To Wedding fair or not to Wedding fair? That is the question…
Wedding fairs are a great way of putting yourself out there, meeting potential clients, getting introduced to venues and networking with other suppliers. Whether being a supplier at a wedding yourself is good for business depends on how you value your return;
Wedding fairs vary hugely in cost. Some might cost you £75 for a table, others cost in excess of £3000. So how can you make sure that exhibiting at a wedding fair is for you? And whether this should be part of your marketing structure / budget?
- Venue – This will hugely impact on footfall and the type of client it attracts. Some wedding fairs are held at hotels who have a guest list of people either getting married there or who are interested in getting married there. If you do exhibit at a hotel, make sure you have a relationship with that hotel and their wedding planner. You are supporting them by being there and it is not unrealistic to ask for support in return.
Local wedding fairs always sound nice in theory. You are supporting your local businesses and hope that you will get this kind of support back. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes smaller, local wedding fairs just don’t attract the footfall and therefore you might not reach your targeted customer. However, organised properly, this can be a nice intimate wedding fair to attend where you have more time to spend on everyone you meet which will result in a good return.
Large places like Excel are more expensive to exhibit but attract a large footfall and potential reach of customers. Are they the right customer for you? Do they live in the right area?
Larger wedding fairs are a bit like a ‘meat market’ but tend to get a good return. Just put yourself out there but remember, whoever you speak to would have spoken to LOTS of people that day.
- Person / Company organising the wedding fair – Who are they and how many wedding fairs do they organise each year? How do they promote their wedding fairs? You are entitled to ask as many questions as you like before deciding to commit whether or not to do a wedding fair or not. It’s your hard earned cash paying towards being there. Look up their website, follow their social media, see how active they are. Ask if you can be put in touch with suppliers who have exhibited with them before and contact these suppliers for feedback. Trust your gut; If it doesn’t feel right for you, don’t do it.
- Time of year – Wedding fairs tend to happen in the Autumn / Winter and then once again in the Spring. In our experience, Autumn wedding fairs seem to attract people who have their wedding date and are looking for specific suppliers to work with whilst Spring wedding fairs seem to attract people who have just got engaged and are looking for inspiration. Both wedding fairs are worth exhibiting at to find potential customers. Our personal experience has always been that we are more successful at Autumn wedding fairs in terms sales to clients.
- Location – Does it have an impact on where you travel for your business? You can keep things quite local by choosing a wedding fair in your town or you can look at fairs further afield to reach a different type of clientele. What works best for your business? Consider your pricing and who your work appeals to.
- What do you want to get out of attending a wedding fair? There’s lots of things you can get out of exhibiting at a wedding fair and it is best going into one with a clear vision as to what you would like to gain. Most people think if they exhibit at a wedding fair they will get lots of bookings on the day. This isn’t normally the case. You might get one or two actual bookings but most likely people will go away and get in touch with you at a later date. This doesn’t mean that you failed! The most important thing is to get out there, meet potential clients, let them know who you are, give them ways to contact you. Remember Being here isn’t just to sell. Network with suppliers and introduce yourself to the venue. It is amazing how much work gets passed on by people also working the industry. This will all help to get you more clients.
OK, so you’ve decided to attend a wedding fair, here’s our top ten tips for making it work for you
- Your display. This is your shop window. Set it up at home. Decide what marketing material, photos, examples of work, props etc. you want on it. Then take a look back and make sure that at first glance you can tell what you are offering / selling. Is this clear? Take photos and ask people if they can tell what your business is. It’s easy for a hair and make-up artist to get mistaken for a photographer due to the amount of photos on display. Think what you can add to your display to make it clear what your business is.
2. Don’t sit behind your table expecting people to talk to you. Stand in front of your table and talk to everyone. Say who you are, what your business is and show your portfolio / referrals. Talk to people. Be interested.
3. Your main focus towards clients for the day is to get details. Ideally you want names, email address, phone number, wedding date and venue. I tend to offer a discount on the day and approach people by saying ‘I’m happy to offer you a 10% discount off your entire wedding party hair and make-up if you provide me with your details today’ I have never had anyone not wanting this discount and have always collected lots of information on the day. If you discuss any specific details like who wants what done, if someone has a theme, if they are looking for something specific, make a note on your list so you remember them and can refer to this when you do make contact.
Follow up on all leads 2-3 days after your wedding fair.
Make sure you are GDPR compliant by asking their permission for you to contact them and keeping their private information secure, whether this is on your laptop or notebook.
Don’t be surprised if some of these emails bounce back where you have been give fake email addresses by those who don’t want to hear from you but were too polite to say so!
4. Be a “giver”. Some suppliers offer a competition, others a discount, maybe even a service that you offer. People like something free and are more likely to give you something in return.
Do consider your business and what will work for you. Sometimes just a small special touch can make all the difference. One year I made origami heart shaped bookmarks and as I was standing talking to potential clients I would attach a small heart to the corner of my flyer that I gave to them and would always get a very positive response from doing this.
5. Try to appeal to all senses; Touch – let them hold your business card / leaflet or look through your portfolio whilst you are talking to them. Sight – Your display. Do the colours appeal?, is it calm? Does it reflect your business? Will they remember you / your stand when they get home and look through the business cards they have collected? Hear – talking. Are your potential clients making the right sounds? do they agree? is there lots of ‘ooh’s and ahh’s?’ Smell – The smell of cigarette smoke and anything stale can be off putting to potential customers. Make sure you have your mints at the ready! Taste – Is it worth having a small offering of treats? wedding fairs can be quite draining so a sugar fix, no matter how small can perk up attention whilst speaking to you. It also attracts children over to your table whose parents will follow.
6. Make your material clear, precise and memorable.
Remember, lots of suppliers are exhibiting and will be doing the same as you. Ideally you want to make that difference when clients get home and sift through their bags of business cards. You want your card to jog a memory of speaking to you and the business you offer.
In the past I have used the same photo on my stand, banner, and business cards to make sure it is relateable. You could always make something memorable so people remember you the instant they see your business card.
7. Network with suppliers. Always turn up at a wedding fair early so that you have time to set up your stand and then walk around the venue to introduce yourself to other exhibitors. Make sure you also speak to other suppliers who have the same kind of business as you. Introduce yourself, collect business cards, show them where your stand is. By meeting people who work in the same industry you can all pass work on to each other. Sharing is caring!
8. Demonstrate your work -This can be done in a few ways; You could take along a friend who can help you out on your stand and who’s hair and make-up you have done already so you can show people you meet what your work is like.
You could offer to do hair and makeup on the models if their is a catwalk – This only works if done before the fair starts so it doesn’t take you away from your stand. And make sure you get credited by the speaker with your name written on the screen along with where your stand is.
If you style hair you can always take a wig you have styled and pop it on your table with hair accessories and veil.
9. Do you want to sell? Whether make up, hair accessories or mini makeovers. If it is important for you to make your money back on the day, consider what you could be selling on the day.
My personal opinion is that this will take your time away from speaking to potential clients and the bigger picture of future work but some people manage to exhibit and sell on the day so it might be worth considering.
10. Don’t eat all the free cake. If there’s any cake left at the end of the fair, cake suppliers might offer them around. Some cake businesses take along cupcakes to sell whilst there, feel free to taste and then buy some to take home to your family.
We run Intensive Courses in Bridal Hair and Make-up once a month, for course dates and details click here
If you have any further tips / tricks or experiences at wedding fairs please share your comments with us.
All the best