Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I spoke on Friday about tips I had learned during previous bridal shows. Kate over at the Spread the Love Blog posted a comment and said that she had never done a show before and wanted some more information for those of you that have never done a bridal show. Since we just did one this weekend (meaning it's still semi fresh in my mind) I thought I would talk a little more about it... call it Bridal Show 101.
If you have never done a bridal show, they can seem daunting. At least in my area, we have 2 big bridal shows, one in July and one in January. There's always more people (vendors and brides) at the January show. Chad and I went to a bridal show (as guests) before we did our first show. We later found out that most times, the promoters of the show will allow potential vendors in for free if you just ask. Walk around and look at booths, especially ones that are in your industry. Take notes and/or pictures as you walk around... this is required homework!
As I mentioned before, there will be a promoter for the show. They take care of securing the venue, setting up the booth space, promoting the show, and taking your money! But this is an investment - you have to look at the cost of the show as a business expense. Think to yourself how many cakes you would need to sell to make your money back on the show. In my experience, the price works out to be about 2 weddings. The promoter will usually give you a 10x10 booth with one 8 foot table (with cloth) and 2 chairs. You can get additional tables or even power ran to your booth (if you need it) for an additional fee.
Remember what I said last time about acquainting yourself with other vendors? If you need some pizazz or booth filler on the cheap, these other vendors can be a godsend. Linen companies will often times lend you cloths or florists will gift you an arrangement if you just put up a "Linens/Flowers provided by ..." card. Some sweet treats in return couldn't hurt either!
Now, what should you bring to the booth? Being in the cake business, you have to show that your cakes look good and that they taste good. I do this by bringing in dummy (styrofoam) cakes and bite-size cake samples. The samples were the hardest thing for me to perfect, and I'm still not sure they're "perfected". My first show I brought full-size cupcakes in 3 different flavors. I spent the entire show "selling" these cupcakes. Now I take my samples in small (2oz) souffle cups, each with a lid that has my business name, phone number, and website. It's more sanitary and with the lids people can take them with them if they want. Not to mention that I get 53 samples from one thin 1/2 sheet cake! And I try to take just one flavor; if I take 2, I only put one out at a time. And if you do bring dummy cakes? Make up a card or sheet that lists what each cake serves and how much you would charge for it. People WILL ask.
If you don't have (m)any cake dummies, bring a scrapbook or a video DVD featuring your cakes. I did this once - I brought a 32" LCD TV with a mini DVD player. It looked good inside the booth, but 10 feet away the screen looked tiny. I didn't like it at all. I brought in a scrapbook once too; people tended to crowd around. It too created a bottleneck that I didn't like.
Other things I take to a show:
My own tables and cloths (underneath will also double as storage!)
Cake Stands (for dummy cakes)
Signs or banners
columns to display cakes
brochures and business cards
client signup / callback sheets (remember pens too)
forks and napkins (for samples)
For Setup and then Hidden Underneath Table
small step ladder
small collapsible dollie (the venue will have these, but you may have to wait on one)
small toolbox (hammer, pliers, wire cutters, tape, measuring tape, pins, etc)
wrinkle release spray
For Yourself and Any Helpers
snacks / bottled water (but keep them out of sight)
The most important thing to bring? Your big girl patience panties! Seriously, you will get asked the same question(s) over and over and over. People will look at all your cakes and then ask, "Do you make cakes too?" Just smile as big as you can and shake your head yes! The brides that I still struggle with? The "I'm the bride, what can I get for free?" bride. At every show I have at least one walk into my booth and ask that very question. I just hand them a single sample and thank them for stopping by.
Do you have any other questions? Did I leave something out? Post it in the comments and I'll comment back with the answer!