Over the weekend I was a vendor at the Here Comes the Brides Bridal Show at the Soaring Eagle Casino. This wasn’t technically my “first” show, I have had booths at county fairs and small venues, but this was my first major show. I was impressed!
I’m so glad I participated in this show as I learned a few things and I thought I would share with my fellow business owners and clients!
1. As a vendor, donate items to be included in the grab bag. For this particular show, the first 100 brides got a grab bag and they were lined up at the door an hour in advance to get one! The thing is, as a business owner, you need to be a bit creative. Giving away 100 gifts can get pricey, and you don’t want to do just any ol’ thing that is going to get tossed in the trash can. Think about all of the trinkets you have acquired from local businesses… do you run to your junk drawer (everyone has one!) and check out your stash of pens when you need to hire a professional? Do any of you really use those thin weak magnets on your refrigerator? I ended up donating $1 scratch offs and attached instructions to contact me if the ticket was a winner. I gave away a prize to each winner. Fun for me, fun for you! Who doesn’t like a scratch off?
2. Truffles. Seriously! I made truffles to have at my booth instead of mints or candy and they were a huge draw! So many people stopped to grab a truffle and somehow that translated into talking about the truffles, then talking business. Which is the point as a vendor. Magic truffles! Message me if you’d like the recipe!
3. If you are a bride attending a show, bring pre-printed labels with your name, contact info, and your wedding date. It was so helpful when I was talking to brides and could just grab a label. Plus, it saves you from repeating the same information over and over!
4. At one point, one of the heads of the show was speaking on stage and she said something that really stuck with me. She was telling brides about how the vendors at the show are the real deal. They are legitimate, established business owners who have experience and treat their clients with care. After all, they have paid to be there, to cater to you! Photography is such a saturated market, but it’s kind of like this: a little car and a limousine are both vehicles, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. One may cost more than the other, but there are reasons behind that. You want to be sure you’re hiring a true skilled professional and you’re likely to find that at a larger show.
5. As a vendor, walk around and make friends! Pass out business cards, take business cards, and introduce yourself. You can make some wonderful connections with other local business owners that may lead to something great down the road. It’s so awesome to have friends in the same industry as you.
6. If you are going to donate any prizes for a drawing or have a drawing at your booth, be sure you are giving away something that brides actually want. They also paid an entry fee to come see you, so treat them right! Who knows, you may gain a lifelong client. Don’t try to “hook” them with a prize that has tons of strings attached. Plus, it feels good to just do something nice for someone!
7. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who stopped at my booth but I truly enjoyed speaking with every single one. I loved hearing about their wedding plans! As a vendor, I now know how important it is to stand the whole time and smile! Be approachable! Don’t hide behind a table.
8. Don’t wear heels. Just don’t. Especially if you are 8 months pregnant. Bring water to drink. My throat was so sore from all the talking!
9. Image is important. You are your brand. It speaks volumes to me when dealing with a professional service if things are clean, and well put together. That goes for people too! I expect to see someone well dressed, courteous, and professional. Your booth should also be appealing to the eye and inviting!
10. If you are a bride, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and not just about price. Some of my favorite questions were the specific ones such as “are you insured?” or “how many images will I get?”. When you just ask “how much is it?” you’re not getting a clear idea of what it is you are actually paying for. Also, any photographer worth their weight will gladly schedule a consultation with you and go over any concerns you may have.
You would think as a photographer I would have remembered to bring my camera to take photos of my booth…buuuuuut I didn’t. So, cell phone it is!