I’m sure you will have heard by now, but Rock n Roll Bride is partnering with the National Wedding Show, the UK’s biggest bridal event, to host an area for alternative suppliers in the spring. It’s VERY exciting indeed!
The exhibitor stands are filling up fast, and today I wanted to share some of my top tips for those of you wanting to come along and showcase your products or services. If you’ve ever wondered why some companies seem to be overrun with business after doing just one show a year, whereas others struggle to get any bookings from them, read on!
Before the show
Invest in your stand
Exhibiting at wedding shows can be expensive, not only is there the cost of the stand itself to consider, but there’s the travel and accommodation around it, as well as decking out your space and printing any marketing materials. However its true what they say, you have to speculate to accumulate and you really do get out what you put in.
If you just turn up and plonk your products on a table in front of you, don’t be surprised if you don’t get an amazing reaction, especially if the person next to you has gone all out on the décor and props! Even if their product or service is inferior to yours, if they’ve made an effort with their stand, they are going to get more people stopping by to have a look.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you do need to get creative and put some effort in. In a sea of boring, bland, white on white on white stands, people will FLOCK to you if yours offers something interesting and different (even if its just to borrow your decoration ideas for their weddings) Hey, there’s no shame in hooking them in with your amazing-looking stand and then starting to talk to them about what you do.
Research the market
It is vital that you know what kind of audience the show is going to attract. Ask the organisers for information on the kind of brides and grooms that usually attend. Are they having city weddings or countryside ones? What’s the age range? How far in advance are they planning? What are their budgets? It is up to the organisers to know all this so that you can plan accordingly.
Not only will this information give you an idea of which of your products or services might be most attractive to them (remember you don’t have to bring along everything you’ve ever made!) but on the day it will also enable you to speak to them in a language they understand.
Before you book your spot, don’t be shy about asking the organisers what they can do for you too. Find out where they’ll be marketing the show to ensure they get a good turn out on the day (wedding blogs and magazines, national press, radio, TV, email newsletters, social media?)
Be sure to also find out what your booking includes. Will your name be mentioned in any marketing? What about on the programme of the day? Where will your stand be located? Does your booking including a plug, tablecloths or any furniture? Some wedding shows will give you a booth and nothing else, others will provide a table but no sockets or walls. Does the venue have WiFi? Can you contribute items to the goodie bags?
Promote the show yourself
Getting people through the door is the job of the show’s marketing department, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help out too! Make sure you’re promoting the event on your own website and social media, and let your clients know about it. It could be a great opportunity for those that have already booked you to come along and meet you, and anyone that’s following you online also might be interested in attending if they know you’re going to be there.
During the show
Offer a show-only discount or deal
People LOVE a discount so offering a ‘show-only’ deal is a great way to encourage people to book or buy then and there. Research shows that a discount has to be significant to really make an impact, 10% off probably isn’t enticing enough for people to make a quick decision (unless you are selling really big ticket items and the saving will be significant), but a 30% reduction probably will!
If you don’t want to discount, you could always included something extra instead, such as free shipping if they purchase on the day, or a little gift.
Be memorable but not OTT
As I mentioned earlier, its vitally important to make an effort with how your stand looks so you stand out, but you yourself must also be memorable!
Never just sit, watching people go by. There’s a fine line between being enthusiastic and friendly and annoying and pushy, but you do need to be on your feet, smiling at people as they walk past and trying to encourage them to chat. The British are notoriously reserved so this can be tricky at first (for both exhibitors and attendees) but do persevere! After a while you’ll get into a flow and it will feel less awkward. Remember, no-one is going to come up to you if you’re sat on your phone, or chatting to your friend at the next stand.
Here’s another little pro-tip for free, please, for the love of all things holy, think of a more interesting opening line than “So… when are you getting married?” Couples will have heard that so many times that they’ll probably start to tune it out. How about asking people what their favourite thing about wedding planning is? Or what they’d buy for the wedding if money was no object? You could even offer them a cheeky cocktail (have a stash at the back of your stand!) Honestly, they’ll probably be so stunned that you seem like a normal human being that they won’t be able to help themselves but stop and talk to you!
Host a workshop or seminar
A lot of wedding fairs put on workshops or seminars that attendees can book into. Why not speak to the organisers and see if you could sign up to host something? Not only are they great ways to interact with potential clients, but they showcase your product or services in a really organic, non-sleazy way.
In the past I’ve taken part in flower crown workshops, watched make up demonstrations, and once I even got to paint (and then keep!) a pair of shoes. But one of the best I’ve ever been to was a wine tasting, and let me tell you, it was PACKED. I mean, who doesn’t want to try some free wine!? The person putting it on was also offering discounted bottles if you bought them then and there and you know what, even though I wasn’t looking to place a bulk order for a wedding, I left with two!
Network with other suppliers
Wedding shows are a great place to meet other wedding suppliers. In this industry a lot of opportunities that come your way will be because of who you know, so don’t be shy, go up and talk to other people exhibiting at the show and make some new friends!
After the show
Track return on investment (ROI)
Its important to keep track of how many bookings you get off the back of the show. This will let you to know if it was worth doing or not, and whether you might want to do it again. Be sure to ask anyone that books or enquires with you how they heard about you.
Collect email addresses and follow up
Email marketing is not dead. In fact, at a time where people seem to be getting more and more exhausted with social media, it’s more effective than ever.
A photographer friend once told me that one of the best things she ever did after a wedding show was to follow up with people over email. Rather than discussing her pricing on the day, she asked people to leave their email address, telling them she would follow up the next week with her brochure. Then, as soon as the couple left her booth she wrote a few notes about them so she could remember who they were (“he has a big beard and wore a checked shirt”, “she has pink hair”, “they’re getting married in a cemetery”, “they love cats”).
Then, and this is the truly genius part, when she came to email them, not only did she send over her price list but she made the message really personal (“Hey Mark and Jane, it was so lovely to meet you this weekend. I’m so excited about potentially shooting your cemetery wedding and the more I think about it, the more I think you should definitely have Fluffy the cat as your flower girl! By the way, Jane, what hair dye do you use? I’m thinking of a change of colour!”)
Doing this resulted in her getting way more bookings than she ever had before from a single show because not only were the couple able to review her (beautifully designed) brochure and prices in their own time and without the pressure of her standing there, but they felt extra connected to her because she clearly knew who they were and cared about their wedding. She also started a genuine conversation (by asking questions) with them over email meaning they are way more likely to reply.
I often hear from suppliers that wedding fairs don’t work. However like any marketing, a wedding show can only do so much for you. Getting your business in front of people is easy, its what you do next that matters the most!
Join me and 16,000 potential customers at the Rock n Roll Bride Collection at The National Wedding Show!
Rock n Roll Bride is partnering with The National Wedding Show to create The Rock n Roll Bride Collection, a dedicated area for alternative wedding suppliers, at their Spring 2016 shows. With an average of SIXTEEN THOUSAND attendees in London alone, this is one marketing opportunity you are not going to want to miss!
The shows are taking place in Manchester on 20-21st February, London from 26-28th February and Birmingham on March 4-6th, and at every one there will be a dedicated area for alternative suppliers, hosted by yours truly.
The Rock n Roll Bride Collection will be a carefully curated area where only the most awesome wedding suppliers are allowed. The area within the show will showcase anything from outrageous bridal gowns to quirky wedding cakes, stationery, jewellery, photography, and much, much, more! So if you do something a little bit weird, a little bit wacky and something definitely left-field, then we want to hear from you!
To apply for one of the limited number of stands, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 772 8455.