This past Sunday, I attended my first bridal show as a vendor! It was at the Inn at the Olde Silk Mill in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a beautiful venue that really vibes with the look of my business and set up. Transitioning from Etsy to a more personal and local business, I was so excited to finally get my name out there with some local brides and vendors.
I went in early on Saturday and set up my vendor space and was all set for the next day. Before leaving, I had been talking to the venue owner, Anna, about my signage and calligraphy and she asked if I could create some signs for her for the show the next day...of course I said yes! So I went home and put together some signage with some chalkboards she gave me and brought them in the next day. It was so exciting to see my work displayed the next day throughout the venue!
As far as the bridal show went, I got a lot of leads. For someone who normally communicated through email, it was fun to see how people reacted to my work and to just meet and talk with brides face-to-face. I would definitely do it again!
Are you interested in investing in a bridal show? Here are a few tips and ideas that I think would be helpful if you are thinking about it!
1. Choose the Right Bridal Show
If you live in an area like mine, you probably have a lot of options as far as bridal shows to attend. There are huge expos with hundreds of vendors and ones that are smaller and have a few select businesses for each category. For this being my first bridal show, I decided to go ahead with a smaller event so I could ease into it. The vendor entry fees range anywhere from $300 to $1500, depending on which show you decide to go with. When choosing the show, think about whether these fees will be worth your investment. Head to the show with clear goals so you know you are getting something out of it (for instance: Book 4 brides and network with 8 new vendors).
2. Host a giveaway/incentive
This might not work for everyone, but it did for me. I wanted to get contacts of people who not only registered for the show, but were interested in my signage and the best potential brides for future business. So I put together a sign-up sheet for my seasonal newsletter anyone who was interested in winning a free custom 8 x 10 sign with any quote in my calligraphy. It worked out great and I had a few sheets worth of contact information. I have also seen other vendors place candy out on their table as an incentive for people to come over.
3. Make your booth unique
I love burlap, lace, wood, and gold. I wanted the look of my booth to reflect who I am and put it all out there. I made sure to include a look that stood out from the rest. I found that a lot of people are attracted to a booth that does not look just like the others (unless food is included, everyone runs to those vendors). Creating a beautiful space also doesn't have to cost a lot. I found a lot of the items for my display from my house and only had to look elsewhere for some smaller items, like my sign and the tissue garland.
4. Prepare for questions
This was something I was really nervous about. I had just started working with a letterpress company and changing up my designs. I was offering more services and all my prices and design process had changed. So before this show, I made sure to have all my new information in a packet that I brought with me, as well as focused on remembering all that changes so I didn't have to keep referring to my packets. Even so, I ran into a lot of questions I hadn't thought would come up, so I would quickly jot them down to look into later or think on in case someone else came asking me the same thing.
5. Following up
If your show was like mine, one of the things we received was a full list of attendees who registered for the show. This was super helpful, because not everyone wanted to sign up for my newsletter, but everyone had to sign in. I was able to use that information to follow-up with them, remind them who I was and pass along my website. I also used this opportunity to send them a free printable file of table numbers 1-20, just to show my appreciation. I highly suggest using MailChimp, it was simple and easy and tracks all information back to you so you can see your audience, what's working and what is not.
So what are your thoughts on bridal shows? I'd love to know!