Promote your blog. Remember that “Bridal Wars” giveaway I mentioned above? Well we decided to take photos of brides/friends and put it on the blog to VOTE for the best photo. Our blog traffic went through the roof that week and several months afterwards. So simple, and it totally worked. We now hear from brides that show up at our booth that they faithfully read our blog. Which is a great form of marketing for our business.
Bring your Calendar. Depending on your type of wedding business it will depend on whether you will actually BOOK new clients at the show. DJ’s, bakers, some photographers and other vendors that offer package pricing can book clients at shows. As wedding planners, we do not bring one single contract to the show. We want appointments. Usually we ask the bride (if the conversation is going well) if we can contact them later to set an appointment or schedule the consult on the spot. EVERY vendor is vying for their attention so our approach is a “soft one”, not pushy at all. We ask to contact them. I will carry a notebook and may write down their name so I can flag them later for follow-up or at least remember the conversation. It’s really your choice, but I find that being respectful of them and their time is a much better approach.
Discounting. Not a huge fan of this concept. For one, we have many clients that will walk through the show and come to see us. (Which is awesome, by the way. Nothing like an excited bride running up and hugging you in FRONT of other potential brides.) I would hate to see a full-priced client walk in and see a published discount. But again, for some vendors this works. If you are going to offer a show discount, be very specific with a limited time frame. I think the best way to discount is wait to send out personalized information to brides after the show when you have collected the attendee database.
Show Follow-Up: We have found that direct snail mail marketing is “zzzzzzzzzzzzzz” and costly. So we use email marketing. Be sure that you have permission to email the show attendees. A good idea is to create your email campaign while you are preparing for the show. How many times are you too tired after a big bridal show or you are moving on to the next big project, that the email campaign gets lost in the shuffle. If you are interested in getting more business, be sure to have a sales “hook” in the email campaign otherwise you should simply look at it as a branding campaign.
I received some questions from a reader who is about to embark on her FIRST Bridal Show. Sweet!
This blog post won’t get into the controversy of whether you should actually participate in bridal shows or not. EVERY market is different. Â For us, a few of the elite bridal shows work well. Yes, they are exhausting but the way we go about it, people (vendors and clients) remember our booth FOR YEARS. We closed the deal with a bride this year who visited our booth 2 years ago! We can work a bridal show….
So here are a few best practices that we have found work well if you decide to participate in a bridal show:
Create a dramatic affect. I think that most event professionals concentrate so much on their booth collateral that they skimp on the actual “booth decor”. You have seconds to capture someone’s attention. You want them to stop and say “Oooooohhh” and walk into your booth. Use color, texture, unusual seating arrangements. Make the most of your space and make sure it is open to draw people in. NEVER stand behind a table. Put your visuals behind you and talk/meet/greet your new client. Create your own banner with your logo. Rent linens to cover the white skirted table. BE DIFFERENT and plan ahead!
Staff your booth. Do not work your booth by yourself, even if you are a single person operation. When first starting out, I actually paid friends who were in the “sales” field to help me at my booth. I didn’t care whether they knew about event planning or not. They knew how to talk to people and draw them in. You must have 2-3 people. Remember there are bathroom breaks, food breaks, etc. You never want your booth to be empty.
Show up early. Take the time to network with other vendors before the show starts. This is an opportunity to get face-to-face time with many vendors, which is priceless. Help them with their setup if you are already completed. Don’t miss this easy networking opportunity.
Offer a giveaway. But hopefully the giveaway can lead to more business. For instance, we gave away a “head table decor” once…. with the thought that the design consult would lead us to designing the whole event. Or just giveaway something fun! We offered tickets to see “Bride Wars” when the movie was just coming out. It went over so well!!! Talk to local businesses and see if they will give away a free night at a hotel in *trade for a promotion at your booth. *Be sure to talk to the bridal show producers, sometimes they won’t allow this.
Come back tomorrow for FOUR Â more tips on working Bridal Shows.
One of the toughest things in an economy like ours is to not have the phone ring or have potential clients not contacting/calling. I was talking to a local photographer who was obviously discouraged that his phone hadn’t been ringing. “I don’t understand it,” he told me, “I’ve done three bridal shows and no one is contacting me.”
I asked him, “What are you doing to work the leads from the show?”, knowing that we receive all the attendee lists with email/snail mail addresses. Unfortunately, he hadn’t done much of anything with all those potential leads.
With the economy the way it is, it’s not enough to simply sit back and let your work speak for itself. Right now it is more important to set yourself apart from your competition. What are you doing to add more value to your current services? Are there value-added items/services that you can add without it impacting your bottom line? This is a much better solution instead of panicking and lowering your prices (but we’ll talk about that subject in a totally different article).
It’s always important to work your leads. If you have done a bridal show, are you using an email software such as Constant Contact or Emma to send out information to brides after the show? Using this kind of marketing campaign it’s important to not be pushy or over selling yourself. However, this is a perfect opportunity to let brides know of your value-added services that you are doing for your business. Let them know if you’ve recently been in the news, won an award or other recognition. Give out tips or something that would be interesting to a bride/groom. Promote your blog with a giveaway. This marketing is putting your business in front of a potential client. In fact, in advertising it is called Top of Mind Awareness or TOMA.
You never know when a client will want to make a decision to use your services. You’ll want your business name to “pop” into their head when they are starting the interview process.
Networking is another great tool. There is the social media avenues such as; Twitter and Facebook. But don’t forget your local vendors. Get involved with a local charity and groups that meet. Donate your services to a non-profit group that will get your business name out there to people and gain some free exposure. It’s good for your business as well as, helping others will make you feel great.
i plan spectacular events for a living. i usually say what everyone else is thinking. i've been fortunate to have been trained by some of the best when it comes to sales. i love to teach. come in and stay awhile, or better ... come see me in person speak. i would love to have a drink with you. xx saundra