BSPI Annual Meeting in San Diego

The BSPI Annual Meeting (Bridal Show Producers InternationalBSPI Annual Meetingis gathering for its annual conference in Carlsbad, California (nearest San Diego).

Producers and Associate Members are hearing presentations and observing panel discussions, to better serve their exhibitors and advertisers, and the wedding couples who attend their wedding shows.

Andy Ebon will be presenting, as will his fellow WeddingWire Education team members, Alan Berg CSP, and WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly.

Noreen Azuzu
Contributing Writer
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Bridal Show Exhibiting – Why or why not?

thumbs-up-brideThe second week of January is an ideal time for second guessing. Many bridal show producers are on a final push to fill their remaining booth space. Potential exhibitors may still be ‘on the fence’ about jumping in before the clock strikes midnight.

A Public Service Message?

Last evening, I read a blog post, penned by a Pennsylvania Wedding Planner, titled: Why your perfect wedding vendor might NOT be at the bridal show(s) you’re attending…

The post is politely written, praising many bridal shows, while simultaneously explaining why brides and grooms in their area likely won’t see them exhibiting.

The business owner-writer goes into great detail about the expenses involved of exhibiting, the difficulties of interacting with brides, and any number of issues which may limit the success of their business at a wedding show.

Justifying Our Own Point Of View

Whether we have success or failure in any marketing effort, we tend to project that outcome on our peers, regardless of their business context.

Listening to people’s opinions can be helpful, provided one understands their context and reasoning… and making sure you are clear on how it compares to your wants and needs.

Profit Potential Varies

The price for exhibiting in a given show (except for some add-on options) is the same for all businesses. However, the fees exhibitors charge their clients (and profit margins) varies widely. A venue might break-even on a single sale. A stationer might break-even on 7 sales.  And so on. When one is examining bridal show potential with another business, simple differences, such as these, make for apple and orange comparisons.

Ask A Bride How Much She Cares About Your Costs

… or your profitability, for that matter. You are far more likely to hear the words, “Can you match their price?” then “I want to make sure your earning a reasonable profit, working with me?

That is reality, but it misses the point.

Bridal Shows are not primarily for selling

They are for meeting brides and grooms, face to face, and setting appointments to have a thorough discussion about their needs, your services, and how the line up. AND THEN, ASK FOR THE ORDER. For some businesses, making sales at the show is just fine. For most wedding businesses, selling at the show is NOT the most effective of time.

Excuses Abound

  • There aren’t enough brides.
  • There are too many brides.
  • There are too many competitors, exhibiting in my category.
  • There aren’t enough businesses, exhibiting in my category.
  • I don’t make enough sales at the show.
  • The weather was bad during the last show.
  • …  add your excuse here…

Assess the situation, TODAY!

Ask yourself just a couple of questions:

  • Do I have unsold availability, particularly in the next 6-9 months?
  • Am I getting enough face time and appointments with brides?
  • Do I know the competitive situation for exhibitors in my category at upcoming shows? (Assume nothing – If you say, “My category is always packed,” you don’t really know. Ask the show producer what’s happening THIS season.
  • Disc jockeys. Florists. Limos, Bridal Gowns, Caterers, Live Music, Restaurants  – Are they sold to-the-max this season, or is there an opportunity.

You can’t win the Lottery, if you don’t enter!

(Snarky remark comes next) Position your mind and business for success. If you can’t rack up some appointments and sales at a winter bridal show, maybe it’s time to close up shop and go to work for Federal Express.

(Motivational thought comes now) Gather yourself, remember what’s exceptional about your product or service, refresh your staff on bridal show strategy, and get fired up!

Your competition doesn’t exist

For a day or two, ignore every direct and indirect competitor in your market, in the show, in the aisle. Focus on brides who haven’t purchased in your category, yet, AND MAKE APPOINTMENTS.

No excuses! Wishing you nothing but success!!

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Same-Sex Weddings

News, Analysis, Opinion – The Wedding Marketing Blog

lesbian-beach-weddingGlobally, the first laws enabling same-sex marriages passed in The Netherlands, on April 1, 2001. Since then, country after country, state after state (in the United States) have followed suit.  Each country, state, province, and locale has its own history, tradition, acceptance, and tendencies.

Business Observations

In the last couple of years, wedding industry professionals have begun to talk more openly about the opportunities, challenges, and cultural confusion in the new world of same-sex (and LGBT, generally) weddings.

It’s not as simple as posting a rainbow

Whether a business is gay-owned or gay-friendly, an announcement that one is accepting to same-sex weddings is no guarantee of acceptance or automatic riches. Whether the goal of serving a newly-minted niche is pure of heart, a financial  opportunity, or both, in many cases, there hurdles to jump.

Pent-Up Demand

Understandably, gay couples who have been together for extended periods of time will feel blue skies have appeared. However, choosing not to wait for legalization, many same-sex couples elected not to wait, and chose to have commitment ceremonies and celebrations. Others, feel urgency to get married, quickly, before a legal skirmish turns the clock back.

Whether or not an emotional response to legalization will result in full-scale weddings and receptions or private weddings, with a few close friends and family, is still to early to predict. It’s an evolutionary process.

What Same-Sex Couples Want

In the main, I’ve observed some consistent desires.

  • To be treated without grand distinction from their heterosexual friends, by family, friends, and wedding professionals.
  • To feel comfortable with wedding professionals and vice versa.

gay-men-wedding-holding-handsVendors Must Embrace A Cultural Shift

  • A business owner may have the right background and experiences to embrace same-sex weddings, now. That does not mean their employees have the appropriate context to work with the new customers.
  • Gay-friendly businesses and gay-owned businesses, alike, may not receive universal praise for enlarging their customer base. A few gay wedding planners have explained to me their ‘straight’ clientele, while comfortable with them (as individuals), was not as comfortable with their new-found clientele.

How big is the LGBT population in the U.S.?

In the United States, according to exit polling on 2008 Election Day for the 2008 presidential election, 4% of the national electorate self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, the same percentage as in 2004.[133] According to the 2000 United States Census there were about 601,209 same-sex unmarried partner households.[134]

Source: Wikipedia

Marketing Questions

With a market or less than 5% of the United States population, marketing to this specific community is challenging.

  • Do businesses market to LGBT couples through traditional bridal shows, websites, publication, and media?
  • There have already been alternative shows, websites, publications and other media come into the marketplace. Will there be  large enough LGBT demand to make, and keep, those businesses viable?
  • Will individual websites be able to navigate marketing to both straight and LGBT audiences, concurrently?

Lack of Tradition

Straight couples have experienced endless wedding traditions… with variances by region, religion, and other factors. Ceremonies and celebrations of couples of different religions and/or races have found ways to enjoy their love celebration, through evolutionary acceptance. Sadly, it’s still not unusual for traditionalists within their own families to resist participation in the wedding or reception, sometimes rejecting the future spouse or couple, entirely.

The LGBT community does not have a legacy of wedding traditions. Only now, is it developing. In my opinion, this is both good and challenging. To a great degree, couples can write their own rules, without the same peer or family pressure to do things a certain way.

When people spend a lifetime, feeling somewhat different, or being treated differently than others, the new era of wedding tradition and comfort levels is not a direct path. It’s evolutionary, at best, and unpredictable, at its most challenging.

Andy Ebon

Your experiences and comments are important

I am curious to know what early experiences you have had… good, bad, interesting, enlightening, etc, If you would  be kind enough to take a few minutes and contribute a story,  it would be of great service. Please attribute your geographic area, and share what you have learned,

Indeed, this is a wedding marketing blog. And part of marketing is understanding how we communicate outwardly, business to business, and business to consumer.  I’m not expecting any magic answers, but am hoping for insights as laws, traditions, and fellow human beings continue in their development of new norms.

Thank you in advance for participating in sharing…

Andy Ebon - signature

 

 

 

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

WEDDING MARKETING SECRET REVEALED: Jumpstart Your Wedding Bookings

wedding marketingAs mid-year approaches, one’s mind wanders toward self-assessment. Even if you don’t have a detailed marketing plan, you look at how many weddings are on-the-books, year-to-date, what the dollar value is, and how the appointment calendar looks.

What if appointments and sales are looking flat… a bit below last year… or downright dismal?

Don’t call around to commiserate with friends or friendly competitors. Pick up the phone and book yourself into the next available bridal show in your market. If there is more than one solid and reputable bridal show in your area, and you have the available inventory/capacity, book yourself into more than one.

“Don’t be stingy… Being in a bridal show puts you face-to-face with brides and grooms who products and services like yours.”

Here’s another secret

The most important goal for bridal shows is booking appointments… NOT making sales. Have goals, an appointment book, a polished booth, and a well-trained staff.

If you don’t know where to start, try search the BSPI Directory of Bridal Show Producers for a show producer in your area.  Then, don’t complain about your cash flow. Get out the credit card before the show sells out.

Summer and fall wedding shows are selling out, now! You’ve been warned!!

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog