Temperatures are dropping, leaves are falling, and there’s a good chance a number of fall festivals and events are popping up in your area!
Exhibiting at a local fall festival or event is an effective way to build your brand recognition and your customer base. If you’re new to the market, exhibiting your products or services at an event booth can help you spread the word about your business and what you have to offer. And if you’ve been around for awhile, exhibiting at an event or festival can help you reach a previously untapped customer base, launch a new product or service, or conduct real-time market research.
One of the most stressful parts of exhibiting at an event or festival is prepping! We recommend making a list so that you don’t forget anything. And to help get you started, we’ve compiled four must-haves that you should bring with you, regardless of your business or industry.
4 THINGS TO BRING TO YOUR FESTIVAL OR EVENT BOOTH
1. YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH
One of the biggest advantages to exhibiting at a festival or event is that you’ll have a captive audience. A steady stream of people will be walking by and visiting your booth. And that means you need to be ready to (briefly!) tell them what you’re all about. If you haven’t yet developed an elevator pitch, they’re typically one minute in length. That’s not much time, so you should be able to clearly and succinctly articulate what you do and why you’re different. In an action-oriented setting such as an event or festival, you may also want to include a CTA. Will you have a product for sale that you want a prospective customer to try? Or could they sign up for your email list to get product or service updates? Think about what you’d like your booth visitors to do, then tailor your elevator pitch accordingly.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But there are a couple of inventory-related questions you’ll want to think through before your event. The first is how much inventory you’ll bring. See if you can get an idea from event organizers or a fellow exhibitor about how many attendees are expected. Then, plan to bring inventory to cover 5 to 15 percent of the project attendance. As you exhibit at more shows, you’ll have the sales data to refine your inventory so that you’re bringing just enough. Depending on what you sell, you might also consider offering samples or testers. And think about how you want to display these items. If this is your first event or festival, you don’t have to blow your annual marketing budget on your display. Your booth, like your website, is fluid and will evolve over time. That said, a few display fixtures and a table skirt (use a clean and pressed black bed sheet, in a pinch) can go a long way in making your booth look polished and professional. One more thing: make sure you can take payments, including credit cards. Bring change for cash payments and equip your smartphone with a Square reader or the PayPal Here app so that you can process card payments with your business account.
3. MARKETING MATERIALS
Business cards, brochures, informational postcards — you’ll want to be sure to have a few marketing materials on hand that prospective customers can take with them to learn more about your business, stay in contact and make a purchase. If you haven’t yet developed marketing materials, consider this as good a reason as any to create an introductory piece! Start with business cards and an informational postcard that tells people more about your story and what you offer. Include ways to connect, including your website and social media channels. You could also create a tailored marketing piece like a coupon that will help you track the efficacy of the event or festival. You’ll want to track your sales during the event, of course, but you might also consider giving people a coupon with a code for a percentage off a purchase, or another perk like free shipping. That way, you can decide if this particular event or festival is a good fit for your business and worth making a recurring part of your marketing and outreach strategy. If you’ll be exhibiting at multiple events or festivals, you might also consider in investing in booth materials like a branded table skirt and a pop-up banner. They’ll give your booth more polish and also help you draw in attendees to learn more about your business.
4. AN ASSISTANT
Let’s clarify: bringing someone with you to help staff your booth isn’t mandatory, but it’s definitely a good idea, especially for multi-day events or festivals. For one thing, booth hours can be long, and it’s nice to have company and conversation.If you’re exhibiting at a large event or festival, it might be worthwhile to have someone with you so that you can talk (and sell) to more people. Don’t yet have employees? That’s not a problem. See if a friend or family member will help out (ideally for compensation, rather than as a favor). Just make sure that if the person working with you isn’t an employee, they’re well-versed in your business so that they can confidently talk to prospective customers. Having someone with you can also help boost other marketing efforts, including getting photos and video to use on social media and your website. And you can flip a coin or play rock, paper, scissors to decide who’s going on food and coffee runs!
Now that you’re feeling more prepared to exhibit at an event or festival, what’s the best way to find upcoming events? Try searching the calendar or events page of your area Convention & Visitors Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. You might also want to check with local entrepreneurial resources to see if they have a list of upcoming events that might be a good fit.
One last tip? If you get stuck on honing your branding or elevator pitch — or feel like you need a marketing refresher — register for our free Kauffman FastTrac online course, which covers a number of topics to help you launch your business. The immersive class is self-paced, so you can take modules whenever it fits with your schedule. Just sign up, grab your favorite fall beverage and dive in!