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.
In part one of this series we talked about the practicalities, now we will look at how to market yourself at the event as well as afterwards.
Talking to the Customers
This can be the most daunting part of a wedding fair for some people but don’t forget, you are talking about a topic in which you are an expert and something that most people love to chat about! If you think you will find this part difficult then planning an ‘opening line’ can be a really good strategy to overcome nerves. Something simple and open ended like ‘Do you have any ideas about what you would like?’ will break the ice and get people talking.
Most people will be lovely but do be prepared for the fact that there’s usually someone who’ll be rude to you about something. It may be prices or designs and then there’s the old classic of ‘I could do that’. Keep smiling and rise above it!
Your exhibit should help to build brand awareness so ensure that you use your company colours for table cloths and accessories and have a banner or roller stand with your logo and name writ large. Don’t forget that you are also part of your exhibit so wear branded clothing such as a polo shirt, apron or even chef’s whites. And of course you will need a generous pile of:
Other than the impression that you make on them, your marketing material is the only thing that prospective brides take away with them about your company. It goes without saying that it needs to convey professionalism and quality so it is well worth paying to have something printed rather than running something off on your inkjet! You can get some great deals on postcard printing if you shop around – if you have a recommendation for a good printer then do leave a comment for us.
When you are designing your materials remember that you are not just selling cake – you are selling a memory of a special day so, if you can, include a photograph or two of a happy couple cutting a cake and/or guests tucking in as well as quotes from satisfied customers. Here’s a quick check list of other essentials:
- Your company name and logo
- Your telephone number, website and email address
- A brief description of your services
- Top quality photos of a few of your key products
- A call to action – ‘Call us now to book a consultation’ for example
- Some ‘white space’ – don’t overcrowd your materials
Have a generous pile of leaflets on your display and be sure to give one to everyone that you talk too.
Some shows will give you the opportunity to put your marketing materials or a sample into the goody bags given to every attendee. I have done this with postcards at some of the smaller shows but have to say that I didn’t see any increase in the number of enquiries I received as a result. Consider carefully the cost to you of doing this and the number of orders you would need it to generate to break even for you. This should give you a good idea of whether it’s something you want to risk.
Some organisers will charge you for this ‘privilege’ and personally I would say it’s not something worth paying for for leaflets alone. Just think about what you do with the pile of leaflets you get in a good bag when you attend an exhibition! I haven’t tried it with samples but Helen at Cat’s Whiskers Cakes did this for an exhibition she couldn’t attend and got nothing from it!
Once you have attended a few wedding fairs you will realise that it is actually quite unusual for people to make bookings on the spot. People like to take home all of the information they have collected and sift through it before getting in touch at a later date. It is not unusual for couples attending these events to have a wedding date that is 2 years or more away and it is therefore important that you are able to build a relationship with them that will keep you on their radar as they start to make decisions.
This means that one of the most important marketing activities you can undertake at a wedding fair is to build a mailing list. Some shows will provide you with a database of contact details for all of the couples who attend and you can use this as the basis for your list. However, if there is no database supplied there are things you can do to encourage people to part with their contact details. Here are a few suggestions to try out:
- Run a Prize Draw at the show to capture details, giving away a small prize such as a box of cake pops or cupcakes
- Offer a discount code for anyone who signs up for your ‘newsletter’ on the day
- Come up with a useful electronic product that you can offer to email to the bride, thus capturing contact details and demonstrating your expertise at the same time.
Once you have collected these details use them!! Send a ‘newsletter’ a week or so after the fair and keep in regular contact. Email marketeers will tell you that regularity is more important than frequency so keep in touch weekly, monthly or quarterly – whatever you feel you can keep up with!
Wedding fairs provide excellent opportunities for networking with other wedding professionals in your area. Chat to other exhibitors whenever you get the opportunity. If you like what they do and can see an opportunity to work together or feel you would be happy to promote their products to your customers then ask for their business card. They will inevitably ask for your card too and are much more likely to recommend you when you make the effort to build a relationship with them.
Hopefully I have illustrated how marketing at a wedding fair goes way beyond chatting to couples about cake and have given you some ideas for your next fair. If you think I’ve missed a trick then I’d love to hear about it – do leave a comment below.