Tis the season…for wedding fairs! If you are a cake maker who makes cakes for brides, chances are you’ve either been invited to or you want to go to a bridal fair to showcase your wares. The fairs can often be rather pricey to be involved with, so in this week’s article I’m sharing my top tips for getting maximum value out of attending wedding fairs.
Tip #1: Attend the fair yourself before signing up to be a vendor and go on a re-con mission. See if your product will fit in there – are the other vendors of the same calibre as you are? What kinds of people are attending? What’s happening at other stalls? Is it crowded? Empty? What was the marketing of the event like in the lead up? Basically don’t consider showing up to this event until you’ve thoroughly checked it out.
Tip #2: Grab a couple of business cards at the event of vendors you think are of the same style and calibre as you are. Call those vendors a little while after, explain that you really admired their booth and you’re thinking of going and you wanted to know their thoughts on it. Find out if they got any business from it, if they think they would do it again, and any advice they might have for you.
Tip#3: Don’t just put out a platter of samples and hide behind the table. Be picky about who you give samples to, and try to have a conversation with them before you give them one.
Tip #4: Make it very easy for them to book an appointment with you right there and then (offer it to them!) or if you’ve very brave and it’s reasonable to do so, take a deposit right then and there. You can offer an incentive for this – anyone who books in for a consultation today gets free delivery (etc.)
Tip #5: Gather email addresses – do this by either asking, or offering a prize for which they need to register to win. Then after the fair, FOLLOW UP with these people via email. Within a week of the event I’d be sending an email to them, and then once again 6 weeks or so later -you can again offer a special incentive if you like. Then add them to your normal mailing list so they are getting regular communication from you. Often the people at wedding fairs have a VERY long lead time on their event, and you can’t expect them to remember you 18 months later. Since you should be tracking ALL your clients anyway by asking, “How did you hear about us?” – track this event too. If within 6-9 months not a single person books from you that was at that event, I’d consider not attending again.
Tip #6: If you give something away, try to make it more memorable than just a business card. A magnet, a company branded bag of candies, a cake server, keychain, pen…whatever you can afford which is more “keepable” than just a business card. Something they will hang onto rather than something they will recycle.
Tip #7: Involve social media to make your booth interactive. There are going to be lots of people doing a “enter to win” type of raffle – but how boring is that? Create a simple photo booth or have a funny cake and encourage them to take a selfie and upload it to social media with #yourbusinessname in order to win.
Tip #8: Do something which makes you stand out from the others and which makes an impression to OTHERS at the event. For example if people can sample directly from the booth, give it to them in brightly coloured cups or bright coloured forks so people walking around will see it and want to know where the heck all the red forks are coming from. Tie a balloon to the fork – whatever it takes really, to create some buzz around your booth.
Tip #9: Make sure everything about your business actually talks the talk and walks the walk. If you’re high end, your booth needs to look it AND SO DO your website and social media account so that when they check you out later, it’s consistent. Also, YOU need to look good and exemplify all your company is about. Don’t show up in jeans and a t-shirt and think you’re making a good impression. Branding, branding, branding – on everything! Make your booth visually appealing AND useful for the client – perhaps a photo album with more designs, a beautifully printed menu of flavours you offer, maybe price the dummy cakes so people can get an idea of how much they would spend with you and how many those examples would feed.
Tip #10: If you suck at talking to people, take along a friend or family member that is chatty and get them to break the ice, then hand the couple over to you for more detailed talk about appointments and cake. You do not want to go to the event and either hide behind a tall cake or just stand there with a tray of samples looking awkward. You need to do your best to have conversations with people because they’ll remember the chat they had with you.
Wedding fairs often cost a lot to do, so if you’re watching your marketing budget be selective about the ones you attend. Don’t feel like you have to go to ALL of them in your area. For everyone I meet that says the wedding fair they went to was great and they booked a ton of work, I meet someone else who says it was a complete waste of time and money and they would never do it again. Don’t stress if it wasn’t a success for you the first time around – different events have a different vibe so it’s worth trying out a few before deciding which to keep going to and which to ditch. Lastly, wedding fairs are a GREAT place to network, get marketing ideas, and check out your competition and what they’ve got on offer.
Any top tips you’d like to add? Comment and let me know what’s worked for you, I’d love to hear it!