If you’re building a direct sales business, vendor events and markets are a fabulous way to quickly build up your customer base and team. But not all events are equal. Here are ten tips to help you get the most out of your vendor event investment.
Know the market.
If you’ve been to the event before as a visitor, you might already have an idea of what to expect in terms of traffic flow, demographics and the vibe of the event – that’s a great start! If you haven’t been to the event before, do a bit of research to find out as much as you can. Talk to previous vendors about what worked for them and what didn’t, what you might need to know about the venue and what sort of advertising and promotion was done for the event. If you know what sort of customers to expect, you can tailor your displays and your strategies to cater to the correct audience.
Have a goal.
Know what you want to achieve with the event and what will make you put a ‘tick’ in the ‘Was this event a success?’ box. Set realistic and achievable goals for yourself and try to narrow down your focus. Are you focusing on bookings, recruiting, sales, leads or networking? You might still have a bit of all of them, but knowing what your main goal is will help you get there. If you really need to focus on the instant cash return of on-the-day sales, then make sure that you have an enticing ‘retail’ style display and make it clear that your ‘register is open’. If you’re looking at recruiting: make sure that your display focuses on your opportunity and looks easy to duplicate. If you’re just wanting to collect lots of leads then you might want to focus on a prize draw and making sure that your entry forms are right up front.
Be smart about your setup and packup.
Trolleys are a lifesaver. As are any kinds of container that can do double duty as both transport & display. You don’t want to spend 8 trips lugging your stuff from the back of a carpark into the venue so that you’re sweaty and exhausted before you start. Plan well so that you look and feel your best when you are in front of your potential customers. Not only is good planning making things easier for you, it also means a better experience for your customers.
Practice your checkout procedure.
Make sure your app is updated, your inventory is correct, your wifi is working, your device is charged… and most importantly, make sure you know what you’re doing with it. If you’re keeping it old-school, make sure you have a pricelist or order form, a receipt book and a pen to write in it with! You want this part of the interaction with you to be the smoothest and the easiest. Not a mad-fluster.
Enjoy yourself and smile!
Don’t underestimate the power of a smile or a simple hello. A small acknowledgement when someone comes to take a peek at a demonstration you are doing for another customer shows respect and your availability to help them next. A friendly ‘how is your day going?’ to a stallholder on their way back from a coffee run can build a friendship. Enjoy yourself! The ‘I’ll-have’-what-she’s-having’ factor goes a long way, when people can see you having a good time they want in on the action too. If you’re not having fun, find a way to make it fun.
The fortune is in the followup.
It always is, but especially so with vendor events. People won’t expect you to *actually* follow up with them, which is all the more reason to make sure that you do it! Providing great customer service does NOT end the minute they hand you their credit card. Great customer service can mean the difference between a single sale at a market, and a lifelong repeat customer. It doesn’t need to be major, just check in and see how they are liking your products and if they have any questions a week or so after the event. So if you’re going to follow up, you better make sure that you have a way to collect their information, right?
Take photos of your setup.
They are great for promotional use, but also really good to look back on when you’re reflecting on what works and what doesn’t work. It’s best to take one before the event officially opens, and while everything is looking fresh and just-so. A nice kicker of this photo being on your to-do list is that you’ll make sure you are all set up and ready for customers the minute those doors open, so you’ll look professional.
Even the best laid plans sometimes just don’t work out. Be ready to adjust and tweak as you go if something is really not working for you. Make the most of your opportunity and don’t be too attached to your ideas. If it’s not working, change something. Even if that means relocating a stall site mid-event. The event pictured here was a display we popped together midway through an event in a new area after realising that there was no traffic through to the back room we had originally been placed in. By being adaptable and using the furniture that was already in place, we were able to move into a hallway with much more passing traffic. The greatest setup in the world won’t help you if no-one can see it!
Let your signage talk for you.
Think about the ‘drive by’. Keep your signage clear and simple – it should say who you are and what problem you solve in the time it takes someone to walk briskly past your stall. Pictures are even better.
Listen & Learn.
Use every event also as an opportunity to listen.
Listen to other vendors and they way they speak to their own customers – is there something that you can use or learn from their approach to customer service?
Listen to your customers, find out what their concerns are and what problem they are hoping your product might solve. You won’t hear that if you don’t let them get a word in. So shhh.
Give a little extra.
Everyone loves a freebie. It makes them feel special, it validates their decision to shop with you and it adds to the value of the transaction. Plus, it’s nice to give gifts, it feels good.