Angie and I decided last year to enter our first trade show. We wanted to increase our exposure in our area after joining forces and combining our businesses. We wanted to increase our 2013 bookings, and help brides recognize our names. But which trade show do you enter?? There are so many to choose from! We asked around, and came up with one pretty unanimous answer, the . It is one of the largest in the area, and great for networking. We have heard great things from people we respect, and people who really know the business. So In we were, full steam ahead. You know when you do something for the first time, it can be very overwhelming and perhaps, a little intimidating? Well that’s where we were. Downloading check lists from the wonderful World Wide Web and trying to find a place to start. Because as we all know if you can just get started it’s all downhill from there.
So we started with what else, canvases. We are in the business of photos after all. We decided on a layout, the photos, and had a great meeting with Pearl…the wonderful woman behind Uniquely Yours. She gave us some “Pearls of Wisdom” and we ran out and executed them as well as we could. So whats the big deal you ask, why would you be stressing out? Print some photos, and some flyers and get on with it. Yeah. I wish. We figured out quickly we needed a way to HANG all these lovelies and after much research and debate decided on a wall. Well a faux wall to be exact. Now we know you can go out and buy a great wall that snaps together and is made for this sort of thing. But we really weren’t looking to spend anymore than necessary. So Lowes and Home Depot carry this amazing stuff, foam insulation that comes in boards. 4′ x 8′ pieces of 2″ thick hard core foam. So we winged it and below are the photos of how we managed to put it together. We started at about 5 in the evening and this “easy DIY project” was completed (more or less) about 1:30am. It made for a LONG LONG night in the garage. Thank goodness for my love and his expertise in the building arena, cause even though I did the “Work,” this wall never would have stood on its own with me behind the wheel of the project.
We have all purchased a pair of jeans only to get home and see them in YOUR mirror and realize that the “tightness that would stretch” was really jeans that are really too small. Or a car that you really wanted, just to get it home and realize you went from no car payment and a car you liked to a HUGE car payment and a car you thought you’d love and turns out…eh maybe not so much. Well Angie and I got to the trade show floor, spent hours assembling our faux wall and organizing our “stuff.” Only to wind up with an overwhelming “holy crap, our booth sucks, what have we done?!!” moment. Now this moment wasn’t helped when we walked around and saw all of the wonderful photographers that we respect so much and their amazing booths. It took us a while before we realized that our booth was actually pretty good, and not only that but it looked much different than that of any of those photographers. Not better, just different. After all, isn’t that what we as photographers strive for? To be different in some way? I think the morning of the trade show, we were still a little unsure of ourselves, that we did an adequate job, and that people weren’t going to walk around the corner to our aisle and snicker and point. Basically we were those people who feel like they’re naked in Times Square and everyone is taking pictures.
Our Pearls of Wisdom
It was an all in experience. We went in not knowing what to expect, and hoping probably for more than was reasonable. But we learned a lot from our first trade show.
Trade shows don’t translate directly to bookings. I think we had it in our heads that at least a few of the brides that we met with that day would just book with us, that day or that week, but they would see our work, meet us, and that would be that. We quickly learned that trade shows are just a place brides come to gather information. It’s like searching on the internet only live. They get to put a face to that ad. Its great exposure for your company. That bride will inevitably do more research and more Google searches. When they see your website pop up, all of a sudden you maybe aren’t just a website, but those two photographers they met at the trade show. “Oh yeah, I remember them.” We also got to meet some really great other vendors. Our peers who work in the same business who are just trying to reach out to clients. We got to chat with a lot of them and some we really connected with. We realized it’s almost a better place to build great networking relationships with than it is a place to book brides. We also learned a couple of things that maybe were harder lessons. Like WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! We, the smart women that we are, decided we should really try to look cute.. jeans and heeled boots was the decision.. Well thats the Decision 2013 that will go down in our books as an EPIC FAILURE. I don’t think either of us could stand until we changed into flats! The other hard lesson was most definitely breaking down. Setting up was easy. Use the loading dock, and the supplied carts.. but oh my goodness the madness, that is breaking down while the other 150 vendors are trying to do the same! Make sure your trailer can fit into the parking garage.. Yeah. Otherwise you end up like us carrying an 8ft section of a Faux wall across 4 lanes of traffic to get it in said trailer!
Would we do it again??? Yes I think we would. Armed with the knowledge we gained at this one, I think we would. We can go into it knowing that no one is walking around the corner snickering and pointing, and we aren’t naked in Times Square. All in all it was a success.. next time it will be a success without all the growing pains, and epic failures!