3 Ways Bridal Shops Can Prepare for a Successful Wedding Fair

In a business where competition is cut-throat and brides are ever more discerning, making your bridal shop stand out from the crowd has never been more important. They say first impressions matter and this is so true of the wedding industry. So what other better way to have a one-on-one with a future bride than going to a wedding fair?

WEDDING FAIRS ARE VALUABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BRIDAL SHOPS TO WOO  BRIDES

You've made your decision and invested in a booth at a local or national wedding fair. All your serious competition will be there, dozens if not hundreds of them, all competing for brides' attention. Exhibiting at a wedding fair can be a financial toll and potential risk, but if you play your cards right, you will see your efforts pay off.

Wedding Expo Image via WedPlannerPro

Wedding Expo Image via WedPlannerPro

Here are 3 reasons why a bridal shop owner should not miss out on this opportunity to meet new clients:

1. Wedding fairs attract a numerous crowd, making it easy for couples to find everything they need for their wedding under the same roof. Sometimes shows have hundreds of exhibitors, from bridal shops and designers to florists, wedding planners, photographers, restaurants and so much more. This incredible selection of wedding professionals will put your brand in front of hundreds of potential new clients. In terms of increased brand visibility, a successful wedding fair is a gift that will keep giving even in the long term.

2. You get to advertise your bridal shop in front of numerous new clients. Most wedding fair offer exhibitors several types of advertising during the event.

3. During such events, you get to meet potential clients in person just at the perfect time to make a compelling first impression.

Rack of wedding dresses, Jesse Ranch

Rack of wedding dresses, Jesse Ranch

One mistake to avoid: De-prioritizing your own marketing efforts

Caught up in all the rush ahead of the opening day, some shops might find it hard to focus on their marketing efforts. With small business shops, the owner is oftentimes burned out well ahead the wedding fair. They multitask and focus on getting the dresses ready, finding the decor, paying the installments and training their bridal consultants. By the end of the day, finding time for marketing is not without its challenges. So they shift gear, hoping the wedding fair is popular enough to bring in enough foot-traffic. There’s even the concern that their own marketing efforts would be too small to actually make a dent.

Did you ever ask this question? Why should I even bother creating content for this wedding fair, when it’s just temporary news that I would just have to replace soon enough? If you can’t find time to get in full gear with your marketing for a wedding fair, know that even the smallest steps can make a difference. You have at your disposal all these free platforms to communicate this news, starting with your website and social media, to your newsletter and even brick-and-mortar store.

 

There are several reasons why doing your own marketing for a bridal show is beneficial, but it is the online that carries most benefits.

Better search ranking and increased brand visibility

All content on your website and Facebook page is indexed by search engines, like Google.com and Bing.com. Images, video and text are indexed and served as search results based on specific queries. Since search engines index all kind of content, even a banner on your website could help you stand out from the crowd when brides go to their Google tab to look for the next wedding shows in their city. Combine beautiful storytelling with a SEO hack to to optimize your chances of discoverability in search results:

Search engines serve results based on the information they get from text. This means they initially categorize an image based on the image name you gave it. It would defeat your purpose if you’d name your image as a standard “expo-banner.jpg”. You could get all creative with it, but do include wedding fair name, city and bridal shop name.  [Bridal Shop Name] at [Wedding Fair Name] in [City].

Direct communication with your subscribers

Sending newsletters to your existing list of subscribers is also a great way to get the ball rolling. After all, the most successful marketing remains word-of-mouth and what better way to start, than with the brides that already know of you? With a well-thought message, striking visual and clear subject line you could get a bride’s attention in one of her most personal and trusted online platforms: her inbox. Don’t just assume they must have heard you’ll be at that show. Take this opportunity to invite them to come and meet you, try on the newest styles and enjoy a beautiful wedding shopping experience.

Shareable content

Being present on social media when it really counts is a great way to take a ride with the wave of #trending. With brides participating at a wedding fair, they try dresses, see beautiful decors, taste menus and get to enjoy a thrilling experience. Most of them love to share their most interesting and happiest moments with their friends on social media. They hit the check-in button at the wedding show, they post pics of desserts and wedding bands or they ask for advice on which dress to buy.

3 ways bridal shops can prepare for a successful wedding fair

With all this local hype around the wedding topic, your brand has a great chance to stand out while getting involved in the chatter. You share your booth pics on your accounts, you reply to brides’ comments asking about opening hours and available designs, you give thanks to all of those who helped make your first day at the expo such a thrilling adventure, you share informational articles from your blog to educate brides on how to find the right silhouette, how to get ready for their first fitting.

You are actively interacting with your audience, building brand awareness and collecting leads for your event. This reflects back in several KPIs, such as reach, engagement, website visitors, appointment requests and booth visitors.

 

3 ways bridal shops can prepare for a successful wedding fair

The following tips imply a bit of an effort on your part and sure, some of them will add to your costs, however they pale in comparison to the winnings you could enjoy if you’d prepare ahead of time. Remember, the main goal when exhibiting at a wedding fair is to increase sales, so make sure your marketing supports this sales goal.

 

1. Research your opportunities thoroughly before you commit to a wedding fair

Wedding fairs are exciting and a good opportunity to increase your revenues, but as fabulous as they might be, you need to take the time to evaluate which of the upcoming shows will really work for your bridal shop. This one is particularly important for bridal shops that just started in the business and don’t have the resources to make a big appearance at every wedding fair in the season.

Image: National Bridal Show, Canada

Image: National Bridal Show, Canada

Before you pay the exhibiting fee make sure you’ve researched and evaluated all your opportunities. Consider:

  • The overall price category of the wedding professionals usually exhibiting at a show - Premium, middle or entry level? Are there usually discounts and huge sales available?
  • Check out previous editions to see which one got the best foot-traffic
  • How popular is the wedding show locally? How about nationally? Look for ads, see if there are any outdoor prints or if they got media placements in magazines, radio or TV
  • Are exhibitors offered access to paid advertising in the show’s official catalog, website or newsletter? Is there a sponsorship program?
  • How much flexibility do you have with booth decor? Can you work with your own contractor or with their approved companies?
  • What kind of furniture, rails, mannequins are included in the price, how much does it cost to add an extra?
  • Are there usually catwalks, fashion presentation or celebrity appearances?
  • How far is it to your store? Can brides reach out your location by foot or within a couple of minutes? How much it will cost you to move your stock to the show?
  • Can you give brides your branded promotional items? What is permitted and what not?
  • Is there a fair giveaway or contest? Do I want in?

The list above is by far complete, since each business has its own questions and particular background. Feel free to share yours in a comment below.

 

2. Optimize your communication platforms: website, social media and in-store

Use both your online presence and in-store experience to educate brides of your upcoming event.

In-store

  • Prepare an announcement banner for your reception. Make it fabulous and easy to read.
  • If you’re not going to have the store open for business during the wedding fair, prepare a banner to announce your schedule.

Website

  • Optimize your product photos to make sure brides visiting your website have a compelling browsing experience.
  • Consider adding videos for your most popular products and include your invitation to visit your booth.
  • Look at your website to see how easy it is to browse, share and book an appointment. Optimize product listings, product names and descriptions.
  • Create a dedicated landing page for your event and make sure it features a lead contact form. Consider implementing remarketing for visitors on this page.
  • Make sure you have newsletter subscription forms available.
  • Consider hosting an online giveaway for tickets to the wedding show. Ask brides to subscribe to your newsletter to join the giveaway.
  • Optimize your email signature to include show info and an invitation to visit you at the booth.

Social Media

  • Use social media to communicate the event and show off your products with a mix of sweet storytelling and beautiful visual content. You don’t need to count solely on professional photography, your smartphone could create viral content too.
  • Time to show off your most beautiful gowns. Take close up shots of your most appealing dresses, get video footage of those Swarovski crystallized gowns and don’t forget to include decor, employees or accessories from your stores.
  • Create a Facebook event, share it with your friends, your employees and customers, change your Page cover and post updates of your most beautiful products.
  • If you have the budget, invest in advertising. The fastest way to achieve that is through Facebook advertising. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it, but consider a minimum daily budget for the days before the show.
  • If you’re looking to get a niche audience for your ads, see if the bridal show organizers offer advertising opportunities. get an advertorial or banner on the show website or maybe a slot in their promotional newsletter, you're already one step closer to a successful wedding fair.

 

3. Create a compelling wedding dress shopping experience at your booth

Booth display

The main issue when attending a wedding show is not being able to fully reproduce the decor, comfort and intimacy of your bridal shop. A fab booth is an unforgettable sight, lush flowers, welcoming decor, large mirrors and branded banners. It would be nice to see every exhibitor investing so much in a memorable appearance, but even a limited budget, could still give brides a compelling shopping experience outside your flagship store.

Booth at Unveiled Bridal Expo

Booth at Unveiled Bridal Expo

There is a minimum of things you should prepare:

  • A large branded banner to display your brand
  • Additional lights
  • Mannequins
  • Fresh flowers
  • Treats
  • Furniture (seats, one small table or even better a reception office)
  • Oversized mirrors
  • Branded outfits for your consultants (don’t forget about name tags)
  • Laptop or TV showing videos of your products

Promotional materials

A wedding expo is a great opportunity to introduce your business to brides that have just heard of your bridal shop for the first time. This is why it is essential to have with you:

  • Business cards
  • Flyers
  • High quality print catalogs
  • Promotional vouchers
  • Branded prints (roll-ups work very well for small spaces, whereas wall banners fit in perfectly in large booths)
  • Branded pens, stationery and agendas (you will be taking notes, making appointments and sales, make sure even the smallest thing convey your brand’s story)
  • Tablet or laptop with an internet connection (you will not be able to bring all your stock at a wedding expo, so make sure you have a fast way to show potential customers your entire selection)

Giveaways

  • Giveaways are great ways to collect leads and improve your brand’s visibility, at a time when all retailers work hard to gain brides’ attention. Most businesses will host giveaways at their booth, invite brides to visit the booth, check out the dress selection and potentially win a veil, a tiara or even a discount.
  • Make sure you announce it on social media too and just to make sure, include a print banner at your booth so that all visitors can see it.
  • Make it easy and fast to join in. Have print cards or a tablet at hand to get their contacts.
  • Inform participants of your giveaway’s terms and conditions upfront.
  • Announce the winner on social media and send all participants a Thank You note via text or email. Ask if they want to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Consider offering a limited-time discount to cash in these leads.

Successful wedding fairs are not easy to achieve. Yes, there is a considerable amount of preparation involved and it starts long before you book your booth. But don't forget how valuable this opportunity is to increase your sales. Plan your strategy accordingly to make sure you will be making the most of your investment.