A few weeks ago, a question was posted on LinkedIn by a wedding vendor asking for advice for her very first bridal show. Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, follow these bridal show tips from real wedding pros to make the most of your experience.
1. Have a booth that stands out from the crowd and announces what you do immediately.
Go VERTICAL if you can because tall booths stand out from across the room.
“Lots of booths look exactly the same and you NEED to stand out because there will be many people in your same industry there.” Sharon Seleb, Real Size Bride
“use a different color drop cloth over the standard linens, turn it on a diagonal. Try something that’s vertical standing at about 2-3′ from the top of the table (lights, candle centerpiece, floral design)” Linda Ruckdeschel, The Bridal Connection
2. Give away something people will want.
Cool freebies and sweets work well. The idea is to give away something that will draw brides to your booth. James Clark of A Classic Image Photography suggests decorative, magnetic clothes pins that will hold a business card and letter on pastel paper that can be reused to pin photos on the fridge. One DJ gave away bobblehead toys that were a huge hit!
Make sure that whatever you give away has your business name and contact information on it for extra promotion, a reminder from Jacqueline Johnson of Marry Caribbean.
3. Collect your own leads (name, wedding date, email) with a contest at your booth.
Invite brides/grooms to enter a drawing for a valuable prize that has no strings attached. In other words, they don’t have to book you to use it, because it will attract more entries.
“We exhibited at 4 wedding shows last year and we partnered up with other businesses to give a romantic meal for two plus and overnight stay in a top hotel…entrants [had] to go on to our website and enter a drawing. It was a great success…” Patrick Hardiman, 360 Dublin City
4. Qualify people immediately when they get to your booth to make sure you’re available and they actually need your services.
“What’s your date? Are you looking for a florist?” If not, wish them well and move on quickly so that you can meet as many people as possible.
“Think about offering a Show Special…some sort of discount or freebie if the book an appointment with you,” Peter Calafiore, Peter James Floral
5. Set goals. Go for a meeting rather than trying to book right at the show.
“I have seen folks work for 15 – 30 minutes trying to get one client to sign on the line, and 20 clients walked by…. Talk to as many as you can, do follow up and then set meetings to sign the paperwork and close the sale….” Rev. Richard Kresila, Elyria Wedding Minister
6. Be friendly, approachable and engage the bride/groom and stand in front of your table.
“Be sure to stand up during the expo and do not cross your arms. You would be amazed at the negative impact such body language has on a bride’s willingness to talk to you.” – Pat Deschler, A Classic Florist
“Be friendly, smile, stand, engage and let them know that you are there to help them find what they are looking for.” Margo Sokol, Beyond Bridal Productions
7. Bring your own food and water.
Don’t count on getting fed or you could get caught stuffing your face when a bride wants to talk to you. If you need to take a break, step away from your booth.
“Your voice will get a workout that day. You will be talking a lot, loud and all day. Keep water on hand. Have throat lozenges with you…” Roxanne Buffone, Veils by Roxanne
8. Stay all the way until the end and don’t leave your booth.
Packing up early looks unprofessional, and there are always couples who come in at the very end. If you abandon your booth during the bridal show, you’ll miss out on the “quiet time” to speak one on one with the couples who are still browsing.
9. Network and introduce yourself to as many other wedding pros as possible.
One of the biggest benefits of a bridal show is that it gives you a chance to network with dozens of other wedding vendors.
Arrive extra early so that you can meet new people and reconnect with other pros. Try to find a way to help them and follow up with them after the show. This builds relationships that lead to referrals.
10. After the show, follow up fast!
Most of the work is done after the show. Send a postcard with an images that reminds brides of your booth, and include a personal note. Confirm any appointments you’ve set.
Read this article for more about how to follow up with that bridal show lead list.
What’s your best bridal show success tip?