Business > Merchant Voice

Preparing to exhibit at a wedding expo

My Wedding Décor will soon exhibit at One Fine Day Wedding Fair in Melbourne, Australia.

One Fine Day has been running high-end wedding fairs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide for several years, and, for the first time, in New York City in 2016.

The fairs are attended by couples with generous wedding budgets, as well as wedding stylists, planners, coordinators, florists, and event designers seeking new ideas and suppliers.

The Melbourne event will cost me in excess of $5,280 (AU$7,000) with the expo stand, furniture hire, branding materials, and staffing. But I expect it to provide a good return on investment for my purely online business as well as a much-needed physical interaction with customers and prospects.

Here are some of my plans to make it a success.

Preparing for the expo

Booked early. One Fine Day handpicks 100 of the best vendors with limits on the number in each category. By booking early, I locked out a number of competitors. It also gave me more time to plan.

Large expo stand. While smaller and cheaper stands were available, I invested in a large stand of 5 m long (16’4”) x 3 m deep (9’ 10”) to showcase my products available for purchase and hire.

Investing in a large stand makes it easier for attendees to locate, and it gives me more room to show my wares. Visitors (and other stall holders) assume you’re a bigger player than you are, which makes them feel more secure about working with what, for them, may be an unknown business.

Another advantage is by being a first-time exhibitor who booked early with a large stand, I’ve obtained a favorable location. My stand is opposite a major exhibitor, from whom I’m renting a number of items. This will provide opportunities for a closer relationship.

Eye-catching branding. My logo is black on white but — as I believe many fellow exhibitors will choose a white backdrop — I’ve chosen dramatic black, with a white dance floor to mimic a night-time wedding. Our logo has been printed in white, on a clear vinyl background to be adhered to the rear wall, which is wood, painted black.

My team and I are wearing white long-sleeved t-shirts with My Wedding Décor branding for high visibility as we manage the stand, and walk around the expo.

Using visual merchandising rules. While I’ve never had a retail shop, I’ve been reading everything I can with regards to visual merchandising. Apparently, items look best when running from left to right — warm colors to cool — which is how I’ll array my products in the stand.

Allowing space to peruse. I’ve hired a 240 cm (7’10”) long rustic table, which seats eight to 10 guests. While it would look amazing with a full table setting, I have chosen to provide four place settings, push the table against the rear black wall, and hire four chairs instead of 10, with the backs facing the front of the stand, so visitors can easily inspect the table on three sides.

Expo promotion. I’ve emailed and texted my customers and suppliers, as well as past brides whose friends may be getting married, about the One Fine Day Wedding Fair 2-for-1 ticket offer. I’ve also invested in a Facebook and Instagram advertisement to promote my gift-with-purchase offer, which at $0.08 per click (to date) has been one of my better-performing promotions.

One Fine Day is also offering me three Instagram posts as well as a quarter-page advertisement in the expo brochure to promote my business and raise awareness.

Show sales. I intend to make sales and take orders from attendees at the stand. To do this, I have three team members on the stand with me at all times to help answer questions and facilitate orders. We’re using a laptop and iPad to take orders and I’m purchasing a Square reader to process credit card orders on my iPhone. I am crossing fingers they won’t be paying in cash and wanting change. But I’ll take some cash just in case.

We’ve assembled a spreadsheet of the prices and quantities of the products on show for purchase or hire. We’ve collated a quick competitors list to know what they offer — and more importantly, what they don’t — to help manage sales queries. We’ve designed paper forms to jot down more complex order queries in case the laptop or iPad is unavailable.

End of season specials. Attendees can buy a number of my clearance stock items at special prices. This helps clears my inventory and gives them unusual décor products for their wedding that no one has.

Stand promotion. I rent lightboxes in two sizes and will use these to help attract visitors’ attention. The larger one will feature a gift-with-purchase offer when attendees spend $100 or more on their order at the show. The gift is my newest guest favor: a baby olive tree to be given to guests at weddings and christenings. This giveaway helps promote the guest favor.

Once the limited stock of baby olive trees have run out — hopefully on the first day — I will replace the larger lightbox promotion poster with a wedding seating chart. Guests can rent the lightboxes. They may also ask us to design their seating chart, which is another service we offer.

The smaller lightbox will feature an offer inviting visitors to sign up for my monthly newsletter, to go in the drawing to win a $200 gift voucher for a bespoke wedding décor product. The custom wedding product prize helps position My Wedding Décor as a personalized décor business.

What steps have you taken to make your expo presence a success?

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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