Wedding show season is upon us … here are some tips for exhibiting

One golden rule of marketing is to put yourself in the path of your customer, and this is literally possible during the wedding show season. Wedding shows are excellent opportunities to accomplish a few key things in promoting your business. 1) You can directly interact with brides-to-be who are looking for help in planning a wedding and generate some warm leads for your business. 2) You can develop relationships with other vendors who are at the show. 3) You can begin to generate awareness of your business among brides as well as the wedding community. 4) You can test out your marketing messages/materials and sales pitch on the spot and fine tune them.

If you’ve never been an exhibitor at a wedding show are are a little intimidated by the effort and cost of exhibiting, you may want to visit the show as a regular attendee. Although most wedding show companies aggressively discourage attendees from marketing to other attendees or exhibitors, you can certainly walk around and introduce yourself to other vendors and get a feel for the particular show and if your target audience (namely brides looking for a wedding consultant) is present in adequate numbers to make the show worth it to be an exhibitor.

There’s another old saw in business, which is that you’ve got to spend money to make money, so at some point it will probably be necessary to exhibit at a wedding show. When you do this, make sure to follow these helpful tips to maximize your experience.

1. Try to get a booth near the entrance or toward the end of an aisle – These spots are more visible and tend to get more traffic. And if you have heard that booths by restrooms have better traffic, this is true, but these booths are actually less frequented because people are so intent on the restroom that they don’t notice your booth.

2. Design your booth so that it stands out – I once saw a trade show booth built out of plywood and 2x4s with the theme that the exhibitor (a wedding consultant) will help you build a memorable wedding from the ground up. Unconventional, yes. But it was the talk of the show, was always full of people and I’m sure garnered its owner a fair share of business. Just don’t be boring or like everyone else.

3. Dress in comfortable clothes that are occasion-appropriate – You may not want to wear your most formal outfit, but you certainly want to be stylish and definitely comfortable, as you will be hanging out and standing for many hours (and definitely wear comfortable shoes).

4. Don’t block the front of your booth with stuff – You want to draw people into your booth to chat, so don’t put a table up at the front that blocks people from entering in. And don’t sit behind a table, as it creates a barrier between you and the attendees, and the show is about breaking down barriers between you and attendees so you can learn about their needs and if you can help them.

5. If you have a drawing or giveaway, put it at the back of your booth and make it wedding-related – Put the drawing jar in the back of your booth so people have to enter it to participate. And don’t give away a blender, golf club or other unrelated item, as the winner will take it home and quickly forget who gave it to them. In fact, you may want to give away your own product or service, as that may lead to referrals from the bride who receives the freebie.

6. Either advertise in the show catalog or provide a flier in the show giveaway bag – Regardless of how many attendees walked through your booth, there were many, many others who didn’t, and when they all go home, they will sort through all the materials they picked up at the show. So make sure your company shows up in the mix, whether it’s in an ad in the brochure or a brochure that gets included as a drop in the show bag.

7. Follow up with leads promptly (and buy the attendee list, if possible) – Whenever I have worked shows, I always get the contact info of people who enter my booth and then rate them 1 through 5 on how urgent their need; this way, when I get back to the office, I know which ones were hot leads and which others were lukewarm. Plus I follow up with them the following week so that they remember our encounter. And see if you can buy the attendee list and email the attendees an introduction to your company and possibly even an offer to get them to call (but make it clear of where you got their name, and make sure that the list is an opt-in list, as spamming people will certainly not endear you to them). (And you can certainly use our wedding planner software to save all your leads.)

I hope all that helps … here are a few other links for trade show tips…
http://mybridalfair.com/content/view/12/98/
http://www.capefearwedding.com/shows/successtips.asp

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For another way to prepare yourself for wedding and event season, try using Planning Pod online software for event planners. It has all the tools you need to manage any kind of event and is easy to use.