The point of setting a wedding planning business is to close a deal with the client. That’s understandable, but like any other business, there is a right place and timing on getting the sale done.
A lot of wedding planners opt to join bridal shows for several reasons; to know more about their competitors, to have their names known in the industry, and ultimately, to meet prospects and hopefully turn them into profitable clients. Bridal show participation is very advantageous since it is an assured venue where your captured market is there with the intention of booking their wedding vendor, if not on the spot then sometime later.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A BRIDAL SHOW?
A bridal show is an assembly of wedding vendors with an aim to make a sale. It is held in one venue divided into several booths housing the participating vendors. The event normally last for one or more days. Organizers utilize marketing media to promote the event and encourage engaged couples to attend the bridal show. In order to capture a bigger market, organizers usually keep the participating wedding vendors random and comprehensive. So other than fellow wedding planners, expect to see other players in the industry as well. Vendors from different categories such as venue, caterer, stylist, florist, gowns, audio and lights system, invitations, photographers, videographers, cakes, wedding favours, etc. will most likely be present.
For new wedding planners, a bridal show will be a big help for you get started on booking weddings. It allows you to present your business on a wider audience and also open doors in networking with fellow wedding vendors.
Based from experience, guests normally behave in two ways when they attend a bridal show. One is they roam around the booths gathering brochures and business cards and will just wait until they get home to filter all the details and call only the vendors they need. The other comes with a purpose in mind. They usually have a list on hand and drop by only on the booths of vendors that they are lacking. They will sit down on your booth and ask you questions about your package and other amenities included. They are the one who usually haggles for a discount and freebies. The latter is usually the one you have to concentrate on because they are the ones who are likely to hire you.
WHY HARD SELLING AT BRIDAL SHOWS WORKS AT YOUR DISADVANTAGE
Participating in a bridal show is not without a cost. You have to pay a fee to reserve a slot and be able to sell your services. This is of course an investment that you want to be returned soon, if not sooner. But hard selling to a client through bridal shows is not really an advantage at times. Here’s why:
1. Too much information
Remember that you are not the only booth that they will drop by on all throughout their visit. So there you are, explaining your services up to the last bits. Chances are the guests will not even remember a single word you said as they move on to the next booth. Why? The next wedding planner will probably offer almost the same services you have mentioned, will most likely have the same rate as yours, will offer just about the same discount you just offered. All these will be a blur memory for the guests. It will be impossible for them to retain everything and then single you out.
2. Random shoppers
Majority of the brides showing up at bridal fairs are considered window shoppers. If you ask them, they don’t even have a definite date yet for the wedding. Very few will book on the spot; some of them will take weeks, even months before they can decide whom to book.
3. Avoid looking too eager
Hard selling especially for the type of service that you offer can sometimes come off as too desperate. Try not use too much hard sell tactics during a bridal show and avoid being to pushy. If you project the wrong image, word will spread throughout the venue and cause you to potentially lose business. Also at times when you are at the height of hard selling you get to commit a lot to a client; big discount, additional service apart from what’s included on your package, and other freebies. And at the end of the day, you will realize that the sale will cost you more than what you are supposed to gain.
A lot of brides and grooms also make their research before they go to a bridal show. There are blogs warning soon-to-weds how some vendors using hard sell tactics on bridal shows are just scams to get them to book but are not really good enough to deliver well. Avoid being categorized with these vendors by only offering within your range and commit to your words.
4. Noise and crowd
Bridal shows tend to be so loud and crowded with all the other vendors talking all at once and the venue music blaring in the background. With all these hype, you will just be wasting your effort talking because none of these will be retained in the customer’s memory.
HOW TO BEST HANDLE AN INQUIRY AT BRIDAL FAIRS?
1. Prepare lots of brochure and business cards.
Arm yourself with these necessities in order to have your business name to be included on the guests list of choices. Ideally a brochure should be catchy enough so the guest will be interested to keep it and read it afterwards. Keep the texts to a minimum, make sure it’s updated and just contain the important points; your rate, service coverage, and how they can contact you. The business card will be a lot smaller than the brochure, so to be sure that the guest will not lose it, staple it on your brochure. The number of brochures you will bring should be based on the previous attendance numbers for the prior years. You can also put a small table fronting your booth where you can display your marketing materials so just in case it gets busy and you cannot entertain some of the guests, they can just get your card and can contact you later on.
2. Have an inquiry logbook ready.
Too much information works the other way around. While the bridal show guests will have a hard time keeping track of every vendor present, you yourself will not be able to remember every guest you were able to speak with. So make sure you are able to log all the guests who pass by your booth. Just prepare a log sheet where they can input their contact information and event details. Ask for their name, date of event, contact number and email address. You can also prepare a notepad and an empty glass bowl where guests can just write down their information and leave it on the bowl. After the day is done, make sure to consolidate this information in a single database so you can follow up their inquiry later on.
3. Come up with a brief but effective sales pitch.
A bridal show normally last for eight to ten hours with more than a thousand attendees. To save time and effort, you can come up with an effective sale script so you can manage your time well and accommodate more customers. An effective spiel may include an introduction of your name and the company, one sentence to explain what you do, and will they care to sign in their contact details on your log book for reference? Just be sure that you are able to present your value proposition well to the right customer/s.
4. Concentrate your efforts on potential clients only.
Now this is a skill you have to learn as a business person. Learn to distinguish the “booking client” from the “just browsing and passing through client”. Save your time and voice to those who has the most probability to book you for their wedding.
5. Arrange for a business meeting afterwards.
Carefully spot a “booking client”, this is the one you are supposed to be giving more of your time. This particular client will look more interested than the rest because he or she will be willing to sit down with you and inquire on your packages. The smarter shoppers will take time to look through the information they have collected. And this is where doing a soft sell works better. Just give them enough information to make them want to book you. And when you are sure that they are interested, schedule consultations on the spot. Getting them to agree to meet you in your office for consultations is at least 50% of the way to getting the contract. Jot down their information and agreed meeting date on your planner so you can call them to verify the schedule and confirm the meeting details.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE BRIDAL SHOW?
After the bridal show, make sure you have your database intact. Utilize the information you have on hand by again touching base with your potential clients, especially to those who have committed to meet you in your office. You can send them an email or a text message thanking them for visiting your booth, and will they be interested to discuss your services in detail? Keep track of the follow up status, whether they are interested or declined your invitation. Make your communication with them consistent but not irritably so. For extra tips check Heidi Thompson’s follow up strategy. Finally, close that sale!