A word of advice: If you want to dive into the very competitive world of the wedding market, you must advertise. Without effective promotion there is no way to have a consistent schedule in this market, which is the gold standard for most DJs.
And when I say effective promotion, I mean marketing that will get you in front of wedding couples with quality leads. Forget these online search-engine websites that make you pay hundreds and hundreds each month, only to have a rotation banner with a hundred other DJs to get on-line leads! These sites usually over-promise and under-deliver.
No, you need the opportunity to get face-to-face interaction with potential clients – and nothing can be more effective than a bridal show!
Back in the day, I would remember setting up my DJ system in a booth. I’d bring out all my lighting and make the environment really inviting to attract couples walking around the isles. We did really well at these events because I was able to shake hands and have a quality conversation.
Fast-forward to today and I still see jocks setting up a DJ system and lighting in their booth. That worked great back in the day, but… bridal shows are not like they used to be and you need to adapt to the environment in order to stand out. Here are some of my thoughts and tips to rock a modern bridal show!
First of all, ditch the DJ system! Get a professional trade-show booth, pull-up signs or at the least a custom table cover. If you want some sound, run a Bluetooth speaker and use some uplighting to add impact. The key is to attract potential customers to your booth, make a solid first impression, and then send them off with real high-end promotional materials. I’ll hit on that more a few paragraphs down this article.
My main point is that if you just plop your gear on a table with speakers and think brides will be impressed, you are wrong. That’s like a plumber at a home show with his wrench on a table. Would that impress you? Don’t sell the gear… sell your talent!
Bridal shows used to be a healthy mix of all different types of wedding vendors. And they usually would cap each category with three or four (maximum) for each vendor. Not anymore! Now the DJ, photo-booth and photography categories are packed. I actually participated at a show where there were 12 DJs, four photographers, and then one of everything else. When the bridal show does not regulate the amount of vendors, not only is the show super-competitive for you, but it’s a real confusing situation for the couples. Imagine going to 12 DJs in a show, but only having one florist to speak with and view their offerings? Avoid these shows! Don’t be one of 10 DJs!
Ask the promoter in advance if they plan to pack a category or if there is indeed a cap at three or four. The huge shows with 200-plus vendors may be impressive and they may draw a huge audience, but in my extensive experience, I can report that the couples are totally overwhelmed and not in a position to have a quality conversation. You may get a few, but for the most part it is “grab and go.” The couples walk around like zombies with their eyes buggin’ out.
I would recommend looking to participate in a smaller “boutique-style” show where you can really talk with people. A hundred good leads will prove to be more successful vs. 1,000 confused and stressed couples.
And that leads me into the marketing material. Don’t throw hand-made, printed-at-home crap at prospective clients! Don’t do that! The quality of your marketing material is what will represent you once the bride looks into her show bag. Quality paperwork with professional graphic design will make a statement about you and your company. It says, “We care about quality,” and that makes a difference when trying to make an impression.
Next, remember that your quality marketing material needs to point the client somewhere – and that usually is a website. Your website needs to match your marketing material! This means, if you have beautiful brochures, but a lackluster website, you impress them only to lose them! Consistency is essential in your branding and your marketing.
Make sure you have a professionally designed logo, colors that are appealing to people planning a wedding, and good copy that uses few words to deliver maximum impact. You don’t ever want to write a novel on your marketing or your website. Get right to the point and use words that make your point.
Also, do not wait for the list from the show promoter. Harvest leads on your own in your booth. Do not make this the only focus of a conversation, but always end a discussion with a polite question/statement: “May I get your contact information? I will be happy to follow up after the show.” Or in my case I ask permission to email them our show marketing material and that requires e-mail addresses. I usually have a few laptops set up to capture this information.
Another cool idea is to purchase a few kiosk-style stands that accommodate an iPad and get the potential clients to fill out a form. There are trade-show booths that not only have sleek-looking kiosks, but include the iPad software, too.
Another thing to consider is paper vs. digital. I had the most beautiful brochure made up. It was sharp, but the cost was about $2.00 per piece. That meant, for a box of 1,000, I would be spending $2,000. And that adds up to your costs at these bridal shows. If you hand out 500 pieces at a huge show, you have just added $1,000 to the booth cost. With that in mind, I decided to offer my potential clients the digital delivery. They can view my e-brochure on their phone, tablet, or laptop.
And then there is you. All the trade show booths, marketing material, lighting, trussing, and TV screens make no difference if you are not well-dressed, polished, friendly, and attentive. Utilize all of your wedding-MC skills when having conversations – without being a salesperson. Ultimately, be genuine and make the client feel your energy and enthusiasm to be their wedding DJ!
You have to want it more than the other DJs and effectively communicate that. Yes, a bridal show is a trial for you. A job interview. A first date. Treat it as such, and put your best foot forward.
And here is a way to really get some great trade show exhibition ideas: Before you dive into a show-exhibition plan, go attend a different trade expo of interest – a home show, garden expo, woman’s expo, etc. – and walk around as a show attendee and take it all in. See the booth set-ups. Talk with the representatives and gather marketing material. Now, who impressed you? What impressed you? All of these experiences will certainly help you come up with your own booth and concept, while providing a fun day out with family and friends.
So, in conclusion, a bridal show can be a great tool in your box to bring success for your company, but only if you participate correctly. Showing up and just mailing it in will not get you to where you want to go. As the saying goes, “You get out what you put into it.” So, put a lot in and reap the rewards!
Since 1984, Mike Fernino has run Music In Motion Entertainment in Seymour, Conn., and since 2008, he has run the Facebook Group, DJ Idea Sharing.
To check out more business tips, click here.