Business > Merchant Voice

The challenge of setting up a second website

There must be many businesses that launch with a specific customer target market in mind, and then receive orders from quite different groups.

When I launched My Wedding Décor in April 2015, I thought only of selling wedding decorations to couples. I described this a few months ago, in “Wedding rentals (and order thresholds) boost revenue.”

But my first order in May 2015, three weeks after launching, was from a Sydney event management company. This amazed me and, especially, my husband.

My next corporate event orders were in October 2015, shortly after launching my rental service.

Over the next six months, I noticed an evolving sales pattern: corporate event rental orders were large and increasingly from repeat customers, while bridal purchases and rental orders were small, frequent, and one-time.

In February 2016, I speculatively bought the domain name to lock out the competition.

In July 2016, following the launch of my redesigned website, which attempted to appeal to both bridal and corporate customers, I embarked on a six-month search-engine-optimization strategy to strengthen My Wedding Décor rankings on Google.

By October 2016, corporate clients comprised 62 percent of my business. I wanted to rename my website from My Wedding Décor to My Event Décor in 2017 once the busy (Southern Hemisphere) 2016-2017 summer-Christmas-wedding-corporate party season passed.

And then two weeks ago, I received a call from a Brisbane-based event manager wanting my help for a Sydney accounting expo in March 2017. I was more than alarmed because she began the phone call with, “I’m sorry to bother you, because I know you just specialize in weddings.”

Arghhh! How many other event managers had assumed my business was dedicated to weddings and bypassed me for décor hire companies that overtly targeted corporate orders?

There was no time to waste. I had to re-launch the My Wedding Décor site before I lost any more corporate business.

But before I could re-launch the site, I needed to get the My Event Décor logo designed.

I used 99designs, the Melbourne, Australia-based design-contest website, from which I chose the winning logo from 70 designs in four days.

The new logo retains the monochromatic color scheme and is a modification of my existing logo. This hopefully helps customers recognize my company after the name changed from My Wedding Décor to My Event Décor.

I naively thought all I had to do was re-logo, re-label, and re-launch as My Event Décor with a 301 permanent redirect for all My Wedding Décor URLs.

But then my website designer ran a Google report and warned me I could lose massive — and hard-won — page rankings by doing this and thus suffer a huge drop in traffic, and sales.

So now I will launch as my second website in late January.

Those items that are overtly bridal — such as wedding aisle carpet runners, wishing wells, chuppahs, cake toppers, and stationery — will be featured solely on My Wedding Décor.

The descriptions for items that suit both bridal and corporate business will be revised accordingly for both websites.

My Wedding Décor will continue to sell and rent products. But after discovering only a fraction of rentals are made by brides outside the state of Victoria, I have decided that wedding rentals will become restricted to Melbourne (in Victoria), where I live.

My Event Décor will expand its rental range in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and even Australia-wide with items more likely to appeal to corporate event planners, who regularly plan events in other cities.

Have you ever launched a second website to appeal to a different customer niche?

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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