Mar 12, 2020
Bridal shows seem to have a lukewarm reputation of being successful for wedding industry workers. Some vendors absolutely loathe them and say they are a waste of time. Others, like me, love them and say they are one of the best ways to receive and capture a ton of bookings. But, why does a bridal show feel so iffy? I personally believe you have to set yourself up for success to be successful at one.
Bridal shows are an amazing way for brides to get face to face with a bunch of vendors at once to decide who they like and will ultimately book. These shows typically last for 2-4 hours and you need to be on top of your game the whole time. There are probably a few other vendors there in your same service or niche – what is going to set you apart from the rest?
Imagine spending only four hours chatting with potential clients and then having 10+ couples ready to book with you and pay their deposits! That’s how you should think about bridal shows. Think of all the time you are actually saving in the long run. Here are my tips on making any bridal show a success!
This is easily the most important step and actually starts before you agree to do a bridal show. Research any show you plan to do before you actually sign up. Do you have friends in the industry you could ask about this show? Are their success stories offered by the venue putting on the show? Have you heard through the grapevine this is THE show to be at in the area? If all else fails, if you were a bride, would YOU go to this show? Simply picking the right show could be the make or break factor for success.
Once booked, get your booth area size info as soon as possible and create a display that is both eye-catching and engaging. You want a space that screams “COME TO ME COUPLES,” but also that you are an experienced vendor in your field. This is not the time to go cheap or handmade unless you know it will nail your look. Consider renting pieces from other local vendors to make your booth really unforgettable and sophisticated. Lastly, be sure your booth has examples of your work either in photo form or the actual work. If your product is food-related having samples is a must.
You will be coming in contact with many potential clients so be sure to order business cards, brochures, pricing guides or any other marketing materials you may need. Then double up on business cards. You may be going to a bridal show to book couples, but do not look past the other vendor contacts you will make during set-up and tear-down time, but also during the show. Having that extra vendor to vendor referral leeway could make you bookings for years to come, also you never know if those fellow vendors may need your services for themselves.
Yes, some bridal shows are much more upscale than others, but in any matter you should dress to impress, right? While planning your attire I would stick with your brand’s or booth’s colors to better coordinate. But when it comes to footwear comfort is key. The last thing you want is your focus to be on your aching feet and not the potential couples. Now, this does not mean you should opt to wear your gym kicks, it just means going with flats over heels is most likely the right choice. I also really recommend comfy insoles for any footwear you use. That extra cushion really does put a spring in your step which is exactly what you want on long and busy bridal show days.
During the entire event keep in mind that these couples need vendors, but in no way do they have to book YOU over the next gal. They also are shopping for people to help build an unforgettable day, and your attitude should reflect this. Unfortunately, I have seen fellow vendors totally lose a potential booking by not starting off a conversation with a warm hello, or even having a quick schpiel rehearsed and ready to go. These couples have a lot to see in a short period of time – make a GREAT impression as quickly as possible and then give them the time to ask what they WANT to know. And lastly, never push off one client to accept the next in line, this will most likely turn off both the shoved and accepted clients simultaneously.
This goes hand in hand with the last point, but you need a couple to remember you at the end of the night. This can be done if you made an impression on them through conversation, but you may not have time to do that with every booth visitor. It is always beneficial to take an assistant or employee to also chat with couples when you are busy. Yes, the couples will have your business card and handouts, but there is one surefire way to make someone remember you. Hand out little gifts. These gifts could be promotional items like pens, cups, koozies or the like, but the best ones I have seen have been newlywed tee shirts, bridal shaws, candles and things that the couple can actually use. This way when they get home you can be on their mind time and time again.
Now, I easily saved the most important step for last. Prior to the show, you need to decide how you are going to collect a couple’s information. DO NOT just give them a business card and send them on their way. GET THEIR INFO. I suggest having a list that couples can write their own information on to be emailed pricing and availability for their date. But I recommend taking the extra step and also have a raffle for something free to fill out a card to enter. This way almost everyone who passes will enter their info. Within the next three days, (while you are still fresh in the couple’s mind) actually email or call the couple.
Bridal shows can seem scary, but they are such a great way to market your wedding-related business! So prepare yourself, follow these steps and get ready for bridal show success!
Photography by Anne Casey Photography