How to make the most of exhibting at a wedding show

Monday, 09 March 2020

WEDDING SHOWS WORK!

Don’t let anyone convince you out of exhibiting at a show because they ‘don’t work’. It’s BS-they work for all suppliers. The key is, to choose your show wisely. Ask them for a media pack, analyse their social media, see what other suppliers they shout about. Do those suppliers align with your business? Are they priced in the same category as you? DM previous exhibitors and ask them what they thought of the show-it will give you the little bit of inside info.

 

Please please please – do not take up an exhibitor’s time in prime hours at a show if you’re there for market research, and to scope out whether it will work for you. It’s not ideal for the exhibitor if clients are coming along at the same time, and they won’t want to be rude.

 

We all LOVE to network but be mindful that these exhibitors have paid to showcase their work for the attendees. Come along at the end of the day, when it’s quieter-that way you’ll get more of a chance to chat and you’ll both get more from it.

 

See it as an experiment

That way you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Deciding to do a show based on a projected ROI is only going to make you anxious and feel immediately deflated-seeing it as an experiment means you’ll be inquisitive, put yourself out there and naturally, you’ll get more from it.

I see shows as just another touchpoint: same as your website, all the different social media platforms, email lists… seeing you at a show might just confirm in their mind that you’re the one for them.

 

Take people with you

If you take ANYTHING away from this blog, please let it be this! Shows are WAY too much to do by yourself, from drop off, set up, chatting, skipping lunch… the list goes on. Also, if you’re more of an introvert then this right here is key. A show is when you need to be at your most confident, and if you’re not feeling it the vibe is infectious. Identify somewhere you can escape to (not the loos) if it’s all feeling a little too much.

 

Take an industry friend (who will fully invest themselves in YOUR business for the weekend) your mates, sisters, brother, partners… whoever you know that can easily strike up a conversation. Sales is just conversations, that’s all it is. It ISN’T Dragons Den style pitching. Yes, you’ve got to give people your info and explain how you can help them, but the start of any of that has to be a two way conversation. Take someone along who is really easy to chat to!

 

 

Anything to do with a wedding is an emotional buy for the attendees

Remember this, be sensitive to it, and you will go far! I’ve recently assisted Hayley @ Lucky Pineapple at an events exhibition and I was FLOORED just how different attendees there behave. They’re giving away their details left, right and centre, storming straight up to your stand to start a conversation with you. They want the info and they want it ASAP. That’s because A) it’s not their money that either parents or themselves have lovingly saved for years and B) they’re involved in loads of events, and no one event is more important than any other.

 

Wedding shows are at the total opposite end of the spectrum. Attendees are quite often shy, come along with their family & friends, don’t want to give their details and sometimes it can be a little difficult to get across how you can help if it feels like they don’t want to listen. It’s because its 100% an emotional buy-anything to do with their wedding is based purely on emotion. As a planner I know that’s true, because I’ve seen budgets blown out the water after they’ve come across a supplier they just HAVE to have. They’re doing this once, they’re in the wedding world for a short amount of time and they want it to be perfect, so they don’t want to sign up to anything and everything. And that’s ok! It’s about quality over quantity. So ask them questions to warm them up: ask about their wedding, what they want from it, what inspiration they’re hoping to get from the show…and try to find common ground in your chat for them to remember you by. This is how I got chatting to one of my couples:

 

‘Hi! Are you getting married?’

‘Yep-we’re getting married in September this year’

“Oh lovely-whereabouts are you getting married?’

‘In Tuscany’

“AMAZING!!! That’s going to be so beautiful! How are you finding your planning-do you speak Italian?’

 

The groom then tells me how he tries to speak Italian but he can’t understand what’s said back to him, we have a good laugh about it and I tell them about a sketch by Tom Allen where he’s in a French hypermarket and this EXACT thing happens…. I took their details, sent them a link to the sketch and BOOM-we’re working on their wedding!

 

Break the ice

You don’t have to have anything fancy, simple putting yourself out there and paying people genuine compliments and making an effort will pay off. People remember how you made them feel-not the info you gave them. My usual go to’s are if I see a skirt I love, or if I see someone wearing a coloured lipstick. It’s because I absolutely adore coloured lipstick but I’m not brave enough to wear IRL-I’d be checking my face in the mirror every 5 seconds for fear of lippy smudge…so whenever I see someone wearing it, I’ve got to compliment them on it. That’s not about converting chats into getting details or bookings, it simply eases YOU into the show.

 

People do this in all kinds of forms: chocolate, sweets, free booze... I would say people interested in the freebies, aren’t interested in you-they’re at your stand taking up your time cos you’re giving away Haribo. That in turn, can knock your confidence. Just ease yourself into the show and you’ll do much better from it.

 

Nail your stand design

Having an interesting stand design means you will attract people to you, making it easier. It’s got to sell your brand-so put thought into it. I’ve learnt from previous errors to literally put “Planning & Styling” on my stand. That stopped people approaching me thinking I do something else-which was a bit soul destroying each time I had to tell someone I’m not a neon sign maker event though my logo is in neon…. Trust me-make it SO PAINFULLY OBVIOUS and you’ll thank yourself!

Pop a little chair in there somewhere, so you can sit down when you need to.

  

Food & Drink

Fruit & water are your friends! Stay away from processed sugar if you can, that slump will hit you in the last busy round of the day and it’ll make you feel crap. Stay hydrated & caffeinated my friends!

You’ll need:

To eat breakfast

Caffeine in whatever form you love most

Chewing gum

Water

Fruit

A quick lunch (my tip: nothing messy!)

 

Clothing

Wear something you LOVE, that makes you feel confident & comfy (and absolute bonus if it has pockets!) And for those that love a heel, flat shoes is almost certainly a must.

  

Leaving your stand

There’s some talk of it being ok to leave your stand from time to time, to then encourage  attendees to chase you up via email as they are desperate to chat to you. This doesn’t work for me, I’m a service-based business not product-so if I’m not at my stand, people aren’t going to chase me up as they buy into me. This MIGHT work for product based businesses (and I know people who use this tactic and it does work for them) but I’d say you need a really strong brand and to be certain that one of the reasons attendees are coming along to the show is to see more examples of your work and the opportunity to meet you. Or, you need products that WOW (think a range of neon lights to hire-those baby’s sell themselves!

 

Get their details

Put on an offer that attendees won’t want to miss! And the trade being, they have access to the offer if they give you their details. Create a column on your email list form just for details-write in there anything that comes to mind, ‘wedding in Botley Hill Barn in July’ or ‘send them the link to the comedian we chatted about’. That way, you can send tailored emails the week after to let them know you remember them.

 

Giving feedback to the show organisers

First up: If there’s an issue, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE raise it with the event coordinator on the day (for the Un Wedding show in April, that’ll be me!) We can make changes in minutes, so please let us know. I’m there to look after you, so let’s make sure you’re happy!

 

We all know feedback is important right? We all also know, that it’s human nature to want to blame someone else when things don’t go our way *my husband usually gets the brunt of my blame*

What I will say, is that if you’ve done your homework on the show you’re paying to exhibit at-you should know that the show WILL deliver your ideal clients, otherwise why are you paying to exhibit right? Clients don’t usually book minutes after meeting you, some don’t book days or weeks after meeting you. So don’t be deflated-remember, these are emotional buys and each couple will deal with this differently: some will be impulse buyers and book that week, some will be ‘I’ve got to go home and input your info into my spreadsheet then sleep on it for 283843293 days and come back to you’. And they will come back, and they will book. It’s just the way they work.

It’s notoriously hard to track where leads come from after a show-which is why it’s important to get chatting as you’re more likely to remember each couple. If the show delivered on selling tickets to the kind of attendees they promised-then have a think first about what you could change next time around. Was there a long period of time where no one was on your stand? Where you not feeling it that weekend?

If you’re then certain that the show would need to change something for you to exhibit again-then definitely feed that back, you’ll be benefitting future suppliers as well as yourself!

 

If you need ideas or concepts for an interesting stand design or help for a wedding show-email me Ashleigh@pinkpalms.co.uk

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