Marketing Ideas for Wedding Professionals...From a Wedding Professional!!!

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7 Days of Bridal Show Success: Day 1

It’s almost a new year….time to start reflecting one what went well and what we want to go well in 2013.  It’s also a unique time for our market….this is when people are getting engaged and starting to plan for their weddings.  It’s by no coincidence that wedding shows and bridal fairs spring up in great numbers this time of year.  In Memphis, we’ll have 4 or 5 in the coming months.  So I thought it would be appropriate to write about some of the ways we’ve been successful (or not so successful) in years past with bridal shows.

First, a little background…

We’ve been doing these things for over 10 years.  I attribute our successful entry into the wedding market to the bridal show.  Back then, things were simpler.  We were the new company coming out in force with great prices (although way too cheap) and great ideas.  There wasn’t as much noise in the market as brides relied more on magazines and in person meetings than social media and Google.  We were successful and booked a lot of weddings, just because we were there.  There was no follow up plan.  There was no social media strategy.  We just showed up and did what we did.  Well, as the years went by, this was not sustainable.  We found our ROI to be less than desirable and obviously it was the bridal show’s fault because we were still doing the same things so something on their end had to have changed! (just a little sarcasm).  So we pulled out of bridal shows for a couple years.  Luckily, we had a great website and were marketing in other ways so our business was not really affected.  However, I was always nervous that we should have been at the show and were handing over prospects to our competitors who were present.  Then, a few years ago, we decided to give it another go.  This time, with a plan in place, we did the show and booked 6 weddings from it.  After refining that plan, we did another in January 2012 and booked 12!  In retrospect, I have pulled out some of the most prominent ideas behind my bridal show plan to share over the next 7 days.

So here we go…

Tip #1: Plenty of Staff

Bridal shows are expensive.  It’s easy to want to cut show costs, especially after writing that big check to the show promoter.  However, if you are cutting costs, don’t skimp on staffing!  The bridal show is all about the experience.  You want prospects to leave feeling good about you, your company, and the experience they have with you there.  If you’re the only one there and too busy cutting pieces of cake or hiding behind a camera instead of engaging with prospects, you’re missing an opportunity.  I can’t tell you how many times I have kicked myself because we were short staffed and I was unable to really interact with the people visiting our booth.  Planning for enough staff helps you to maximize your time with the brides.  There will always be those times where the rush of people makes it difficult to get to everyone but the more people you have there, the better chances you have to connect with good prospects.

Obviously, if you have salespeople, they need to be present.  If you are the only salesperson (as many are), some of your regular staff members will do.  If you don’t have any employees, ask a family member or even hire a past client to be there to help you represent your company.  Give the inexperienced ones a script and teach them about how to identify your ideal prospect.  Make sure that the ones they feel good about get sent over to you before they go on to the next booth.  I’ve had some of our servers work with us before at a bridal show and they’ve done great.  It actually ended up being a great opportunity for them to become more emotionally invested in the business and more interested in our customers (especially the ones they helped us book).

A couple other notes…

Dress and Appearance:  Everyone should be dressed consistently.  You are setting the image of your company with every detail, including your dress and appearance.  In the past, we’ve done the shirt and tie thing and the uniform thing.  For some reason, our prospects have responded more when we’re in uniform…usually a black chef’s coat with our logo.

Sitting vs. Standing:  Never, ever, ever sit behind a table and speak to the brides and their families while you look up at them.  The point is to engage with them…to begin to build a relationship with them.  Get the table and chairs out of there.  Wear better shoes or invest in cushioned trade show flooring.  If you need to take a break and get off your feet, go somewhere else.  Remember, you should have enough staff there to cover for you.

Smokers Beware:  Or should I say be AWARE that the smell of smoke on your breath and clothes is not at all pleasant.   You don’t want someone leaving your booth with only the memory of the smell of cigarette smoke.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to hate on smokers.  I’m just saying that putting your best foot forward with prospects means you have to be your best, look your best, and smell your best, or your true message of value may not show through.

That’s it for today…tomorrow we’ll talk about the importance of the wow factor.

Any comments?  I’d love to hear what you think.


Featured Image by bunchesandbits