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Bridal Show Success- The “Before the Show”

One of the Biggest problems I have seen with vendors who work a Bridal show is their failure to prepare in advance. Working a Bridal show really begins before the show. In working Bridal shows and those who have been extremely successful, I have found Four key ingredients to the preparation or “before the Show” stage which they have followed. I will talk about those three ingredients and how you can use them to get ready for your next Bridal Show.
Key Ingredient #1-Research
In Researching before the show, you need to drill down on a few different items
Polling your Brides on Which shows they attend (this is assuming you are trying to choose a show to participate in- ask for the location though, not the name of the show-Brides don’t remember the name as much as they remember the location)
Polling other vendors on what worked for them and which shows worked (again- be cautious- the show may have thousands of Brides and a particular vendor may have dismal results because of them, not the show)
Researching your Brides to find out why and how they took action at shows. Find out if they chose any vendors because of the show. Find out if they made appointments at the show and why-this will help you understand how to get the Brides you meet to make appointments.
Key Ingredient #2-Booth Preparation
The second item you need to work on in your “before the show” preparations is the look and feel of the booth. In the look and feel of the booth, concentrate on the three second rule. This three second rule is simple; Make sure your prospects know what you do within three seconds of seeing your booth. Keep it simple and keep it consistent. I have always recommended that you participate in more than one medium of advertising with your product or service. If you have an ad in a magazine, on your website or in a brochure, make sure that all of them are consistent in their feel, their look and their color. Perhaps you are using one image or logo. Use them all consistently so the Bride will have a better feeling of trust when she sees your booth. They may or may not realize it, but studies have shown that by catching them in this manner, their subconscious will trigger a feeling of trust as the repetition of your advertising has indicated that your business is stable and serious.
One further consideration in your Booth prep is to make sure that the booth has a professional look and feel about it. You know what I am talking about- Professional graphics vs. hand drawn signs, professional signage and simply stated a bigger than you look and feel about it. The investment of a good graphic artist is worth it’s weight in gold when preparing your booth. Use professional signage and display materials so you don’t look like a third grade science fair exhibit. These girls will be spending more with you for their one day than they will any other day of their lives and they want Professionals who they can trust will do a good job. Look the part and they will begin the buying process by stopping at your booth.
Key Item #3-The look and feel for your booth
The third key item is to give the Prospect a good reason to stop at your booth. As I mentioned before, not all Brides will need or want your product or service. If you follow the three second rule, the Brides will know what you do and either need you or not. Getting them to then stop if they need you is a different step. Your booth has to look like what you do (i.e. if you are a florist- flowers, DJ- Speakers and Mirror ball, etc…)
Having samples and sign ups for giveaways are also a reason to get them to stop, however, keep control over both. Everyone (including many of your fellow vendors) will stop for a free piece of cake. I remember one show I participated in years ago when Chocolate Fountains were just coming out. All the vendors thought it was really cool and the Chocolate Fountain guy didn’t bring enough samples. Because of that, he was shooing away people who could not only book, but refer Brides to him. One of my Photographer friends was shooed away quite curtly and he didn’t take it well. The Photographer was being kind and bringing over Brides to this vendor which stopped on a dime after that.
Key Ingredient #4- Create a Target
Have a goal for the number of after show appointments. When you decided to participate in the show you probably have an idea in your head that if you only get one wedding from the show, or 2 weddings, or whatever small number of weddings you need to cover your costs, you’ll be doing okay. As I mentioned earlier, there is always a next step (7 steps to be exact) that you should be trying to get the Bride to take in the Buying process. You should do whatever it takes to get your prospect to take the next step and nothing more. It’s like a treasure hunt-you go from one clue to the next. In this case, the Bride might be on your Sales Ladder. She may not yet be on the ladder. It is your job to sift through the total number of Brides that are in attendance and determine which ones could be a customer and which ones will not be. You have had Brides who you spent 30 minutes with only to find out they already have a _______(fill in whatever service or product you offer the bride). By having a goal at the beginning based on accurate forecasts of attendance, you can then have a pass/fail grade on the show, on your performance or on the results, however you choose to grade. A goal of 5-10% appointments is a reasonable expectation (for every 100 Brides in attendance, you book appointments with 5-10 of them). This certainly depends on the show itself. The Mega shows with hundreds of Brides showing up can be less effective per capita as the more intimate shows where you have more time to spend with each Bride. Work the show with your goal in the outset and you will find greater success.

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