Wedding Magician BristolOctober 3, 2014
Each year hundreds of wedding fairs take place around the country, with thousands of potential clients looking to spend their money. If this is the case, how come some vendors don't have much luck at these events, whilst others have a resounding success? It is good to have a strategy when going into these events, so here are a few tips on how to make the most of your exhibition!
Things to do:
First and foremost: SMILE! You will come across as friendly, approachable and enthusiastic about what you do, so couples are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Remember that first impressions count, so if you're sitting in the corner quietly, looking distracted or disinterested, clients will think this is a reflection of your business. Try to establish yourself as an expert in your field by being informative, rather than just trying to push sales. You are an ambassador for your work, so make sure you present yourself as happy and professional!
Ask questions! If you enquire about people's wedding plans and ideas, not only will you start to understand your client base better so be able to tailor what you do to suit them, but you will come across as genuinely interested. By caring about the bride-to-be, you are more likely to be memorable because of your personal touch.
Carefully choose the location of your stall beforehand, if you can. You want as high a volume of passing traffic as possible, but try to avoid being 'out the way', or near doorways, exits or toilets.
Take along plenty of promotional fliers or business cards to hand out. Visitors will see many other stallholders, so don't rely on their memories alone - give them something to jog their memories once they return home! You could even add them to goody bags, to make sure that the couples see them, rather than losing them in the bottom of a handbag!
Be strategic about giving away your marketing materials. They are expensive, so there's no point in handing out your most costly promotional DVDs to window shoppers, and simple business cards to serious customers. You will have to judge how likely each potential customer is to lead to actual business, so take into consideration their level of interest, as well as the wedding location and time left until the Big Day. It may be worth keeping your best freebies in the back, for real potential customers only! If you can persuade them to exchange their contact details for a better freebie, it's win-win; they will appreciate the special treatment, and you make contacts without wasting money! For the very best potential clients only, be outrageous when it comes to marketing. Throw everything you've got at them! If you're a baker, send them a box of cupcakes; if you're a florist, send them a beautiful bouquet. It is guaranteed to make an impact! This method may be expensive, but it will be worth it as you will reap the rewards when it comes to bookings.
Some wedding fairs will give you an attendance list, whish is a huge plus point! However, legally you are only allowed to contact people who have agreed to be contacted, so be sure to ask the organisers if the list complies with CAN-SPAM laws or it could land you in deep water. Create your own list of couples who have agreed to be contacted afterwards, if needs be! You could even personally invite both current and prospective clients along. They will appreciate you thinking of them, and even if they've already booked with you they will be pleased to meet other suppliers. Just be sure to follow up any and all leads you have, and reply to tweets and emails later in the day. Don't leave it in the clients' hands and sit around waiting for them to get in touch!
Stand out from the crowd! Wedding fairs can be a bit same-y, and visitors will see numerous stalls, all vying for their attention. Therefore, if you can do something a little different you're more likely to be noticed and - more importantly - be remembered. Try creating eye-catching displays, using the whole space you're given: if there's empty space reaching up into the air, fill it with pictures, displays, or examples of your work. If you can make yourself more memorable by getting prospective clients involved in an activity, then even better! If you're a photographer, take quirky snaps, or if you create things for a living then get them to make something! These can all be emailed or sent on to potential clients afterwards.
Wedding fairs are the perfect opportunity to network. There will be plenty of other suppliers in the same position as you, so get chatting! Make contacts through them, find out which other local showcases are good and which to avoid, and meet other people who you can refer potential clients to if you're already fully booked. You never know, they may even refer clients back to you! However, a word of caution: before you book to attend a wedding fair, find out which other stallholders have already booked to be there. If numbers are low, or if there is a small range of very specific products on offer, attending may not be worth your while.
Double check whether there are any cancellation fees just in case you're unable to attend for whatever reason. While you're at it, review your contract - this should be done particularly carefully right before you sign on the dotted line! It may give details of prohibited items, or anything you're required to take along, such as a copy of your insurance policy.
Consider using an email marketing service for clients who have agreed to be contacted. Apps for the iPad, such as Chimpadeedoo, collect your clients' information and add it to a Mailchimp database. This makes your life a lot easier, as you'll be able to create and send out auto response emails much more quickly and with less hassle.
You want to meet as many clients as you can, which means getting as many people through the door as possible. This is why events which have free entry are best, as they will instantly attract more people so will have a higher footfall of potential clients!
Take advantage of any promotional opportunities during the show, especially sponsorship. The idea is to get your name out there and to get noticed, so if you see an opportunity or some empty space, ask if you can put your name to it and gain brand exposure! If the show offers sponsorship spots for the goody bags, put a little something of yours inside. If they need music and you're a DJ, get stuck in! Not only will it get you noticed, but it will give visitors a valuable insight into the quality of your work.
Find out exactly what is included in the cost of your exhibit space: are you getting value for money? If you have to provide your own tables, chairs and so on, you will have to pay for them, so make sure you budget them in!
Social media is huge nowadays; you can reach thousands of people in seconds and news can spread like wildfire. Therefore, it makes sense to use social media to your advantage. Tweet, blog and advertise which events you are going to, as the more people that know about it, the more are likely to turn up on the day! Furthermore, use social media to connect with other exhibitors, as networking can lead to a whole range of potential new clients.
Social media may be crucial in business these days, but don't rule out snail mail! The 'lumpy mail technique' is something to try if you really want to get noticed. Nobody likes junk mail, but even those people who throw it straight in the bin would open a heavy, bulky parcel! You can put anything inside, from something small like chocolate to something large like a mug, as long as it promotes you! Include a promotional flier or a cover letter about you and your business; if you personalise them with the couple's names it will show that you have taken extra care and attention.
If you own a tablet computer, laptop, or even a projector, create a slide show to play continuously which will showcase your work. It will give people a chance to see a more in-depth range of your skills, meaning they will linger at your stall for longer. This will be particularly helpful if you are talking to one couple and want others to wait so you can speak to them too.
Always ask people how they heard of you. This is a good way of tracking your return on investment (ROI) - in other words, which methods of gaining customers are most successful and which ones just aren't working. This will give you a better idea of which marketing methods to spend more (or less) money on in order to attract more clients.
Above all, enjoy yourself! Weddings are exciting times for brides and grooms, so have fun. If you're having a great time, your potential clients are more likely to have a great time, too!
Things to think about:
Who is the show targeting? 'Engaged couples' is the obvious answer, but try to be more specific than that. Ask the show organiser who the target market is, to find out if the type of bride you'll be meeting there is the type of bride who you'd enjoy working with. Everything you do and say on the day must be geared towards that specific niche, in order to attract their interest.
Before you get to the event, consider what you want to get out of it. Aside from just saying 'more business', or 'more exposure', set yourself some goals in terms of a number of leads to follow up on, or bookings to make. This will help to keep your drive and focus throughout the course of the fair, and will make it easier for you to evaluate afterwards whether or not it was a successful venture.
It is a good idea to find out how the fair you want to attend is being promoted, especially via social networks. Brides-to-be turn straight to the internet to ask friends for advice and to see what suppliers are offering, so you need to ensure that the brides you want to work with will be targeted by the event's advertising. The stronger the fair's social media presence, the more traffic you're likely to encounter on the day.
Everything costs money, so you will need to factor in the costs of all that you take along with you. This includes any free samples which you may want to give out, and could even cover things such as Wi-Fi and electricity, if they're not covered by the booking fee. You should try to think of every eventuality when it comes to cost, so you're not faced with any nasty surprises!
Wedding fairs are hard work! You will be on your feet all day, and you'll have to be charming, engaging and alert the whole time. If you're aware of this in advance you can prepare by having a good breakfast and wearing comfortable shoes!
In sum, the most important things to do when it comes to wedding fairs are to be prepared, to be professional, to hook those potential clients, and to have fun! If you follow this formula, you'll have a brilliant day, hopefully bringing in plenty more business!