I have done a couple of shows and not really had much success with it.
I will be the first to admit that since I was inexperienced my booth space was less than compelling at one and the other had a poor turn out.
I want to do a show next month but it is a MAJOR financial sacrifice for me. I am feeling like if I do this and do it right and don't get better results then I am done because it just may be my market. I think there are a lot of people who come for something to do but not to really look for vendors but other people (DJ's, photographers, etc) have been successful at these shows.
I guess I am rambling but I want to know how you all are doing these shows and getting results please? I have some good ideas for cake/cupcake displays and I want to showcase my cookies too so I am trying to think of how to do that.
Does anyone also showcase bridal shower or groom's cakes? I want to start working on stuff now since it is in a few weeks and that last minute crunch is my worst enemy.
Also, for samples in the past I have done mini cupcakes and had a ton left over. I did vanilla and chocolate with buttercream. Is there a better way?
I feel that everything I do has to be compelling, to drive folks to me and want my product. I have been told that currently there are no other cake people doing this show and there were none last year.
Sorry if this is rambly, if you can offer any help I thank you.
If there are no other cake people, you better RUN to get signed up for this show!!!!
When I do a show, I offer white cake with white icing only. It's a SAMPLE. It's not a full tasting like when they come to the shop for their consultation and get 3 flavors of cake and 6 flavors of icings and fillings. I bake a 12x18 .... torte it, then cut 1"x1" (or smaller) pieces out of both layers. Put them in the little "tartar sauce" cups and squeeze a blop of icing on them.
I have a powerpoint slide presentation of all of my cake and catering pics .... this is running during the show. It gives brides and family members something to do while they are waiting to talk to me (as I finish with another bride).
I am not pushy ..... I do not try to schedule consultation appointments during the show. My booth is usually so busy that I wouldn't have time to make appts anyway.
Even tho' I am going to get the bride register list (with emails) from the show organizer, I ask the brides for their emails "..... so I can send you my information packet". Then I can make some quick notes next to their name ("military bride" ...... "looking for food only" ...... wants a poker groom's cake, too").
I have a single flyer with my card stapled to it ... AND a box of biz cards sitting on the corner of the table. Plenty of cards!!!
Do a variety of cake styles. Have at least one "WOW!" factor cake. You know ... the cake that makes everyone draw in their breath and go "Oh wow!!" Mine is a 6-tier cake with pillars between each tier so that the cake towers over the top of the booth walls. At another show, I actually sat this cake on top of glass blocks to make it even taller!
WOW factor .... VERY important!!!
If it's a low turnout show, spend that time to talk with the other vendors. These contacts are almost as important as the bride-contact! I did one show that only had about 13 brides show (it was a free show and very last minute). But I made excellent relationship contacts with the other vendors ... even other bakeries and caterers. I rec'd more calls with referrals from the other vendors than I did from the brides who attended the show.
The brides who come to your booth ... refer them to other vendors at the show. "Tell them Debi sent you!" establishes you as a team player and the vendors will be inclined to also send business your way.
(Can you tell that I just LUV the sales aspect of this job? )
I have been doing shows for the last two years. I will not be doing one this year though. Last year I really noticed a downturn in the number of brides attending the shows. The woman who has been doing the shows for 30 years just sold out. I can't help thinking that the low turn outs might have something to do with it. In June I took my advertising money and signed up for The Knot on-line. I have received way more response from this than I did from last years Bridal shows. I can only afford one or the other, so as of right now it's on-line for me.
For me, because there are usually 3 Bakeries there I do cake flavors to "bring" the crowd to me. White Almond Cake or White Chocolate w/Strawberry Filling or Raspberry Mousse, Lemon Pound Cake w/Raspberry filling, Chocolate cake w/peanut butter, Pink Champayne w/pink champayne mousse or Raspberry or Strawberry Swirl Cake. Always offer your best cakes, but keep the sample size small. I never make cup cakes, and rarely do I offer a plain cake.... You want to make an impression on the brides, you want them to remember your cake! You want the crowd at your table enjoying the cake, you want them talking about your cake as they continue their way around the bridal show!
Use sample size cups w/lids it will set you apart from the others. Our company name and number is put on each container, thanks to my kids and sometimes we even include the cake/filling flavors. Find out how many brides are registered, bring enough samples for the brides to have about 2-3 each that normally will account for each their guest having samples as well. Be sure to encourage them to take a sample for mom or the fiance that wasn't able to attend, but only do so if you think you will have many samples left over.
Most times I have at least 20 or so samples left, I send to Alfred Angelo's or Davids Bridal (whoever is providing the models). It's important that you have them in containers, offer the bridal shop the samples for their store for the brides coming in on Monday. Normally the bridal shop will have a really big turn out Monday following a bridal show. If a big gown shop is not attending, then I offer extra samples to the other vendors... great way to build a friendship and a list of people willing to refer your business.
It's important to put your name and phone number on the container the brides will want to call! You'll have fewer leftovers because you can encourage the brides to take home and enjoy later.
It's time consuming but a great way to showcase your samples and will build your business, a bride that may not otherwise sample your cake just might enjoy a sample later that evening and may become a potential customer.
I have tried both The Knot and the bridal show route, which included both smaller, local shows and larger shows in major cities nearby.
I was paying $270 a month for a preferred vendor listing on the Knot and maybe got 3 orders in 4 months. My cakes were listed at the top of the page and looked better than most of the others on there. I did receive alot of phone calls, but the calls were mainly for small cakes with back up sheet cakes or 'fake' cakes - none of which I offer. I felt the typical Knot bride was looking for a bargain baker, not a custom baker.
As far as bridal shows, the higher end, the better. It is quite an investment, however. In my area they run from $475 to $1500 for a single booth. Add in the price of cake samples, printed banner, business cards and postcards, hired help (if you need it), etc., and it can really add up. Now, do three to four shows a year, and it can get very expensive.
All the advice on here so far is dead on. I offer three different flavors and fillings, packaged in 2oz cups with lids. This is often a requirement by the promoters as well as the local health department. Make sure your sign is large and attractive.
Before the customer reaches your table, they will glance at your cakes. Make sure you have them all set out. I normally stand behind the table and don't use the 'U' configuration so that I can see everyone face to face. Ask if you can bring your own linens and do your best to make them as beautiful as you can, as well as complimentary to your cakes. Or, bring fresh rose petals (even silk ones will do the job) and that alone can help perk up the standard white linens that shows provide.
Put your best work out there. Make sure your dummy cakes are neatly done and your designs are varied, colorful and unique. Don't worry about making appointments for tastings at the show. Just make sure you connect quickly with the customer and smile!!! Be kind and patient even though you want to reach over the table and strangle the annoying bridezilla and her equally pesky mother.
Let the brides know your samples are just a small part of your overall selection. I always make it a point to tell them that my menu is on my website but if they don't see what they are looking for, to please ask as I am happy to make it for them. Tell them you would LOVE to make their wedding cake. The more positive and enthusiastic you are, the better.
I have learned that customers can go to a dozen different bakeries and pretty much get the same thing (for the most part), but when they come to me, they are really seeking something special. They are also buying my 'personality'. I am selling 'myself' in addition to the cake.
Make sure to select the best possible show in your area. Smaller local shows don't have large turnouts. Go for the larger shows and put your best 'cake' forward. I can go on and on, but most importantly, remain positive and have faith!
One last thing...last year I called to get information on a show I wanted to participate in. It was being held at a local country club They told me they didn't have any bakers participating. I was excited at the thought of being the only one! When I asked a few questions about the venue, I learned why. Turns out they only allow wedding cakes from a particular bakery for any of the events held there, even though anyone willing to pay may participate in their show. Most of the brides that attend this bridal show are getting married at this venue. My participation would have been a total loss to my business as none of the brides attending the show have been able to book me if they wanted to get married at this venue. The country club doesn't allow cakes from any other baker except their one preferred vendor. Good thing I asked questions before signing up!!
If I can figure out a way to pay for it I will do it, I think. Thank you all for taking the time to give me the suggestions for my booth and making the show a success.
I'm not worried about the venue thing. The show is hosted by a local TV station and at a venue where I am on the list.
I will implement all of the ideas that I can! Thanks again!