Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
Show Time: Michelle Brisebois offers advice for getting the most out of wedding shows.


March 3, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois

Topics

It’s sometimes easy to forget that trade shows are part of the
marketing mix. If they aren’t treated with the same planning, execution
and followup that any other marketing activity should employ, they may
appear to be a waste of time.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that trade shows are part of the marketing mix. If they aren’t treated with the same planning, execution and followup that any other marketing activity should employ, they may appear to be a waste of time. It can seem to make for a lot of effort for not much payback. But think about it for a second. Where else can you have thousands of engaged prospects gift-wrapped and delivered to your doorstep over a two- or three-day period?  If you play your cards right, trade shows can be a very lucrative prospect.

michelle
Booking early will give you more choice when it comes to choosing a prime location for your booth at the trade show.

Plan Ahead
Usually, show organizers will offer exhibitors a chance to rebook their most recent location again for the following year.  The sooner you commit to participating in the show, the better your chances at a prime location. Where are the best locations? A corner booth has the benefit of being easy to see from many angles. The front of the hall and the centre of the hall are both good spots too. If the hall allows a sign that hangs from the ceiling, this is a great beacon for those looking for your booth as it can be seen from other aisles.

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It’s Never Too Early
Start planning the display early. There are some cost-effective show booth displays to be found from merchandising companies. Tables covered with elegant cloths and staged nicely will work too. Try to have a back panel that clearly displays your company name and logo. If you’re exhibiting at a wedding show, the potential customers want to know that you can make their wedding beautiful so if you can show your cake designs as part of an actual wedding it would be wise. One way to do this might be to have a plasma screen show rotating pictures of cake designs at weddings you’ve catered. A web designer can put together a nice series of images to create a digital story. Live models dressed as a bride and groom and offering samples at your booth will add some glamour and make it real for the attendees.

Put on Your Game Face
So many businesses exhibiting at trade shows miss the mark when it comes to “working the booth.” Take a walk through a farmer’s market sometime and observe how those vendors excel at capturing traffic. Jay Higgins, president of Beau Monde Productions in Hamilton, Ont., has organized trade shows (including a number of wedding shows) for 12 years. 

“I tell the exhibitors to make sure they’re not eating, sitting or socializing with other employees in the booth,” says Higgins. “After a few coffees, it helps to have some breath mints on hand. It’s amazing how that first impression can make or break the selling opportunity. Statistically, the #1 success factor for effective exhibiting at a show is having the right people and communication plan.”

Deploy Your A-Team
It takes a very “sales oriented“ personality to effectively work a booth at a trade show. You may have very talented technicians on staff who excel at design but if they aren’t good “mixers” then the marketing effort will fall flat. 

“The great thing about wedding shows is that brides will often come with their friends who may be getting engaged soon as well.  Having a strong team working the booth will capitalize on this beautifully,” confirms Jay Higgins. 

Define some goals for the show. How many events do you want to book? Share this information with your team and give each of them a specific job. One may handle the sampling while another can answer questions and hand out brochures. Bakeries have a natural draw to their booths because they’re generally sampling something tasty. If it’s wedding cake you’re sampling, make sure it shows to its best taste profile and make sure staff have some scripted lines to tell people what they’re tasting. Perhaps some pre-printed cards so people can write down what they’ve tasted would be helpful. Make them business card-sized (easy to slip into a wallet or pocket) not sheets of paper that are too easy to toss out with the other 500 brochures they’re going to collect.

Have a Compelling Offer
You will encourage show attendees to book on the spot if you have a limited time offer for orders booked at the show. 

“Some exhibitors will book many weddings right at the show with a strong offer. I’ve seen brides actually change their

wedding date to ensure they can have a specific element they have their hearts set on,” says Jay Higgins. “One limousine company had large images of their fleet on display with a chart below showing the available dates and as they booked weddings – the dates were crossed off.

As the show attendees saw the dates being booked, the sense of urgency increased dramatically and the bookings escalated.”

Exhibiting in a trade show may seem like a daunting prospect but it really can be a very effective marketing tool. Many exhibitors don’t make the most of this opportunity and if you do you’ll stand apart from the crowd.

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in helping companies grow their brands. Michelle can be reached at On Trend Strategies by e-mail at: briseboismichelle@sympatico.ca .