The approach of summer often means the opportunity to explore new points of sale where you can generate business, including local farmer’s markets, festivals and craft & art fairs. Though selling your wares at such locales can be a fun way to enjoy the beautiful weather while you broaden your brand exposure and build a greater awareness about your business in your community, they demand a different strategy than those you apply to your “standing” business model. Here are a few simple tips to ensure that your business realizes the best possible return on investment if your summer plans involve taking your business on the road.
Identify The Audience You Want To Reach.
Taking your business to some summer events can be a cost-effective way to reach a mass audience you otherwise may not. While the increased exposure inherently has marketing value, take the time to identify the best potential audience you hope to reach—whether they make a purchase at the event, or not. As you research events, ask event organizers for demographic information on expected attendance based on past years, in terms of event visitors and exhibitors and the makeup of the community at large. With this information, you can objectively evaluate whether the event is truly a venue that will put you in front of your desired audience.
Weigh The Pros & Cons Of Cost & Opportunity.
Large and well-publicized events offer plenty of foot traffic, but there is a cost associated with the mass exposure. Typically, exhibitor fees are much higher -- especially for the “prime” exhibitor real estate. There may be strict regulations around the size of your booth and signage, and depending on the venue, you may be required to hire union labor (organized through the event) to assemble your booth. Big events also mean many exhibitors—and fierce competition. Strategize how you’ll cut through the “event noise,” which may require that you invest in samples or event-specific promotions, and hire additional staff to work the event and recruit prospects into your booth.
Smaller events, by contrast may be far less expensive (and sometimes free) to attend. But they still require you to invest your time, along with the costs of transporting your booth and goods to and from the event. Neither event type is better or worse, but both require that you establish your business objectives early on to ensure the best possible return on investment, considering the direct and indirect costs relative to the potential payoff.
Adjust Your Operational Strategy.
Summer events may demand that you shift your strategy a bit to ensure that your efforts aren’t in vain. If you don’t yet accept mobile payments, consider one of the many providers that transform your smart phone or tablet into what is essentially a debit or credit card processor, to ensure you’re able to capture every possible sale at the event. Plan your marketing strategy well in advance so prospects know you’ll be at various events, even if it means shifting a bit of your typical marketing budget into highly targeted social media advertising campaigns, like those offered on Facebook and Twitter. Lastly, consider what kind of information will help you communicate what your brand stands for, regardless of location. This may include “freebies” or promotional offers that you pass out at events to drive traffic to your website, clever #hashtag campaigns that encourage visitors to your booth to snap an image and share it on social media, or an “activity” in your booth that encourages people to stop in, and spend time experiencing your products with their senses.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to exhibiting at summer events and the opportunity you stand to gain—but a change of venue may demand a different approach to the ways you present your business. With some strategic planning and creativity, you’ll ensure that the time and investment you put into summer events contributes positively to your business.