Lately I have been thinking about entering into a local Bridal Show but feeling unsure if it is worth it. Local Bridal shows in my area run 500.00 to 750.00 for a booth and I am still just a home baker..but I am almost booked for the year in Weddings. I am just wondering if I will recoup our cost and get exposure.
I guess my question would be for you, what do you hope to gain from attending the show? If you are already operating near capacity, do you really need more brides? Do you think you will be able to take on more orders if brides like you cake? It sounds like whatever you are already doing to get business is working pretty well for you at the moment.
"Payback" from a bridal show can be over the long term, so if you go that route, don't be disappointed if your checkbook doesn't balance "cost of show" with "orders booked" inside of a few weeks. Some do but many reap the benefits over the long haul, not immediately. Brides are shopping months in advance and many are not yet at the decision making stage while at a show. For many, this is the Information Gathering stage.
Remember, the BIG benefit at a show is the networking with the other vendors and building the relationship for cross-referrals (See my article in CC Magazine, Aug '10 issue, "Getting 'In' With Wedding Vendors"). Booking a bride is almost just a side benefit.
You mention you are a home baker. I don't know if that means a licensed home baker or a hobby-home-baker, but if you are not licensed, don't even think about it. Around here, show organizers give their vendor list to the health dept, who checks the list against their files. My HD person told me she shut down 2 cake ladies at one of the biggest shows in town. These ladies spent over $1500 for a booth at this show just to end up with the HD on their front porch with a cease-n-desist order. If you are licensed, bring a copy of your license with you to the show. Sometimes the HD scouts the shows, too.
It's really worth it... where else can a bride meet you, see your work, and taste your cake? No webpage, radio spot, magazine ad, etc can do that.
I do one twice a year... the first one was a bomb (no one was there... it was on Father's Day), but the second one was awesome! My goal is to do very few special occasion cakes and concentrate on weddings.
I am a licensed home baker so thanks for the tip on bringing our license to the show. I am really trying to get our name out there and network. We actually advertise on Craigslist and you would be surprised on how many Brides have contacted us through it. There is a local Bridal show that we will be attending, but as guests next week. I want to see what a show is like before we commit to spending a large amount of money. I just know that even though we do a lot of children's birthday parties, Weddings is where we make our money. Thanks for the advice IndyDebbi and Staryberry