Why Bridal Brands Must Invest in Marketing at the Local Level

Ivory Grey Project Blog Post Marketing at the Local Level

This is part one of a two-part series on the importance of investing in your retailer. 

I’ve seen this happen time and again. A designer and his or her sales rep want to get their line in a bridal boutique. The bridal buyer agrees to test out the line before committing to a stock order and a “test trunk show” is arranged - only to find that no sales are made and nothing happens during the trunk show - and now your prospective client (the store) is no longer interested in your line. 

You went from having an interested buyer to losing (probably forever) the chance to have your bridal dresses sold in that store. What happened? 

It’s very likely you assumed you didn’t need to invest your time and money in a local marketing campaign to attract potential brides-to-be to this trunk show. Perhaps you even thought it was the store’s responsibility to promote the trunk show. It isn’t.   

There’s a prevailing belief in bridal that social media (specifically Instagram) is the best and most effective way to let brides know your dresses will be at a specific location and that they will just show up and buy. This is especially true for designers who have a particularly large number of followers. The truth is, the vast majority of your followers are not ready to purchase your gowns and they’ll likely be concentrated in a handful of regions, far from where your prospective store might be hosting your gowns.

There are two myths bridal designers need to leave behind: first, that digital marketing is free because social media is free. Even if this was true at one time, it no longer is. There’s too much competition now, too much noise online, and there are only so many people getting married each year. Second, that it’s primarily the store’s responsibility to advertise your trunk show. 

If you want your wedding gowns to be sold at X store, you must think of your retailer as your best local marketing partner and invest accordingly. Stores have too many designers after them, and with that many choices, the smartest designer - the one who invests in the relationship - is the one that will get his or her dresses into that store. 

"You must think of your retailer as your best local marketing partner and invest accordingly."

So don’t assume your gowns will sell themselves - with the exception of a few, I’ve seen designers with beautiful bridal lines fail to close that sale after a lackluster trunk show. If a store agrees to host your gowns for a weekend, assume that this is your only chance at selling your line and that you have to make it count.

These tips are a starting point for more successful trial trunk shows that could result in the placement of your line in your dream store. 

  • Know your target market. One of the biggest mistakes designers and their sales reps make is that they try to sell to the wrong market. If your bridal line is fashion-forward, it’s very likely the trunk show will not do well in a city/store where the market is known for its traditional or conservative style.    
  • Don’t rush the sale or trunk show. Book the trunk show well in advance so that you’ll have enough time to come up with, and implement, a solid local marketing plan. (Remember, simply posting an announcement on Facebook and Instagram doesn’t count.)
  • Involve the store owner or buyer in the marketing strategy (digital should be part of the strategy). Including the buyer in the conversation is important because this is a local marketing effort that requires knowledge of the local market, plus this sends the buyer a clear message that you care enough to invest in them from the start.  

The key takeaway here is that you need to start investing both time and money in local marketing efforts. Those bridal designers who start thinking more strategically, and start investing in their target store, are the ones that will see better results. Abandon the idea that your large Instagram following will get you the results you want. Have a digital marketing plan in place, form partnerships, and invest at the local level.