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

‘Bouquet Couture’ is a ShowStopper at Bridal Spectacular

wedding bouquets

Wedding Bouquets are a common purchase for most brides. They come in many shapes and sizes; some more creative than others. In most markets, there are a number of floral designers that provide superior style and design to suit the discerning bride.

But, In walking the trade show floor of the Bridal Spectacular wedding show on Friday, one particular business jumped out at me as a ShowStopper, Bouquet Couture.

What they make…

“One-of-a-kind wedding bouquets for the bride and bouquets and boutonnieres for the entire bridal party.”

wedding bouquetIn chatting with the owners, Emily and Nicole, they emphasized a commitment to not repeat their work. So, from a design standpoint, each bride receives one-of-a-kind design and finished product. Photos and displays that showcase their work is for example and inspiration, only.

If a bride says, “I want to get THAT one!.”, she is politely told that the Bouquet Couture work-process is a little different. They interview each customer for style preferences, theme, hobbies, personal history, and other symbolic notions.

The final product is not simply beautiful or stylish, but a physical and emotional representation of the soul of the bride, 

Matchbook BouquetThe matchbox-bouquet (pictured right) is an excellent example of creativity meeting personal history. The bouquet was designed and constructed for a couple’s 40th anniversary celebration. During their decades together, they had collected matchbooks and matchboxes and restaurants, nightclubs, and the like. 

The finished bouquet makes a stunning show piece; much more dazzling than glass bowl, filled with matchbooks.

Among many exceptional businesses and show exhibits, Bouquet Couture brought me to a dead stop. And yes, they make boutonnieres, too.

Just brilliant creative work…

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Bridal Show Success: How to measure it

Bridal ShowBridal Show season is in full effect. If you’ve been wise enough to take part in one or more credible bridal shows, it’s likely you’ve made lots of appointments… maybe even a few sales at the show.

It’s common for bridal show representative to make-the-rounds in the last couple of hours of the show.

There are typically two points of conversation.

  • “How has the show been for you?”
  • “Just wanted to let you know, we included the paperwork to renew for next show(s) in the packed placed on your table, this morning. If you renew, today, you’ll receive a discount (some %). You can stop by our booth to ask any question or drop off the paperwork.”

Question #1 is a trick question, for most people. Bridal show success is not measured by the number of brides that came through the door. Winter shows usually draw bigger crowds than summer or fall shows (in most markets).

question-markToo many attendees can even be a negative. It puts everyone in a state of overwhelm. One wants quality time with brides and their entourage.

While some exhibitors (particularly inexperienced ones) invest bridal show time to make sales, most wedding companies know that primary goal is to schedule appointments with prospective clients. If you make some sales that nice, but if you take too much time attempting sales, that focus will distract from making appointments.

For most exhibitors, the right answer to Question #1 is:

“It’s too early to say whether the show has been good. I won’t know for 30-60 days after I’ve worked through the appointments I scheduled.”

There’s another element in play. Not all brides that come to a show are on the same buying timeline. Some became engaged last week, some three months ago, and so on. If a business is not in the bride’s immediate buying priorities, it’s difficult to schedule an appointment at the show, let alone make a sale.

The better move is to ask when one might be in contact, down the line. Or, working back from the wedding date, use the various planning calendar timelines to schedule emails, postcards, and phone calls.

Not all brides will follow the ‘standard timeline priorities’, but many will. Brides have many decisions to make and can’t/don’t make them all at once. Acknowledge that reality, and do your best to use that information to your advantage.

Question #2: Renewing for the next Bridal Show, today!

You’re tired… It feels like the last week has been entirely focused in the bridal show. Your feet hurt and maybe a bit edgy from all your bride interactions.

You are just finishing the bridal show and the show producer already has their hand out for more money, for the next show.

Get over it!

It’s entirely likely that your business used some kind of urgency-based-promotion to entice the bride to make an appointment or a purchase. The Bridal Show Producer is doing the same thing.

Unless this is your first show, or something has gone dramatically wrong, during this show (and I don’t mean weather), then renewing for the next show should be a foregone conclusion.

By making a commitment, today, you benefit from a discount, lock down your booth assignment, and minimize unnecessary decision making time.

In my experience as an exhibitor, I usually contracted for multiple shows. Whatever the situation, I asked the Bridal Show Producer NOT to swing by my booth and ask these perfunctory questions. The only exception was to remind me, IF I has said I would drop off a signed agreement for the next show, and had failed to do so. And please…. never ask me if the show was successful (for the reasons stated above). To me, asking me if the show was successful was, at best, like a tele-marketer reader a script. At worst, it was insult to my intelligence.

To me, the funny aspect for all business people is (and the bride)…

“We like to buy… We don’t like being sold to.”

Do your best to put these simple decisions and actions in perspective. These interactions are not complicated. Just try to see matters through the other person’s perspective, whether you are a show producer or exhibitor.

It really makes the relationship much less bumpy.

Hope your bridal show participation is successful. And, don’t forget to do the follow up… The business that does the best follow-up is THE BIG WINNER.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

 

 

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert