In the de-brief that follows my attendance at any sort of Wedding Expo, either over a coffee or a wine, I invariably find myself banging on about the same issues. Be it big, small, classic or eclectic, whether it takes place in a exhibition hall or a quirky venue – wherever there is a collection of Wedding Industry Vendors vying for the attention of the engaged guest, there are simple key guidelines that anyone spruiking their services should focus on.
1. Know Your Audience
Who is your target audience? Are they going to be there? What type of expo are you attending? Make sure that you’ve chosen the right expo to be featured in, as some are specifically tailored to certain tastes, styles and budgets, and this may not include your market. Read all of the information that you can get your hands on about the expo prior to jumping in – you have to make sure you will even have people looking for your service before you then attempt to win them!
2. Know Your Business
One of the things that often lets down what could be a great stall, is product knowledge! We all know that expos aren’t a walk in the park, and often take place on weekends that could have been a workday for you – but resist the urge to send in a temp to head your display! This applies in ALL realms of retail and selling. Whoever is there on the day, whoever is the face of your brand, MUST know their product. Otherwise, the investment you make to have a space at the expo will be lost when someone asks a question and your staff advises them to “Google it” (this seriously happened).
3. Be Prepared and Polished
First impressions count. I’m constantly amazed at the spectrum of styles that are on display at wedding expos, and how many vendors appear to just turn up, place a couple of props and expect enquiries to just roll in. Think about the presentation of your stall, and spend the time to plan not just its style, but also how long it will take to set-up, and how many people you will need to do this. The last thing you want is a half-completed display.
When preparing, think not just about your audience, but the expo itself. What competition will be there? What did they do last year? What do you want your display to say about you and your services? From this, work on ensuring that your display gets the right attention, from the right people.
4. Offer An Incentive
People aren’t flocking to Wedding Expos to be offered the same deals and information as they can obtain from your website or store. The lure of the expo is a saving or an offer, something that will make their $20 or so ticket worth while.
Be smart about what incentive you choose. Do you have a particular month or service/product that you particularly want to push? What can you realistically offer that won’t leave you without a profit, but will be attractive to the customer? Focus your offer on these items.
In addition, always remember that a day at a Wedding Expo should make the Bride-to-be and the Husband-to-be feel special and excited. They should feel like they’re Number One, and offering them an incentive that celebrates their attendance is always looked on positively. Can you offer a percentage off for them signing up to your email list, or using a Code for the Expo Only?
5. Be Approachable!
If we were doing this in order of importance, I actually think this would be my Number 1! No matter how beautiful and elaborate your stall is, or how amazing your offer is – if you aren’t approachable, then everything else is a waste. I’ve seen styled stalls that almost take your breath away, but when you get near them to have a browse, you almost freeze from the reception you receive from the staff. When you’re in the service industry – never be too cool to talk to customers. You may want your brand to be ‘cool’, but that shouldn’t extend to your interactions with potential clients.
I’ve also seen staff hanging out behind the stall, either nervous about appearing too pushy or just not interested, and these are both no-no’s for an expo. Don’t be afraid to stand and greet passers by, it’s so easy to give a smile and a ‘Hello’, without making them feel like you’re over-doing the sell. Open body language, enthusiasm and warmth will encourage people to spend more time at your stall, and ask questions.
These suggestions are, of course, just tips that I have picked up along the way, based on observations from many Wedding Expos. The stalls that I’ve remember have all been linked with the service I received, and the interactions I had with the staff. I have come home with lovely cards and brochures, but even these don’t trump someone listening, offering knowledge and giving you their time.