Bridal showcases and trade shows are an essential part of the event rental industry. But how do you make the most of your business investment? With a few simple tips, you’ll be a trade show professional in no time.
Before The Show
Find The Best Show For Your Business
Research different shows in your area. Not all shows are created equal and you need to do some homework before picking one. Ask other vendors what shows they attend and what they thought of them. Don’t be afraid to contact the coordinator of a show and ask questions. Ask what their marketing strategy is, and how many visitors they are expecting (though note that they may inflate the expected attendance a bit!). Of course, a well-marketed show usually means a better turn out. You can also help market the show by posting details on your social sites and inviting people to attend. Make sure the show fits your ideal client; if your clients are high-end, a DIY inspired wedding show isn’t going to be the best fit for your rental business.
Plan Your Booth
Shows usually offer a variety of booth sizes. If you are new to doing shows, start with a smaller booth and work your way up. You're going to want to display your most popular rental products, combined with your newest and trendiest products in a cohesive and well thought out layout. Using an inventory management software like Goodshuffle Pro can help you determine what your most popular products are. Invest in quality, professionally designed signage with your business name and logo. Bring lots of business cards and any other promotional items you want to give away.
Pro Tip: Bring back-up inventory. There is nothing worse than showing up to a show and realizing a competitors booth looks almost identical to yours! Having multiple options allows you to adjust your booth on the fly so you don’t blend in with the rest.
At The Show
Network, Network, Network!
Make a point to walk around and chat with other vendors in addition to the show attendees. If you own an event rental business, some of your best customers are other event professionals such as designers, planners and venues. This is one of the best ways to make new, repeat business contacts. Don’t forget to check out your competition, too. You never know what you might learn from them!
Engage With Your Potential Clients
You're going to need to engage with the visitors if you want them to stop at your booth. Most people will walk past if you don’t start the conversation. Try starting with something casual like “Hi. How are you enjoying the show?" Talk casually about how your event rentals can help them. People will remember you more if you have a personal conversation with them, as opposed to a pushy sales pitch. You might consider thinking of this time as "data collection" instead of sales. If you ask them questions, they're more likely to engage than if you try and sell them. Plus, even if you don't sell them, you'll then at least learn more about your prospects. For example, you might find out that brides that year are really interested in sweetheart chairs or that many couples forgot to budget for rentals. This info can inform your sales pitch to others, your blog posts, and other important sales and marketing tactics.
Collect Contact Info And Take Notes
The most important part of the show is to collect your potential clients' contact info. Have a sign up sheet and be straightforward as to why you collect this information. Offering a drawing or prize is great motivation for people to sign up, but this is at your discretion. Often saying something as simple as, “If you provide your email, we will send you a catalogue with our rental products so you can see the full extent of our inventory.” Most visitors expect to hear from you after the show, but make sure you get their permission before adding them to your mailing list.
If you are collecting business cards, try taking notes on the back that'll help you remember people and what you talked about. Notes can be quick and simple such as "pink shirt. Brother helping plan wedding." You may feel in the moment that you'll remember everyone, but you'll find that once you're home, it all blends together.
After The Show
You need to follow up with your potential clients within 48 hours. This is essential. Send a “thanks for visiting our booth” email. Provide information on your business such as a catalogue, brochure or price list. Don’t forget to ask them to follow your social sites and join your mailing list. Provide links to your sites and leave your contact info. This is also a great time to mention any after show promotions you may be running. If you had a personal conversation with anyone, be sure to mention this in your email (using your notes!). This type of personal touch will make you stand out amongst the sea of other vendors.
You should leave feedback for the show coordinator, good or bad. If the show was successful for you, make it clear that you loved it. This helps ensure you get invited to future shows. If you didn't like the show, give actionable feedback. Simply stating "I got no leads" will likely make no change, whereas saying "my booth position made it very difficult to talk to people" may mean a nicer booth in the future and could prevent others from suffering such fate!
Megan is the owner of Linen Lust, a boutique linen rental and decor company based in Barrie, Ontario Canada. With a small obsession with table linens, she can often be found browsing for new items to add to her ever growing rental collection.
If you're looking at trade shows... you must be looking to grow! Curious how Goodshuffle Pro can help you grow your event rental business?