malvern
Themed wedding fayres by Empire Events
And a few trade shows in Birmingham and London in 2015!
The dates are in my diary! Let the market research begin!