Bridal Show-What Would You Do?

Business By HarleyDee Updated 4 Jan 2010 , 9:46pm by muddpuppy

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HarleyDee Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 5:29pm
post #1 of 20

Here I go throwing up a topic on bridal shows again icon_smile.gif

I did my first one back in September. The fee was $400 for the one day show. It actually paid off ONLY because one of the vendors (a florist) introduced himself, said he loved my work, and that he would recommend me to brides. He has since sent me 3 brides. I had one bride from the last show call me for a consult, but she felt I was too expensive.

Now it's time to sign up for the spring show. Fee is still $400. That would take pretty much all of my business savings. (I'm not bigtime yet, usually one large cake a week) But, the spring show is at least twice as big as the fall show (so I've heard).

Knowing that it's going to take all of my business savings, and that I didn't get any brides from it last time (just referrals from the florist that I now stay in contact with already) would you do it?

19 replies
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tootie0809 Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 5:46pm
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I can't give you any advice because I'm doing my first bridal show in January. It's twice the fee yours is but it is a 2-day show and is supposed to be the biggest show in this area with over 600 brides in attendance. I don't know if it will pay off or not, but I am going to give it a try since I am not getting my name out there in the bridal business like I want to. I do know that they say spring or winter shows are much more attended than fall shows, so maybe you would have better success with this one if you did it. Good luck in whatever you decide!

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dsilvest Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 6:06pm
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While I don't get a lot of orders from bridal shows I will network a lot and make contacts. I make sure that I talk to wedding planners and venue operators. Wedding shows will get your name out there with the public as well as others in the wedding business. Sometimes your contacts will pay off more than actual orders.

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leah_s Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 7:07pm
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You actually don't do wedding shows to get orders from brides. You do them to network with other wedding vendors and to reinforce your biz name in the bride's mind. THEN when you send her a followup email or postcard she will remember you.

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cakesdivine Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 8:16pm
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I've done the big shows and the insane diligence in working the bridal leads you receive, never once was I able to recoop the costs I had. The only thing that ever got me biz worth it's money was being a member of a wedding vendor organization. The industry connections will always bring you more than the wedding shows. To me they are a big waste of money. Small bridal shows with limited amount of vendors in each area is the better route. Even better are the venue hosted bridal shows...usually they only have their preferred vendors present. Those typically generate into sales.

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HarleyDee Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 9:35pm
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Well, the whole "networking" thing is different around here. My town is only about 38,000 people. There are no true-business wedding planners here. The only vendors that show up to the bridal show are a couple of florists (one of which I spoke of earlier), a couple of caterers (who do their own cakes), a couple of other bakeries (who HATE me), and a couple of bridal dress shops. It can get very click-y around here.

But I was told that there were 200ish people at the fall fair, and that there are usually twice that at the spring show.

Hubby says I'm doing it. Even if it doesn't result in any orders, I know I can get the fee back in orders during the year. And I guess it gets my name out to that many more people.

Lol, it's just so hard handing over $400! icon_biggrin.gif

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HerBoudoir Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 10:59pm
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My cake is part of my package at my wedding venue so I didn't need to find a decorator.

However, my wedding venue handed out a list of recommended vendors, which was really helpful to me when looking for a florist and a local hotel for family/friends that are staying over.

That was a lot more helpful to me than the bridal show that I went to.

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CakeForte Posted 4 Dec 2009 , 1:27am
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If people stay in their own circles then that means it is YOUR job to get to know the people individually. Who cares about the cliques.
You want your business to you pretty much have to do anything to make that happen.

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jenmat Posted 4 Dec 2009 , 3:58pm
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Why in the world do other bakers HATE you? That seems weird and kind of unprofessional of them. Is there a reason?

At my last wedding show I booked 7 brides, and it was one of the smaller shows. I just depends on what you are willing to do at the show. Brides go to shows these days to get some kind of deal or discount. The first show I did I offered a coupon of x amount off per slice if the booked by x date. I booked 12 brides.

The show where I booked 7 on the spot I offered a % off their final order if they booked THAT day with the $50 down payment. I think the total bookings from that show even after the fact as like 10-15 cakes. Now, not everyone would agree with me that you have to offer a discount, but if you aren't getting any bites, I would suggest it>

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MnSnow Posted 4 Dec 2009 , 4:32pm
post #10 of 20

I just did a show a couple weeks ago. By offering a percentage off their total order if they booked a consultation appointment that day, I got 8 brides that booked.

You can do that along with a grand drawing of, for example, cookie favors for their guests.

It works like a charm. Everyone wants something for nothing, but actually it's a win-win situation. They get a deal and you get an order. Just make it sound great without loosing profits.

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HarleyDee Posted 4 Dec 2009 , 5:00pm
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Originally Posted by jentreu

Why in the world do other bakers HATE you? That seems weird and kind of unprofessional of them. Is there a reason?

It's a very small knit city. People who live here have lived here their whole life, and everyone knows everyone. The two other bakers in town have been in business for years and years, and they feel like they have a hold on all brides. They do not like change.. when I came around and got ready to do the bridal show last fall they both went around to the show committee and to the health inspector and stuff trying to keep me out of the show. They were demanding to see my licenses and all that junk.. I thought it was really silly because you have to show your licenses and all of that to the show committee anyway to get in. Just dumb, petty stuff.

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wespam Posted 5 Dec 2009 , 12:29pm
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Harley, don't be so hard on your competition. Making friends with others in your business is a good thing. They may refer you when they are booked and it's nice to have a place to refer your customers when you are booked. The clients remember that. Maybe the other shops were concerned about your busniess under pricing as most new bakers do when they open a shop whether it's legal or not. It's hard enough to fairly compete with a non legal home baker who charges sometimes a dollar less or more a serving let alone a licensed shop. You have to let your product shine and offer to your customers a unique product and place to do business. Word of mouth goes a long way. Wedding cakes are great but there's a whole customer base out there who have many special occasions and as you buiild your customer base the weddings will come. Pam from Bama

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HarleyDee Posted 5 Dec 2009 , 1:07pm
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I'm not trying to be hard on them, honest. I have no problems with them, and would love to establish a friendship among businesses. I've sent them lots of business alrready! icon_smile.gif It was just hard getting such a harsh welcome I guess.

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indydebi Posted 6 Dec 2009 , 3:19pm
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First, I (naturally) agree with leahs .... you're there to network with the vendors. Booking a bride is pretty much a side benefit.

Also agree that smaller shows are much more intimate. You don't feel as "lost in the crowd" in a smaller show.

I love battling "cliches"! icon_twisted.gif Walk around and look at the other vendor's booths. Find out what they are offering. When I do a bridal show, I refer brides to the other booths:

"Be sure to visit Daisy's Flowers. THey have a beautiful candle display that you'll really like. Tell her Debi from Cater It Simple sent you over there!"

"Oh if you're really on a budget, you might talk to the walmart ladies. Their booth is in the next aisle. Tell them Debi at CIS sent you over. They have a real cute 3-tier stand set up you might like."

"You mean you haven't signed up for the big drawing yet? Oh honey you've got to get signed up! One of the prizes is a Hummer limo, which is on display right around the corner. Go check it out and let him know Debi told you to sit inside of it!"

I got GREAT feedback from the vendors after the show with lots of "Thanks for sending them over!" comments.

Schmoozing ..... it's what I do best and the most fun part of my job! thumbs_up.gif

Oh .... when I did a bridal show in my (small) hometown, I contacted my cousin, who is a wedding photog there, to ask him what the cakes are looking like over there. I wanted something different but not too "big city wow". I brought my M&M cake, my ribbon/basketweave cake and my 6 tier cake .... nothing really "out there", but people were coming to the booth telling me that the vendors were telling brides "Be sure to check out the new cake lady ... she has some AWESOME cakes!" So do something different that will make you stand out from those "been around forever" bakers.

Years ago, just showing up with the same 'ole cakes would be fine. But brides have too much access to new and super modern ideas and cake pics now. Brides magazine and cousin sally's wedding is NOT their only resource for ideas anymore! thumbs_up.gif

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SliceCakeStudio Posted 28 Dec 2009 , 1:57pm
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HarleyDee - Do you have your "elevator pitch" down pat? If so, let's hear it! I think if you are going into another show and want better success, let's hear what you did last time, and how can we improve upon it.

Did you introduce yourself to other vendors?

What kind of samples did you bring?

How did you hook the bride to staying in your booth for a chat?

What kind of followup did you do after the show?

Did you get email addresses or other from the brides or event coordinator?

What was your handout - literature?

Let's chat about it and see how we can help! Your pitch needs to really show why you are head and shoulders above the competition (without saying one bad word about anyone else). It's got to be the hook that makes them seek you out again after the show is over.

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MJP548 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 3:07am
post #16 of 20

Oh man, bridal shows, I think they are a waste of money. You could spend that $400 on some better advertisment, such as online advertisment packages....or mailing advertisments...magazines, etc. The brides at bridal shows are always there just to look, never serious. I did it twice and will never do it again. It's way too expensive.

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jillmakescakes Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 1:42pm
post #17 of 20

While $400 is a chunk of change, I think it would be beneficial to do the show for a few reasons:

1. Brides do research at shows. If you're not there, how else will they know about you? (no, really, what other advertising are you doing?)
2. Vendor contact is vital. The shows are the best way (short of a networking group) to have direct contact with the a group of wedding based vendors.
3. It proves to the other cakers that you are serious. Now, this is the anti-clique-ness in me, but if they tried last year to keep you out, and you don't show this year, they will think that you may not be serious or that they "won".

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HarleyDee Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 4:32pm
post #18 of 20
Originally Posted by jillmakescakes

3. It proves to the other cakers that you are serious. Now, this is the anti-clique-ness in me, but if they tried last year to keep you out, and you don't show this year, they will think that you may not be serious or that they "won".

This is the #2 reason I decided to go ahead and do it. I've done some things to make myself stand out more too I htink. More cake displays, I'm taking a slideshow of pictures, and I'm handing out $10 gift certificates to the brides (off a minimum purchase).

Thanks for all the help icon_smile.gif

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Cake_Mooma Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 7:20am
post #19 of 20

My daughter's 15th birthday is coming up in May, 2010. Since it's so similar to a wedding, a groom short of being a wedding, we went to the bridal show this year. And since I was opening the shop I wanted some ideas too.

One thing was like Debi mentioned. I would go to one vendor and they would send me to the other and I would let them know that we were sent from so and so's both. That made them smile, so I take it that's a good thing. thumbs_up.gif

The other big thing was the discounts. We booked our tuxes and dresses appointments and that is where we ended up getting them from right there. The tuxes were $50.00 off and the dress were also discounted.

Samples that set you apart. I know this is nuts, but with everything going on in that week trying to get her ready I won't be able to concentrate on her cake. So we are out sourcing the cake. We went to booth after booth and they all have vanilla, chocolate and marble...boring thumbsdown.gif . Then we went to one that had berry (can't remember what kind of berry, that was in Feb.) on a lemon cake and something else, and they had chocolate but it also had a different filling. Erika (my lil pumpkin) loved it and she wants the cake from this place. So we booked an appointment and that is where the cake is coming from. The sample that we tasted wasn't what Erika picked but the fact that she had something that we had not had yet made us interested in her. She also (in Debi's words) shmoozed my daughter and Erika was putty in her hands.

So I have not done a Bridal Show yet but I have though about it for next year ( that being 2011) I don't think that they are that bad.

Why don't you try to attend one as a "bride" maybe that will give you an idea what the brides are looking for. I would go with a friend and this way you have a couple of people's points of view. Just a thought. thumbs_up.gif Hope it helps.


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muddpuppy Posted 4 Jan 2010 , 9:46pm
post #20 of 20

I did my first show this past weekend and I'd say it was way worth the expense and hassle and tired feet and crabby brides! We booked a tonne of cakes and consults! It was incredable.

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