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.