Believe it or not, I’ve never actually been to any type of expo before yesterday (well, actually, that’s not entirely true… I did attend Comic Con for about a half a day some years back, but I only went because someone who had a spare ticket wanted to go). I’ve always thought it would be an interesting experience to have a booth at an expo, and even looked into acquiring one at Comic-Con to promote my novels, but I could never afford something like that (and that was several years back). So when I was informed about the idea of participating as a vendor at a wedding expo to help promote my new business, I was intrigued. I did some research, looked into a variety of different expos around my area, and thanks to the Kiss the Brides Bridal Show at Pechanga Resort and Casino, I was able to participate in an affordable expo that will hopefully open some doors with clients and vendors alike.
The expo and the venue, I will say, were definitely on the smaller side of things, but it turned out to be a pretty nice introduction for me. Since I had never done it before, and because I am far from being an extrovert in this area, it was good that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the experience and was able to slide into a nice groove while getting to know what this type of experience was all about.
I do want to say thanks to my sister, Bridgette, who came out to help and support me and my business. Because she’s a lot more outgoing, she was able to open the conversation up with a lot of brides and other attendees, and was extraordinarily helpful in getting them jazzed up about what I could do for them by talking about her own wedding and experiences. It helped me, not only to build an extra spark of interest, but to understand how I should be going about in marketing myself. I have no doubt in my mind that had I attended the expo alone, I would have been able to get by, but having her there added that extra flare I needed to get me going.
We met quite a few brides and vendors during the five hour expo, including a few that I felt were extremely interested, based on their reception of my sister’s Lasting Memories video and the short silent film I did for her reception. But what I really found encouraging was how much almost everybody perked up when we mentioned that I do not put time limits on anything I film for them, which most photographers and videographers do. It’s one of my biggest selling points, and it definitely made an impression.
Of the brides that visited our booth, I would say that at least half a dozen were nearing a decision to book me by the time they walked away, which was also encouraging. In fact, one almost booked a date right then and there, but had to confirm the date, so hopefully, she follows through in the next few days.
A couple of incentives we had for the attendees were a chance to win free invitations and a 15% off coupon. Everyone that visited my booth took a coupon (naturally), and 31 people signed up for invitations. I will be getting a list of all of the attendees from which I can use for marketing purposes, but it’ll be those 31 people that I put most of my attention on, as they were the ones who were most interested. Not everyone wants a videographer, and some already have one (there were a couple who said they had friends of the family doing the videography, which I totally understand and respect), so right away, there’s no chance I’m going to win them over. I’m still going to send them information, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.
In fact, a couple of those that didn’t come by, I’m sort of glad that they didn’t. Now I don’t know these people, and I’m not one to make preconceptions, but by the way that a few of the brides carried themselves, and the way they presented themselves, I feel like if I did work for them, it would turn into one massive headache. There’s no way to know for sure, but if I never find out, I’m not going to lose sleep over it. Better to avoid the disaster when you can, right? Especially when there are so many others who will be a dream to work with.
One of those was a young woman who discussed her wedding in some detail with us. I mentioned that I tailor all of my designs and video around the theme and personality of the wedding and the bridal party, and she laughed and asked us to guess what her theme was. Based on the way she asked, my sister immediately said, “Star Wars.” Though that would be out-of-this-world incredible (and one that I would have pursued until the night before the wedding!), it was close, but incorrect. Her wedding theme is actually based on The Hobbit, which is no less awesome than Star Wars, and I’m hoping that she’ll book me, because that wedding, based on the theme and the bride’s personality alone, will be a blast to film and edit. And the wedding is nearby, which is also a plus!
One of the unintended consequences of attending the expo, though, was in the possibility of work outside of the wedding. A couple of vendors came up to me asking about the possibility of doing some work on their websites and other type of non-wedding graphics, such as brochures and the like. If just one of them follows through on their promise to get in touch with me to discuss it further, that’s a positive bonus in my book. I also met a lot of vendors who I might be able to network with (and get referrals from) in the future, so it was a good day in that regard as well.
I’ll find out how well the expo actually went in the next couple of months as the brides begin to make their final decisions. Hopefully, my sister and I did enough to encourage them to really consider us and put us at the top of their vendor list, but only time will tell. All-in-all, it was definitely a good experience for me, and I now know what to do (and what not to do) for future expos.