How to Break into a New Vendor Market


No matter what industry or role you’re in, moving to a new location and building a trusted reputation in a new market is TOUGH. In the wedding industry, we know that our work is deeply interpersonal. Creating real relationships and connections goes a long way in getting on preferred vendors lists, booking the job at your dream venue and being at the top of the list for referrals.

If you’re moving to a new location, or you’re looking to break into a new vendor market, I’m going to give you an unpopular piece of advice: there’s a time and place to offer your services for free, and this is it.

Now before you make a fuss, let me explain.

I’m not suggesting you should work for free. But if you’re looking to break into a new market, or build a working relationship with new vendors, think of offering your services as part of your marketing budget for getting work in the new location. Can you afford to take headshots for a luxury planning team? Can you afford to spend $500 on the cost of florals for a shoot at a dream venue? At the end of the day, investing in these opportunities isn’t free – it pays dividends by getting you access to the types of jobs you want to book in these markets.

So how do you know when you should offer something for free? Make these offers limited and intentional.

Before you ever extend your time and resources, make sure you’re finding the right vendor that will really help you establish your brand in this new market. I’d do this by:

  • Casting a wide net: look at where the weddings you want to book are happening. If you’re looking to book estate weddings for clients with six-figure budgets, look at blogs and publications to start building a list of venues that are the right fit for the jobs you want to book in your new market.
  • Starting to narrow in: look at who is making those weddings happen. Who are the key photographers, florists, planners and vendors who are working at those venues often, or who are doing work that complements your brand and the experience you want to offer. Create a small shortlist of these ideal vendor partners.
  • Leading with intention: rather than send a blast email to all of these potential vendor partners, pick one or two to start. Reach out to these vendors in a way that’s personal, talk about why you’re inspired by a specific wedding, or talk about how their philosophy or brand aligns with your own. Then be intentional in how you offer to work with them – would you like to offer a specific service for a shoot?

This is how you shoot your shot.

We're unpacking all of this and more in our latest courses on Building a Preferred Vendor List - and if you join in April you'll get access to a free email template that gives you language to use when reaching out to new vendors, among other free digital resources and templates.


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