The last 8 years of the wedding industry has seen a boom of incoming competition and incredible growth. My journey through becoming a specialist started in 2004, when I decided to shoot weddings only. That went really well until about 2009, when I realized my diversification – adding associates and cheaper brands – had diluted my main brand of Mike Larson. On top of that, what I was doing was really becoming mainstream and the norm. My niche was no longer a niche and six years later, in 2010 I realized that I was in a whole new world.
Asleep at the wheel, I had lived in a world of thinking I was already a specialist, but I was not keeping current with the times. In 2010 I realized I had to do something since the market was becoming very saturated with wedding photographers. It was no longer a small niche, it was a huge market segment, and I had become a generalist.
In 2011 when I started working with Jeff Jochum, I made the changes to eliminate all the distractions and adopt what I loved the most all along; it was just buried under a lot of other distractions. With Jeff’s prompting, I decided to focus on Estate & Vineyard weddings. Later as I learned so much by exploring the boundaries of my new brand, I stumbled across the word “private”. This has become a big focus and key term for my position. It really took accountability and coaching to bring this out of me, for my business wasn’t dead, it was just slowly fading into the masses and that meant a terminally decreasing unique position, value and thus profits generated, since I had to compete on the amount of stuff I was delivering.
At the start, I was admittedly scared to say no to Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton weddings. The path of a specialist is hard work, but much easier than trying to compete against a sea of the same people doing exactly what you do. When I was a generalist, I was blind to realizing how similar I actually looked to everyone else.
The choice to become a specialist has made me YOUnique, again. It’s opened up doors that I didn’t know existed and others that would have been closed if I were trying to get every type of business.
I feel like I’ve completely rejuvenated my business and I’ve never been more excited to set new goals, strategies and tactics. Even if I fail and small experiments, which happens almost weekly, I am learning and growing from those failures which are getting me closer to where I want to be. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that to attain much means I must risk much. The people and the path I’ve traveled have been much more fun and exciting than doing what I did when I went after everything else others were going after. The risk of not doing anything and just being one of the people in the mob of the masses is now much more of a risk, seeing it from this side.