Participating in a birth and baby expo as a maternity and newborn photographer can be an exciting opportunity to showcase your work, network with other professionals and meet potential clients. If you are considering hosting a booth, you may be wondering how to stand out and make an impact with so many other vendors around. In this blog post, I will explain how I prepared my photography vendor booth and marketing materials for my local Birth and Baby Expo.
Plan out your space
Before the expo, it's essential to plan out your space. Consider the size and layout of your booth and make sure it aligns with your brand and business. Think about how you want to present your work and ensure your signage and displays are eye-catching and professional.
At home, I used masking tape to mark out the size my booth would be, and purchased items that matched my brand aesthetic.
Pro-tip: If you are feeling stuck on design ideas, check out wedding photography expo booths on Pinterest for inspiration that matches nearly any style.
Don't sit behind a table
Standing or sitting behind a table can create a barrier between you and potential clients. Instead, stand in front of your booth, make eye contact with people, and invite them into your space. I wanted people to linger, so I would introduce myself to people walking by, invited them to enter my no-obligation giveaway (more on that later), and encouraged them to look around my photo display and client closet. Then, I got out of the way and hung back so they could explore.
Get to know your neighbor
Take the time to introduce yourself to the vendors around you. You never know when a friendly conversation can lead to a referral, collaboration opportunity or a new friendship. If you can, ask your expo team if they can give you a map layout of the vendors beforehand. I was lucky enough to be able to connect with my vendor neighbor in advance and we decided to set up a space between our booths for children to color.
Have something for the kids
Again, you want people to linger, and nothing kills the moment more than a toddler running the opposite direction when you and their parent are chatting. Have something simple in place for kids to occupy themselves. My neighbor brought a small table and chairs, and I brought pregnancy-focused coloring pages and crayons.
Lean into your selling points
What makes your photography unique? What sets you apart from other photographers? Do you offer a client closet? Specialize in fine-art prints or keepsake albums?
Highlight your selling points and make sure they are prominently displayed in your booth. This will help potential clients understand your value and what you can offer. Connection and comfort are big parts of my brand values, so I created a space that was inviting and invoked a warm, homey feel. I used different-sized images because I wanted people to walk into the space and really look at my photos. I also brought a free-standing closet filled with my maternity dresses and baby wraps so people could see and feel the textures of my closet items.
Provide something other than business cards
Expos give out a lot of swag, and a lot of that is paper that will get thrown away. Definitely have business cards, but also provide something with your business details on it that is more substantial and useful, so people see your logo often. I opted for high-quality custom magnets. I made mine through Sticker Mule and was very happy with the product.
Offer an exclusive discount
Offering an exclusive discount to expo attendees can be an effective way to attract new clients and incentivize them to book with you. Make sure to communicate the details of your offer clearly, so there is no confusion or miscommunication.
I wanted to incentivize booking a session within the year, so I offered a $100 discount to anyone who was planning to book in 2023 AND filled out a special lead form that day (make one specific to the event). In the form, I asked them to specify a timeframe so I could follow up with them since maternity and newborn dates can vary pretty wildly. By doing this, I am offering a discount to people who are already wanting to book. It is a win for me because I am getting high-intent leads and it's a win for them because they are getting a hefty discount on something they were already wanting.
Hold a relevant giveaway
A giveaway can be an excellent way to attract people to your booth. However, it's essential to choose a relevant and useful item that aligns with your brand.
For example, if you specialize in newborn photography, consider offering a baby blanket or a onesie with your logo on it. I opted against baby items, simply because there were so many other vendors there that offered such things (and frankly, it aligned with their brand far more). I opted to give away an InstaX Mini 12 camera. It highlights the magic of photography, family connection and prints. All things I love and highlight within my brand.
Don't give away a free session
While a free session might seem like a great way to attract new clients, it can devalue your work and attract clients who are only looking for a deal. Remember, your focus is to find leads that already want your services. You do not want a bunch of leads who would only use your service if it was free. Instead, consider offering a discount or a gift card towards a session.
Prioritize building your email list
Collecting email addresses is a critical component of marketing your business. Social media is great, but within ever-changing algorithms and system failures, you should not be putting all your eggs in that basket. Email subscribers should be one of your top marketing goals, and you should value them far more than social media followers. My email subscribers always get first dibs on model calls, early access to seasonal minis, and exclusive promotions. Encourage people to sign up for your email list by offering exclusive content, promotions, or updates. I had an email opt-in in multiple different places in my booth. I had a simple checkbox opt-in on my giveaway entry forms, and two spots in different areas of my booth where people could scan a QR code to subscribe. I also put an opt-in on the lead form I had set up for the event.
Lastly, take photos
You are a photographer, so look the part! Wear your camera for the day and, during any slow points, go around and take candids of the event. Vendors rarely get photos taken of them working, and 10 minutes of candid shooting can provide some very valuable images for your fellow vendors. Once you process them, I highly suggest offering them as a gift to the expo team. They may even use your images and highlight your brand for next year's event!
All in all, I am so happy I participated in this expo. I was able to connect with so many local professionals in the birth and baby space, and it was immensely valuable for me to have the opportunity to showcase my brand and connect with potential clients. I grew my email subscription list by over 30%, collected high-intent leads for the year, and made countless new connections.