Bridal shows…I feel like they get a bad rep!
There are some photographers who would never go to a bridal show or even think about adding it into their marketing plan. I am not that person. Bridal shows have been stereotyped to believe having “bargain shopping” brides. In my experience, the brides at bridal shows are not necessarily bargain shoppers, but they are the “researcher” brides. They are the ones who want to make sure they have all their options and are making an educated decision on choosing their vendors. I have found some of my all-time favorite clients at bridal shows, which has quickly made me a believer in their effectiveness within my overall marketing plan!
With that being said, there is absolutely some strategy to participating in bridal shows!
Time of Year of Bridal Show
You’ve heard of engagement season right? It’s totally a thing! On average, 40% of couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Thus, on average, 40% of couples start their wedding planning right after the holidays. There are always bridal shows available in the month of January purely for this reason!
So in order to make the most impact on your top line, I encourage you to plan your marketing calendar, and therefore your bridal shows, around the beginning of the year!
This may seem obvious…but I encourage you to take a stroll around a bridal show at least once as a spectator prior to participating in one yourself. You would be surprised how uninviting so many booths are.
One small difference that I find makes an impact is standing. So many vendors sit the entire time at their booths. I try to put myself in the bride’s shoes…if I were her, I would want to talk to someone on the same level as me–eye-to-eye–rather than talking down to someone.
Additionally, your booth can make all the difference. It’s that split second judgment they make as to whether they want to come within a close proximity of your booth that you need to entice them to come! Do that by having an approachable and welcoming space.
Go in with a Booking Goal in Mind
You know how much it is going to cost you to be present at whichever bridal show you choose. So be sure to go in with a booking goal in mind. I always tell myself, “I need to book X number of brides to come out even. I need to book X number of brides to start to churn a profit.”
Whenever I am at a show, I do my best to figure out the 3-4 brides that I had the best connection with and make sure that I make their interaction last just a little longer. Ask them those extra questions–about the proposal story or how they met.
Those small interactions can make a huge difference when it comes to booking! Remember–you aren’t there to book every bride, only your brides.
Give Them Something
Remember I said the brides at a bridal expo are the researchers? They are the ones that are going to go home, spread out all the handouts, fliers, and goodies they received on the table and start making a spreadsheet.
I cannot stress this enough: YOU WANT TO BE AT THE TOP OF THAT SPREADSHEET.
Whatever you give them, make it pretty and make it memorable. Consider that flier/FAQ sheet, whatever it is, a follow up that you don’t have to be actively present for. Regardless, you want it to be an accurate representation of you, your business, and your brand.
Take Something From Them
Ha–did this heading get your attention? Good.
You want a way to track and follow up with the brides you specifically have spoken with. In order to do this, you need a way to contact them. My best suggestion is by gathering email addresses (and phone numbers, if possible) through a chance to win something, like a complimentary engagement session.
While you often receive the email addresses of all of those who signed up to attend, the real connection happened with those you were able to speak to directly in your booth. Those are the specific leads you want to nurture.
Bridal shows can be overwhelming! There are a ton of vendors, and if I am being honest–photographers are the most saturated vendor category regularly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out!
If you are contemplating participating in a bridal show, I highly encourage you to keep researching what makes a booth successful and how to prepare and execute once the bridal show day comes. A great place to start is with the Bridal Show Marketing Resource in The Photography Framework Shop!
In this resource, I give more specific pointers in terms of what to ask when inquiring about a bridal show spot, how to plan and execute your booth, which sales to offer, as well as other helpful pointers to make your first (and every) show a success!