I've really enjoyed sharing December's engagement shoots with you guys but I thought that this week I'd mix things up a bit. I've been so busy prepping for a bridal show that we're attending this weekend that I really don't have the brain space for anything else. Since I'm being a bit mono -brained right now I thought it might be a good opportunity to A) let you see some behind the scenes and B) share some of my tips for brides on how to ace your next bridal show.
If you've been here very long at all you'll notice that we've totally changed our branding in the last few weeks. We're really excited about it and can't wait to display all of our new stuff at the show. We have some awesome marketing materials to hand out and I'M SO EXCITED! I was packing it all up today and decided to indulge myself a little and lay it all out. I love how consistent everything is now and how light it all feels even though I have a ton of stuff laying on that table. Anyway, I digress.
This morning I got the chance to pack up most of our stuff for the show (guys, this photo isn't even half of it) AND mock up some of our tables for the booth. I don't know what's gotten into me but I feel so much more prepared than I usually do for this sort of thing.
Now that I've shown you a bit of what I've been up to this week I thought I'd share some of my tips for how to make the most of a bridal show. When Aleah and I got married we weren't yet wedding photographers. So during the planning process when we decided to head to a bridal show it was my first experience. I think we made every mistake you could make and didn't end up booking a single vendor at the show. Oops! So here it is.
1. Check Out the Show's Website and Social Media
This one doesn't see like it'd be a big deal, but depending on the show you may be able to get a lot of information from their website that can really help you plan ahead. Show websites can provide information like who will be at the show, any specials or promos available at the show, games and events that might let you know when the best/worst times to go will be, and even anything you might need to watch out for like parking issues or traffic considerations.
2. Know What You're Looking For
Take stock of what vendors you've already hired and which ones you're really interested in hiring at the show. There's no way you're going to be able to hire all of your vendors at the show. You can though, get a few knocked out without killing yourself. Pick 2 or 3 to focus in on and dedicate the bulk of your time to speaking with those vendors. This will let you spend a few extra minutes talking to that florist from your dream list and not spend as much time talking to vendors that you're not ready to hire yet anyway.
3. Don't Skip Anything
Shows will often spread out their biggest and most popular vendors to maximize traffic flow. If you skip that back row, or that far corner there is a good chance that you're missing something you want to see. A good show isn't going to put a lot of vendors of the same type together so if you want to see all the photographers you're going to have to cover the whole floor.
4. Make A Planning Pass
It's all too easy when walking a bridal show to be looking at booths on one side of the aisle and totally miss the ones on the other side. As soon as you get to the show and check in take a planning trip around the floor. Don't stop to talk too much on this one. Just walk through making a list as you go of which vendors you know you want to stop at and their approximate locations. Then once your list is made take a second trip around the floor to talk to the vendors on your list and pick up any that you may have missed the first time around.
5. Don't Make Assumptions
I can't count how many times I've had someone in my booth take a look at our pricing sheet and be surprised that they can afford us. Some vendors, regardless of their price point, will go all out for bridal shows. Others however, (why, I don't know) won't. Just because a vendor's display is impressive doesn't necessarily mean that they're super expensive and just because a vendor hasn't gone all out doesn't always mean they're cheap.
6. Be Honest
The quickest way to waste your time at a bridal show is to spend a lot of time talking to vendors that you have no intention of hiring. If you know that a vendor isn't a good fit for you because of style, products offered, etc. tell them. Vendors don't want to work with clients that aren't a good fit any more than clients want to hire the wrong vendors for the job. If you're unsure if a vendor is a good fit for whatever reason voice your concern. It may be something that's fixable. On that same note, if a vendor is out of your budget, tell them and don't be embarrassed about it. We know that what we offer is expensive and that not everyone prioritizes what we're selling at the top of their budget. When we got married we spend 40% of our wedding budget on photography. That means that although we had an above average wedding budget for the time and area that we were getting married in we had to sacrifice some things. The problem came in when we started looking at venues. We wasted an entire day looking at, and talking about, a vineyard that was thousands of dollars out of our budget. We could've saved ourselves (and our family) a lot of time and energy by simply saying no thank you when we realized it wasn't in the cards.
7. Follow Up
This is probably the most important tip I have. Follow up with your favorites! You've spent time talking to them and building rapport don't lose it after the show by letting time pass. You should've exchanged contact information at the show. When you get home, shoot them a quick email and schedule a meeting. Keep that ball rolling and save yourself the trouble of starting from scratch and fighting for those post show meeting time slots.
I hope this helps and see you Sunday.