This year I had several things on my 2015 goal list. Some, like shoot a wedding in London, unfortunately did not pan out (still holding out hope on that one though). The goal I had underlined on the list was “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone”. I’m a pretty introverted person, so working from home is usually ok for me, but I knew if I wanted to take my business up to a new level I was going to have to put myself out there. During a trip to one of my favorite (and wedding bucket list worthy) destinations in Wisconsin, I stumbled upon a flyer for a small bridal show. It looked perfect for my brand and was in a location I have been dying to book weddings in, and so I jumped on the chance to be a part of the show. Then I panicked. Putting together a show in the middle of wedding season was not an easy task, but I survived, and I’m so happy that I jumped.
Here are four important things I learned while preparing for my first bridal show.
- Find The Show Thats Right For You – Those big box one size fits all bridal shows are not for everyone. While you may get a ton of leads, those leads aren’t worth anything if they aren’t the client you want to advertise to. Look for local shows or unique shows in a demographic that matches what you want to attract. Even though it may be a smaller show, the clients you meet there may boost your business ten fold. You can also meet other vendors who share your similar style, and vendor friends are always a great thing to have.
- Set a Budget – Bridal shows get expensive quickly. Be prepared and set a budget for yourself. With any show there is going to be cost, but make sure to factor in the additional start up costs of building backdrops, ordering canvases, printing supplies, etc. Just like starting a business there are lots of small things here and there that add up quickly. I thought I would be saving money by doing a smaller show but that wasn’t the case.
- Think Outside the Box – Bridal shows don’t have to be stuffy or impersonal, they are the perfect space to create a 10×10 foot space of pure awesome! What do you want clients to feel when they walk into your booth? What do you want them to remember most about you? Make sure your aesthetic is there from the moment they see your booth to the time they leave with something to remember you by. For my booth, I knew I wanted it to be modern, but have that same feeling you get when you walk into an Anthropologie of pure rustic and quirky happiness (maybe thats just me). I found lots of elements from my office at home to give my table a more personal touch. What elements of your brand stand out most to you? Take those as the blueprints of your booth, and build up from there.
- Collaborate – One thing I knew was that I did not have time to build a booth. Wedding season was in full swing, my kids were going back to school and my husband was traveling for work. Ain’t nobody have time for that. I reached out to a local furniture rental company and was able to get my backdrop and table from them. It saved money on building supplies and was able to get something way prettier than I could afford to buy. Check out rental companies, florists and other vendors in your area, they may be willing to trade for supplies to make your booth stand out, and its another vendor relationship that could help your business in the future.
Bridal shows can be scary, but are completely survivable. If you have been on the fence about doing one, it is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and another way to get your name out there. Even if you don’t book a single client (which hopefully you do!), you may meet a vendor who can take your business to the next level. I know I’m guilty of doing the same things over and over again, but I think for a business to really grow and thrive, you have to leap sometimes.
What are some ways you went out of your business comfort zone?