Bringing Your Style, Designing Your Booth, Following Through with Leads, Timelapse and Bridal Expo Tips
Hello! Today I am stepping outside my normal routine of showing my work but rather showing you some behind the scenes, a timelapse, and some tips & tricks of the bridal expo/show.
I am going to show you what goes into the beautiful booths I design and put together at my bridal shows. This show was just two weeks ago!
At the bottom of this post there is a timelapse video introducing myself, what I am about to do, and then three days of timelapse videos compiled together. I created a video of set up, during the show I did just an hour of traffic (not all 6 lol) and then tear down.
I have had a TON of questions about how I make my booths at the bridal expos so I decided you might be inspired and love to see what goes into this creative endeavor. Doing shows for about 6 years has been a good amount of experience and time to really understand them and I really enjoy the process. Everything from ideas, design, and the finishing touches.
There are lots of questions at the actual show to see if I offer the sets ups as a part of my photography packages. I usually laugh and get confused. Simply because I am not a space designer or a furniture rental company. This year I was prepared and decided the answer might be yes, for the right price. lol.
I see these shows as a way to show clients what kind of person I am. It takes effort and hard work, but it’s always worth it.
I am ALL in. I love my job, I take it seriously. I bring everything I am to everything I do. I am dedicated to creating beauty. I want the leads to see my style & personality through my booth not just that I take photos. Because that is NOT just what I do.
I’m encouraging you to figure out what YOU love and bring it to the show.
Show them this is important to you, that you care. You care enough about the booth, and you will care about them too. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. I invest about 30+ hours in this show JUST set up, show, and tear down. I spend maybe another 40 hours preparing. Everything from creating ideas, researching, ordering supplies, ordering prints, trial runs, business card updates, flyer creation, website updates, canned email prep, pricing page updates, deciding new deals, packing for the show, etc.
I normally come up with new designs every single year or at least change some major elements.
I did my first booth about 8 years ago and almost every vendor just had the simple black backdrop and white table provided with a variety of products or services for display. FYI-That is totally perfect-Like I said in the last paragraph I think people should bring their personality and style. You might love simplistic and straightforward.)
I happen to just love showing my personality in every aspect of my life, clothing, home, art. So, of course, I had no idea people just used what the show gave them. So I brought half my living room. lol. It was simple, just a little chic design with easels, crates, and curtain backdrop and a big rug with a little vintage red chair. I definitely stood out in 2010. I stood out so much I inspired others and the very next day at the two-day show another photographer went out and bought crates & easels and changed up their booth! So I learned that I needed to stay ahead of the game and be willing to do something new each show or I wouldn’t stand out. That’s not too hard for me honestly because I get bored and my taste changes and flexes ALL the time!
About 2 years ago at Arizona Bridal show I build a wall with pallet boards. A few vendors had other walls too, mostly solid wood structures. Everyone ups their game here YAY. But no one had pallet boards as a wall. This year I walked around and found no less than 5 vendors/photographers with pallet board setups. And at least 5 more with build walls. The creatives have inspired others to up their game & creativity :0
So thankfully this year I changed it up again. How many moon gates should I expect next year? lol.
I decided to do the new trend at weddings of moon gates! I covered it with eucalyptus and a few peonies.I could have done more or had a florist do it, however I desperatly needed something simplier this year.
I still did my squishy wood-grain flooring that I have had for 5 years -it always stands out and provides relief for all day standing. Now I see a lot of other vendors using it. They all come and ask about it and I encourage them to get some. It’s so simple guys… it’s PRESCHOOL play mats! You can buy them almost anywhere. Next year I am going to get a darker color. I feel like with the fluorescent lighting in this new front room I am using it’s not right. I’ve always been in a concrete room with high ceilings. But now with the light being so close and the carpet, it’s just too yellow.
I decided I needed something super simple for the backdrop but decided to not use the standard black pipe and drape provided but get my own to brighten it up. Still, this was an attempt to make my tear down set up a bit easier on me. FYI our show is SUPER SUPER SUPER strict about fire safety in Phoenix so you need fire retardant curtains or need to intensely spray them. So this limited my choices a TON. In all honesty, the pallet wall was INTENSE and just too much for me to keep up. And apparently super popular now. lol.
I attached my curtains with simple S hooks. (Be sure to measure the pipe & drape for the size needed) Next year I think I will incorporate the black AND my curtains to stand out.
Then for decor, I just brought my living room again. lol. Seriously. I just went around and grabbed a bunch of my indoor plants, decor, coffee table, pillows, rug. It’s just easy, already in my house, and I obviously love the style.
Branding: Mostly at these shows you want leads to know what you do & your name right away. Everything from your sign, style, and hand outs should fit into your branding. (This is not in any means a branding post so I don’t want to start going in that direction. But in general just stick to your style all around. If your branding is black and white and modern, make your sign and booth design the same. Keep it fitting.)
Sign: You need to let leads know exactly what you do. For me it’s always confusing because I decorate so well. I get a lot of those questions about set ups and rentals. This year I am renting out the moon gate because of that.
But overall showing your products helps but the most important is your sign. Change up your sign, make it fit your branding. Somehow find a way to bring your brand and remove the free white and block letter name.
I love script & wooden things. So I researched having my business name made 3D. I had it made by a local artist. The company is called Letter Craft. I then painted it hot pink since magenta and pinks and creams are my theme for the past 4 years and went well with my photos I would be displaying.
Hand Outs: Don’t forget you want to get something in the hands of everyone you meet. Depending on cost & amount of leads at the show you can change this up. For smaller shows I do my business card as a magnet. Hopefully, they stick it on the fridge and don’t forget about me. For these 3000+ shows I do my normal business cards. I make sure to have a few spots at my booth with a big supply of them on hand for easy grabbing.
You could do both business cards & rack cards (more of a flyer). I do both usually.
So you spend all this time & energy on your booth but how are you going to get in touch with the leads wanting your services or products? You need to come up with a way to engage with them later. One thing I have learning is “more is NOT better” I use to just get everyone’s name & email on an app on my phone if they seemed remotely interested. I would walk away from these shows with close to 100 leads. But then I would spend days following up with them, weeks, and sometimes months and never hear back from 75% of them! It felt like a waste of my time and energy, even when I had my assistant do the follow-up.
This means they are attracted to your booth based on they have a similar style, they are in need of your services or goods, and that they actually can afford your services/goods. So this year I skipped the app and the lists & the stickers. I made it a point to talk to each person that stopped by, drew them into my booth if they came in on their own free will * FYI I NEVER stand in the isles and harass people. I ALWAYS stay behind my table or sit on my sofa. I want people to come to me if they love it, not be drawn in because I make them feel like they have to. They are overwhelmed by all the crazy and would have a better experience not being harassed and sold something every second. Most of the clients I find at these shows love that about me and booked because of that.
The right people will find you. They will be drawn to what you offer and you just have to let go of the ones who either aren’t a good fit anyways or just simply didn’t see you.
Once I chatted with interested leads then we chatted pricing structure basics. Then once they had the info they needed and essentially who I am, what I offer, and my pricing starting point, then I would simply ask them if I was in their budget. If my style attracted them, they had photography as a priority in the budget to afford my services, then I would offer them my laptop to actually sent me a contact/booking form to be entered into my system right then and there. If not or they hesitated, I simply said thank you and invited them to follow me on Instagram or check out my website if they wanted more info later.
But Now What Do You Say? I am going to share a little about what I say at the show to each person as my last point before I show you the video.
My friend Paul is a mortgage lender at Pinnacle Capital Mortgage and he is very creative and innovative. Check out his Instagram because he’s always doing something awesome. He is big into what he calls the elevator speech. It’s actually hilarious and true. Basically its the idea that if you step into an elevator and you are chatting with this person, what is important for you to say (FYI we are talking work related here)
If you have just a minute to say who you are, what you do, and why it’s important to whoever you are talking with, you need a line so to speak. It needs to be direct & to the point. I have a hard time with someone random because you don’t know that audience but at an expo you KNOW your audience. For me, this Arizona Bridal show consists mostly of brides, a few grooms, and a lot of friends & family looking for wedding vendors. I know exactly what they need to know in less than a minute!
So here is what I say to most of the people who engage with my booth and come in for more info. This is very free flowing and depends on the person but overall this is my starting point.
“Hello! My name is Tracy Ann. I am the photographer. (as I swipe my arm to show the prints displayed) So pleased to meet you thanks for stopping by”
(Ask their name, shake their hand, if they are the one getting married, give a “congratulations!” I first ask if they have any specific questions. I want to know that because I don’t want to blab on about myself if they know exactly what they need to know) Then most of them have no idea what they are doing because they just got engaged! If you are in the same boat-check out by post “So You Are Engaged, What is Next?” Then I let them know I will just share my little spiel about myself and what I do and it should be helpful and be things they would want to know when selecting a wedding photographer.
“I have been in business 10+ years, I have photographed over 110 weddings, and I teach photography courses at the Desert Botanical Garden. Pretty much I love all things photography & weddings. Because of my experience, gear, and eye I have considered a luxury wedding photographer and most of my clients invest around $4000+ on their wedding collection. However, I do accommodate lower budgets and have a min agreement of $2500. It is a build your own styled pricing menus so you are not roped into a specific package. You build your hours, second shooters, albums, prints, engagement, boudoir etc. I am full service and offer all those things through my studio. I am also offering two specials for the bridal show leads. You can either take 10% off your hourly rate OR you can get a free engagement if you book 8 hours of coverage. “
Then I pause and ask them if they feel like that is in their budget & would like to hear more about the pricing breakdown and how build your own collections work. If they say no I simply say “thank you for your time reach out on my website, follow me on Instagram, or fill out a booking form if you decide you want to move forward.”
If they say yes I explain my pricing structure. Then I pause and ask again if they are still interested and would like for me to send this whole interactive pricing page so they would be able to play around with it and add things to their cart and move forward with booking.
That is either yes or no. No, they head out and I say the whole instagram/website thing. If yes, This is when I led them to my computer and ask them to fill out the booking form right then and there.
How This Worked For Me
This Jan show I sent 60 pricing pages to leads. I am now following up & scheduling consults with those leads. Some will not write back and I get that. But I am hoping with being direct about pricing that only the people looking to invest in an experienced photographer will follow through! Obviously, I can’t take them all. So it will be the first book, the first client.
Let’s recap just all the things you need for the bridal show
1.) Bring your personality! And Don’t Be Afraid of Hard Work!
2.) Make sure your business name/branding & type of business is apparent
3.) Give something to the leads so they remember you
4.) Get info for leads that will move forward & have steps in place to contact them right away.
5.) Be ready to talk about yourself, what you offer & why it’s important to them.
Okay, friends. For today it’s a wrap. It’s a lot of info but hopefully, it’ll be helpful to you.
Be inspired, work hard, find joy, seek beauty, and be yourself in all things!