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Wedding Professionals:

Each month, I pick up a copy of Inc. Magazine and value the relevant business advice that can be applied to our wedding industry. In Inc.’s November 2009 issue, they talk about making the most of trade shows. After having attended countless bridal shows, I’ve taken Inc.’s advice and have put my own wedding spin on it. My hope is to present you with a set of best practices that will help you achieve tangible results at your upcoming bridal shows. Because let’s face it, these events can require a serious investment. You deserve to see a meaningful return on that investment.

1. Before the Bridal Show:
• Set Goals.
It is important to organize yourself before attending a bridal show. Take a step back and think about why you are attending the event. You may be trying to gather new bride leads. You could be introducing a new product or service. It’s also possible that you want to further your relationship with wedding magazines and bloggers. Those are just a few of the more popular reasons why wedding vendors attend these events. Be sure to make a list of your main goals and keep them in mind throughout this process.
• Invite Prospects. It’s likely that you have already started a database of both bride and vendor contacts. Before the bridal show, email those contacts to let them know that you will be in town. Invite them to the bridal show and consider telling them that you will have a special gift waiting for them at your table or booth. It’s likely that these contacts will also help you to spread the word about the upcoming event.
• Train Your Team. Most bridal shows have a lot of foot traffic, so it is important that you have the right number of trained people at your table to showcase your work. If you have employees, bring them along because they know your services better than anyone. They will also be passionate and enthusiastic about what you have to offer. Ensure that your team is fully equipped with all of the important information. Your entire team should memorize a 2-3 sentence (or elevator pitch) explaining what makes your offering unique and superior.

2. At the Bridal Show:
• Go Above and Beyond. Dress your table with your products, branding, business cards, brochures, and testimonials. At first glance, your table should make it crystal clear to each passerby what you are selling and why your offering is unique. If you have decided that a particular event is really going to attract the perfect target audience, then you may want splurge on a larger table or booth. This signals that you are well established and trustworthy.
• Hand Out Giveaways. Even the simplest of freebies will draw brides to your table. Consider giving away useful or functional gifts with your logo and website address. This will advertise your brand well after the bridal show is over.
• Be Inviting. Welcome each bride with a smile and a hello. Stand in front of or beside your table. Be genuine and authentic. Encourage brides to ask you questions.
• Collect Information. Encourage brides to give you their name and email address by having a special drawing at your table.
• Leverage Twitter. While attending the bridal show, tweet about the event and monitor other tweets. If an influential person or wedding blogger tweets that they are at a location, meet them at that location and tell them you saw their tweet. This is an easy way to connect with people who can help your business.

3. After the Bridal Show:
• Email, Phone, and/or Send a Gift. I’ve been to too many bridal shows where I’ve swapped business cards with vendors and then never heard from them again. This is a lost opportunity. Be sure to collect business cards and lead information. Then, be sure to reach out to those contacts within 1-5 business days after the event. The sooner, the better because you will still be fresh in the contact’s mind.
• Assess Your Success. Remember to revisit the goals that you outlined at the beginning of this process. How well did you do? Did you acquire the volume of leads that you expected? Did you create the media relationships that you needed to create? What did you learn and what would you do differently next time? It might even make sense to keep a journal of these experiences, so that you increase your effectiveness at future bridal shows. If the event was successful, be one of the first to reserve a spot in next year’s show. Early enrollment will increase your chances of securing a high traffic location.

What best practices have worked well for you at bridal shows? Please share your success stories and comments below.


About This Blog: Christine Dyer is the Creator and Founder of BridalTweet. Christine has an MBA in marketing and shares over ten years of marketing expertise with the wedding community. In this weekly blog, you'll find advice on an array of wedding business topics such as how to market to brides, social networking, wedding PR, wedding sales, vendor networking, branding, pricing and much more. Please pass this news along to your own professional wedding network. To receive this advice in your email inbox each week, Sign Up for a Free BridalTweet Membership.

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Tags: bridal shows, bride leads, how to market to brides, selling to brides, social media, wedding PR, wedding networking, wedding sales

Comment by Stylish Affair"s By Mickey Long on November 15, 2009 at 10:25pm
Great Tips !

Thank you for sharing this information. I look forward to the 2010 Bridal Bazzar and using the ideal of Twitter!
Best Regards,
STYLISH AFFAIR'S
Weddings & Events
By Mickey Long
Comment by Your London Wedding Planner on November 16, 2009 at 10:25am
Thank you Christine. This is very helpful as well as reassuring to know that I'm going in the right direction. I'm exhibiting at The Hampstead Wedding Show on Saturday (22 November) and I'm just making preparations. My brochures went off to print this morning, I have notified all my recent leads and yes, I have a free gift for every bride who comes to talk to me. Your London Wedding Planner

Kind regards,
Kim Rix
Comment by Erica Brooks on November 16, 2009 at 11:41am
Thanks Christine. Love the idea of having team members memorize and share my elevator speech with the brides. It's so much better than just having them hand out a giveaway or marketing piece!
Comment by Josie Vega on November 16, 2009 at 2:19pm
Great advice... I have gone to so many bridal shows in the past and always learn new ways to market myself to brides by also paying attention to my competition ( other makeup artists). One way I like to market my services when I attend bridal shows is that I sometimes share my table with a stylist that I have worked with and we arrange to have a few friends or family members to come along for the day and style their hair and apply bridal makeup and dress thaem in wedding attire before the event and have them stand near our table handing every bride to be a postcard with our info. and any promotions we are having at that time. Brides get to see our work in person and really does make a difference...
Comment by Yours By Design- custom invites on November 16, 2009 at 3:29pm
I wish I saw you at the Wedding Salon at the Roosevelt! I cannot believe you were there and we missed each other! LOL You would have loved my creative invites/menus!!! Call me anytime!
Comment by Event Central LLC on November 16, 2009 at 4:16pm
FOOD, FOOD FOOD....offer them something to eat and drink, if possible. And we are not talking about candy. We do cheese, crackers, small slices of lunch meat...things of that nature. It will give them another reason to visit your booth, and they will feel somewhat obligated to stay and listen. Works for us every time.
Comment by Danielle Richards on November 16, 2009 at 4:25pm
It is very helpful to have past clients there with you -- they are a living, breathing, testimonial for your services. Their enthusiasm reaches potential clients like no other! -Danielle
Comment by A & B Photos on November 16, 2009 at 4:40pm
Excellent tips Christine! It's so easy to overlook certain things when planning for a show most especially setting goals. It's crucial to understand your objectives for joining a show to maximize your ROI.
Comment by Krystal Johnson on November 16, 2009 at 8:40pm
This is wondful information. I have two shows I am doing, one in the inland empire and Orange County California.
Comment by StellaView Studios on November 16, 2009 at 9:03pm
I have to very big shows coming up in Northern Virginia & Baltimore Maryland. The tips are simple, but easy to
forget. Thank you for keeping us fresh. Best of luck to all vendors with the winter shows.

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