experimenting Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 2:06am
post #1 of

I'm doing my first wedding expo next month and have been reading the threads on it. I think I've found most of my answers, but still have a few.

 

I think I will go with one flavor for my samples. What flavor? I'm thinking white cake with buttercream. American BC or SMBC? I plan on putting a small sample in a souffle cup with a lid cut from a sheet cake. Maybe a silly question, but for those that do it this way, do you have enough room to pipe a small dollop of your frosting on there without the lid squishing it, or do you spread a thin layer on with your spatula so it's flat?

 

Also, I feel uneasy about having a lot of negative signs up ("do not touch," "no pictures," "samples only for bride and groom"), but see why people might do this based off of their previous experience at these expos. Any thoughts on this? My husband came up with an idea for the picture issue. He suggested putting 1-2 business cards on the cake dummies so that if people take pictures, our logo is visible. Does that sound like a good idea or would that look weird on our cakes?

I'd also like to ask how people feel about handouts. I almost made my mind up to only do business cards and direct people to my website, and I would like to keep it at 1 handout to save money. However, now I'm questioning if my card would just get lost with all the other business cards brides will be collecting that day. Should I hand out postcards or rack cards instead? Maybe a larger handout would be less likely to get lost in their bags? I was planning of only putting my flavors on there with a few pictures, not my pricing. They should get a good idea of my pricing from my dummies as I plan on having 8-10 on display with signs saying how much they are and how many it would serve. They will range from "less expensive" (smaller, simpler designs) to "more expensive" (larger, more elaborate designs).

 

Any other thoughts/advice would be fantastic! TIA!

43 replies
experimenting Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 2:44am
post #2 of

One more question: what size souffle cups do you get? I've found 2oz. - 5.5oz. cups on amazon. Obviously, the bigger ones cost a little more, but I don't see the dimensions and can't picture how large these cups are. 

leah_s Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 2:55am
post #3 of

A2 ounce are perfect. putting biz cards on the cakes is a great idea. With all the camera phones you can not control the picture taking. I would Definitely offer more than one sample flavor.

cai0311 Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 2:57am
post #4 of

I offer 3 mini cupcake samples at bridal shows.  I also pick unusual flavors to help my business stand out.  All the other bakeries offer white and chocolate samples so people remember me over them.

 

People bring with them their brides maids, parents, frients, family...all of them want to try the cake.  You have to have enough samples for everyone.  I think your business will come off as rude if you put a sign up reading samples for bride and groom only.

the_sweets_lady Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 3:27am
post #5 of

Yes I agree you need to let everyone try the samples. I had my first bridal show a few weeks ago. I had groups of family members each pick a different flavor and they told the bride what they thought of the flavor they tried. Worked out great that way! I brought 3 of my best flavors and I had great reponse from that. All the other vendors only had one flavor. This helped me stand out! Love the card on the cake idea! I will use that next time!

 

I also did mini cupcakes. I thought this worked really good for me. Everyone wanted to try the samples right away and Everyone kept commenting on the wounderful sweet smell coming from my booth.

 

I did rack cards with flavors and info on cake tasting and a business cards. I had price sheets I brought only for thoose how asked for them.

 

Wish you well on the expo!

Annabakescakes Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 7:05am
post #6 of

I did one last month, too, and I always had a crowd at my booth. I had 4 sample flavors out and I let the janitors, and photographers and DJs and other cake vendors eat them. There was one lady who grabbed all 4 (which happened 50% of the time, not a problem!) and she says, "What?? Can't we try all 4? Ain't that the point?" , very loudly, to no one and everyone icon_confused.gif I was thinking "Bee Itch, Who you talkin' to? I didn't say Shiznit, and it's my darn booth!"  But I said, "Oh, please do thumbs_up.gif, there is plenty to go around icon_biggrin.gif" But I wonder if she was PSYCHOTIC, feeling guilty, or a plant to make me look like a meanie?" 

 

There was a florist who kept grabbing one every time she walked by, and I just smiled and chuckled, then 3 days later I got a lead who eventually booked, that the came from the florist, so 10 samples equaled a $600 wedding cake. 

FromScratchSF Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 7:14am
post #7 of

Always make sure you take samples to your fellow vendors along with some cards.

 

I suggest instead of having a buffet of samples at your table (that people eat then forget all about you), you see if the venue is giving away goodie bags - generally only brides/grooms get those, and you put your 2oz sample cups in them instead - and make sure all your info is on that cup.  I did an expo where I did that and I had people call me 6 months later that saved their cup lid when they were able to try the cake at home going thru the bag!

experimenting Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 6:53pm
post #8 of

Thank you for the input and advice everyone!

Annabakescakes: Wow! I hope I can handle everyone as classy and professional as you thumbs_up.gif 

 

I just spoke with the people in charge of the expo and they're expecting about 800 brides and maybe 3000 in total attendance. I agree that I should definitely not be restrictive in who gets my samples, but if I account for 3000 attendees, that means 3000 samples and that's not including vendors. Then, if I do 2 flavors, that means 6000 samples. Three flavors would mean 9000 samples. I'm a CFO baker. Just 3000 samples from my home oven, even if I got one other person to help me, would be quite a lot to do. I would really like to do at least 2 flavors, but 6000 samples? Well, now I'm bummed icon_sad.gif 

 

I also asked about putting my samples in their gift bags and that's not probable. Thank you for the suggestion though FromScratchSF.

 

Any thoughts on ABC vs. SMBC?

FromScratchSF Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 7:05pm
post #9 of

Will they not let you put samples in the gift bags?  Every expo/show I've ever done they ask for materials to put in the gift bags.  You do your portion cups as normal, put a lid on them, then print a bunch of little labels and stick them on top.  It's the only way you will make sure people that can refer you business will get your samples and associate what they eat with your business.

 

I did a huge expo, I put together over 3000 samples and I was mobbed, I guess there were over 4000 people there, but only about 700 brides.  I had no chance to talk to anyone, no chance to do anything except try and hand out cake in a somewhat orderly manner.  Despite having that much cake, I ran out in less then 2 hours.  People were coming back for 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc.  Trust me, you don't want to go that route if you can help it - you need to be able to talk to people too and promote yourself as much as your cake.

 

As for buttercream, make what you based your business on and what sells.  People generally specialize in one buttercream or the other, so If you sell SMBC as your primary, then that's what you should pass out.  

experimenting Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 7:17pm

I can put something in their gift bags, but they usually will only put a flyer or business card in them for you. The bags are actually from Men's Warehouse. The event sponsor gets the bags the day before the show, so they think anything more than a piece of paper to add to the bags would be too much for them to handle. It sounds like the huge expo you're referring to might be what I can expect at this expo. Now, I'm worried (more than I already was) icon_cry.gif Did I mention that this is a 2 day show? If you ran out in the first 2 hours with 3000 samples, what if you had to do it again the next day? Yikes!

ellavanilla Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 7:44pm

all of that sounds exhausting!

FromScratchSF Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 8:17pm

OK to be clear, did the event coordinator tell you that you cannot put a sample of cake in the bags?  It's no different then putting a piece of candy in, and a lot of vendors tape candy to their postcards and flyers.  If you are working with one of the big events I can't imagine they are shocked, surprised or impressed with your creativity by suggesting this, because this is a somewhat common thing that bakeries and cake designers do.  If they didn't tell you expressly NO that you couldn't put cake in the bags, I'd probably just show up expecting it to happen.  It's a much better use of your time then dealing with the mob!  

 

Look at it this way, no way are you packaging 3000 cake samples the morning of your event - you do it the day before at minimum.  What difference does it make when it gets in the bags?  It's not going to go bad, it's in a small airtight container.  Events I've done say you need to drop off at X time the day before if you want them to do it, and show up at X time early if you want to do it yourself.  

 

Men's Warehouse doesn't care what's in the bags, trust me.  And nobody cares that the bag is form Men's Warehouse.  

 

I'm just trying to help since I have been in your shoes and know what you are in for!

 

If you do not want to do bags, then maybe try only passing out X amount of samples per hour.  When you run out tell people to come back in 40 minutes or whatever.  That way you can spread your samples out over the day and you'll have samples for people that come later.  This will only work though if you have extra hands (like 2 more people) helping you at your booth and you do NOT cave to people demanding a sample.

 

And a 2 day event?  Oh, heck no would I sign up for a 2 day event.  So triple good luck to you, my friend!

experimenting Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 9:18pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellavanilla 

all of that sounds exhausting!

My thoughts exactly! And this is my first expo icon_redface.gif

 

 

FromScratchSF: I know you're trying to help and I really do appreciate the suggestion, which is why I asked the event coordinator about it. Unfortunately, she did say no to the cake samples in the bags, even after I explained they would be in lidded cups. She didn't say anything about possibly putting them in myself and I didn't think to ask. Maybe I'll ask if they'll allow me to do that. That's another good idea about only passing out X amount per hour. I will only have 1 other person with me each day, but I still plan on having them in lidded cups, so maybe 2 of us handling them will be enough. 

Thanks! I'm gonna need lots of luck!

MyThreeCakes Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 10:20pm

I just did my first bridal show a couple months ago and it went great.  I did have my business cards and a brochure made up  to hand out.  I offered two different samples and on one did the swiss meringue and everyone loved it because it was different than what they were used to.  I really had no issues with any one touching the cake dummies (I had 6), but I had them on a bookcase and not on a table.  As far as samples I had the 2 or 2.5 oz souffle cups with lids and yes if you use a sheet cake and put frosting on the frosting will stick to the lid.....so I just turned the piece of cake sideways and no problems.  Everyone seems to appreciate having the option to take it with them if they wanted as they were sampling so many other foods as well.  I had the small tasting spoons to go along with these and it was very easy to refill as samples were depleted.  I also printed out pictures of all my photos and placed them in a binder.

 

Good Luck!

Annabakescakes Posted 13 Feb 2013 , 11:24pm

My show was a 2 day show, too. Wendy's Bridal Show. I got about 10 times more business from it already, than the 1 day, and it was only about $300 more. I actually loved not having to pack it all up and take it home the same time, since we were exhausted. It was long, but looking back, I feel better about it tahn the 1 day event. 

 

I brought about 1000 each day. Lidded, 2 oz cups, with a tasting spoon. There were just over 1000 registered brides. I ran out the first day, and had a box left over the second. 

experimenting Posted 14 Feb 2013 , 1:20am
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyThreeCakes 

I just did my first bridal show a couple months ago and it went great.  I did have my business cards and a brochure made up  to hand out.  I offered two different samples and on one did the swiss meringue and everyone loved it because it was different than what they were used to.  I really had no issues with any one touching the cake dummies (I had 6), but I had them on a bookcase and not on a table.  As far as samples I had the 2 or 2.5 oz souffle cups with lids and yes if you use a sheet cake and put frosting on the frosting will stick to the lid.....so I just turned the piece of cake sideways and no problems.  Everyone seems to appreciate having the option to take it with them if they wanted as they were sampling so many other foods as well.  I had the small tasting spoons to go along with these and it was very easy to refill as samples were depleted.  I also printed out pictures of all my photos and placed them in a binder.

 

Good Luck!

Your samples: cut 1"x1" put into cups sideways, then piped a dollop of the frosting next to it? Thank you! I know it's a small detail that I may have figured out on my own, but I couldn't picture it, so I definitely appreciate the tip!
How big was your space? I have a 10'x10' booth with an 8' table included. I was thinking ~10 dummies, but am wondering if less would be better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

My show was a 2 day show, too. Wendy's Bridal Show. I got about 10 times more business from it already, than the 1 day, and it was only about $300 more. I actually loved not having to pack it all up and take it home the same time, since we were exhausted. It was long, but looking back, I feel better about it tahn the 1 day event. 

 

I brought about 1000 each day. Lidded, 2 oz cups, with a tasting spoon. There were just over 1000 registered brides. I ran out the first day, and had a box left over the second. 

Thanks for responding! Your show sounds like what I'll be doing. It's great to hear that you had so much success with it.

So you planned your # of samples based off of the # of expected brides? I wonder if this would just be the simplest way to do it. The event coordinator said brides usually bring 2-4 people with them, which is where she came up with the 3000 attendees estimate (~800 brides). I would really like to do 2 flavors but don't want to stress myself out trying to do 6000 samples. Maybe 1000/day is best. 500/flavor/day? Or 1000/flavor/day?

Annabakescakes Posted 14 Feb 2013 , 6:02pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by experimenting 

Your samples: cut 1"x1" put into cups sideways, then piped a dollop of the frosting next to it? Thank you! I know it's a small detail that I may have figured out on my own, but I couldn't picture it, so I definitely appreciate the tip!
How big was your space? I have a 10'x10' booth with an 8' table included. I was thinking ~10 dummies, but am wondering if less would be better.

Thanks for responding! Your show sounds like what I'll be doing. It's great to hear that you had so much success with it.

So you planned your # of samples based off of the # of expected brides? I wonder if this would just be the simplest way to do it. The event coordinator said brides usually bring 2-4 people with them, which is where she came up with the 3000 attendees estimate (~800 brides). I would really like to do 2 flavors but don't want to stress myself out trying to do 6000 samples. Maybe 1000/day is best. 500/flavor/day? Or 1000/flavor/day?

I wish I could say I did, but I am not that good, or organized!  I knew I wanted about 1,600, because I had leftovers the first show I did, and it was about 1,100, for a 1 day show, so I figured about 800 a day, each day. I just made 4 cakes, estimating about 300 per cake for each 11x15 (1x1x1 with the side crusts cut off. I cut a little smaller and got more) I brought half the first day, and around 1:30 my husband went home and got the rest, because we were almost out! We went home and made about 400 more, for Sunday ;-)

 

The show had a lot more traffic each day, than the first day. If I had to give a recommendation, for a 2 day show, I would go ahead and make 1,800, bring them all, and be prepared to make more for the next day,  but no more than a couple hundred. You won't need as much the second day as the first. I think it was about 1,100 the first day, and 900 the second.

cai0311 Posted 15 Feb 2013 , 7:49pm

The big show I do has anywhere from 600-800 brides (depends on weather).  I have made 1000 samples each year and it worked perfect.  Not everyone eats cake or is shopping for cake that day.  But, yes, there will be some people that eat 3 cupcakes.  I would make around 1200 - 1500 mini cupcakes if I were you. and bring them all the first day. Don't just bring half - come prepared.

 

Since you have a 2 day show you should be able to gauge how many you need on day 2 based off the number you went through on day 1.  If need be you can make more the night of day 1.  You will be tired but that is better than having 1000 left over mini cupcakes.

 

I don't like cutting cake at the booth UNLESS you have a double booth and can put a table in the back to cut the cake.  It gets messy, makes the table messy and is time consuming. Plus without a double booth you will be taking up prime space that could showcase your work.

experimenting Posted 16 Feb 2013 , 5:38am

Thank you Annabakescakes and cai0311! I will take both of your advice and plan to make around 2000 samples and bring them all the first day. 

 

I found 4 oz. souffle cups with lids for about the same price as the 2 oz. cups. I'm thinking it might just be big enough for me to put the sample flat inside and still have room to pipe a small dollop on top of it without the lid mashing it. We'll see! If not, I will put them in sideways! thumbs_up.gif I'm also hoping that the lid will be slightly larger therefore holding a sticker better. I think 2 flavors will be more than enough for me to handle for my first show: WASC with SMBC and Red Velvet with ABC. Does that sound like a smart choice?

 

My booth is a 10'x10', which comes with an 8' table. I plan to put 5 dummy cakes on the 8' table and bring my 6' table so that I can place a 6th cake on it with all of my samples and handouts. I'm going to bring a ton of business cards and have rack cards with more info., but only for anyone who asks (my budget's hurting a bit icon_sad.gif)

If anyone sees anything wrong with my plans or has any more suggestions, I'm all ears! I want to make the best out of these 2 days as possible icon_smile.gif

 

Thank you again to everyone for all of your input and advice!

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Feb 2013 , 6:08am

There was a vendor at this last one who used 4 oz cups, and they looked ridiculous! It looked like a full on dessert, not a sample, and I think they take more than twice the room to transport. Remember it comes in a medium size box for lids and another for bottoms, but when they are full, they take up TONS more space! I got 77 in a 11x15x3.5 box, 4 rows of 6, stacked 3 tall, and then 5 on their side along the front in the space there, so for 2000, you need 26 boxes full.

 

Those 26 boxes take up a LOT of space, and with the larger cups, you will need WAY MORE than that. You'll be able to stack 2, at the very most, in the same amount of space, and maybe get 12 per box with 2 rows of 3, stacked 2 tall. You may be able to squeeze a few more in there, but maybe not. Best case scenario, you get 25 in (probably not going to happen) and you will need 80 boxes for that same 2000! Worst case, and you get 12 in each box, and you will need 166 boxesicon_eek.gif

 

Plus, you will need to make twice as much cake!

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Feb 2013 , 6:38am

Okay, I just checked dimensions of the 4 oz on Websturant Store. I was wrong, a bit! But I panicked! Sorry to math you out, but  the 2 oz cups I have are 2.75 x 1.25 inches, boxes I had are 11x15x3, so if we look at my last post, you will see how many fit.

 

The 4oz cups are 2.875 x 1.81, so if we divide 11 by 2.875, you will see that only 3 rows, rather than 4 will fit. Then 15 divided by the same, would be 5 columns. That is 15 in a layer, of course. Then 2 layers will fit. And, you will be able to get 1 more row on it's side, toward the front, for a grand total of 35 per box. That is 57 boxes! Not quite as bad as I suspected, but still a great number of boxes.

 

At best, you will be able to fit about 18-25 under your table, and about 2-3 on display. My tables had cross beams, and I had some other things hidden under there, and it was 6' long. I think I fit about 12 under 1 of mine, and left the rest in the van,  until needed (in January, in the midwest= cold). But your whole van will be filled with boxes! And if it is warm or hot, you will have to bring them ALL in, if you bring them all. 

cai0311 Posted 16 Feb 2013 , 4:37pm

I put all the mini cupcakes in 4 oz souffle cups, then pipe a little icing on them, put the lids on and stack them in egg boxes I get from the grocery store.  The boxes are very sturdy and the cups fit perfect.  I am trying to remember...I think I get around 300 cups in each box.

 

Then at the venue I uncup (I don't think that is really a word) the mini cupcakes (use gloves to keep the icing from getting on you for easy clean up) (by then the icing has crusted and you won't damage them taking them out of the cups).  I place them on my cupcake stand.

 

The attached picture is from the show a couple years ago.  I like the layout I do now better (better display of the cakes) but I don't have any pictures from recent shows.

 

 

 

 

 

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Feb 2013 , 6:39pm

I would kill myself if I had to put them all in cups, lid them, and then get to the venue and take them all back out again. TWO THOUSAND TIMES! If I can get the stupid uploader to upload, I will share a picture of what mine look like.

experimenting Posted 16 Feb 2013 , 8:11pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

There was a vendor at this last one who used 4 oz cups, and they looked ridiculous! 

 

Really? That bad? I was just thinking it might look nicer to be able to pipe a small dollop on top of the cake piece and still be able to put the lid on without ruining the cute dollop. Is that what this vendor did? And it still looked bad?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

Okay, I just checked dimensions of the 4 oz on Websturant Store. I was wrong, a bit! But I panicked! Sorry to math you out, but  the 2 oz cups I have are 2.75 x 1.25 inches, boxes I had are 11x15x3, so if we look at my last post, you will see how many fit.

 

The 4oz cups are 2.875 x 1.81, so if we divide 11 by 2.875, you will see that only 3 rows, rather than 4 will fit. Then 15 divided by the same, would be 5 columns. That is 15 in a layer, of course. Then 2 layers will fit. And, you will be able to get 1 more row on it's side, toward the front, for a grand total of 35 per box. That is 57 boxes! Not quite as bad as I suspected, but still a great number of boxes.

 

At best, you will be able to fit about 18-25 under your table, and about 2-3 on display. My tables had cross beams, and I had some other things hidden under there, and it was 6' long. I think I fit about 12 under 1 of mine, and left the rest in the van,  until needed (in January, in the midwest= cold). But your whole van will be filled with boxes! And if it is warm or hot, you will have to bring them ALL in, if you bring them all. 

 

Lol - math out on me anytime (I've had tons of calculus and statistics classes ;) I appreciate you taking the time to run the numbers and look up the dimensions for me! Excellent point on having a problem finding a place for them. I honestly hadn't thought about that. That's why I came to CC with this - sometimes I'm blind to the obvious icon_redface.gif I will have a 6' table and an 8' table. The 6' table is mine, so maybe I'll take it out and actually measure how much space I'll have underneath so I can be sure about what I can fit under there. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cai0311 

I put all the mini cupcakes in 4 oz souffle cups, then pipe a little icing on them, put the lids on and stack them in egg boxes I get from the grocery store.  The boxes are very sturdy and the cups fit perfect.  I am trying to remember...I think I get around 300 cups in each box.

 

Thank you for posting a picture! I'm a visual learner and do better with pictures :) Do you remember how many you were able to store under your table and how big your table was? I would love to do mini cupcakes instead of having to cut up cake to put in the cups. I think those would look much cuter, like your display. However, I'm a CFO baker and having to bake 2000 minis would take considerable more time in my home kitchen then baking enough cake to make 2000 samples. Also, if I don't have my samples in lidded containers, I would be required to have a "sneeze guard" and a hand washing station at my booth. 

 

 


Annabakescakes: I would love to see a picture of your display! 

cai0311 Posted 18 Feb 2013 , 4:02pm

I am a CFS baker too. By now I have a system down that works for me. For 1100 mini cupcakes it takes me 12 hours. That is from the time I start getting out my ingredients to when I  taping shut the last box. So you could knock out 2000 in 2 days easy.

 

I have a 6' or 8' table (I forget) at the show. I can fit all the boxes under the table, but you won't have to because you will empty at least 1 box right away just setting up the design. Once a box is empty I tear it down and throw it away.

 

the stand I have is built on a lazy susan which allows it to spin. When one side gets low on supplies we just spin it. The stand then always looks full and is easy to refill. I have someone standing behind the table with an open box by them that refills the stand all day.

 

No reason you couldn't leave the samples in the cups with the lid on. You just won't be able to fit as many samples in the stand.

MyThreeCakes Posted 18 Feb 2013 , 4:24pm

Sorry I just saw this! 

 

 

 

I had signed up for a 10x8 booth but they ended up giving us a double booth, and in no way were the booths 8' deep!  We had a eight foot table and a 4 foot square.  I actually did the show with my mother, she makes hand rolled chocolates, granola, and assortments for favors so we coordinated those with my cakes.  I plan on attending a few more shows next year so I went ahead and bought bookshelves at Lowe's and used those as a display for my cakes.  I've attached a picture of it for you to see, this actually worked out great.  The brides were able to see everything at eye level and it was open in front of it. 

 

For the samples, I torted a sheet cake and cut them 1"x1"
 

Annabakescakes Posted 18 Feb 2013 , 4:27pm

AI stack my samples, since they are a nice small size, and have lids. We did the first 1600 samples in about 7 hours, and the last 400 in 3, not counting cooling times. I had my husband's and 2, 12 year old boys' help (which is like half a 12 year old boy's help!

experimenting Posted 18 Feb 2013 , 9:59pm

cai0311 & Annabakescakes: Thank you for giving me the details! You've been a tremendous help in my planning!

cai0311: I forgot to ask you what kind of cake stand your green and white damask cake is on, if you don't mind sharing. Did you make it? Crown molding?

 

MyThreeCakes: Thank you for sharing your picture! I love your display on the shelves. Maybe if I plan to do more shows, I'll invest in some type of shelves also, or better displays. We'll see how this one goes first :)

cai0311 Posted 18 Feb 2013 , 10:19pm

The stand is a silver cake stand. Just google it. About a thousand different ones pop up.

experimenting Posted 18 Feb 2013 , 10:24pm

AOh, ok. It looks white in the picture. Thanks!

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