The Parade of Potential Ultimate Decision Makers
In many towns and cities, local publications and organizations put on annual or semi-annual bridal shows. These can be a great source of potential leads and some wedding facilities are even able to close wedding deals on the spot. The latter is more difficult but that should be on the agenda if possible.
When first considering a wedding show, carefully study the materials that the planner has sent. Renting space then organizing a booth can cost thousands of dollars. If the show is established, ask the organizer for specific facts.
• Number of attendees.
• Type of attendee.
• Length of show.
• Special events at the show.
• Available locations.
• Past results for former exhibitors.
• How is the show publicizing and advertising the show?
If you know any of the former exhibitors, call them up and ask about specific results. Number of qualified leads. Number of closed sales. Once you have a sense of what to expect, you can look at the potential ROI. If going to the show costs $10,000 can you close three to four receptions? If you can, then it’s going to be worth it.
Your Display and Your Booth
You have probably been to a trade show and seen the difference between the haves and have-nots. At a bridal show, you may not need to have a double-decker booth or erect a mini-castle or maze but you will at least need to look professional and if you are a major resort and/or destination, your booth should say this. There are several companies that can produce your display and the company putting on the show can put you in touch with one or more companies that produce trade show displays.
Your display should be re-usable and easy to erect. It should also feature excellent photography and stress your USP.
The Special Offer
At the very least, you should be building your database at each and every wedding show you attend. As with regular advertising, harvesting emails and leads requires an irresistible offer. How about that free airfare for the honeymoon? Make sure that you have your offer prominently displayed and you have an easy way for people to provide information.
Have a Script
Simply having a great booth in a great location isn’t enough. You have to have a script and a method for greeting prospects. Put your sales boots on and, most importantly, ask open-ended questions. Here’s how a conversation might go.
You: Hello and welcome to Panthers Run resort. My names is Joanna Fox and I’m the director of special events.
Ultimate Decision Maker: Hi. My name is Kristina Jenkins.
You: How are you enjoying the show so far? What have you found to be the most interesting booth so far?
Ultimate Decision Maker: The one with the DJ dressed in a kilt.
You: He’s a hoot. We have him DJ some of our wedding receptions and he’s fantastic. So, Kristina, have you got a date for your big day? Are you currently looking for a reception site?
Ultimate Decision Maker: We don’t have a date and we’re looking for a place.
You: Can I tell you something about Panthers Run Resort?
Ultimate Decision Maker: Certainly.
Note—by this stage, if the Ultimate Decision Maker is with her mother or a friend, you should introduce yourself. Include them in the conversation. They may well be the real Ultimate Decision Maker. It’s your job to find out.
You: We are well known locally for being the best place for people who would like as much help as possible organizing the wedding and the reception. We have a wide range of plans and they are flexible but women and families who are too busy to go through all the planning or don’t want to get into it find that we’re a really great place. And if you book your wedding with us and book the honeymoon through one of our five travel agent partners, you and you husband get free airfare. Note: You’ve introduced your USP and the offer. We’d love to have you take a tour of our resort. Can I have your contact information or we can even set up a time right now for a tour if you like.
Ultimate Decision Maker: Please call me this week.
From this stage on in the conversation, you have to walk the fine line between sensing their level of interest, pre-qualifying the Ultimate Decision Maker, and keeping them interested without being pushy. If they just want information and a brochure, give that to them but make sure you get their contact information (name, phone, email).
If you sense that they are more interested, you can start to ask about potential dates, plans, and expectations. If they ask for specific costs, ask for specific parameters so that you can give them a relatively accurate ‘ballpark’ figure. If that seems OK then you can even start to talk about dates. There’s nothing wrong with getting out the calendar and asking for a deposit—go back to the sales section of this manual for selling and closing techniques. But think of a trade show as a three step process depending on the interest level of the Ultimate Decision Maker.
• Just want information. Get their information before you hand over yours. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!
• Wants more specific information. Provide that. If there’s interest, book a time for them to visit. Ask them if they want to know about specific dates.
• Wants to know about dates. Get out the calendar and take a deposit!
However, you MUST go into the trade show with a plan and a script. Use their name as often as possible. If there are two possible Ultimate Decision Maker, address both personally. Look them in the eye. Have breath mints handy. If you just handed out information, FOLLOW UP soon after the show. The day after the show is fine.
Soon after the wedding show, the organizer will ask you to sign up again for the next year. Keep close tabs of the business that you actually book at the show. Calculate your ROI before deciding if you want to be at the show again.
Building Your Professional Network
Get out of the booth periodically during the trade show and take a look at the vendors. You should introduce yourself to the ones you believe could help you provide valuable services. This will help you build your network—and your database. Make sure that you hand out business cards and also collect their business cards as well. You can also assess the competition. If you are following the system in this manual and they are not, you will be well ahead of the game but check out what they are offering as a special incentive, if anything. What are the various USPs, if any?
Holding the show at your facility
If you particularly like the wedding show in your community and if you have the facilities to hold it, why not have it at your club, resort, or course? This represents the perfect advertising opportunity. Depending on the size and scale of the show and the technicalities of your market, you may receive payment for holding it at your place or you may have to pay. It’s tremendous advertising and sets you apart from the competition. But, once again, after the show, make sure to calculate the ROI. It’s only worth it if you are getting the results.
Have a Video. Have a Former Bride.
If you can show a short video in your booth, that may attract additional attention. If you have a bride who just recently had her wedding at your facility and was delighted, you can pay her to be a spokesperson for the duration of the show. Perhaps you can trade this out for a weekday dinner for four in your restaurant. It always helps to have something other than a brochure—why not a DVD of weddings at your facility that the Ultimate Decision Maker can take home. In trade shows that are more male-oriented, some clever person worked out that if you put a beautiful young woman just outside the booth, you get more attention. While this will not work at a wedding show, some type of ‘siren’ always helps. And remember that some Ultimate Decision Makers will bring along the fiancé and there’s nothing wrong with having something for him in the booth (like golf balls). He will be sure to remember you and he may be more of a Ultimate Decision Makers than he is letting on.
MAKE YOUR BOOTH DIFFERENT AND BETTER. Track your ROI. And get your sales boots on. Have a plan and a script and you will make the most of the wedding show experience.
Scott Martin is a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has written extensively for Legendary Marketing and direct response clients around the world. He specializes in writing for health, information marketing, and golf.