Last week I posted some images from the bridal show that I attended at National Golf Club and today I wanted to go a little more in depth about why I feel like it is a good idea to attend bridal shows even if you are not an exhibitor and how you can use the knowledge you gain at the shows in your marketing efforts.
First, whenever I am planning to go to an event in the community I contact the local paper and let them know where I am going and see if they would be interested in some images. This is good because as you are walking around the bridal show or event is gives you "permission" to have your camera and be taking photos, it gives you an easy introduction to the vendors and to people attending the event, and then if the paper likes your images and chooses to publish some of them it will give you a little bit of recognition. It is also a great way to start building relationships with your vendors. It is good exposure for them to have your images of their products in the media, so the more often that you get published, the more often they get published, and the more likely they are to work with you.
There is still more you can do once you leave the bridal show and submit your images to the paper. Pick a few select images from each vendor, watermark them, and get them printed at 8x10 or whatever size you feel is appropriate. While you were at the bridal show you had a great opportunity to see how the vendors display their products. Do they have boards? A book of 8x10 images? A slideshow? Use that knowledge to deliver your images to them in a way that will be most useful to them. I had previously written a post about making boards for vendors. Come to find out (after they were already printed and paid for) the vendor that I made the board for works out of her home and displays images in a binder. She didn't have room for the board I had designed so that ended up going in storage. Chalk it up to learning experience. Now I know that most of my vendors prefer 8x10's.
I also made a gallery on my website for the photos from the bridal show and took the extra time to go through and caption each image with the name of the vendor whose product is shown. Now, when you go to deliver your prints, you can mention to them how you are already promoting their products on your website and this can serve as a jumping off point for negotiating for you to have a display, business cards, or other promotional materials in their store (if they have one).
So now from one free admission and a couple hours of your time you have gotten portfolio material, possible coverage in the media, and you are creating vendor relationships that will hopefully lead to referrals. Not a bad days work!