Here Comes the Bride: A Fantastic Leasing and Marketing Opportunity Happens in January

Just about every city in America has an event where there are hundreds of people in our target demographic: People who are moving in the next year. I’m often shocked that I am the only apartment community participating in this outstanding leasing opportunity. This is why I am almost reluctant to share this idea with my followers! However, I am so overwhelmed with the amazing audiences I have that I want to share this idea so that you too can jump in and lease more apartments in 2011.

The event I am referring to is The Bridal Expo. Everyone registered at this show is getting married and that usually means moving in the near future. (Unless they are already taking a test drive like I did!) The goal is to get people to come to your booth, so I suggest setting up the candy buffet since so many brides want this Martha Stewart type creation at their wedding. They will come by your booth just to show their Mom and Maid of Honor this clever and modern wedding feature. A nice touch is to have a tablecloth custom printed with your logo on it. Since Bridal Expos are often a sea of white, don’t be afraid to be bold with one of your marketing colors and a white logo. The backdrop of your booth should have enlarged photos of your community, logo and grand prize.

Grand prizes and low cost prospecting gifts are essential for any tradeshow. One community I marketed had leasing scratch off cards printed. The brides simply scratch off the silver bar to see what they won and we made every card a winner. We gave away luggage, a diamond heart pendant, dinner certificates, free rent, and application fees. I am also a fan of having brides register to win a grand prize by filling out a registration card. Here is my little secret for a grand prize that gains a lot of attention…..brides love shoes! Seriously, at the last show I attended we gave away amazing silver Jimmy Choo strappy sandals that go with so many wedding styles today and replace the typical white satin shoe. I got a sample pair from the department store and then when the winner was announced, they could get a gift card or a certificate to go in and get their size. Yes, you could just do a gift card, but giving away the actual shoes create a huge buzz on the tradeshow floor. You will also want to have flyers and maybe a little special, such as no application fee since they are getting married.

When it comes down to it, your company’s exhibition success is directly related to how well your exhibit team interacts with the tradeshow attendees. Here are some tips to share with your staff:

· Treat everyone entering your exhibit as a potential new customer: politely and with a smile.

· Be standing (or stand up) when a potential customer enters your booth. Sitting can make you appear disinterested and unengaged.

· Don’t eat while you’re in your booth. It doesn’t look professional and can be a big turn-off to prospective customers.

· Focus on potential customers, not on chatting with friends and other exhibitors.

· If the booth is jam packed, do your best to handle more than one customer. Having literature ready to hand out can keep customers in your booth.

· If the booth has just a few people in it, stand near the aisles to draw more people in.

· Ask qualifying questions such as: “Have you thought about where you and your husband will live once you are married?” This more clearly identifies potential clients. Invite those “leads” to fill out an information sheet, which will expand your database. Give an incentive to fill this out. Your team will be at their interactive best if they are allowed a few breaks throughout the day. This will help them to relax, catch their breath, and be ready to maintain their stellar selling expertise.

Most Bridal Expos offer a spreadsheet with all the brides contact information and their wedding date. This is gold mine of rental opportunities. To keep in touch with the brides, send cards, notes and email helpful checklists as their day approaches. One community that exhibited at the expo in January of 2010 can credit 26 leases to registered brides.

Here comes the bride! But is she coming to your apartment community?