Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Jacky Sherman

Networking Tips: Are Wedding Fairs Worth It?

I've heard a lot of mixed reviews ...

Posted on: 08/01/2014   By: Jacky Sherman

I meet a lot of people when out networking who provide services for personal events. By far the most common is the wedding industry. I hear a lot of people talking about their experiences of marketing their services at wedding fairs and these events often get mixed reviews ...

If you spend far too much time at wedding fairs, why not devote some time to building up relationships with key people who know your target market?

If you spend far too much time at wedding fairs, why not devote some time to building up relationships with key people who know your target market?

So, I thought this week that I'd use wedding fairs as an example of the value of business shows from a marketing perspective and discuss how they compare and complement a referral marketing strategy.

Looking on the web, I came across a blog post written some time ago by Kelly of Boho Weddings Sheffield called Are Wedding Fairs A Thing of the Past? She got lots of interesting comments on people's experience, both for and against exhibiting at these events.

I've used this blog post, other web based resources and comments from people I know to summarise the pros and cons of these events.

On the plus side, many people have got good business from these events. However nearly all the comments qualify this with "It depends on which wedding fair."

The real value of a wedding fair to a supplier is the quality of the marketing done by the fair organisers in attracting brides-to-be to attend. Another factor was the type of customer the fair attracts. If you specialise in high budget overseas weddings - and the customers want something on a tight budget at their local parish church - you are unlikely to secure any business.

A much more frequent response was about the added value of seeing the trends in the market, meeting other suppliers, sussing out the competition and forging new relationships with their peers in the industry. In effect, using the fair for market research and as a networking forum.

On the downside, wedding fairs eat people's valuable time. Many people reported events where the footfall was low and everyone was chasing the few potential customers who pitched up.

They also tend to be at a time that suits the bride so it's lots of weekend and evening affairs. These are, of course, the same times that your existing bookings want your time too!

Other downsides mentioned was that you're in competition with everyone else in the room who offers the same service as you. If the footfall at the event is small this means you are all chasing the same people.

Lastly, I do wonder what percentage of brides-to-be actually go to wedding fairs? I doubt if many suppliers only use wedding fairs to promote themselves. It's worth looking at where your best business actually comes from and putting more of your efforts there.

I'm willing to bet that an awful lot of your work actually comes through referrals. Am I right? So I'd like to suggest another approach ....

Imagine if you built up your network and developed six or eight key relationships with people who know lots of brides-to-be, who are specifically looking for a wedding in your budget and style.

Imagine if those six or eight people regularly referred you clients at the rate you wanted them? Let's say you want to do four weddings a month, that would be 4 X 11= 44 new clients. (you've got a month off to have some fun yourself). If each of those eight people referred you a client every other month then surely that would easily be achieved?

What would that do for your business? Could you handle that level of work? You could even start to get fussy about which brides (and their mothers!) that you took on, turning away the Bridezillas and their ghastly matriarch!

Now you might still want to go to some wedding fairs, but in a more relaxed manner and you could be picky about which ones. Plenty of time to look around, suss out the trends and the competition, make new relationships that might turn into business for you or your referral partners. Doesn't that sound like a much better way of working?

My tip for this week: Whatever your business, devote some time to building up relationships with key people who know your target market and motivate them to refer to you. Then you can spend your time doing what you do best ... delivering a high class service working with the type of client you love.

And specifically, for all you wedding planners and suppliers. Who do you know who knows lots of people who are planning to get married and want the type of wedding you specialise in?

  • Start with who's referred you to your best clients already. Are you spending time on developing your relationship with that person? Can they refer you more often?

  • How can you meet more people like that? Think outside the box: who else knows people who have just got engaged? Where do the sort of bride-to-be you want to know hang out? What other businesses do they frequent? Who do they talk to?

  • What can you offer your referral partners (not commission) that will motivate them to refer to you?

Want some ideas on how to tackle this? Call me on 07970 638857 or book onto my Link & Learn Personal Events event on 24th January 2014, meet your peers and learn how to do this together.

You never know. your next referral might be right there in the room with you!

Until next time ...


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