Bridal shows are both magical and stressful for vendors and brides. It’s a joyous pressure-cooker of love and to-do lists. Photographers and vendors are hoping to fill their calendars with dream clients, but unfortunately they don’t come in the doors with special name tags saying “I want Strouse Photography and need no convincing”. If only it were that easy! Alas, bridal shows are still effective, for us at least, so we wanted to share some of our tips!
Here are our top four pieces of advice for making the most of your bridal show investment:
#1 - QUALITY OVER QUANITY
When the gates open and thousands of brides pour in, it’s tempting to take a “faster is better" approach with each potential client. At the core, we all take pictures, bake cakes, or spin records. The thing that sets each of us apart is our approach to our craft, our personalities, the services we offer, and how those things match up with the bride’s dream for her wedding.
Allie and I try to take as much time as possible with each bride that stops by our booth to hear her story, what they are looking for in a photographer, and how Strouse photography could possibly fulfill some of those needs.
TIP: Ask her questions...not just the: "What's your date?" question. Really talk to her! At that moment, she’s the most important bride in a sea of thousands and you will truly make a connection. We can't stress how valuable this has been for us. We have really gotten to know our girls and in return have enjoyed working with all of them!
#2 - MEET OTHER VENDORS
At first, it was very intimidating for us to get outside our booth and meet the other vendors. We started small and forced ourselves to reach out to the vendors in our immediate surrounding area. We’ve been placed next to cake vendors (gained a few pounds by the smell alone), reception venues, and deejays and all of them have welcomed us warmly and graciously with their advice and suggestions. As your courage increases, try to move outside of your aisle to the rest of the room. How rare is it to have this many passionate wedding professionals in one room. Take time to shake some hands and sample some cake!
TIP: Try to avoid “making the rounds” at the beginning when vendors are stressed about setting up and preparing OR in the thick of the peak times for speaking with brides. Wait until the show dies down a bit and you can commiserate about how sore your feet are together!
#3 - SMILE AND LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE THROUGH!
Bridal shows allow a specific number of each type of wedding professionals. You are sure to be one of several photographers so focus on what makes you unique. For us, it’s the fact that we are a young husband/wife team with bubbly personalities and a love for love and people. We try to smile at every passing bride, bridesmaid, friend, mom, dad, husband, fiance, sister, brother, kid, everyone (whether they need our services or not). We also try to listen intently when a bride is sharing her engagement story or wedding dreams. We even jot down the cool details so we won't forget! Mainly, we BE OURSELVES. We love spending time together and we love our job so we try to pass on that passion to potential clients in every aspect whether it be our appearance, booth setup, the questions we ask, on down to the care we take in selecting pictures to display.
#4 - THE ART OF THE FOLLOW UP
FOLLOW UP #1 - After the show, we email our booth brides (the ones we had a conversation with...got their email from our sign up sheet) directly and personally. We want them to know we listened and we care so we'll include details of our conversations! We also love coffee, and any chance to treat our clients, so in the email we ask to grab some coffee together!
FOLLOW UP #2 - Shortly after we email our girls, we write a thank you note to all of them. Yes, each note is carefully handwritten with a personal message and hand addressed. I love writing letters and I love getting mail so I combined two of my loves into one for this follow up method.
FOLLOW UP #3 - Finally, we follow up with another email about a week or so later asking if we can answer any questions.
OTHER FOLLOW UPs - For the brides at the show that we didn’t get a chance to meet, we send them a quick email note introducing ourselves and asking if we can meet!
While our methods may be a bit intense, they have worked with us and we've gained several really good friends out of it as well! We love our clients and love that we got to know them, even in a sea of people at shows!
Before we depart, we wanted to share what some of our booths have looked like over the last couple of years and who we got to meet at them! We've done 5 shows in 2 years and have really seen our investment put to good use! Not to mention, we now have some amazing friends!
Please excuse the cell phone pictures!
January 2015 Show
August 2014 Show
Can you tell we need to increase our creativity of booth design? :-D We got to reconnect with KASEY & JOSH,
We don't have a picture! AH! This show, we got to reconnect with MERIE & MATT and meet JULIE & BLAIR, HALEY & DAMIAN, DEIRDRE & BRANDON, KATE & BRENDAN (pictures coming at the end of the month) (through a VENDOR that was at the show), RACHEL & TIM and GRETA & THOMAS!
August 2013 - OUR FAVORITE
We also met JANINE & AARON!
We hope these suggestions offer a bit of relief as you face a mass of gorgeous smiling brides in need of your services the next time you go to a show!
What tips can you offer us?