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

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7 Days of Bridal Show Success: Day 5

Many people tout the “networking opportunities” as one of the benefits of bridal shows. My opinion is that people should spend all of their time maximizing their exposure to this targeted group of prospective brides and leave the other vendors to do the same. I’ve experienced too many instances of vendors visiting a booth (usually to get some food) and then engaging me to talk about their business all the while I see my prospects pick up a business card then leave because I’m not available to talk with them.  Now don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing wrong with stopping by to say hi.  But I think it’s very inconsiderate to me and the brides who pay to come to the show to get in the way.  Now I am not at all innocent in this and have probably gotten in the way of other vendors at shows but I have vowed to do better.

Network Before and After the Show

One way to reduce the temptation to go around and visit all of your buddies is to plan or attend networking activities before and after the show.  Taking part in organizations like NACE or local groups like WEAM is a good way to build relationships with other vendors and network outside of a bridal show.  I think that bridal show producers (if there are any reading this…hint, hint) should go out of their way to put together networking opportunities, maybe a weekday evening before the show so that we can all get it out of our system and focus on the brides the day of.  A post-show networking event would be a good idea as well.  Maybe a get together for drinks that evening or some other type of informal function would be a way to work on these vendor relationships.  Use the list of vendors available on the website to send a note wishing them success from the show and maybe requesting to meet in person sometime to get to know one another.  I know many people see a bridal show as an opportunity to visit everyone in a single day, to get it out of the way…but what kind of relationship can you really build in a few short moments, once or twice a year?  The better plan for networking is to do it throughout the year so that you can just say hi and move on at the show.

Be set up early

Again, this is something I’ve been working on.  I remember one year receiving a call from a frantic show producer asking me if I was even coming because it was an hour out and I was still at the shop loading up.  Luckily, there were other vendors who were ready to go that jumped in and helped us get set up on time.  They put themselves in a position to help us by being ready early.  I’m sure this wasn’t a strategic move to make them look good but the result was that their good deed improved our relationship immensely   I was very appreciative of their help and have had a great relationship with them ever since.  If you get set up early, you can walk around to see what everyone else is doing, say hi, jump in and help, exchange business cards, etc. without taking away from the valuable time with the brides.  It also doesn’t look so good to the brides if you’re running around frantic finishing up when they’re standing there waiting to talk to you.

Be careful with the food

For years when I’ve calculated how much food or cake to bring, I’ve always had to add extra to account for the vendors that come by.  Now I love going around and trying other people’s food and cupcakes just as much as anyone else but, being a caterer and understanding the costs associated with samples, I’m careful to only go once, wait until the end  of the day, wait until that person’s booth is slow or empty, and ask permission to try the samples they provided for the brides.  I think other vendors appreciate this consideration and they are usually happy to share their goodies with me.  Make plans for lunch at the show so that you’re not tempted to take more than you should.  Also, do not eat in your booth…it’s rude.  If you’ve planned for enough staff at the show, you can go to the food court area or your car to eat, leaving your booth well staffed.

Don’t go to the show and waste people’s time if you’re not in it

If you’re not participating in the show, don’t go to it to network, distribute business cards, and try to conduct business.  When people do this, it makes me so mad.  Here I’ve spent a lot of time and money to be where I am and they think they can derive some type of benefit from being there without paying/participating.  This behavior is disrespectful to the producer, the vendors, and the brides that are at the show and it will not get your on any of my preferred lists…I actually will throw your business card away and forget that we ever even talked…is that too harsh?

Now if you’re visiting the show to determine whether you should participate or not, that’s different.  Be sensitive to the time the vendors have and maybe even approach them with questions after the show instead of during the show.  Stay on the sidelines and let the people who payed to play give it their all.

Tomorrow we’ll go over the plan for the bridal show itself as well as a couple other tips I’ve picked up.  Thanks for reading…please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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