5 Things I Learned From My First Bridal Expo As A Vendor

Whew! Sunday was a busy BUSY day!

I have spent the last couple of months preparing for this expo. This bridal expo was held at Sunken Gardens and hosted by Simpl.Events in St.Petersburg Florida.

Sunken Gardens is a BEAUTIFUL Venue, and it just so happens that that is where I filmed my first wedding, so I was so excited to be back to promote my business and my talent!

Of course, I learned a couple of things along the way and I just wanted to share that so that other vendors who are new to this could learn from me!

1. Prepare your follow up BEFORE the Expo

This is something I failed to do, and now I'm rushing this week trying to send out strategically designed emails to the lead list I received before they forget they even met me. Design your email ahead of time, that way once you get the lead list from the show, you can immediately send them out before couples get OVERWHELMED with advertising emails. Also, if you've never exported an excel file of leads to your email contact list, make sure you know how to do that as well. That was fun...

2. Get there early

I did actually do this, my boyfriend and I arrived there a little before 9 (the venue told us to be there at 9) and we were maybe the third group to arrive. At this particular expo, the booth spots were first come, first serve, so I wanted to make sure I got a great spot. Luckily I got a spot near the entrance where people would see me at least twice, when they were entering and leaving. I caught a couple of Brides who walked in and just looked like they didn't know where to start, so I helped them figure that out :)

Even if your booth location is assigned, you want to get there as early as you can to set up. You never know what could happen, part of your set up might break or you can't figure out how to get electricity...you just never know. Be prepared. There is no harm in setting up as early as you can and then going out for a nice breakfast before the Expo.

3. Know what you're going to say

I struggled with this. I either had no idea what to say, or I wouldn't stop talking. I really needed to sit down for a couple of hours the day before and create a strategy. What were my goals for the expo, did I want to book clients or schedule meetings? What do I say if they aren't interested in videography? What do I say if they think I'm too expensive. Eventually I got into the swing of things, but for the first couple of interactions I felt like I was wearing the "dear-in-the-headlights" look. Come up with a strategy and a story. Make sure you ask your bride or groom about their wedding, what is the date, what is the venue? Get them to start getting excited about their own day before you begin talking about yourself. Listening is KEY. Couples subconsciously expect their photographers and videographers to somewhat be their "therapists" throughout their wedding day. Make them feel comfortable!

4. Create a SMART way to capture leads

I used the good old fashioned pen-and-paper method for this expo. which worked fine considering it was only 3 hours long and about 150-200 people showed up. At the end of the day, I had about 30 pieces of paper with people's names, emails, and phone numbers on them that I had spoken with directly. I could handle manually typing that into my lead capture system online. However, I will be participating in a very large 2-day long expo in February where there is expected to be about 2,000 BRIDES in attendance. Pen-and-paper just isn't going to work. You bet I will be investing in an Ipad and a lead capture program such as iCapture or QuickTapSurvey for that Expo. With many of those apps, you don't have to be connected to wifi or internet, and once you are connected, it automatically uploads your captured leads into several different file types. Yay technology!

5. Pick up the phone

You should be asking for people's phone numbers on your lead capture form. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call them! Many times, if they have never been emailed by you before, the email you send them will go straight to their spam folder. Also, the fact alone that you are calling them shows initiative that you care and gives you an immediate answer to YOUR question....are you interested in my services: yes, no or maybe. If Maybe or Yes, let's schedule a face-to-face meeting where we can learn more about each other. Admittedly I have not followed up quickly enough with my leads, I will be doing so over the weekend, but ideally you want to contact them 1-3 days after the expo....before they forget about you!

Good luck in your Bridal Expo adventures!

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