I talked with the boss today and we're thinking of doing a bridal show. There are two coming up that are local for $500, which didn't seem too bad. We could make the cost back with a couple of cake orders. Having never done a bridal show before, can you give me any advice? Have you learned anything that you didn't realize going into the show, or did anyone else there have an idea that you wanted to borrow for your next show? I've never even been to a bridal show (although I've been married 24 years!)!
Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Hi! For one, bridal shows are hard work packed into a weekend, but I think they are a lot of fun.
I've done a couple and just learned through trial and error, so I'm glad to share the tips I've learned.
* For the brides, they are on information overload, so I think it is better for to write down their information and follow up, than hand them your information. I've found that the leads are better qualified...and you have a "hot" list to work from. They liked you enough to share their email and phone number. Also, printed marketing materials cost a lot of money and most of the time they will end up in the trash once they get home. Have a stack of business cards and that's it. Make it EASY for them to leave their information with you. Several clipboards for them to sign up...contact slips left in a drop box...something.
*Make your booth look as dressed up and coordinated as possible. Put out your *best* photos in nice picture frames and your *best* dummy cakes. Your goal should be to impress them enough to get their info, not book the sale.
*Samples - Hmmm...lol. Maybe others can chime in, but I hate being in the position of cake server at a show because then you don't get to talk to people. I think the best idea that I have heard is putting the cake samples as mini cupcakes, or in the mini condiment containers w/ lids and your contact info. I've tried several ways, and I have booked the same amount of clients by doing a show w/ samples, and doing a show without samples.
*Don't expect a crazy amount of business. Most likely you'll make your money back, but don't expect huge numbers.
*Offer some sort of special discount. Give them a reason to hire you. I offered a crazy special one year. Buy your wedding cake within a week and get the groom's cake free. It was just a standard chocolate cake w/ strawberries. I only booked one because most don't want to make such a quick decision, which is fine b/c i didn't have to give away too much free cake. That client also wrote the nicest referral note, and I got business through a venue I had never worked with before. You don't have to go that extreme though.
*Connect with as many vendors as possible. They will be the ones to boost your business in the long run.
That's all I can think of for now. Hope that helps!
Wow, thanks CakeForte! Good tips. I was thinking of offering a special: if you meet me at the show, give me your contact information, and book a cake any time afterward, I'll give you a free 6" matching top tier for your first anniversary. I was thinking of doing mini cupcakes for samples, too, so I didn't have to waste time serving, like you said. I didn't know if I should be prepared to book a cake then, or maybe just get info and book later, so I guess you think concentrating on gathering info is better than trying to book. Sounds reasonable.
Anyone else have any tips? Thanks in advance!
i used vista print to get my brochures and other handouts done. stocking up on them when they were free. I did order the large postcards and got 2 of my cakes printed on one side and put my offer on the other side. that way i was able to cut them in half and get twice the amount. For samples i made mini cupcakes and showed them on a tall cupcake stand. and just kept restocking them. These were for anyone to take. For every bride that attends i think theres about 3 or 4 tagalongs. I made a seperate sample of wedding cake, slightly smaller then a real slice and packaged in the wilton single serve boxes (which they have now discontinued) and handed only to brides with my business card attached. encouraging them to take it home and share with their fiance. the shows that i have done have only been one day events, so not over tiring or long. i wish they were 2 day, as it is pretty expensive getting new dummies made.
CakeForte hit a lot of the main points, so I'm not sure what else to add.
- Make sure you have at least two people at the booth. This is increase your business's ability to talk to more people. I know it's different, but at the Bridal & Quinceanera Expo my sister and I show, my BIL also goes and it's GREAT! A lot of the quince girls dad will talk with him about the equipment rental part of the business.
- If you are a bit slow but the booth in front of you is busy, hand out your information to those people. Again, our booth was the busy one and the make-up counter in front of us would hand out their info to the ppl. that were waiting on us.
- Don't be afraid to change the configuration of your booth. Thanks to indydebi, we put the table vertically to the side w/our dummies/info and draped a tablecloth over our boxes & cart and put our laptop on that. This enabled us to have better interaction with the people.
- For my flyers, I put one of the dummies I had on display on the front of the flyer. People may not remember names, but they remember images. "Oh, I remember this cake from the show! She was nice. Let's call her."
- RELAX! Yes, you are on your feet ALL day long and repeat the same thing over and over, but enjoy the day! Remember, selling is really also about selling yourself. The business next to you can have the greatest product in the world, but if they are snotty, unfriendly, and overall punks, who is going to want to do business with them? No one. My BIL teases my sister and me at the shows that we talk and are goofy, but he knows we sell our products! We get business because we offer a great product at a reasonable price and are friendly.
ccr03, you are so right about selling yourself. I know that we've gotten several cakes booked after the client went to the bakery down the road from us where they have been snotty to people in the past. I had one huge order from someone who just happened to be driving by and didnt' know we were there after they left the other bakery (which was recommended to them by the reception venue between both bakeries). They stopped by just to check us out, and ended up booking, all the while talking about the horrible staff at the other place. Quite frankly I think they would have booked with the devil just to have gotten away from the other bakery.
Do you think 3 people are necessary--two to work with customers and one to serve or refill cupcake stands? I could try to convince a friend to help, or get the boss and his wife to both come with me.
I don't think three people are necessary, two would work just fine. A third person wouldn't hurt though. My BIL was a helpful back-up person and our errand/labor boy as well . Just make sure whoever is at the table is KNOWLEDGEABLE about your product. My sister and I have different products, but are knowledgeable enough about each other's product to be able to talk about it.
Oh, and I do mini cupcakes. I transport them in the cake pans so I can just reach for the pan and offer. I think I had like 6 pans last time. I took a rolling cart with shelves, so I just kept them stacked in the cart. The same cart we draped the tablecloth over and used at a laptop stand.
I tried to upload pics of my booth, but it didn't work. If you PM me your email, I would be more than happy to share.
oh yeah...word will get around fast about the "snooty vendor" at the bridal show.
Also take snacks and some water because you won't really get a chance to take a break.
As a trade show/expo veteran, I find that the most important aspect is the work done AFTER the show. If you take the time to get contact info from brides, be sure that you're ready to do the follow up work! If you don't (or aren't willing to) follow up, you might as well just take that $500 and throw it away (or give it to me ).
Plan on spending as much time after the show with follow up as you did preparing...it's soooo worth it!
I agree with the previous posters that advised us to keep it simple and have fun.