Participating in Trade Shows, Farmer’s Markets, and Craft Sales is a common choice for businesses exploring new markets, reaching new customers, and even servicing customers by developing a pop-up style storefront for home-based businesses. Taking this approach to marketing, promoting, advertising and selling your products and services is a great way to kick start your business, test new products, and make great lasting connections with current and potential customers.
Lac du Bonnet businesses can participate in a variety of Trade Shows, Farmer’s Markets, and Craft Sales to promote their business and generate new leads. Some opportunities coming up are the Chamber’s LdB Home & Cottage Expo in Lac du Bonnet, or the weekly LdB Farmer’s Market. The Lac du Bonnet Chamber and Winnipeg Ricer Recreation Commission also like to work together to bring a Night Market to Lac du Bonnet in August, and a Winter Christmas Craft Sale, so you’ll want to connect with them about these opportunities too.
Operating a booth at Trade Shows, Farmer’s Markets and Craft Sales all come with different price points; however, they provide an affordable way to get in front of thousands of potential customers. You can do many things before, during and after your booth is set up to help you reap the benefits and increase your potential to make lasting connections.
Before the Show
Every vendor set up at a trade show, farmer’s market, or craft sale benefits from the event’s attendance because you can’t make sales unless people show up. While the event organizers will undoubtedly have a marketing and advertising strategy, you should want to boost your visibility by leveraging your network of clients and marketing strategies. Some of the best before strategies include:
Putting Your Social Media Channels to Work
Share, share, and then share some more! Event organizers will use social media to promote and advertise the event, and you should jump in on this opportunity to showcase your business as part of the excitement. Sharing posts about the event will accomplish two things.
- It will alert your current customer and followers that you will be participating in a certain trade show, Farmer’s Market, or Craft Sale so they know that they can find you at that location for the event!
- It will help draw attention to the event. The more people that know about it, the more people will attend.
Here are some tips for Social Media promotions before the event:
- Share a post that the organizer has put together to advertise and promote the event.
- Share a post with an image of some of the products that you will have available and invite people to visit with you at the show.
- Share a post or two with a teaser campaign for a new product or service that you will be launching at the show, market, or sale.
- Whenever you share a post about the upcoming event, include the hashtags relevant to the event and @tag the event to help build awareness about the event and inject your business into the conversations taking place about the event.
Blog and Website Announcements
Your company website is another great resource to use to spread the word about the Trade Show, Farmer’s Market or Craft Sale events you will be attending. Using your website will let clients and potential leads know that you will be exhibiting.
You can share the information on your website in a number of ways:
- Create a blog post that provides information about the event, including links to the event’s website, as well as information about the products and services you will have on display at the show.
- If your website houses an events page that lists your upcoming marketing/sales-oriented sessions, you can also list the key event details here. Include event name, date, time and even a link to your blog where views can find more information.
- You can also create a section promoting the event on your homepage, as often a website’s home page is the most viewed page of any website. This will make sure that everyone going to your site can see the basic details about the event.
Advertisement: Need a website? We can help!
Email Announcement or Invitation
Sending out an email announcement or invitation is a great way to let your network know about the event and that you will be a vendor. A simple email invitation is a great, cost-effective way to encourage attendance from your network.
Here are some tips for sending out invites:
- Keep it simple but engaging. Develop an inviting letter and provide just enough detail about the event to entice your network into wanting information.
- Provide a link to the event’s website, an article about the event, or better yet, to the blog post you’ve put on your website.
- Send the invitation out three weeks to a month before the event date; this should give people ample time to include it in their calendar.
- Send a reminder email three to five days before the event, and remember to tell everyone how excited you are to meet them at the show!
Before you head off to the Trade Show, Farmer’s Market, or Craft Sale, make sure you create marketing materials that you can hand out to people. Every vendor will have a flyer, brochure, business card, pens, writing pads or other marketing material to hand out. Not only do you need to make an impression and stand out while you’re at your booth, but the materials you hand out need to do the same long after the show is over.
Here are a few things to consider when putting together your marketing materials:
- Professionally designed flyers and brochures stick around longer than flyers with too much text and small pictures. There are many free resources and templates available online to take your marketing handouts to the next level. One program that we use a lot is Canva. It’s a great online design tool that is user-friendly, with quick drag-and-drop formatting. The free plan has a lot to offer with stickers, fonts, templates and stock photography, but of course, if you purchase a membership, you will have access to everything!
- When it comes to printing you’re newly designed brochures, forget about the home printer and head over to the Lac du Bonnet Clipper where Candace and Marlene will print off high-quality prints of your work. The cost difference between doing it at home is minimal, but the quality difference can’t be beaten. If you don’t want to make your brochures, postcards, business cards, etc. Candace and help you develop your materials too.
- Branded promotional items like pens and magnets are also a great idea; however, everyone has them. One thing that you can do is invest in some higher-priced items, like notebooks, better quality pens, or every office person’s favourite – branded Post-It Notes, to have on hand for the people you have made a great connection with. The five-cent pens can be for everyone else.
During the Show
Once you’re at the Trade Show, Farmer’s Market or Craft Sale, there are some strategies your business can use to draw more visitors and convert them into paying customers. After all, that’s the ultimate goal and reason you are attending the event in the first place. Talking directly with customers, letting them see, touch, smell, taste and hear your products in person with you acting as a personal guide to the process, passion and concepts that went into everything you have to offer. Once the doors open and the people start flooding in, there are some simple things you can do to attract them to your booth.
Stand up and Pay Attention
If you are sitting behind your table playing on your phone, you don’t appear to be interested in what is happening around you. If you are not interested, why should anyone else? Standing for long periods is not comfortable, and if you are attending a multi-day event that operates for 9+ hours a day, you’re going to be sore.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you through it:
- Proper, comfortable shoes, even if they don’t exactly go with your outfit, or invest in a good pair of shoes that go with anything.
- Lay rubber mats down in your booth, where you will be spending your time standing. This will certainly add some comfort to your feet and back.
- My favourite Trade Show hack is using a raised table. Once you raise the table, you can sit on bar stools and still be at eye level with the people standing in your booth. It’s a win-win situation. You can be comfortable, and so can your customers as they don’t have to bend down over a table to look at your information, products, or finalize purchases. The cheapest, easiest way to do this is to cut ABS Pipe to size and slip them onto your table legs – it works like a charm!
Draw them In and Engage them with Conversation
You don’t need draws and promotional giveaways to get people to interact with you. Using these methods doesn’t generate many good leads – people who will listen to your sales pitch or purchase your product in the end; they’re only there to get the free stuff before moving on to the next booth to do the same.
You can get the best results by striking up conversations with people as they pass by your booth. Knowing whom to engage takes a little bit of practice.
Here are some things to watch out for:
- If they’re walking quickly – don’t engage – they are on a mission and don’t want to be stopped. Let them go about their business and watch for the next person.
- If they are aimlessly wandering around ‘window-shopping,’ then there’s a good chance you can draw them in for a conversation. They’re looking for something to grab their attention.
- If they willingly enter your booth space, even by a foot, engage – something in your display has caught their attention, and it’s up to you to find out what.
How do you engage?
Well, that depends on what you are selling. Sometimes a simple ‘hello’ works; other times, a qualifying question is best. Qualifying questions will help you determine if the person in front of you is a lead or not.
For example, selling tickets for the LDB ICE Fishing Derby:
‘Do you ice fish?’ is a great qualifier because if they answer ‘no,’ they won’t buy a ticket. If they say ‘yes,’ then I can move onto my next qualifier, ‘have you ever attended the Lac du Bonnet Ice Fishing Derby?’ The answer to this question sets the tone for the sales pitch, which is either, ‘well [inhale deeply] let me tell you all the wonderful things about LDB ICE!” if they’ve never been before.
More questions if they had attended before where I’ll find out if they like the event; when they last participated in the event; if they’ve already purchased their tickets; if they’ve ever caught a fish/won a prize, and so on.
Once you are engaged in conversation with someone, stay engaged for as long as they want to stay involved with you about your business, even if that means letting other people walk by.
The more you talk with people, the closer they get to making a purchase decision. Trade Shows, Farmer’s Markets, and Craft Sales are not mass advertising opportunities where you need to focus on handing out brochures to everyone who walks through the door. They are a little more like speed dating. Draw them in, engage them in conversation, make a connection and then convert them into a customer, either right there on the spot or after the show during follow-ups.
Draws and Contact Information
We said you didn’t need draws to get people into your booth, but you can still use them to collect valuable information about qualified leads and customers who purchase from you at the show.
There are many ways to do this, but the goal is to keep the list narrowed down to people who may actually make a purchase or who did make a purchase from you at the Trade Show, Farmer’s Market or Craft Sale.
Here are some things you can consider:
- Have a draw for people who purchase the show. These people are customers now whom you can reach out to in the future. This is a good way to use a draw because you gather contact details for people who took your product home with them. These contacts can be used as part of future marketing initiatives, which we’ll get to in the next section.
- Collect contact information from people by asking for it. For example, with business-to-business Trade Shows, you will want to focus on engaging conversations with attendees to qualify them. Then, if they are interested in your service, you’ll want to make sure to give them your brochure or other marketing materials. BUT you’ll also want to make sure to grab their contact information as well. This can be done by asking for a business card. A great thing to do is to staple the business card onto a piece of paper and make some notes about the conversation you’ve had with the person – because after you speak with 100s of people, you can lose track of who is who.
After the Show
The trade show might be done, but there are still some great opportunities you can take to keep momentum with your qualified leads and clients after the Trade Show, Farmer’s Market and Craft Sale is done. Two great strategies you can put to work for you after the show is over are Lead Evaluations and Sales Follow-ups.
Lead Evaluations and Follow-ups
This is where you filter through qualified leads that you gained at the show – all those business cards you collected or notes you took. It’s time to reach out to these people and continue the conversations you started at the show. Making the communications as personalized as possible, including recapping the product, service and topics discussed at the show, will help you stand out above the rest and lead to better communications with potential leads. The worst thing you can do is sit and wait for the phone to ring – take action and follow up with your leads in the days following the show to close the deal and turn your lead into a customer.
Another great thing you can do is follow up with the customers who purchased with you at the show. When you follow up, thank them for making their purchase and provide them with additional details about your company. Send them the link to your social channels and website, inviting them to follow you online. Send them a digital copy of your brochure so they can see your full product line-up. Encourage them to sign up for your email newsletter to receive special discounts, time updates and other information relevant to them as your new customers.
We hope this helps you increase your sales when attending Trade Shows, Farmer’s Markets, and Craft Sales to promote your Lac du Bonnet business. Happy selling!