Make the Most Out of Attending Trade Shows

(Editor's Note: We're thrilled to welcome back our guest contributor, Audrey Isaac of Read more about Audrey at the end of the post!)

Tradeshows are great opportunities for many reasons – whether you’re going to pop in on a competitor or you’re looking to purchase new products for your inventory, there is plenty to do at a tradeshow if you know what you’re doing. When it comes to the off-season, there is no better time to capitalize on your “time off” than to take in a trade show or two.

But, what if you’re new to the game and aren’t 100% sure what the heck you’re doing at all?

Need no fear – let’s look at some of the essentials for a successful tradeshow so you can be on your way to schmoozing and making useful connections.

Go in with a plan

First and foremost, you must have a plan before attending any tradeshow. This includes which tradeshow you plan to attend – it’s important that it meets your needs and provides you with a return on investment. A quick search online should turn up some industry-specific options, but don’t limit yourself to industry events only. Branching out can open up other possibilities, like an entrepreneurial conference and tradeshow that targets all small business owners.

Once you know just where you’re going and have your tickets booked, sit down and make a list of goals you want to achieve both personally and professionally. Perhaps you’re going to see if the tradeshow is a good fit for you to exhibit in the future or maybe you’re just going to network and get in good with the industry leaders – whatever the reason, it’s important to know this ahead of time so you can make the most out of your time.

Review the tradeshow’s promotional materials to determine who you just have to see and do a bit of research on them so you can go in prepared. If you can find a map prior to arriving, even better – then you can even plan out your route in advance!

Pack with a purpose

You won’t be gone for too long, but you will want to make sure to pack the essentials if you want the best trip possible. Business cards are a major priority – you don’t want to forget them at home (trust me, true story!). In addition, you’ll also want to bring some comfortable clothes and shoes to wear. Yes, those heels are darling but you don’t want to end your day early because your feet started protesting before lunch. Keep in mind that large tradeshow floors tend to get humid, so come prepared with light clothes and water to stay hydrated.

While you’re there…

Don’t lose sight of the reason you came. Although the bright lights and crowded aisles can overwhelm the best of us, avoid feeling shy and keeping to yourself so you can make an impression on those that matter. At the same time, don’t feel obliged to talk to each and every person you make eye contact with. If you’re not interested in a service or product, save everyone’s time and keep on walking.

When you do come across something that interests you, go ahead and introduce yourself. Chances are they’ll offer you some pamphlets or marketing materials – take them if you’d like, but it may make sense to request them to be mailed to you so you don’t have to worry about toting them around all day (and later finding their brochure amidst all of the week’s receipts). Consider bringing a notebook to jot down ideas and other information that comes to mind – you may think you’ll remember something but it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of a major event conference. Taking a few moments to write something down can make all the difference in remembering, even if it’s on the back of someone’s business card.

After the fact

Once you’ve made it home, you can take a much-deserved break! While you rest your feet, get organized with all of the information you gathered and follow up with any new contacts that you made. A simple email can make all the difference, so send over an introduction and remind them where you met and include any tidbits you shared if possible.

Tradeshows can be a useful source of industry insight, but effective attendance does require proper preparation. Don’t waste your time or money – do your research and have a plan!

Audrey Isaac is the spokesperson for 100 Candles, a wholesale market for candles and lights. Since 2002, thousands of wedding and event professionals have entrusted 100 Candles with their wholesale candle accounts. For more information, please visit


Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


Prepping Your PR for the Off-Season

(Editor's Note: Our friend and PR guru Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting is back on the blog today, offering more of her expert wisdom. Learn more about Meghan at the end of the post!)

As the clock winds down on the wedding season, it’s time to make plans for the off-season. No, I’m not talking about big vacation plans or endless Netflix binges (although, one should definitely make time for relaxing!) – I’m talking about an effective public relations push to prepare for the year ahead.

If you want the next wedding season to be your best yet (as you should), there are a number of things you can do during your time off to ensure that you’re at your prime and ready to get the press that will push you to the next level.

Analyze your branding

Start off by making sure that your brand is in a good place- after all, what’s the point in sending more eyes to your brand if it doesn’t communicate exactly what you want. Are you happy with your current logo? Is your website all up-to-date and designed to your liking? Is there anything that you’d love to change but just never got around to? Now is the time to make those changes, whether they’re big rebrands or minor changes in website copy. The off-season will provide you with enough time to make the change, as well as communicate the changes if necessary.

Review the year’s work

Next, take a hard look at the weddings that you’ve done in the past year. Are there any weddings that stand out in particular that still needs to be submitted? If so, take some time to research media options and pick out the best-suited publications. Aim for a good range of local, niche, and national submissions for a well-rounded portfolio.

Look ahead

At the same time, you’ll want to look ahead to upcoming weddings of the next season. Chances are you’re familiar with the couple and their wedding plans, so determine whether there are any that are likely to be submitted so you can prepare accordingly. Grabbing the couple’s information, story, and vendor list ahead of time can save you from trying to track them down post-wedding!

Evaluate your real wedding process

On that note, it’s time to assess your real wedding submission process to see if you can streamline the procedure further. In addition to collecting information upfront, consider setting yourself a reminder to contact photographers if applicable or to set aside a time of week for batch submitting.

Create a media list

A well-developed media list is the key to getting organized with your public relations efforts. It only takes a few hours and the results are well worth the time. Do your research on what publications are the best fit for your branding and where you would love to be featured, then grab the contact information for the editors and keep it all in one spreadsheet. That way, you’ll have all of your editor connections right at your fingertips!

Develop a speaking platform

If you’ve been interested in branching out into speaking, then the off-season is the perfect time to develop your speaking platform and research upcoming opportunities. Narrow down your expertise into a few great topics that you can speak on for at least 45 minutes, but even up to one and a half hours.

So, now that you have a to-do list for the off-season, it’s up to you to prioritize your time spent on growing your business. Sure, you certainly deserve the time off, but the effort that you put into organizing over the off-season will certainly serve you once the peak season picks up again!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 



Guest Contributor

WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


The Garter Girl's B.Y.O.B. Workshop

Solid education is such an integral part of our industry, so I love sharing new and exciting opportunities for wedding pros to be a part of. With that, we are excited to share Julianne Smith's one day blogging workshop happening on November 15th!   

Julianne Smith, founder and owner of The Garter Girl is thrilled to announce her workshop, Blog Your Own Business that will take place on November 15! This workshop will focus on helpful information that every small business needs to know, including websites, SEO, and blogging. Julianne will teach attendees how to blog effectively and increase their online profile. See more information regarding her workshop here

Interested in applying for a scholarship to cover the cost of the B.Y.O.B. Workshop? Click here for more information!

Personal Growth During the Off-Season

The off-season is a time for regrouping and preparing yourself for the upcoming year. While it should not be seen as a ‘break’ from your business (there is no such thing!), you will certainly be finding more time to work on personal development.

During the peak season, you may find yourself bound to your email at all hours of the week (hey, it happens to the best of us!). However, as your year’s work winds down, it is time to be even stricter about your time management – for the right reasons. Set aside some time each week for your top business priorities – it could be taking efforts to streamline, public relations efforts, and other housekeeping tasks that will help in getting you ready for the next season.

Ask yourself what kinds of things you tend to push off during your busy periods and address those matters when you are not quite so overwhelmed with events each and every weekend. It could be updating your website or really buckling down on social media, as long as it will ease up your workload for the year ahead. Your future self will be thanking you later!

With that said, there is a lot more to you than just your job (believe it or not), so a healthy balance between your work and your personal life makes for a happy and grounded existence.

When you are not making efforts to prepare for the next season, it is important for you to explore other hobbies and personal joys that bring out your other passions in life. Spend quality time with family and friends as much as possible. Try out that new instrument you always wondered about or learn a new language. Take a trip that you have always been dreaming about.

Whatever it is, your outside interests are what keep you sane throughout the peak season and, in addition to giving you something to look forward to, it will also remind you what really matters in life. For me, it is baseball – both attending professional games with my family and coaching my children’s teams. It is a great bonding experience for all of us and it is a good way to take a break from work and unwind with loved ones.

Although a work/life balance always seems like a far-off mystery, rest assured that it is manageable – and taking advantage of the off-season is the best way to achieve it! Not only will you be primed and ready to take on the next year’s weddings, but you’ll also be able to maintain your sanity and keep in mind what is truly important to you.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.



Using the Off-Season to Build Client Experience

(Editor's Note: Today on the blog, we welcome the return of frequent guest contributor Jennifer Taylor of Taylor'd Events! Read more about Jennifer at the end of the post!)

Your client experience is, essentially, your business. By treating your clients well and going above and beyond with them, you open your company up to positive testimonies and potential referrals.

Oftentimes, the peak season can keep us so busy that above-and-beyond isn’t in the scope – if anything, you just want to make ends meet. Sound familiar? If so, then it may be time to take this upcoming off-season to get organized and streamline your client experience.

As your year’s weddings wind down and you find more time for development, take a step back and analyze your overall client experience. If you have a former client who you trust will be truthful, consider reaching out to pick their brain. Ask yourself:

  • When does your client experience start?
  • When does it end?
  • How are your communication habits with clients?
  • Do you generally receive good feedback?
  • Do you keep in touch with your clients after the wedding?

The answers to these questions should not only give you an idea of where you currently are, but also guide you to further steps you can take to improve the client experience. For example, if you routinely send phone calls straight to voicemails, it may be time to kick the habit and start answering those calls. Communication is key to a positive experience, so don’t assume that great work will balance out your lack of email responses. Be professional and treat your clients the way you would want to be treated in the same situation.

One of our favorite ways to build client experience is to simply stay in touch after our agreement ends. Planning a wedding is one of the most intimate things one can do and, after working with a couple for a length of time, we like to consider them as our friends. This could mean keeping track of their birthdays and sending a sweet card or even sending over a small gift for their one-year anniversary. If you’re more of the digital type, it could even be as simple as a shout out on social media – anything to show that you care!

The perk of developing these client experience procedures during the off-season is that you’ll be primed and ready to use them once the wedding season starts back up. If, for example, birthday cards are your thing, be sure to grab their birthdays from the initial consultation. If you’re more into the anniversary idea, mark your calendar for one year from their wedding date.

Although you’re probably pumped to spend your weekends enjoying the latest Netflix offerings or jumping on a plane to somewhere tropical, be sure you’re taking advantage of your off-season to grow your business as well. You’ll be grateful you did once peak season rolls around!

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor'd Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.