Bridal Show Tips for Vendors
No matter how the wedding industry evolves, bridal shows remain a staple among marketing options for event professionals. They are highly anticipated by couples and vendors alike. Exhibiting at a bridal show nearly always require a significant investment of time and money, so you need to understand how to adequately prepare for your next booth to ensure an acceptable ROI.
Choose the Right Show for You
Not all bridal shows are created equal. Factors to consider when you are selecting the right show for you include:
- How is the show marketed to couples? Social media only? Television and radio ads? Ask the producer to share the basics of the marketing plan with you. View any available advertisements and make sure the quality and message is in line with your business image. Find out which regions will be targeted for attendance and make sure yours are fully covered and included.
- How old is the show? Is this its first year? Tenth? Over time, bridal shows develop followings and attendance generally builds.
- Who generally attends the show you are considering. Is demographic data from recent past shows available?
- How many couples are expected to attend, and how has the producer arrived at that estimate?
- Is the show free to attend or are tickets sold? When a couple has to purchase a ticket, they are generally more serious about attending and interacting with vendors than those who attend for free.
- Are vendor reviews of the show available? Is it well-received and reputable?
- How much does it cost to be an exhibitor? Is there anything in addition to booth space rental that you will need to pay for? Are there additional fees for electricity, or are you required to provide a door prize? Make sure that the overall cost of participation is in line with your marketing plan.
As an exhibitor you are both a customer and vital piece of the marketing engine behind a successful bridal show. In additions to the efforts you can expect from a show’s production team, there are many ways that you can promote an event to couples who are considering your services. You can also invite those couples who have already booked you, and who you would like to see some of your preferred colleagues in action. Some of the ways that you can promote a bridal show in which you are participating include:
- Sharing your complimentary tickets
- Supplying the show’s registration forms
- Emailing your prospects and current clients with the show details, including date, time, location and necessary ticket information
- Including a mention of the show and the pertinent details in your email signature
- Displaying signage in your other show booths that mentions your upcoming “appearances” with their dates
- Blogging the event
- Connect with the show’s Facebook page, if applicable, and share its event notifications with your friends
- Customize your Twitter background to include the show’s information and a link where interested couples can register
Participating in a bridal show gives you an opportunity to show off your best work in all of its glorious detail. Your booth design is not something you want to leave for the last-minute. Make sure that you:
- Do your pre-show research. Find out what the venue is like, get a layout of the show so you know how guests will navigate through all of the booths
- If possible, attend the same show in advance to see how it works.
- Consider a corner booth, if available. You will have more display space and be easily seen by customers approaching from most directions.
- Go for the premium space (register early to make sure you’re given first consideration). Traffic is everything at a bridal show and there are definitely “dead” areas or zones of doom!
There are many things you need to know to have the best and most effective bridal show experience. Don’t be afraid to ask!
- When does load-in begin?
- Where should you park and enter the venue?
- Who should you see when you arrive?
- What are the exact specifications of your booth?
- Is electricity available and does it involve an extra fee?
- What is provided (table, chairs, pipe and drape)?
- Order your collateral materials such as brochures and business cards well enough in advance that you it will be delivered in time (even better, order early enough that you can request changes if something is printed wrong).
- Submit booth requests, rental orders, staffing requests, and the like in advance. Avoid last-minute requests as they are most likely not to go quite right.
Event Day Tips
The big day has arrived and you’ve done everything in your power to be ready to rock and roll. There are a few more steps you can take to ensure that the day is smooth and successful:
- Allow yourself plenty of time to set up and prepare. If vendors are allowed to arrive 3 hours early, be 3 hours early.
- Stay excited all day. We know it gets tiring mustering enthusiasm, but you want to be as welcoming to the last visitor as you were to the first.
- Ask the right questions – avoid yes or no inquiries and instead ask open-ended questions that allow you to get know your prospects.
- Qualify visitors. Some people simply aren’t going to be great matches for you and you don’t want to invest too much valuable time talking to them for hours or planning elaborate follow up. Know who you are looking for and ask the questions that will eliminate bad matches (while being friendly and polite to everyone!).
- Make appointments – you can only spend so much time with prospects at a show, so be prepared to make appointments to continue your conversations.
- Capture contact information at your booth – don’t leave the responsibility for following up to your prospects. Get their contact details so you can take the next step for them.
- Don’t sit down. Ever. Just don’t.
- Never pack up early. A) It looks bad. B) You probably signed an agreement to that effect, and you don’t want to be the one that doesn’t follow through.
Finally, have a follow up plan. Craft an email to remind couples that you met and that you’re excited to hear from them. Confirm the appointments that you made at the show. Reach out! If you follow these tips, your next bridal show experience will be your best ever!