Our first blog post is one for the suppliers! Exhibiting at your first show and not sure what to expect? Or you want to make your stand and show experience better, we have the sure fire way to increase your bookings. Officially Open! “Start the Blog” has been on my to do list for approximately 2 years now. Not exaggerating - I have had the page and the name all set for at least 2 years and haven’t had a clue where to start. The “DIVA Loves…” Blog will become over time a mix of recommendations, trends and tips for planning and some planning tools for engaged couples as well but we’re starting with something for the businesses. Last weekend we had our first wedding show of the season, run by our main company - DIVA Wedding Fayres - and for the 800th time I was asked - “Whats your advice for exhibiting? Any tips on what we should be doing and shouldn’t be?”. This question comes up A. LOT. and it’s one I honestly love answering. If you are nervous about exhibiting at your first show, or your heading in to your 20th show but want to mix things up a bit, then this is the question to ask. It shows passion and enthusiasm to do better, and to do more, and means you’re certainly on the right track to making your business successful by ensuring you are developing and growing. We’ve been running shows for 6 years now - and have been exhibiting at our own, and other shows, for just under 10 years. When a company comes to us at the end of a show and says “Well I didn’t 'get much' from that one….” my answer is now always - “Why??”. Some wedding shows I will agree - do not give you the brides and grooms - if you don’t have any customers to sell to - then no - you aren’t going to 'get very much from it'. However - if you have had a busy show - with lots of happy engaged couples through the door - then you need to ask yourself - WHY? Why didn’t I do very well here today? What do I need to change for next time? Don’t give up and never exhibit again - change and adapt your stand, and sometimes your business, to see what DOES sell, and what you will do well from. So here we have - “Top Ten Tips for Exhibiting at Wedding Shows.” 1 - Promotion Promotion, promotion, promotion. If the company you are exhibiting with is a good one, they will have a huge chunk of the advertising covered for the wedding show you are attending. For example - a huge percentage of every booking we take through DIVA Wedding Fayres goes directly into advertising for that show. However - you have undoubtably got some "lurkers” on your social feeds. Brides and grooms, or even mothers of the couple, bridesmaids and friends, who know you are there but either haven’t contacted you yet, or in some cases, are afraid to do so, as they believe they will be tied in and harassed until they book. A wedding fair is THE perfect place to meet potential customers without the commitment. Tell your social feeds you’ll be there!! Use this platform to show what you’ll be doing, and connect with other exhibitors prior. The networking aspect of a fair are sometimes just as valuable as the potential clients. Appearance A wedding fair isn’t a guarantee, its an opportunity, and very much like a job interview, it is what you make of it. Would you buy your food from a dirty supermarket? Why would a bride or groom buy from a supplier they may have attend their entire day, if you are a photography, videographer, car hire company, or be in all the preparation images, make up artist, hair stylist etc if you are unkept and scruffy. Make the effort to wear a nice outfit, and be presentable. Stay Calm. You should have received lots of set up information prior to the show. However - make sure you know where the venue is if you haven’t been before. Leave ample time to get to the venue and ensure you are unloaded and have moved your car to the designated parking area promptly. It’ll take a few extra minutes of your time but you will be making life much easier for the show organiser and fellow exhibitors as they will then have space to unload. Pack a light lunch or snacks and a drink – you’ll get thirsty and probably won't have chance to eat during the event so make sure you have had a good breakfast! We’d advise to never eat at your stand or display area, use the area provided for teas and coffees (if the show provides one!) and allow yourself time to organise and set up your display. If you have a business partner, partner, or friend willing to join you - this will help!! Opportunities during the show. Lots of wedding shows, including ours, will allow exhibitors to have a larger role in a show. For example - becoming a show sponsor - this can be an investment - but if given the right opportunities and utilised well - you’ll be reaping the benefits ten fold. Other options are easy, and usually included int he price you have already paid! For example - placing cards or items to get you noticed in the Goody Bags! Most shows have a goody bag option and adding in a small sweet with your business card stapled, or a one time show offer leaflet can really help to give you that extra push above the rest. Is there a Catwalk Show? A demonstration ceremony? A stage? Find out as much as you can and see if your products can be used within. Eg - The bouquets or button holes for models of the Catwalk if you are a florist. Display At a DIVA Wedding Show you will be allocated your table, usually trestle, and shown to your stand when you arrive. You’ll have a table which will be clothed (simple white cloth) and a small space either side for banners etc. It’s so important to PLAN YOUR STAND so you are ready to set up in the short time you have. We allocate 2 hours prior to each show for set up and advise you are done by 10.30 - in time to grab a coffee and sort your diary and paperwork out. ---- Don’t bring too much as your stand will look overcrowded and overwhelming for potential customers. Pick your best sellers and some new pieces, and concentrate on those. Also don’t bring too little. A sparse table display never looks very inviting. ---- Make sure you have something very visible with your name on. We see so many businesses without a banner, some with just a small card on the table, which is not good for photos that brides and grooms may take to remember you by, they get home to follow you on socials and have no idea what your business name was. Roller banners are perfect as they stand by the side of your stands. ---- You need to make yourself and your display stand out from the crowd. Especially at larger, national shows where you might have ten direct competitors just a few metres away. You want brides to see you first. Come up with something eye-catching so people won't be able to not notice you. If you are a florist, invest time in creating a large elaborate piece for your stand. (It’ll also look fab for your promotional material!) If you are a Wedding Dress Shop put your most attention-grabbing dress at the front or even on top of your table - for people to see. ---- Don’t encroach on your fellow exhibitors and stay within the stand size display area that you booked and paid for. Once you’re set up - take a pic and share it all over your social feeds!! That last post may be one that pushes that one big sale to your stand. (Always make sure you tag the organiser - they should then share, story or re-tweet - again - upping your exposure! Freebies. We all love a freebie, a little gift to help us along the way. However - yes have some free sweets on your stand to entice potential customers, but the big freebies, keep at the back. You should be saving these for the couples you think may book you, or maybe ask for a couples details in exchange for a promotional offer that they may actually use. Stance The absolute worst thing you can do when exhibiting at a show is sit behind your table. You aren’t working in a bank on a cashier desk, you are selling your product, your business, and in some cases - YOU. A photographer for example spends the whole day with the couple - they have to like YOU to book you. You can be the best photographer in the world, if the couple doesn’t bond with you, they won’t book you. We have seen brand new photographers just starting out, gain more bookings than very experienced ones due to the way they handle themselves. If you sit behind a desk, and continue to sit down while they stand in front of the desk the barrier is automatically there, and probably always will be. Stand up, be engaging and interactive. Be informative and not 'Salesy'. A wedding fair is not the place for the hard sell. Tell the couples about your business, answer any questions they have an be likeable and friendly. If your work is good, that’ll speak volumes. Wedding Fayre bookings rarely happen on the day and so remember this when you (probably) don’t walk away with a deposit there and then. The wedding fayre organiser will more than likely be collecting couple data on entry and will provide this to you afterwards. As helpful as this is - some of these are cold leads (Leads you may not have even spoken to, some who pre-registered and didn’t arrive, or some who you just gave a quick business card to when speaking with others). So - collect data of your own, on your stand, from your warm leads (couples you have interacted with and broken the ice!) and send the ones who gave you permission to contact, a direct email using a marketing service. (We use MailChimp). Pop a pic of your stand from the show on there with links to your social feeds and a comment on how great it was to meet them. You’ll find most bookings come days, weeks, sometimes months after a wedding show and the “bulk direct email” is certainly not dead. It can be the final push couples need. I would then advise a follow up 1 - 2 weeks later. Life is busy and sometimes a quick email is all we need to remind us. Networking No doubt by 2pm - 2.30pm the wedding fayre will become quieter. Don’t pack up and rush off - not only does it look highly unprofessional for the last few couples left, but also to other suppliers. You’ve invested this much - don’t ruin it now with a quick dash to the car park. This can also really annoy organisers as it makes the fayre look messy and disorganised. Use this time to network with fellow suppliers. Introduce yourself and take some pictures of their stands. Add it to your social feeds and no doubt they will re-share to help you out too. It's a great way to not only make friends in the industry who may then recommend you, or want to work with you on styled shoots Track your Return on Investment. When taking bookings ask people where they met or found you. This way you’ll work out quite quickly which fairs and marketing techniques work best for you. There you have it - our top ten tips for exhibiting at a wedding show. If you are looking to grow in 2020 and increase your bookings, start with looking at what you do - and quite simply - up your game. Feel free to leave any comments below on how you found our first blog post - or if you have any questions - we will be happy to help. Sophie and Jacqui DIVA Weddings Group UK Ltd Encompassing DIVA Wedding Fayres The DIVA Directory DIVA Media Ltd The Hereford Food Festival e Hereford Food Festival Ltd.