Just about every wedding professional has participated in, or at least considered participating in a bridal show. Many vendors see success at these shows and continue to participate, but there are a few who continue to do them without really being able to quantify their effectiveness, while at the same time not having the most attractive booth, not having a strategy to really get the attention of the bride and not following up properly after the show.
The allure is obvious. Bridal shows are the one place where wedding vendors have the chance to engage with multiple brides, face-to-face. However let’s explore the reality of the bridal show dynamic.
Bridal show attendees are at all stages of the planning process. Some are not even engaged; others are there to win prizes. Most are in the early stages of wedding planning. Thus the vendors that are on the earlier rungs of the planning ladder like caterers, photographers, videographers, entertainment companies and bridal shops have a better chance of getting an immediate response than invitation businesses, limousine companies, florists, formal wear and travel agents. Wedding planners have a different challenge in that sometimes they have to convince the bride of the need for their service in the first place, and they have to do this amid all of these service providers the bride has access to at the show.
Many vendors who participate in these types of shows feel they can make some good connections with certain brides, but unless they have those brides they connect with fill out a separate form, it will be very difficult for the vendor to identify the stronger leads once the show is over. Brides experience sensory overload so the shelf life of rapport is vulnerable to dwindle.
The path to bridal show success is to not only have a great booth, but also have something memorable or something the bride can experience at your booth. For example at a photographer’s booth having a makeup artist doing a makeover and the photographer doing a before and after, or an entertainment company having a zany character. These are things that a business can use in the follow-up to remind the bride of her encounter at the booth. The main thing to understand is that if you do not follow-up with a consistent mixture of emailing, social media, direct mail or even telephone calls, you should not have great expectations of making the most of being at the show.
For those of you who have participated in a bridal show, what are some ways you have made your business stand out? Please share your success stories and comments below.