Here are a couple of photos of my booth from 2 different shows:
Just did my last(?) bridal show for this season and I noticed a few things I thought I would share!
- don't sit. Seriously! All the brides are standing and walking around; you need to be on the same level to catch their eye and engage them. The first big show I did actually strongly discouraged even having a chair in your booth, and that was a 2-day event!
- get a professional sign or banner made. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, they are worth it. My sign is a bit too small... next year I will get a bigger one! Your sign should be at least 4 feet wide, and don't try to put too much on it. Your company name & tagline & logo, and possibly a cake image (if the word cake is not in your name) is plenty!! The most important part is that it be read-able from across the room! In my experience, the narrowest booth you will get is 5 feet, but they can be as much as 10 feet for a single booth. you don't want your sign looking tiny and lost in that space.
- always have some business cards in your hand or pocket. Sometimes you'll be stuck in a corner away from your cards and someone will ask for one.
- don't get stuck in a corner of your booth. Especially if you are claustrophobic. I find it easiest to stand just outside of my booth, then I am able to greet everyone.
- bring at least one NEW cake to each show you do. I have 8-12 cakes I bring, but every show gets a new creation... remember you will see many of the same vendors & brides at multiple shows; make sure they have a reason to come back to your booth!
- bring LOTS of cakes... more cakes makes for a more impressive display, and you will appeal to more people (everyone has their favourite!) When I did the large 2-day show in January I brought 12 cakes. Every one of them has a few people that said "THIS is my favourite!" If I hadn't brought that cake, they might not have found anything they liked!
- bring different heights of risers. If you have a lot of cakes crammed into your space, you need to raise some of them up.
- make sure the cakes you bring show the range of your skills. each cake should appeal to someone different or they are just filling space. If all your cakes show the same technique (no matter how impressive) people will think that's all you can/will do.
- bring lots of different toppers. Make sure they suit the style of the cakes. If there are local manufacturers, they may be willing to loan you a couple of their toppers (but be careful... many shows will not allow you to hand out any printed material for a company that didn't pay for a booth) My toppers include a couple of monogram style ones, a couple of crystal cake jewellery toppers, a few different bride & groom figures, some gumpaste flowers, and a fondant bow.
- About the bride and groom toppers; when I say different, I mean DIFFERENT! I don't have a single plastic couple with tulle & doves, because they are not my style. If they are yours, ONE couple like this is plenty! Everyone has seen those toppers; you're not going to amaze them with a Wilton plastic couple. This year, my "couples" include a gingerbread couple, an "Oscar" gold-leafed couple, a custom polymer clay couple, and the Corpse Bride & Victor. Each one is VERY different from the others, and make people think about different options.
- TALK to the other vendors! They are your BEST source of referrals. You MUST get to know them, and let them get to know you! Encourage them to taste your samples, make up a pamplet and a set of business cards to give to everyone else. This is the EASIEST guerilla marketing you can possibly do. When else will you have all of these vendors in one easy place? The times when the fashion shows are running will be dead in your booth anyhow, so use that time well!
- get some nice fabric to use as table skirting. Or buy pre-gathered skirting that gets mounted with velcro or clips. Even if the venue provides skirting (and many do not) you want your booth to stand out.
- get photos of your booth!! Snapshots are fine, but you will want to a) see how your booth evolves over time and b) see any flaws or oddities that you didn't notice (so you can correct them next time.) For many of us, bridal shows is the biggest (if not only) advertising we do. You need to get the most out of it, so never stop learning!
- get photos of other booths that look really great! Not just cakers, but any booth that looks good!