It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy show. Decide what your goals are before you arrive and write them down.
- Do you want to lock-in a handful of brides and have them sign on the dotted line? - Do you want to be remembered – and therefore considered as a potential vendor – by the happy couple after the show has ended?
Having defined, measurable goals and desired outcomes will help keep you focused during the exhibition.
Stand Out in the Crowd
In an exhibition hall with hundreds of vendors, it’s important to make your booth stand out in the crowd. Think of creative ways to differentiate your space from those around you. Use custom linens in eye-catching colors, vary the level of your props and displays to create dimension, bring your own lighting to set a different look and feel, etc.
Bring Your Best
Even if your staff is small (but mighty), it’s important you bring the best people with you to the show. Amy might be an incredible asset when it comes to the nitty gritty details of wedding coordinating, but isn’t all that comfortable talking to strangers and showcasing your brand. Handpick your most knowledgeable and qualified staff members to help run your booth – it will allow your services and professionalism to shine!
Network, Network, Network
The best-of-the-best from your industry are standing in that room – introduce yourself, get to know them, and share your business card with them. Sure, you might be vying for business from the same group of brides but there’s no need to get overly competitive. Every wedding professional has their own style, niche market, and bride-type, and if you happen to meet a couple that doesn’t quite work for you but might fit seamlessly with another, consider making the introduction. Building relationships – with brides and other professionals – will lead to referrals and future business.
Know Your Audience
Consider what time of year it is when planning for a show and converse with brides and couples accordingly. Are you exhibiting at the first show of the New Year? Your brides are probably very recently engaged and in the earliest stages of wedding planning. Are you at a spring show? Brides might be looking to lock-in those final vendors for their Summer or Fall wedding. Depending on the time of year, focus your conversations on educating the bride on your services and what sets you apart from other professionals in your industry. Offer to put them in touch with past clients to give the bride a more personalized “review” of their experience working with you.
Take advantage of just how connected these brides are to their cell phones and social networks! Utilize social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat at the event (but don’t let it distract you from your predetermined goals). If you meet an awesome bride, tweet about it. Post a selfie with a group of enthusiastic mothers-of-the-bride (with their permission, of course). Interact with the brides and their bridal entourages in a way that’s meaningful to them. Also, be sure to ask the show coordinators if there is a handle or hashtag you should include in your posts – the more connected the better!
Give Away Something Useful and Branded
Excited brides love filling their bags with lots of little goodies from the show. If you’re going to have a giveaway item, make sure it’s branded with your logo, website, phone number, or even Instagram handle, and that it's something they’ll actually use, like a reusable wine cork, water bottle, or a notepad.
Collect Information for a Special Drawing
In addition to a freebie giveaway item, have a larger, more desirable prize available as a raffle item, such as a nice bottle of champagne or a gift card for a date night a local restaurant. Use this as a way to collect brides’ information with no strings attached. Offering a show discount on your services with a expiration date to encourage action but avoid a "book today" only special which might dissuade a bride from submitting their information on-site. If they do decide to book with you in the future, the “show special” will help you track where your referral came from.
Follow Up – with Brides and Fellow Vendors
Send a handwritten note or a small gift - with your business card, of course - to particularly interested brides and fellow vendors you connected with at the show. It only takes a few minutes but can have a lasting impact when it comes to future business, referrals, etc. Follow up within 1-3 days so you’re still fresh in their mind.
Assess Your Success
Look back at that list of goals you made prior to the show. Did you network with the right brides and fellow wedding professionals? Did you obtain contact information from the desired number of people? Did you set up and staff your booth in the best way possible? What key learning did you have you? What might you have done differently? Honestly assess the show – both successes and misses an applied what you learned to your next event.