Op-Ed: Show-Stopping Success
Posted Feb 16, 2010

Natalie NealWell, it's that time of year again, when wedding and event videographers all across the world try to determine how to best show off what it is we do: Capturing one of the most important days of a couple's life, their wedding day. Very often videographers will debate the best way to market their services. Inevitably the subject of whether to participate in bridal shows will come up. Is it worth it? Will brides pay attention to me? How do I maximize my exposure at the show? The answers to these questions and more are ones I hope to answer in this article. Keep in mind though, that nothing is written in stone and tweaking my suggestions is not only OK, but encouraged!

Question 1: Should videographers participate in Bridal Shows?
Answer: Yes! A bridal show is visual buffet for the bride's eye. They're looking to see themselves in a vendor's service. What better way to show a bride the beauty and elegance of her wedding than through video? If done correctly, participating in a bridal show can be very lucrative indeed.

Question 2: How Should I set up my booth?
Answer: If you have a standard size booth, about 8 feet, you will most likely be given a table and two chairs, tablecloth, and draping.

Step One: get rid of the chairs! You do not want to stand behind your table! You want to stand to the front and side so that you can greet each visitor and easily hand out materials. Standing behind the table blocks you from your visitors and can make it hard to communicate.

Step Two:
The focal point of your booth will be of course your video! Choose to bring a large flat screen, HD capable television to show off your work. Position the TV high enough so that those in the back of the crowd can see your video as well. You can use milk crates or boxes draped in fabric to get your set high enough. Also consider external speakers for your audio.

Step Three: Place your business cards and other materials on both sides of the table for easy access. You can use card holders or be a little creative, maybe place your cards in a small crystal widemouth vase with colored stones in your company colors in the bottom. Or get a good-sized candy dish and place small, wrapped candies in the bowl with your cards inserted all around the inside of the dish, like a fan effect. Another idea is to print your "show special" on parchment or card stock paper; roll and tie with ribbon and place in a cute basket. It looks very "bridal" and the brides will want to take one!

NOTE: Make sure you ask the show promoter to make sure you are not set up next to a DJ, quartet, or band as you do not want your video to have to fight to be heard next to them.

Step Four:
Think out of the box! Yes, we are videographers, but often times the photography is what attracts a bride first. So, put some beautifully framed pictures up in your booth! But not just any photos-photos taken from your video frames! When they stop and ask you about them-and they will stop-explain, "No, I'm not a photographer; I'm a media professional. These beautiful journalistic photos where taken from video!" It's a service that you can provide and it will set you apart from your competitors. Most brides love the idea of having a video that you can you pull images from that look great! It's a lot of bang for their buck, and trust me, you will be a hero. Photography cannot capture every second the way video can.

Question 3: What should I show?
Answer: When deciding on what to show at a bridal show, you have to remember that you have about 5 seconds to make and impression and hold them long enough to give them your information and your pitch. It's been my experience that a fast-paced video with lots of "money shots" will work very well in catching a bride's eye and draw lots of brides over to your booth. Catchy music will go a long way to keep them interested and will make your video interesting and appealing. Make sure your video is looping so that you can be focused on talking with the brides.

Showcasing our very best work is our goal every time we participate in a bridal show. To show our video in the best possible light and garner that "Wow" factor from the brides, we show our video on a Western Digital HD Media Player allows us to show our video in 1080p. It's small, it's compact, and it makes a great door prize!

Question 4: What should I give out to the brides?
Answer: When deciding what to give away-make sure you that you understand that you are giving it away and you never know where it might end up! Make sure that all of your materials are professional, attractive, and have all of your current information.

The Stuff
Business Cards: These are a must-have. Make sure you have plenty to not only give out to brides, but to give out to other vendors. Network!
Demos: Choose your best work and make plenty of DVDs to give out. Another idea is to make an interactive CD with your work, links to your package information, and a link back to your website. I personally use this method. I have found that brides love one-stop-efficiency, and with the CD they can look at our work and reach out to us with just a few clicks. I have a full wedding edit available at the show just incase they know about us anyway, or if someone should ask for one.
Package Information: Have your full package information ready and available, and make sure it includes any information that a bride should know-but no technical information. A bride couldn't care less what you're shooting with or how you edit. She just wants to know how you will benefit her. Make sure your info stands out from the rest of the information she will collect and throw in her bag. Like I mentioned above, create a scroll, or place in a glassine envelope, or a create a goody bag with your stuff.

FREEBIE! We always have a raffle drawing at our booth. The brides that stop and chat with us, we invite to fill out a raffle ticket for our own drawing. This accomplishes two things: one, it gives us qualified leads. We offer the drawing only to brides who stop and express and interest. We know from the names in the bowl that they are interested in our services. Two, it provides us an opportunity to give a mini-pitch on our services. Recently we offered two prizes, the WDTV Media player and a $100 gift certificate. We choose one winner for the grand prize, and every other ticket wins the gift certificate. The prizes are given out after the show. We call each winner inform them of their win, and set up a consultation. We usually book 4-6 weddings per show using this method.

Also, make sure you have a "move to action" for the show. For example: Book in 7 days and get a free highlight! Or: Book in the next 48 hours get $100 off.

Question 5: How can I maximize my exposure at a bridal show?
Answer: It's not just about the brides! It's about the venue, the promoter and vendors too. Don't let this opportunity to mix and mingle slip by you. Take the time to visit other vendors, particularly those that you have worked with or for in the past. Reintroduce your services and tell them what's new with your company. If you see a photographer that does good work, give them some of your cards, not just one. Many are looking for a videographer to network with. Get the photographer's card too, as often times video gets booked first. Approach the promoter prior to booking and offer your services during the show. Most promoters are already booking their next show. Having a great video from a current show to showcase on their website is invaluable. Offer to do a commercial for the show in exchange for booth space; often they will take you up on the offer. Have examples of previous commercial type work to show them.

With the ever-changing world of technology, we as videographers will soon see the leap over to media professional. It will be our job to capture images, either still or moving to document our clients once in a lifetime moments. Participating in bridal shows allows us to put what we do front and center for the world to see. Show off and stay focused at your next bridal show-you will see your hard work rewarded with increased revenue every time!

Natalie Neal (natalie at gspvideos.com) runs award-winning Philadelphia-area studio Glass Slipper Productions with her husband, Rob. A 2006 EventDV 25 honoree, in 2009 she received WEVA's Walter Bennett Distinguished Service award.