Wedding and bridal expos are a great place to find potential clients for your boudoir business. Brides typically come in with their mothers, girlfriends, and sometimes part of the wedding party giving you the opportunity to speak with many leads at one time. One photographer has had over 50 percent of her clients just from bridal booths alone.
Choosing the Right Expo for You
Utilizing bridal and wedding expos are not to be looked over when either building your boudoir business or continuing to run a successful client base. At first the options of expos may seem overwhelming but there are many ways to go about your first show keeping without losing your cool.
Jenn Smith of Boudoir by Jennifer Smith wrote that the first tip to having a successful vendor booth is to know that while it is expensive you do not have to take the first price they send to you. Most shows will come down on booth rental fees if you talk to them about other price options. Each expo will be different in what they offer so make sure to be asking the right questions. Smith writes that there are standard questions on top of your individual company requests.
Ask if the email list of the attendees is included in your booth fee. Even if you are not currently starting an automation email process you will want them for the future. If it is not included this can be a bargaining option for price, however you should still bring a form for potential clients to fill out information to be added to your email list.
Ask if there are additional fees for electricity, table, and chairs. The last thing you want is to be shocked by any additional fees not in your budget.
Ask how they market the tradeshow and how many attendees in the past compared to anticipated attendance for this specific show.
Find out how many photographers (especially boudoir photographers) are already booked. Smith explains there is less success when there are multiple boudoir booths at the show especially when some of the booths are giving away free shoots.
Other personal business questions will be geared on how you plan to display your work. If you do not have your own portable wall for hanging wall art you will want to make sure to ask how you are allowed to hang the pieces. Some shows will not allow anything to be nailed or screwed into the walls so you will have to come up with clever ideas on how to hang larger pieces such as strong art easels.
Smith has more success at the larger shows even with the bigger ticket price of a booth. Some shows market themselves as boutique which may seem inviting for a niche such as boudoir however it tends to mean less attendees. “Typically I end of booking 1 percent of the attendants,” Smith wrote. “[Of] 1,000 brides, I book 10. This 1 percent rule has held pretty steady for me. I will pay $1,000-plus for a large show in a minute because I know I will have access to a large group of people.” So while the cost may be higher the outcome will be more beneficial to the increase client base as well as sales.
Location, Location, Location
Once you have your booth, make sure to think about location. Having your setup at the front for entrance will deter those who are worried about all the people behind them waiting to get in and they will rush right past you in order to not be a bother to those behind them. If you have the booth near the end of the show many will be to exhausted from the rest of the events to even give you a glance. Smith suggests the sweet spot is near the entrance on the middle to end of the first row. People are still geared up and excited without having to rush through to allow others in.
Funneling the Leads
Showing up with just a few prints on your table will not be worth the money you spent on the booth. Bring images that cover your range of your work. If you shoot couples boudoir have a sample album or wall art as well to give the bride future shoot ideas. Make sure to create a warm and inviting space for potential clients to stay with you and discuss their dream shoot. The more time you connect with a client the more likely they are to book you after the show is over.
- Smith highly encourages a strong call to action that is only good the day of the show. This pushes urgency to book then and there.
- Collect emails for a giveaway that is low cost to you but high value to the potential client. These giveaways can be an app of their images, a gift card, or even an upgrade on a cover to their album.
- Have one string marketing piece to hand to potential clients during the show. Smith uses Vistaprint to create 5x7-inch postcards of her work and information. This site uses low cost and high volume making your booth budget more manageable.
Lastly, Smith promotes having a private VIP forum for current, past, and potential boudoir clients. It helps you to stay active in their lives and gives potential clients a better understanding of how beneficial a boudoir shoot can be for them hearing from other clients. "Potential clients need to see something seven or more times before acting on it," Smith wrote.
The average results for Smith are pulling in half of her clients from these shows. Last year she did five shows. This year 50 percent of her clientele came from these bridal shows. During the show she books 30 percent of this average and then another 20 percent from email automation after the show. The email automation process is a great way for her to reconnect with those clients who may not have been ready at the time of the show to book.
All image with permission and courtesy of Jenn Smith.