Love them or hate them, bridal/wedding shows are still one of the most important sales and marketing tools available to wedding photographers. If you’ve ever done a show, you know how much physical work it is to get ready for the few short hours of a show. There’s booth planning, preparing the handouts and peripherals and the thousands of dollars you fork out for everything! Bridal shows always hurt the bank account, but the return can be amazing, boosting your bookings for the next two, or more, years!

It’s important to enter into shows with clear goals in mind. I want to share our studio’s train of thought for a major show coming up. That being said, our goals for this show have changed from a couple of years ago as our studio becomes more and more established.


Goal #1: Make Sure to Have Something Memorable in Your Booth

We started by booking a larger space this year. We reserved a 10’ x 15’ space which will give us 50% more space to move around and chat with potential clients. Another thing we’re doing to make our space memorable is taking the studio furniture to the show. We happen to have a pink couch and chairs at the studio. If a potential client remembers us as the “pink couch studio” that’s okay with us! Fact is, they remembered us!

Goal #2: Collect Leads Through a Drawing

This is something that I’ve had to rethink. I used to think that offering up a free engagement session was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But this is something that our studio is already busy doing with paying clients. We’ve also found that by giving a shoot away we’ve made the service, at least in the clients’ minds, worthless. This has led to all sorts of scheduling and rescheduling issues with previous winners; making working with the drawing winner more trouble than it’s worth. So, this year we’re giving away a fun prize! Many newlyweds head off to the tropics for their honeymoon, so we’re giving them a chance to win a waterproof camera. The way we figure, we get the exact same results with a fraction of the effort and about the same cost.


Goal #3:  Build Relationships

That being said, there’s a brutal truth to this part: I only want to spend any length of time with photography consumers. That means the person/people who will be having their photo taken and/or the person/people flipping the bill. As much as I like just chatting with people, at a wedding show, there’s no time for chit chat. While maintaining professionalism and politeness, you need to qualify the person you’re speaking with in seconds. From there, make the decision to further engage and become their best friend, or wish them a good day and send them on their way.

[REWIND: Review: FStopper’s How To Become A Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer DVD]

So, you’re further engaging a potential client, great! Never go for the hard sell unless they ask something like “what’s your show special?” The goal here is to capture their information and to book a more relaxed consultation. Shows are crazy and it’s easy for people to start yelling at each other just to be heard. Once you have the information and you’re comfortable that you have a good lead, send them on their way and move your attention on to the next person.

The last thing I want to cover are some of the little things we’ve learned over the past few years.

4 Tips to Make Your Bridal/Wedding Show a Little Smoother:

  1. Sleep the night before. Seriously, the show is going to kick your butt.
  2. Bring and regularly use hand sanitizer and don’t touch your face. Remember, it’s flu season.
  3. Bring healthy, one bite snacks and make sure to eat and stay hydrated throughout the day.
  4. Caffeinated drinks can contribute to your voice getting prematurely hoarse and should be avoided at the show.

One of the most overlooked items is post show preparedness. Do you have a plan for what you’re going to do with all those new client leads? Watch out for a future article on cultivating your leads.

Are you going in a wedding show this year? Any questions of what to do? Feel free to post your questions and experiences.

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