This post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.
Bridal shows are an extremely important part of today’s wedding industry. They are the major platform that gets couples off of their computer screens and face to face with wedding professionals. However, many wedding businesses are disillusioned that their mere participation in a bridal show automatically leads to booking weddings. This article will help clear up some misconceptions and include an action plan to getting the best return from bridal show participation.
Misconception #1: “Bigger is not always better”
While the prospect of participating at shows with thousands of attendees is exciting, smaller bridal shows often offer Pros a greater possibility of quality contact with potential clients. It is good practice to be mindful of the show’s ratio; a show that has 75 attendees should not have 40 vendors exhibiting. There just are not enough opportunities for vendors if the attendee to vendor ratio is less than 4 to 1.
Here are several alternative formats that give vendors high visibility at a small show for the best bridal show ROI:
- Mock Wedding: Usually organized by an entertainment company, this showcase invites a smaller group to experience what it would like to be a guest at their own wedding. It is a collaboration of wedding professionals who simulate the entire experience but narrate as it is being done. At that type of event there is usually exclusivity among vendors and a well – executed event can create a high percentage of attendees hiring many of the attending vendors.
- Wedding Seminar Event: If you are part a seminar event that educates couples about wedding planning, you are being perceived as an expert while showcasing your services or products. You may have a small attendance but book a high percentage of the attendees.
Misconception #2: “Brides will remember seeing me at the show and contact me when they are ready to book”
Many vendors make that mistake and fail to do the necessary follow-up to maximize the amount of business from show participation. It is important to have a strategy in place.
It starts with deciding how you are going to promote your business in your exhibition space. Do something that stands out and can be referenced in follow-up mailers, phone calls, and emails to the mailing list that you may receive at the show or compiled from registrations at your booth. It is especially important that you know who visited your booth.
Examples of how to do this differ depending on your product or service category. I used to give out hotel room door hangers that said “Just Married – Go Away.” It would get a chuckle out of almost every attendee. Things like that stand out and build instant rapport, giving you a good chance of getting the appointment to investigate your services.
Misconception #3: “All brides that attend bridal shows are just beginning the wedding planning”
There is actually no pattern as to when or why an engaged person attends a bridal show. Some love attending shows specifically to enter to win prizes. Others are only there to see the fashion show or to watch a band or DJ live they are considering hiring.
Some attendees have yet to set a firm date, while others already have their ceremony and reception planned along with other services that get accomplished early in the planning stage. As anyone in the wedding industry knows, there is great disparity in the planning time and order of services accomplished by individuals.
To maximize the benefit of show participation, a commitment must be made to do an integrated follow-up campaign, combining mail, phone and email done repetitively. Also, pay attention to the quality of your mailing pieces and the wording you choose for emails and calls, as those can significantly affect your ultimate bridal show ROI for each event.