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How to Market Your Business at Summer Events, Fairs and Festivals


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Blogged By: 
Rieva, SBA Guest Blogger

Summer’s here and for most communities, that means the season of outdoor fairs, festivals and other events is underway. For a small business, community events like these can be a great opportunity to market your products and services to local residents and other event-goers. Here are some steps to get you started.

Research what events exist in your community and nearby communities. Your options might range from local “fun runs,” chili cook-offs or classic car shows to surfing contests or music festivals that bring in attendees from all over the country. If you’re new to event marketing, you’ll probably want to start at the smaller end of the spectrum.

Find the right match. Figure out which events are likely to bring the kinds of customers you want to target. Consider the city where the event is held, the target audience and the activity. It’s best to start with an event that has a track record in the community since the organizers will be better able to give you an estimate of attendance and audience breakdown.

Get the details. Contact organizers to see what opportunities exist. This could range from sponsoring the event (contributing money in return for getting your name on banners, fliers, programs, etc.), having a booth at the event to give away information or samples, or actually selling products at the event. Ask about costs and requirements.

Talk to others. Events don’t always live up to their hype, so find other business owners who have participated in the events you’re considering and ask them what they liked and didn’t like. Were fees and registration costs worthwhile? Did they get qualified leads or make a lot of sales from the event? Would they recommend it or not and why?

Be prepared. If you’re working a booth or selling products, plenty of advance planning is required. If your goal is collecting leads, make sure you have enough samples and literature to give out. Make it easy for attendees to give you their information, say by dropping business cards in a fishbowl or filling out a quick form. If you’re selling products, be sure you have enough stock on hand, an appealing display and several ways to accept payment (a mobile credit card reader like Square can be great for this purpose). Either way, make sure you have several friendly, well-trained and energetic staff members to work the event.

Assess results. Like any marketing effort, you need to track results to see if the event was worthwhile. Set goals for how much you want to sell, how many prospects you want to talk to or how many leads you want to capture. Track them and assess your results afterward. Fine-tune your approach depending on what you learned.

For smart small business owners, summer events can be a way to capture new leads and sales—while having some fun in the sun, too.

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