If summer is just around the corner (or here for that matter)…it means it’s time to start preparing for festival season! Have we got the outdoor event marketing guide for you! If you don’t actively participate in outdoor event marketing and experience a slow down during the dog days of summer, maybe you should consider it this year. Street fairs, festivals, and craft shows provide a great opportunity to get exposure for your business regardless of if you offer products or services. Preparing your small business for outdoor festival season requires investing some significant resources: mainly of time and energy. Don’t let your festival flop. Arrive prepared and with a plan for success to make sure you get the most out of it.
3-6 Months Before The Festival
__ Preparing a list of events you may want to participate in. There are loads of sites dedicated to listing event schedules. Keep an eye on Eventbrite and your local paper as well. Some shows are really popular and fill up fast, so the earlier you do this the better. Mark registration deadlines on your calendar app so you can be reminded of important dates.
__ Create a VIP (Very Important Paper) Binder. Rules – Every festival has them. Read them. Know them. Understand them. Follow them. Carry any rule book to the festival along with all paperwork verifying your booth reservation.
__ Create a Brand Audit and Refresh. How’s that brand of yours? Do you need a refresh? Do you have enough products to get you through the season? Save a ton on business cards, postcards, flyers, labels…even vinyl banner designs via the talented designers here on Faire.li.
__ Snag a Tent. A canopy with roll down shades is preferred in case of rain or intense afternoon sun. Make sure canopy seams are properly sealed! There is nothing worse than springing a leak in the middle of a show during a rainstorm. Waiting for the beginning or end of season to get a great deal isn’t really neccessary. The cheapest I’ve seen these on sale for at places like Target is about $100 USD. It’s the same price year round on Amazon. Craigslist or Gumtree is hit or miss.
6-2 Weeks Before The Festival
__ Create a Strategy. Selling enough products to cover your expenses is one thing, but what if you provide products? Either way, unless you sell outdoor event-y impulse buy products (imported dresses, sea shells with your name on them and wind spinners come to mind) pushing to close a sale the day of might not be the best strategy for your time. Instead: product or service, focus on making new relationships with potential long term customers. Hold a giveaway (brand name gift cards work wonders. Starbucks anyone?) in order to collect email addresses and contact information and schedule next steps (i.e. I’ll contact you Tuesday to set up a meeting) for hot leads.
__ Consider Sponsorship. Every festival will engage in advertising. Some festivals will provide marketing packages so vendors can assist the advertising campaign. Some festivals will give you the opportunity to donate a free item for raffle.
__ Use Social Media. Announce your participation a few weeks out, then remind them as the even approaches. Offer an incentive if you like: stop by and say hi with the code word “Rococo” for a discount or free gift.
__ Create and Post Flyers in neighborhoods, on community and business bulletin boards. You can find flyer templates that are easy to edit here.
__ Spread the Word. If you have fans, neighbors, loved ones, co-workers, let them know you will be exhibiting at a local festival and invite them to come for a show of support…and possibly a scheduled bathroom break if you are manning the tent on your own.
__ Plan your Display. Check out our Pinterest board full of awesome event booth displays for both product and service businesses.
__ Get Interactive. You can also create interest by offering some fun activities such as: color a picture, draw a picture, answer trivia questions, spin the wheel…or my favorite: seed planting for children. A bag or two of soil and a bag of beans, a box of plastic cups and a paper bag to take it home in is super inexpensive. Add your sticker to the front or a care card with your logo and website and voila: instantly charming.
__ Plan Takeaways. Gifts can be free products or branded products like pens. They don’t have to be expensive: get creative. Something like a few packs of bottled water from Sams Club and printable water bottle labels with your logo and website will be a welcome present for the people who stop and strike up a conversation.
__ Create or Purchase Tent Weights. There are loads of tutorials online for making tent weights. Seriously: Loads.
1-6 Days Before The Festival
Start packing things away in easy to carry bins. While you may be able to bring your car to your booth space to unload, assume you will have a hike to your space and plan accordingly. Keep everything as lightweight and portable as possible and plan on doubling up with your containers: not only can you tote your stuff but you can also use them under your table cloth to add levels and dimensions to your display. Wooden crates are wonderful solutions. A folding wagon or trolley may be a good solution. Here is a packing list of things not to forget if you intend to bring them:
__ Tent weights, panels, etc.
__ Folding chairs
__ Folding table
__ Table cloth
__ Marketing collateral like flyers, brochures and business cards
__ Poly display stands or frames for table top signs and brochures
__ Takeaways, activities and game supplies
__ Electric cords and power strips if you reserved electricity
__ Rain gear like boots, umbrellas, ponchos or raincoats.
__ Towels, rags, paper towels, wet wipes
__ Zipties, rope, rubber bands,
__ Duct tape, electrical tape, scotch tape, clothes pins, alligator clips
__ Pocket knife, scissors
__ Pens and paper
__ Small tool box and first aid kits
__ Bug Spray and/or Sunblock
__ Locking cash box (with at least $100 of assorted change)
__ Fanny pack or apron with pockets to handle cash for change
__ Electronic devices to manage electronic transactions
__ Electronic device with a slide show or video of your products or process (careful these don’t walk off)
__ Camera to record the event for social media
__ Display props
__ Giveaway sign up slips & bowl to collect them
__ Small cooler with snacks, drinks and lunch
Day of The Festival
__ Arrive Early & Check In. Give yourself an hour or two to set up. The event rules will likely tell you when you can start and give you directions for the remained of the day.
__ Set up Your Display. Prominently display your banner. Have a banner that is easy to read including your business name and a hint of what you offer or a slogan. Have your best products and items most likely to generate interest highly visible from multiple angles. Set up a small display within the depths of your tent as an interesting draw for discounted items, award winning products, etc. This will draw shoppers into your tent past all of your items.
__ Have fun and meet people! Remember what it is all about.