Tis the season to be planning for upcoming bridal shows. Some photographers swear by them and others feel they just aren’t worth the money. Depends on the show and where you are located – some are great and pull in quality prospects, others, not so much. Here are a few tips to make any bridal show work better for you.
1. Start by realizing that the cost of show entry is just the tip of your total expenses. Follow that up with great images, great samples, great surroundings and items that appeal to senses other than just sight and touch: scented candles, borrowed flowers from a favorite vendor, chocolate (scent and taste, double whammy), and music.
2. Go big. Remember that the size of the space and the ceiling height dwarfs your usual meeting space. That means a 10×10 album can look like a postage stamp. This also applies to wall prints, even table top prints. An 11×14 on a small table easel will show much better than an 8×10, and odd sizes like a 20×40 on walls or floor easels will attract more attention.
3. Go thin. We all want to be thin and rich and that should apply to your album samples, your wall prints, even the furniture in your booth. A 20 side album is all you need as the bride’s attention is short and there are many things competing for it. Keep wall prints simple like canvas wraps. Keep furniture small and low (think Ikea). Bulky appearing pieces not only look like they take up too much space, they do. A simple technique from designers is to keep small spaces as monochromatic as possible.
4. Sample albums will be your attention grabbers, so make sure they are doing their job. Every album needs to be unique in both cover option and images selected. My line is always start with a bang and end with a tear because people remember the beginning and the end, and everything is the middle is a wash.
5. If you use an electronic presentation, keep it short and towards the back of the booth. A big screen next to the isle might get a few looks but the prospect can move on very quickly. Notice I said “if” as I’m not sure this is the best presentation of your work. Fewer images that are smack down, drop dead, show stopping, delicious are what you want.
6. MAKE A PLAN. If you don’t know what you want out of a show you can’t achieve it. Appointments on the spot; ask for a totally refundable deposit of $25 to hold the date for a week. Prospect comes in for a consultation, they book or walk with their $25.00. Throw in a small gift if they put the deposit down which is theirs to keep no matter what. This works.
7. Don’t rely on passing out literature and using the show promoter’s list as follow-up. This simply doesn’t work. Have a card that interested couples can fill out with simple contact info. That way you can concentrate your follow up on the people that showed interest. Remember, every attendee is going to be inundated with emails after the show. Make your contact personal (think snail mail) from notes you made on the back of the card. Fewer good prospects are better than hundreds of people who may not have even looked in your booth.
8. Don’t stand in the front of your booth and hand out price lists. Someone will always be cheaper and you want to be seen as better. Yes, you can give out prices or special pieces with a few starting costs and some suggestions, but only after the card is filled out. Avoid being a lit-pusher, just costs you money and delivers very little return.
9. When you have a good prospect, follow up immediately. “I wanted to get back with you as soon as I got home because I remember our conversation and it gave me the impression you are the type of person I love to work with. Guess I was just excited to meet you and hope you felt the same way. Let’s set up a time to get together.”
10. Don’t sweat the competition. Other photographers are not the problem. It’s the florist, cake baker, gown seller, and food providers that you have to worry about because they are getting a larger share of the bridal budget than you are. Not sure if they even have these any more, but every chocolate fountain takes money that could have been put to better use with you.
Have fun, plan ahead, set goals and enjoy the time talking to potential clients. If you take the time to listen, it can make all the difference.