Wedding fairs are a key marketing opportunity for any baker involved in the wedding end of the business, whether that’s creating the wedding cake, catering afternoon teas or supplying edible wedding favours. They can, however, be a rather expensive affair so it’s important that we make the most of the opportunity. Hopefully this two part blog series will help you to get the most bang for your buck! And even if you’re not a baker you should still find some useful tips here.
Whilst drafting this blog post out it seemed to fall naturally in to two parts – the practicalities of exhibiting and making the most of the marketing opportunities. This first post deals with the practicalities.
Choosing the fair
There are a number of elements to consider when choosing which fairs to attend. Obviously there is the important consideration of the cost of the stand which, in my area (West Country) ranges from £50 to £500 depending on size and location. Consider your marketing budget, your capacity and your catchment area when assessing each fair.
You can also do a little research such as Googling wedding fairs in your area to see which ones rank best as these are the ones your customers will be seeing too. Talk to the organisers and ask them about their publicity campaign for the event and check what their policy is on the number of exhibitors in each category. Two cake makers is probably the maximum you want unless it is a very big fair as people get fed up of talking about the same topic so if you are positioned badly you could have a bit of a wasted day!
This is obviously a showcase for your talents so you don’t want to overcrowd your table and make it difficult to see each individual design or product. Using different heights adds interest and means you can get more on the table without obscuring the products at the back. You can either create a raised shelf at the back under your table cloth, perhaps using sturdy boxes, or you can use different heights of cake stands etc. I have seen tall glass vases used to great effect with dummy cakes on top but you obviously need to make sure that your table is very sturdy to use this type of display.
I always try to have one cake in my display that is a real ‘talking point’ – something that gets people to stop and engage. It doesn’t have to be something you think people would order as long as it encourages them to stop and to remember you, for instance during the spring round of fairs for 2011 I had a black cake in my display which caught people attention as being rather unusual.
Striking display by Cakes by Beth showing off Beth’s unique designs.
I find it useful to lay my display out at home so I know where everything will go once I arrive at the exhibition. If you don’t have a suitably sized table top to do a practice run on you can fold a table cloth or sheet to the size of the display table and plan your layout on that.
When it comes to the day of the show, get there early if you can as this will give you the chance to familiarise yourself with the venue and see which other suppliers are there before the doors open. This not only gives you the opportunity to do a bit of networking but also to be helpful to the customers – directing them to suppliers you can recommend or even telling them where to get a cup of tea will help them to remember you in a positive light.
And don’t forget your cake repair kit along with white tape, Pritt stick, some string and a pair of scissors. If you don’t need it then someone else will!
Take plenty in a couple of flavours and be prepared for some people to take the mickey, it always happens when there is free stuff available! It’s likely that you won’t have time to keep cutting samples as you go along so either make them bite sized, such as teeny cupcakes in petit-four cases or 1” round biscuit samples, or cut them all up in the morning and put them on a platter but keep them under cling film. Remember to plan how you will display them and where you will put your samples on the table as you won’t want to spoil the look of your exhibit with a last minute paper plate!
People will always ask how much a ‘typical’ wedding cake, afternoon tea etc. costs which as we all know can be a difficult question to answer when our products are so bespoke. I would suggest pricing up your exhibits whether they be wedding cakes, cake pops or cupcakes, so that you can give a concrete example as well as giving a range of prices. For example you can say to the customer ‘A 3 tier cake starts from £275 and this one, for example, costs £300 and serves 100 in sponge or 200 in fruit’. People seem to like these firm prices even though they are highly unlikely to order an exact copy of one of your sample designs!
Providing the fair is reasonably busy you will be on your feet all the time and, unless you have a helper with you, you probably won’t get a break to eat. Wear flat shoes, take small snacks you can scoff in lulls and take a couple of bottles of water. You will be talking a lot so are likely to get parched. For some reason I always get a headache when I do these things so I always take painkillers too!
Above all – have fun! Despite the headache I do like doing wedding fairs, it’s really nice to get out there and share your passion with people. And if you have any other top tips to share then do leave us a comment below.
Many thanks to Helen at Cat’s Whiskers Cake Design for her help with these posts