Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Working your Passion--Making vendor shows work for you

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Energy is the connection between individuals. Bringing the right customers or clients your way means expressing the energy you desire so it draws in more of the same. One of the most powerful ways to build your business is by working with the energy of the masses.  Today, I will discuss ways to do that via vendors shows.

The most important thing to remember at a vendor show is that making money is not the end game. This can be frustrating when you've spent $50, $100, or more for a space, only to find the vendor next to you bringing in paying customer after paying customer and you've not even covered your fee yet.

Ultimately, being at a vendor show should be about exposure--particularly if you are still trying to build a following.  Don't skimp on your marketing materials.  Let people see your logo and recognize your brand, let them talk to you--you are the face of your business, and people need to recognize that and get to know you. 

The following is a list of tips to help you get the most out of any vendor show (even a slow one):

Image result for moneyDon't make money the endgame—This one is worth mentioning again.  There's a lot of organizing, packing, carting, unloading, unpacking, setting up… and then, after a long day's work on your feet, the process happens in reverse, sometimes with less money in your pocket than when you started. Inexpensive vendor shows have limited advertising funds, and limited exposure.  Huge shows with lots of customers often charge fees that are difficult for a start-up to afford, and often require additional insurance policies. As an established business, making money is a reasonable endgame, but if you're just starting out and money is your focus, you'll never come out ahead. Not only that, but you will leave disheartened and discouraged.

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Don't skimp on marketing materials—This doesn't mean spend a fortune on them, but brand recognition is invaluable, so start building it now where there's lots of eyes on you. You'll be amazed when down the road someone says, "Oh, I know you/your business/product." They may not recall where they saw you, but that doesn't matter if you're a familiar face.

Come with help--running a show alone makes not only for a long day, but it can mean a lot of lost opportunities.  If you provide a service, you need someone to interact with potential customers while you're working. If it's slow, you'll want to be able to leave your booth and walk around. Beg, plead, call in a favor, and work a nice dinner and drinks for two into your budget--it's worth it.

Interact with your visitors—This is sometimes the hardest task.  Here's some advice for making it easier: Place your marketing materials and best products up front. Make it easy for people to see what you are all about. Let them browse, then strike up a conversation.  The best conversations are those that are natural, and not sales-y. Talk about story behind the product they're interested in, or tell a bit about yourself if you have a service. Compliment them on something they're wearing or carrying—particularly if it's something that connects to you and/or your service. People don't want to get drawn into a sales pitch, and will often avoid eye contact--let them see you are a real person and they'll feel comfortable enough to want to get to know you better.

Bring a mailing list and a giveaway--You are there to build your following and potential customer base--so make sure you have a way to follow-up! Ask every customer to sign up for your list. Raffle a free mini-service, gift certificate, or product at the end of the day, and make signing up for the mailing list an entry requirement, then watch your list grow.

Get out of your booth--Is traffic slow? People are walking by, but no one stopping?  Get out into the flow of traffic. Bring your mailing list with you. Start talking. Be outgoing.  This may be difficult, but this is how you build your business--by putting yourself out there.  Just be friendly. Be yourself. Let people get to know you.  Remember, this isn't about making sales, this is about becoming a member of whatever community is attending the show you're vending. You'll want to get to know them as much as you want them to get to know you. If someone shows an interest, ask them to sign up for your mailing list so they can learn more about you and what you do.

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Talk to other vendors--This is the best way to make lemonade out of a lemon show. At one fair, I was placed at the far end of the lawn, where there was little traffic.  My goal had been to bulk up my mailing list and make some cash (breaking the cardinal rule of vendor shows, of course). Midway through the day I was disgusted, grabbed a clipboard, and walked around to other booths talking to vendors (see tip #3).  I returned with a list of names of people who were interested in networking with me—many of whom became vendors at a vendor show I ran a few months later.  Some became members of Mind Key and have helped us grow. Others, I learned tips of the trade from.  In the end it was the most lucrative and successful shows I ever vended, although I made very little money from few customers who attended.

Not sure about working with the energy of vendor shows?  Let us help you find the shows that are the best fit for you, and how to best follow-up with your new contacts so you get the most out of your time and investment. We can help you find the right show and build a simple and effective newsletter. Contact to learn how.

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