Advertising for the Wedding Photographer Part 7
Wedding Fairs / Bridal Shows
Chapter 1: Wedding Magazines and Print Advertising
Chapter 2: Directories, Google and Facebook cold calls
Chapter 2b: The Hitched Directory
Chapter 3: Google Adwords and Facebook Ads
Chapter 4: Social Media
Chapter 5: Wedding Blogs
Chapter 6: Facebook Groups and Wedding Forums
Chapter 7: Wedding Fairs / Bridal Shows (You are here)
Chapter 8: What works for me
Wedding Fairs and Bridal Shows
Usually when I’ve written these chapters I’ve written the content and added images later.
On this section though, I’ve added the images first because, nothing sums up how I feel about Wedding Fairs more than the above image.
You see I’ve never liked (most) wedding fairs. It’s because I feel like you have to be a market trader, hard selling your goods to get anything from it.
It’s like the Hunger Games but where everyone is nice to each other and nobody has to die
I know that when I’ve done them I’ve stepped back and let people come to me but in many cases you’re sharing a venue space with 9 other Photographers all competing over the same visitors. Some of which are quite aggressive in their sales and attitude. By the time they get to me they hate wedding photographers.
It’s not really for me.
Now actual experience with them:
Ok, so the first wedding fair I ever did was at a small private Airport in Shoreham. The only place this wedding fair was advertised was on their website and we paid £50 for the 6ft table.
This was the weirdest experience ever. Because it was so poorly advertised not one person that walked through the doors was there for the fair. It was a Sunday and they were people just coming in for a Coffee in the cafeteria and to watch the planes landing.
However I took a full day wedding booking, one for Laura too and also a corporate gig for a Medical company who were having their spring ball at the Airport. I still do this companies Spring Ball every year.
Best. £50. Spend. Ever.
Yet nothing added up. Nobody was there for the fair. NOBODY. Not even the couple who booked either myself or Laura. But this was the most successful fair I’ve ever done.
So on this resounding success I ramped up my spend on wedding fairs and jumped in with a few more companies. Stylish Events being the main one.
These guys weren’t cheap. £1700 spent on 6 wedding fairs but they are the biggest for my area (Sussex). They have some serious venues and serious footfall.
Most of the time.
The end result of my time with Stylish Events was bookings worth £1680 – So I broke even.
But I didn’t really break even, not once you factor in the additional time and cost it took to put together a stall for each show, those lost Sundays all add up. I still had to work for two weeks to pay for my stalls.
So breaking even wasn’t baaaad was it? But what if I tell you that the entire £1680 was from one fair? What happened at the other five shows?
Because of this I walked.
It’s also the selling environment I struggled with:
When I’ve spoken with other vendors at fairs they do all sorts to capture and qualify the business. Some have ‘On the day discounts’, they register emails then chase afterwards by phone or email, have sweets on the tables (usually Cadbury’s Roses) and even walk over and try to poach clients from your stall.
Personally, I don’t like the hard sell. I’m just a nice guy who works hard. I’m slightly introverted in a sales environment (but completely outgoing at a wedding). At fairs though I wait to be approached. I’m not alone in that respect either as I know it would be seriously off putting for someone to push a sales pitch on me. I hate door to door sales and especially those guys who sell double glazing at the exits at B+Q.
It’s worth doing for the life experience.
If you ever want to see a room full of interesting suppliers, then wedding fairs are the place to go to.
- There’s the sitters
- The stand and stare at nothingers
- The wanderers with no direction
- The ‘I’ll walk past your stall and look at your work but pretend I’m not interested’ types.
- The ‘He’s gone for a coffee let’s look at his portfolio’ types (when I’m actually behind them)
If you want a classic experience though you won’t have lived until you’ve experienced the enigma that is the Debenhams and John Lewis girls.
The trouble with some suppliers at fairs is BOUNDARIES. They don’t have any and don’t respect yours. You’ll have someone approach your stall, look at you, smile and BAM! That Debenhams girl is there stealing your pitch. Woman, GTFO.
In most cases where I’ve attended independent Wedding Fairs I’ve had poor results. A lot of the time price has been an issue.
You know price is an issue when you tell them the figure and you can hear this silent scream. If you say it’s without an album they just exhale and it takes a few seconds for them to respond. It’s not exactly a scientific way to qualify a client but it seems to ring true in most cases.
The most common thing I’ve been asked to supply is a days cover and an album for sub £1000.
The thing with wedding fairs is that they are just so…random
There are big exclusive wedding fairs that charge a fortune to attend and there’s these tiny village hall ones that cost little yet I’ve not seen or heard anything to suggest that one is better of worse than the other.
One time I was even asked to do a wedding fair in a disused branch of Millets. I kid you not.
What I DO know is that Wedding Fairs are being monopolised and there are many more than there used to be. One wedding fair I attended shared that day with at least six other fairs which seriously diluted the footfall through the doors. That devalues the fair and affects your bottom line.
Speak to most vendors at a wedding fair and many are considering if they will be doing another. Then there are some that just never quit. Wedding Fairs are an odd one, that’s for sure.
Then there’s the dirty tricks
I wouldn’t invest in any fairs that use these tactics as it’s worrying they have to use them at all.
Fairs where you’re a recommended supplier
So I do these regularly. At these fairs you’re a known face and it’s one big happy family. Everyone knows everybody and it’s a different vibe. So that means I get loads of business right?
This is at venues I average 10 weddings a year with, that I’ve loads of experience at, with lots of supportive suppliers around me. And it’s no different from any other fair.
But I do enjoy being there networking and talking shop with an honesty I don’t see and the public fairs.
So what gives?
Well I’ve always thought that wedding fairs are for people to get ideas and to find the lay of the land. Then they go and find someone elsewhere. At least in the realms of wedding photography that is.
I do the same with an electrical purchase. I’ll go to the Apple store and try out the latest Mac, work out which one I want and using the stores Wifi find the cheapest price online and order it. I have literally bought an Ipad from Amazon.co.uk whilst in an Apple store.
For the price keen this is an obvious thing to do.
I’m still on the fence with regards wedding fairs because even the free ones with a qualified footfall (as in couples who are getting married at the venue) are not converting into many, if any, bookings.
Next: What works for me
Comments are open
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