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How to get the most out of wedding shows - Wedding Business Solutions Podcast with Alan Berg CSPHow to get the most out of wedding shows

Like many of my topics, this came from a conversation I was having with one of my clients, a wedding/event pro, about what he should do for an upcoming Wedding Expo. He wanted to stand out, in a good way, and get the most ROI from the show. So, on this new episode, I’ll share with you some of the things I told him, on how you can stand out, catch the attention of an audience that’s literally moving as they are near you, and how you can profit more from Wedding Shows. Whether you’ve done Wedding Expos (formerly called Bridal Shows) before, or not, and whether you’ve gotten a good ROI or not, this episode will give you some food for thought!

Listen to this new 16-minute episode and hear ways you can get the most out of wedding and other tradeshows.

If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or visit my website

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Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or contact me via textuse the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362

Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review (thanks, it really does make a difference). If you want to get notifications of new episodes and upcoming workshops and webinars, you can sign up at

– Wedding shows are back. Are you ready? Listen to this to find out what you need to know to get the most out of them. Welcome back to another episode of the Wedding Business Solutions podcast. I have a topic today that was actually suggested by one of you. And I have this conversation a lot with people about wedding expos. We used to call them bridal shows, they’re wedding expos, and what do you need to do to get the most out of them? I can give you the short answer. The short answer is if you are not using the list and not using it effectively, you’re not getting the most out of it. Because the business that happens is not just what happens at the show, it’s what happens before, at, and then after.

So here’s what you need to know, I actually do a presentation called, Six Steps to Wedding Show Success. You need to prepare your booth obviously, but preparing your booth means knowing what other people are doing and looking different. Not just to be different, but because you are different. People always say to me, what do I do to stand out? And then I go look at their booths and their booths look like everybody else’s booths. So make sure they know who you are, so really good signage up high, not just the little paper sign that they give you to show you where your booth is, but your own professionally done sign with your logo, maybe even your web address, up high in the booth so they can see it even if it’s full of people. And then you have to think about, what’s the visual there, right? You don’t want a table out by the aisle that, some sort of barrier between you and people that are there. You want to make sure there’s no barrier.

So table, if there is one, goes to the very back, so people have to come in. I always say, unless you’re going to do consultations in the booth, no chairs. You should not be sitting in your booth. If somebody is going to take a break, they’re going to leave the booth. Same with eating. You don’t eat in the booth, you eat outside the booth. And I understand some of you are there by yourself so, don’t eat when people are there, eat when something else is going on, when you can sneak a little bite of something. You need to be prepared with your elevator pitch. What are you going to say to people when they come to your booth? Are you going to go, Hi, do you need a photographer? Right? That’s not a good question.

It’s the same as when people walk into a retail store and they say, Hi, can I help you? And you say, I’m just looking. Well, that’s the wrong question. The question, because you came into the store, so you probably do need something or think you might need something. A better question is, you know, Hi, what can I help you find? That’s a better answer in a retail store. What about for you? You know, what’s your five seconds or three seconds even, that you’ll say to somebody that’s going to get them to stop walking and want to find out more, right? If you’re a videographer, you know, they might be watching the videos you have up on the TV. Hopefully you don’t have a lot of sound going because if everybody has sound, nobody’s going to be able to talk. But what are you going to say to somebody? Are you going to say, you know, “Hi, do you need a wedding videographer?” Or are you going to say, “What will your grandchildren say when they watch your wedding video?” Right? Now, that might get somebody to go, Huh, I didn’t think about that. Right? Or if you’re a photo booth company, “Have you thought about something fun for your guests to do when they’re not on the dance floor?” Don’t sell the photo booth, sell the experience, something else there.

So, have a better elevator pitch, have something to say to people that will get them to stop, which then gives you permission to ask them more questions and talk to them. And don’t make it about you, make it about them. What are you going to put in their bag? They come in, and one of the first things that happens is they get a bag, right? Every trade show, people get a bag. So when they get the bag, they started throwing things in the bag as they go along. What are you going to put in there? Are you going to do, you know, photocopied on blue paper or something and drop it in and it just looks unprofessional? Or are you going to do something professionally graphic designed, that when they get home and dump the bag out, they’re going to go, Ooh, what’s that?

Does it reflect the branding that was in your booth? Does it have information that talks to them about the results of hiring you, not just the services? See, they always need your services, but they don’t need you to do it. You want to talk about why people like them come to someone like you to get those results. So why do couples like you choose us for your wedding officiant? Why do couples like you choose us to be your wedding florists? Why do couples like you choose our catering? Right? And then the answer is actually very short testimonials. So this is the piece that I would picture to throw into a bag at somebody’s show in it. It’s very much like what I do for myself at trade shows. The one thing I don’t have that you guys will have, is photos. Because a photo of me doing sales training is a photo of me and some people. It’s just, you really can’t tell what’s going on. But if you show me a picture of a wedding, and you’re the band or the DJ and the dance floor is packed, that’s the results.

Photographer, it’s easy, it’s always the pictures. Video kind of similar. Flowers, don’t show me just flowers, show me a bride holding flowers, show me flowers at the church with a real ceremony going on or at the reception site with a real ceremony going on. Show me the centerpieces with people smiling, laughing around the table, where they’re sitting there because that’s what it’s going to look like to them. So aspirational images. You want to talk about them using the words you and your. So maybe one side of an oversized postcard would be a great picture of a wedding, maybe a couple of little insets if you want to show some details about some other thing that you do with some other feature. Your logo, nice and prominent, your web address, and then one short testimonial quote overlaid over this big photo. Just something in, what they call negative space, so it’s not blocking people’s bodies or faces or anything. That somebody said, you know, “It’s the best decision we ever made to hire…”, so and so. You turn it over and it says, “Why do couples like you choose us for your…” Again, whatever it is you do, for your transportation. Or, “Why do brides like you choose us to get your wedding dresses?” And then the answer is, Don’t take our word for it. Listen to couples, brides, grooms, whatever, that already have. And then it’s one sentence testimonial quotes, not paragraphs.

They don’t want to read your paragraphs. One sentence, testimonial quotes, three or four of them, and then the call to action. Let’s say you’re a DJ, if this is the way you want to feel about your wedding and your wedding DJ, call us, email us, contact us today. And have an email address, have a web address, have a phone number, text if it’s an option, right there. And that’s it. Those are the two slides that, that card that goes in. Now, if you want to have one of those insets be a photo of your booth at the trade show, at the expo, if you’re always using the same one, that’s great, you have a picture. If not, set it up, take a picture, and then put that on the card so they’re like, Oh, I remember that purple, whatever. Or I remember that sign. Because now there’s a context to that. Prepare your follow up before the show.

One of the reasons that people don’t use the list is because when the list comes, they’re busy and then they don’t take the time or want to make the time to send out emails. Or if you get mailing addresses just to send out postcards or to make the phone calls. You have to be prepared before. When I do a show where I know I’m going to get a list, like let’s say Wedding MBA. I’m going to have a list of people after the show. My email is created before the show. It’s already done. And then all I need is the list to be able to send it out. So after the show, I have my list of people that I’ve spoken to or that came to the show. I can send that out right away, and I don’t have to create it because it’s already created. So there’s no barrier to that.

As a matter of fact, I’m always bugging the folks from the shows where I do get lists to get them as soon as I can because my emails are ready to go. I’ve sent my second email before most people sent their first. And this really is the most important thing, follow up, follow up, follow up. Think of it like a sponge. You squeeze a sponge, you get some water. You squeeze it again, you get a little more water. You keeps squeezing it and you get a little more, maybe a little less each time, but you’re still getting and you keep squeezing it until there’s nothing left there. Because you want to get people to either tell you yes or no. No is an acceptable answer, yes is the better answer, but no answers is no good. And then the last thing is, you should have four lists when you leave a show. I know some of you are puzzled.

Four lists? Alan, what do you got at four lists? Sales you made at the show. If you are not prepared to make sales, you’re not going to make sales. You might make a sale of somebody that you’ve gotten an inquiry with, and then they come to the show. Or you might’ve even had a conversation with them, and then they come to the show. Be prepared to make the sale right there. And then other people come to these expos to buy. And if somebody came to buy, be prepared to take their deposit right there and write the deal. At least get the deposit and then follow up with paperwork. The second list is people you had a good conversation with and were able to make a follow-up appointment. In person meeting, phone call, zoom call, whatever. But you have a specific day and time that you are going to have this meeting with them and then you’re going to follow up to make sure that they show up, because you will get some no-shows. The third list are people you had a conversation with, you were able to take some notes, but they weren’t ready to make an appointment. So you want to follow up to try to get to that next step, keep that conversation going and get to the next step. And then the fourth one is the list of everybody that came through the doors.

So you take that list and remove the people that you made sales with, that you have appointments with, and that you had good conversations with, and then put those people into a campaign. You could use a drip campaign, where it sends emails at certain intervals. But you want to put them into a campaign so that you can try to see if there’s interest. My preference is that when you email those people, you send them on the link to a special page on your website that you created for that event. So, I was at an event recently called Catersource, and I offered my slides for people to come and get my slides for free. In order to do so, they had to fill out a little form and they landed on a page that you can’t find unless you had that link. It’s called a hidden page. But that page had the logo from the conference, it had the slides from the conference, I talked about the conference, so there was context for people that specifically came there, so when they landed on there, maybe it would encourage some of those people to want to take other steps, want other things, you know, from my services and products and things like that. So send them to a hidden page.

And then the key is, follow up with each of those groups separately. If you got a deposit, follow up to do the rest of the paperwork. If you have an appointment, make sure that they keep it. If you had a conversation, try to engage them in a conversation the same as if they had filled out your contact form on your website. And then the drip campaign is a little bit more generic because it’s going out to people that you don’t know if they’re interested or not, so you’re trying to gauge an interest and see if there is an interest in what you do. You should have the four lists, and then follow up. I’m speaking at an event later this year for a wedding show producer, and we were talking and he said like 5% of his exhibitors use the list. Five percent. I knew it was under 10% because it’s been like that for years, but five percent?

You’re spending money for that space, that booth, you’re spending money for staff, you’re spending money maybe for travel and for food and for the decor and everything you do, and the handouts and the stuff, why would you not want to get every dollar that you can by then following up with the people that came? Because that subset of people doesn’t exist anywhere in the world and never will, as a group. Some of them will be on some of the websites you’re on, some of them will be at other shows that you go to, but as a group, that group of people will never exist anywhere else, and they took their time on that day to go to that event because they’re looking for things for their wedding. It might be a year from now, two years from now or two weeks from now, but they need stuff for their wedding and that’s why they came. And this is the same for any type of a trade show that you do.

If you do corporate work or you do other types of exhibitions, it’s the same thing. Those people came, there might be an interest, but the ones you had conversations with, there is a big interest. Don’t give up on them. So, you can end up with four lists, you’re going to follow up with them, and then you’re going to follow up again. If you get no answer, you’ll follow up again. Once they answer, you’re having a conversation, keep that going. But if you get no answer, follow up again. What is it going to cost you? So you get no answer again? All right, try something else. Try a different subject lines. Subject lines are hugely important. Try a different method. Text marketing, direct mail. I love direct mail. Why? Because nobody uses it. You go to your mailbox, there’s so little in there these days. They get a postcard about wedding, and if they need your service, you’re the only one in their mailbox that day for their wedding, everything else is credit card bills and solicitations for stuff and junk mail, which by the way, junk mail, is mail that reaches the wrong audience. That’s all it is. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad offered or bad company. It just means it reached somebody who doesn’t need it. That’s what makes a junk.

So, best way to get the most out of wedding shows is to prepare ahead of time, have your booth look great, great signage. Don’t create a lot of visual noise, make it very focused. I was talking to someone the other day and I said, I’d put up a huge TV playing video, with no sound, of amazing weddings that they did. I would have testimonial quotes on the video and then single screens, like a photo of a couple with the testimonial next to it. Just one second sentence, not the whole thing they wrote. And then I would have two huge posters on either side of beautiful weddings that they were a part of and then testimonial quote, their logo, their web address. And then when people came in, what they’re seeing is the results of what it would be to hire them. So the visual is important. What you say to people when they first walk up, you have to have that pitch write down. What is going to get them to want to know more? Don’t give them the whole pitch. What is going to get them to want to know more? And then follow up and then follow up again, and then follow up again. If you do that, you will profit more from the shows that you do. Thanks for listening.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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