Recently I attended the Wedding MBA show in Las Vegas. Wedding MBA is a conference aimed at the business side of the wedding business. No Ice Lights for sale, no posing tutorials, no demonstrations of the latest Photoshop plug-in that softens skin like magic. Just great speakers and industry leaders there to help photographers, wedding planners, florists, DJ’s and anyone else trying to make a living in the wedding industry. Aside from assisting at the Zookbinders booth on the tradeshow floor, my goal in attending was to learn all that I could to better help our photographer customers be more successful at selling photography.
One of my favorite takeaways came from Chris Evans of Bridal Business Boot Camp during the “Ask an Expert” session. Chris rightly supposes that too many photographers and other wedding vendors do all the wrong things when they take a booth at a bridal show. Having done many a bridal show in my previous life working for a high volume wedding studio, I can appreciate the long hours and the veritable cattle drive of brides, their moms, maids of honor and handful of unenthusiastic grooms-to-be over the course of an all-day show. You get tired of “how much is it?” and “do you guys give the digital files” that are par for the course. It’s hard to have a conversation of any substance with your prospects let alone actually book any weddings there. You pass out your “show special” fliers that brides shove into bags of similar material from the 92 other vendors there and you hope the phone starts ringing the following week.
Per Chris Evans, there is one reason, and one reason only for you to be at a bridal show: TO BOOK VISITS TO YOUR STUDIO. That’s it. You’re not there to pass out fliers or to display your pretty albums and canvases. You are there to drive traffic into your studio by inviting them to schedule a day and time for a visit, not an appointment. Chris notes that appointments are for dentists and other unpleasant encounters. You want to book the much friendlier sounding visit with your prospects.
How do you you do this? “Hi, my name is Matt of Matt’s Fine Photography. We specialize in one-on-one attention with each and every one of our clients. Since we can’t do that here today, when is a good time for you to pay a visit to our studio, evening or weekends?” Have your calendar at the ready and perhaps a card with your website and street address that you can fill in the day and time for them. Better still, as a teaser, your appointment card can promise your brides that in return for their visit they’ll learn “The Five Things You Must Know Before Booking a Wedding Photographer”. Then share your best photography tips with them during your visit. Be sure to collect a phone number so you can text them a reminder for their visit.
If you manage to get one out of 20 brides to set up a visit and 300 brides pass by your booth, that means you’ve got 15 visits! Book ten of those visits and you’ve likely got a great return on your bridal show investment.