Lizzie Waterson is a recent addition to our New Zealand Academy tutor team, as well as the proud owner of Elizabeth Jean Weddings and Events. She has planned, styled and executed celebrations from an intimate 18 to large scales of over 120+ guests. This week Lizzie interviews Louise Campbell to get her expert advice on exhibiting your business at a Wedding Fair.
As a new business, the thought of exhibiting at your first ever wedding expo can be rather daunting. Events like these take a lot of preparation, thoughtful and strategic planning, as well as a financial investment. So we went straight to the source and sat down with Louise, the owner of Taranaki Weddings to see firsthand what we are likely to expect as a ‘First timer’ and a few tips, tricks and advice to help give us the inside scoop.
Louise has worked in the wedding industry for the past 6 years. She has experience in not only running events such as the Taranaki Weddings Bridal Fayre, Wedding Show and Taranaki Wedding Awards but also building and maintaining an industry relevant community while also being the proud owner of Churchwood Bridal.
What do you think are the main benefits for students launching a career in the wedding industry to take part in an expo/bridal fair?
Taking part in a large public event like our Wedding Shows and Bridal Fairs gives you a unique opportunity to meet the people who need your services face-to-face. It gives you a chance to launch yourself – to promote your products and services and to learn more about the market you’re trying to service. It also gives you a great opportunity to see what other services are on offer, to get to know other business owners – to network and to build relationships. There are no other types of advertising that offer quite so much as taking part in an event. It CAN be a large financial commitment – especially when you’re in the early stages of building your business – but the rewards far outweigh the costs.
Louise are there any specific requirements needed to take part?
You need to have a good understanding of what you’re trying to achieve – know your product/service well and have confidence in it. Go armed with every little bit of information you can – people will ask questions and being able to answer them will be hugely beneficial to you. You need to be open minded and willing to take rejection (and use that rejection to your advantage). Not EVERYONE who goes to an event is looking for your specific service – but don’t be afraid to engage regardless – you can learn so much from talking to them and who knows who they might speak to in the future that CAN use your product or service.
What are some typical things they can expect to talk to couples about?
How you approach people at events and what you say is SO important! Don’t fire yourself straight at them asking if they want your service. Greet them with a smile – say hello and ask which one (if there’s a group together) is planning the wedding and remember to make sure the people with them feel included as well. Engage them in a conversation so that they know that they’re more than just a sale to you. Ask them questions about their wedding – make sure they know that their wedding is important.
Take your diary along – people will ask your availability there and then (and sometimes they even like to book). They’re also going to ask about pricing – so be prepared to answer as best you can. They may ask about your experience (dependant on your services) – a portfolio or testimonials can help.
What advice would you have for new businesses looking at doing their first expo?
- Learn everything you can about the product you are selling and be confident about it. If you’re selling yourself and your services – be confident in your abilities and don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re good.
- Dress smartly – make an effort with your appearance and be well presented. I know that sounds obvious (and potentially a bit vain) – but believe it or not – it’s vitally important and making the wrong decision about clothing can really hamper your sales and response on the day. Dress appropriately for the service or product you’re offering. If you’re a celebrant – dress the way you would at a wedding. Representing a specific brand – wear a shirt with the logo etc.
- Don’t hide behind a table (if you’re using one) – push the table against the wall and stand in front of it – you’ll appear more welcoming and approachable.
- Go big with your branding and display if you can – make sure your stall stands out and is identifiable and engaging. Make sure it represents who you are and what you do.
- Be prepared – it can be a long day. Wear comfortable shoes, take plenty of water and snacks. Keep breath mints to hand.
- Be polite when rejected – as I said before. Not everyone is going to want to stop and talk to you. Greet them warmly and if they reject you – smile and wish them well.
- Be discrete and positive – don’t say anything negative about customers, potential customers, other businesses, your competition or the event organisers in the earshot of visitors or customers. Everyone in the room is a potential client and you want them to see you in the very best light.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – contact the event organisers and ask if they have suggestions or tips.
- If you’re not quite ready to exhibit at an expo – go along as a visitor and check the scene out – you’ll be more prepared for when you are ready.
- Read every page of Terms and Conditions and know the rules (they usually also contain helpful information about the event) – you don’t want to be the business that isn’t allowed back because you blocked a fire exit etc.
- Make sure you have insurance – this is so important. If you damage anything, break anything – or in the worst case scenario – something happens at the venue and your stock is damaged – you want to make sure you’re protected.