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Sell more. Sell better. Sell in person.

In spite of the wealth of wedding planning resources available online, the vast majority of couples will not make a major purchase decision for their wedding without a face-to-face meeting. An exhibit at a wedding show is a cost-effective and time-efficient opportunity to make this personal connection.

A wedding show allows you to present your company in ways that are impossible with other advertising methods. The couple can taste your cakes, smell your flowers, and see the true beauty and finish of your photographs. Most importantly, you have a unique opportunity to determine if there is a good personality match between you and the couple before you invest time in the sales process.

Choosing the Right Shows

Wedding shows come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from intimate events in small venues to large productions at convention centers. Some shows are mass-appeal in nature, while others are targeted at a niche audience.

A small show can give you the opportunity to have in-depth conversations, while a larger show will allow you to connect with hundreds of prospective customers in a single day. Executed correctly, a business can profit from either type of show.

Do your homework before you invest your time and money. Look for shows with a successful track record. Connect with a few of the exhibitors and get their feedback. Ask your customers which shows they attended. Call the venue and confirm that the show is actually scheduled.

A show with a small number of exhibitors and inexpensive booth fees might sound appealing, but that combination almost always results in very small attendance numbers. Make sure that you choose shows that have a solid advertising plan.

The Key to Wedding Show Success

Choosing the right show is just the first step in the process. Your execution is even more important. It doesn’t matter if your company is large or small, established or new, storefront or home based, with the right presentation you will enjoy success. Here are some simple steps:

Focus your message. You have just a few seconds to capture attention, so make sure that your display makes it clear what you do. Avoid the temptation to display items that have nothing to do with your business, such as floral decor if you’re not a florist.

Keep it simple. You are there to create interest in your company, not to show everything you provide. A few compelling display pieces, combined with attractive signage, will bring you attention.

Be prepared with a handout. You must have some sort of promotion piece to give to the prospective customer. This handout does not have to be expensive, but it should be professionally designed and include your contact information and a description of your business.

Do something different. If you prominently display an image or an item that is unique to your company, you will differentiate yourself from the other exhibitors. Attendees will be able to say “I remember you, you were the booth with the ________.”

Ask questions. Instead of immediately hitting the prospect with your sales pitch, use a conversational tone and ask questions about their wedding. The prospect will tell you what they want to buy and how they want to be sold.

Show that you are a pro. Dress appropriately, stand up, and have an attitude that is inviting and friendly. Be approachable and convey confidence. Maintain eye contact and smile.

Focus on making appointments. There is a sense of urgency at wedding shows. The attendee wants to see everything, and the exhibitor wants to reach as many prospective customers as possible. By focusing on making appointments, rather than spending the time it takes to go through the entire sales process, you will reach more prospects and maximize your results.

Follow up. Collect the contact information of your most promising prospects, and contact them within a day or two. Most shows provide a list of all attendees, so make use of this valuable resource.

Marc McIntosh is the producer of the Wedding Experience, the leading wedding shows in the Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond markets. The Wedding Experience provides the opportunity to promote your business through face-to-face contact with a large audience of motivated buyers. For information, call 703-425-1127, email marc@weddingexperience.com or visit www.weddingexperience.com.