Two years ago in the noBs forum, Marian, our resident “Howard Cosell” replied to a wedding display booth post and started a meandering, info rich thread based on his observations, critiques and rants on photo displays at wedding shows. Good stuff.
Marian attended many wedding shows since then, and has posted many, many on going samples, ideas, strategies, tips, what to do, what NOT to do…..
1. Tables- Are yours “bare” or skirted already? Some places don’t provide skirts. It looks “cheesy” if the table is not skirted. Bring something or call ahead of time.
2. Do you have separators between you and the next vendor? I have seen photographers put up extra walls, so it’s more of an an enclosed area, for their own booth.
3. Can you swap tables if you find that you are next to another photographer? You will find it hard to “compete” with 2 side by side photographers. People will think you are all one company and you will be passed by.
4. If your table can be “pulled in,” this will create an area that customers can “walk into” and you can devote your attention.
5. Electricity- If you need it for your table for anything, is it included? Yes, we have been “whacked” with $100 fees right on convention floors, if you want power! Attendants with IPads walk around and check to see if you have power and/or “stealing” from someone else. (YES!) At the same time, if the hall is smaller, check to see if your table has a WORKING outlet near you. Worst case scenario, bring an extension cord with a strip outlet. It has saved us many times!
6. Your display- Show products that you produced and can sell! If a couple wants to see a parent’s album, have one there so they can look at. People who browse albums with liquids in their hand need to politely told to be very careful. We have had people spill things on the table. Bring paper towels, rags, etc. Obviosuly, tuck these things under the table.
7. Your give away material. – Price lists, flyers, etc. Do your homework and produce something that easy to read just for the tradeshow. There is NO time for them to be reading an extensive price list/flyer, etc. It confuses them and you want to (important here) make eye contact and speak with them briefly. Let them take additional material and place it in their bags or a member of their “posse.”
8. Talk to the people who are PAYING FOR THE WEDDING. – If a bride & groom are there and parents are there, quickly (jokingly) include the folks in your 2-3 min “sales pitch.” Mom and Dad are paying, so make sure they hear the information.
9. Depending on traffic flow, don’t waste a lot of time on a couple that you feel you will “lose.” Ask quickly, where/when is the wedding. If it’s a “losing” situation for you then abandon the conversation. There will be others walking by also.
10. Your enemy is your friend. (The competition will be there!) So when you set up in a hall, get there early to set up and walk around see what are photographers are there. You could strike up a conversation, you could possibly get a price list, you could possibly get work from them down the road. Extend your hand and meet people!
11. Questions- You will be asked these…
a. What is the coverage? 6-7-xx hours?
b. What about a 2nd photographer?
c. Do I get all the digital files?
d. Are they watermarked?
12. Freebies- Does the bridal show give away prizes? They have raffles at the end for services that the vendors provide. In another words, someone wins a free engagement session from Ben’s Photography. The bride will go to your booth for the specifics. Do your homework on where/when and how much this will cost you personally for the session, to get them to book you. Keep in mind that other vendors will do this also.
13. Table placement – (I just remembered this.) Try NOT to be next to someone (bakery) that gives away free samples. Girls will plug the walking aisle while they are sampling and will walk past your booth while eating.
14. Breath! – Yours and the customers. (I’m not joking here.) So help me,I have almost been bowled over by some people. So, bring some breath mints, breath drops for yourself as you talk to clients. We often put out a small bowl of those chewable sugar candies. Girls (like bees) have walked straight into our booth first for the candy and then we start talking to them.
15. Gather names somehow! Some bridal shows automatically give the names of all the participants who show up. If yours doesn’t, put some index cards out and offer someone a free “whatever” that you will choose after the wedding day. Make sure you get their EMAIL ADDRESS. You could send flyers, specials to them later…
16. Sample images– Can you put up a small computer screen/LCD panel with a USB Stick to show a slide show? During some shows I have purposely advanced the pictures to show pictures of black weddings, oriental weddings, etc as the individuals approached. Why? Because they take an interest in you, knowing that you have done these weddings.
17. DON’T sit down at all! You may have chairs, but suck it up. It may be tiring on your feet but be active with people as they walk by. “Engage” these brides by giving them a compliment on their hair, clothing, virtually anyhting that they can smile and head over your way.
18. Have pens in your pocket to write with. Some bridal shows want you to to initial a form that the bride gives to you. That way, the vendor knows that she has stopped at each booth.
19. Your booth setup. Are you bringing large prints, 16×20 and above ? Where do you hang or place these? We have used lights stand with a horizontal bar (Covered with a large white or black background) to hold the prints up. Make sure they are at just above your head, when when someone is speaking with you, so they can SEE your work. If they are lower, then you are physically obstructing, your own images. SHOW your work!
20. Thought process– What is it that YOU do better than your competition? (The competition WILL be there!) You have to relay this to the bride somehow. Your objective is (no more than 5 minutes per prospective bride) to get her to come back to your studio, for a full presentation.
a. Is your personality?
b. Your artistic talents? (better have samples of it)
c. Why should someone hire YOU, instead of the photographer who has a booth, the next row over?
21. Dress for the occasion. I have seen guys in sloppy clothes, jeans, etc. The old role of “first impression” makes a lasting impression, still hold true.
22. When dealing with parents, be courteous and give them their respect! A polite No sir or yes maam, goes a long way. If you want their money, then “pull out all the stops!”
23. Consider a bridal show like being on stage. If you are shy and not confident with people, you will lose clients. Be friendly, be assertive and have a postive attitude. Have fun too!
24. This is “Marketing 101” at its’ best. Do it, have fun and learn from it.
25. Your images! Show color, black and white, sepia tone, if you can. Bottom line, a variety of images goes very well.
Thanks Marian….some great tips and useful information here. If you’re a member, GO HERE and check out the entire thread. It’s massive.