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Wedding Expo advice - last year didn't go as well as I thought

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm going to do a wedding expo next month and would appreciate some advice. 
What do you think of some sort of incentive at the booth?
A discount to book that day/that month/by next month? 
A booth drawing for some prize? 
Enter the expo prize drawing? 
What would the prize be? 
The top 6" free? 
Some % off or set amount off (e.g., $50)? A free 6" anniversary cake? 
I was advised last year at my 1st expo that giving a discount tells people that you're charging too much in the first place and have room to charge less… thoughts?

 

 

The reason I'm worried is because although I feel my display cakes were pretty great at my 1st expo last year, I only booked 2 weddings from that expo. I felt like it went well talking to brides too :(  I did not do any incentives. Maybe it was just too far from my normal service area. I'm doing a different one this time that's closer to me. Here's my booth last year:

*

 


Do you see anything wrong with it? Anything that would repel brides from going with me?

 

Here's some advice I've already received:

...give discounts in things that cost u little but has value to a bride. For instance: we give coupons for free cake plateau rental ($50 value). Or 36 free choc covered strawberries w a grooms cake. 
$25 off delivery coupons. 
Just ideas on what we've done for discounts. 
We also offer 10% off any order paid in cash.

 

My husband had similar thoughts. He doesn't think we should give discounts for our time/skill. 

 

 

Someone else has said they will never do discounts again. They have brides get your free cake or discounted cake, then get some sheet cakes at the grocery store.

The last thing I want to attract are cheapskate brides.

post #2 of 15

I think that you booth looks both  great and inviting.  I see that you have a laptop which probably has a slide show, why not put a few blown up pics of more cakes, maybe some grooms cakes too.   I'm not a fan of the discount, maybe a small advertising item to take away with them with your info.  Also I think that many brides are attracted to bling on cakes, perhaps add some bling to your display cakes.  Just some ideas...   Good luck!

post #3 of 15
What are your competitive advantages? How does your price compare to local market value for your target customers?
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you savannahquinn! Yes, the laptop had a slide show. I'm not sure if I want to use that again this year. I'm thinking it would be better use of the space to put another cake there instead. I agree about the discount. I feel like it makes me look too "bargain" cake. Thanks for the tip on the bling. The all white cake in the corner had a little bit of bling on it, but not a lot.

 

 

jason_kraft: My prices are right around average for my area. The one thing we do that no one else in my area does (that I've seen) is free hand painting work. I plan on having 2 hand painted cakes on display.

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by experimenting View Post

jason_kraft: My prices are right around average for my area. The one thing we do that no one else in my area does (that I've seen) is free hand painting work. I plan on having 2 hand painted cakes on display.

If your target market is interested in handpainted cake decorations then I would push it more prominently in the booth signage, not to mention your marketing materials (your web site does not mention hand painted decorations at all). It's possible that the customers you are advertising to don't care about it, in which case you may want to shift your target.

To clarify, are you saying that no one else does hand painting or no one else does free hand painting?
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

No one does free hand painting on the same scale and/or not as well. The closest bakery that does is about 2 hours away. You got me on my website. I haven't updated it in quite a while. I will before the expo and I'll make sure to talk about our painting. What do you mean about pushing it more prominently in booth signage? Have it on my banner? Have other signs advertising it? I'm figuring on having 6-8 display cakes with 2 fully hand painted. Do you think I should have more? Oh, and I forgot to say that I'm going to start offering vegan options, so I guess I should have that advertised well too. The expo I did last year had a gluten free baker, but I don't believe anyone does vegan options anywhere near my area.

post #7 of 15
Use more colour. It's hard to see what the cakes look like, but from here it looks a little meh.

Also - this is a huge pet peeve - iron your fabric drapings. Either take an iron with you (or a small, hand-held steamer), or invest in fabric that doesn't crease.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback Godot! I was planning on a little more color this time and maybe more cakes on pedestals so I can have them at different levels.

I know I had those awful creases! Those were definitely a last minute addition and I didn't consider the  creases until it was too late. I'll blame it on my inexperience :/ That won't happen this year!

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by savannahquinn View Post
 

I think that you booth looks both  great and inviting. Also I think that many brides are attracted to bling on cakes, perhaps add some bling to your display cakes.  Just some ideas...   Good luck!

I agree on adding some bling, it catches peoples eyes. Also I think you've chosen your cake colors because purple, yellow and black work well together, no? Some people aren't smart enough to realize you can make cakes in any colors and are only looking for cakes in their wedding colors.......so maybe mix up your colors more or choose the most popular colors of the year.

 

Also sometimes a booth layout like you did allows peoples bodies to block the view of the cakes because everyone is standing in front of them (multiple people deep). If you could put a table in front of your booth so people have to walk into your booth for details but can see what you have at a distance I think that's a bit more appealing. (I don't know if this link will work but I like how they pushed their display out to the front of their booth: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=519337064797788&set=pb.133383176726514.-2207520000.1388379447.&type=3&theater )

 

Another thing could be, different areas have different wedding venues. Like maybe the area you did your show in last time has a lot of banquet halls that don't allow in outside cakes, hence low sales.


Edited by Stitches - 12/29/13 at 9:00pm
post #10 of 15
I don't think you need more cakes than what you have, but you do need more interesting cakes, and, like you said - on different levels. Do you do cupcakes? A cupcake stand with five tiers would add interest, not to mention height.
post #11 of 15
As a long time veteran of participating in wedding shows and several years as a show producer I have to offer you a different perspective . The first reason to participate in a wedding show is NOT to sell to brides. The MAIN reason to be there at all is to network with other vendors. Make friends. Make arrangements to visit their place of business. Then go talk to them. Get a supply of their biz cards. Refer biz to them. Say great things about them on Facebook. They will do the same. And soon you'll gave lots of business.
Answers to the most often asked questions re: SPS. SPS instructions are on Page 15 of the Sticky at the top of the Cake Decorating Forum. Supplies can be ordered from Oasis Supply, Global or BakeryCrafts.
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Answers to the most often asked questions re: SPS. SPS instructions are on Page 15 of the Sticky at the top of the Cake Decorating Forum. Supplies can be ordered from Oasis Supply, Global or BakeryCrafts.
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post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches View Post
 

I agree on adding some bling, it catches peoples eyes. Also I think you've chosen your cake colors because purple, yellow and black work well together, no? Some people aren't smart enough to realize you can make cakes in any colors and are only looking for cakes in their wedding colors.......so maybe mix up your colors more or choose the most popular colors of the year.

 

Also sometimes a booth layout like you did allows peoples bodies to block the view of the cakes because everyone is standing in front of them (multiple people deep). If you could put a table in front of your booth so people have to walk into your booth for details but can see what you have at a distance I think that's a bit more appealing. (I don't know if this link will work but I like how they pushed their display out to the front of their booth: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=519337064797788&set=pb.133383176726514.-2207520000.1388379447.&type=3&theater )

 

Another thing could be, different areas have different wedding venues. Like maybe the area you did your show in last time has a lot of banquet halls that don't allow in outside cakes, hence low sales.

Thank you for all the feedback Stitches. 

I will definitely be adding more colors to this group of display cakes.

I've lucked out and have a corner booth this time. I think I will have 2 tables in an "L" shape, then maybe a smaller round/square table out front. I'm hoping this creates some movement and doesn't make anyone feel like they'd be trapped if they stepped in. I'm hoping the different levels of cake will allow people to see my cakes on higher levels if I get a crowd and can't or don't want to step in for a closer look.

Good point about the wedding venues. I hadn't considered that as a possibility. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Godot View Post

I don't think you need more cakes than what you have, but you do need more interesting cakes, and, like you said - on different levels. Do you do cupcakes? A cupcake stand with five tiers would add interest, not to mention height.

Thanks Godot. I would like to have different styles as well as different colors on my cakes this time around. Yes, I do cupcakes and I do have a tall cupcake stand… :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s View Post

As a long time veteran of participating in wedding shows and several years as a show producer I have to offer you a different perspective . The first reason to participate in a wedding show is NOT to sell to brides. The MAIN reason to be there at all is to network with other vendors. Make friends. Make arrangements to visit their place of business. Then go talk to them. Get a supply of their biz cards. Refer biz to them. Say great things about them on Facebook. They will do the same. And soon you'll gave lots of business.

Thank you leah_s! I did a lot of networking at the last show. I met a handful of vendors before the show at a meeting, then made sure to visit their booths at the show. I also gave samples to just about every vendor there (luckily, I made way too many). Several vendors said they would include me on their preferred vendors list. One florist in particular said she would put me on their website as their only cake decorator. She seemed very enthusiastic about it. I emailed her afterwards to thank her then shared her site on my fb page, even though she's not on fb. One of the photographers a few booths from mine actually sent me a message a few months after the expo saying she sent a bride my way. None of these contacts led to anything :( Another aspect that has baffled me. I felt like things went really well with my "vendor mingling" too. Maybe I should've followed up with them more every few months? I didn't visit their place of business though. That's a great tip. That was last March - maybe it's not too late to visit them now? I'll make sure to do that with vendors I meet at this expo.

post #13 of 15
Quote:

Originally Posted by experimenting View Post

 

I've lucked out and have a corner booth this time. I think I will have 2 tables in an "L" shape, then maybe a smaller round/square table out front. I'm hoping this creates some movement and doesn't make anyone feel like they'd be trapped if they stepped in. I'm hoping the different levels of cake will allow people to see my cakes on higher levels if I get a crowd and can't or don't want to step in for a closer look.

Good point about the wedding venues. I hadn't considered that as a possibility.

 

 

 

You need to hear other peoples input here before you listen to me, BUT I actually am suggesting you do just the opposite layout you've described!!
I haven't done a lot of wedding shows but I did set up a booth in fine art shows and wholesale gift shows for 10 years and I'm experienced at displays at those shows. I found doing the opposite of everyone else (in a good way) actually brings more attention to you and your product. In my experience if you have a corner space people will cut through your display rounding the corner. Instead, I would put my tables in an "L" on the outside non-walled corner of my booth. Even better I would rent a 10' (or smaller) round table and put that on my outer edge of my booth space and not do banquet length tables, that's different. So people have to pay attention and walk around my display! Getting them to Look (even if it's to avoid tripping) is half the battle in shows with competitors.
Plus I like having the double sided (or 360 degree) display of having free standing tables on the outer edge of my booth. This also allows people who are serious a space to stop in and talk to you with-out blocking the view of your display as other walk by..... and it gives you a place to talk to people that isn't blocking anyone's path.... all neatly inside your 10'x10' space.
The example I posted, I liked because she did a booth that didn't look like everyone else's. She has a black back drop when everyone else had white. She put lights up by her business name to draw attention to it. Her table wasn't backed up against the wall of drapes.
 
BUT I know, that my ideas aren't for everyone......so I understand if you don't like those ideas.

Edited by Stitches - 12/30/13 at 3:25pm
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you Stitches! Good point about people cutting through my booth to round the corner. We'll keep that in mind as we play around with our setup. I appreciate you sharing your experience and ideas with me :)

 

One follow up question: does anyone do groom's cakes at expos? I've never seen it done, but wonder if I should do one within the group.

post #15 of 15

Yes, if you can, do one or more.

Silly people look at wedding cake displays and don't think "hey next event I should order from this cake artist"............so they probably don't realize you do grooms cakes either. You've got to make things painfully obvious......

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