If you are wanting more exposure for your business, whether you are a solopreneur, small business or a large corporation, one of the most effective ways is to participate as a vendor at events. The time and investment can profile you and your company to a large amount of people that are in your target market, all the while saving time on marketing costs.
Think about it – the host, or whomever is putting the event together, does all the work, as they create the flyers, promote the event and sign-up participants. As a vendor, all you have to do is show up with your marketing materials that will showcase your offerings. And, your information gets “shown” around as attendees carry your take-aways around; it can create a buzz as people see your information and drive them to your booth or table. This is where you then can have the opportunity to speak to them one-on-one.
I recently participated in a vendor event that helped me to make people more aware of my company and services; it also led to several speaking engagements and connections to other referrals who are in need of my services. Some, I have been trying to reach but with no success so this opportunity helped me gain those connections!
Some suggestions if you do decide to participate as vendor:
- Decide if the event fits in with your product and offerings – if not, then it may not be worth the time and investment
- Look at the cost of participating – some are free, while others can require a fee to set up a booth, often ranging from $50 to several thousands; it will depend on the host and size of attendees. If you will have your target market at hand, then the upfront investment can gain you large pay-off in the end
- Be alert to your presentation – how your booth is arranged can often determine who visits and stays at your site. I learned a lesson recently that I need to have a display board – I had flyers as takeaways but it would have looked more inviting and professionally-looking.
- Have a give-away with a place to capture their business cards – people love free “stuff”, so have an offering so they will drop their cards off and know that you will be in contact with them. I always have candy and a novelty item, like a small clapper, as give-aways, as well as my e-book or free report they can sign up for .
- Be open and inviting to attendees – you want to greet those who visit your booth and ask about them and their needs, and then show them how your services will help to solve those needs. Ask for what the next step will be or who they know who also might need your services. This helps for you to gain market research as well as begin to make good connections and friendships.
- Mingle with other vendors – don’t just stay in your booth area as the other vendors may need your services, or vice-versa. I make three contacts this way for referrals and speaking opportunities. I made a point of visiting all the vendors prior to the exhibit opening but I did not see others do the same. I think it shows good camaraderie and professionalism.
- Dress professionally and ensure your brand is consistent; remember, opinions are made in the first 20 seconds and can determine if someone visits you, stays or tells others about you ( they will but it make not be in the positive way you want). Be aware of your body language – a smile is inviting, as well as arms at your sides and a warm handshake. I saw vendors who showed up in jeans, stood with their arms crossed or talked to each other while attendees “looked.” You want them to leave with a positive, lasting impression.
- Follow-Up – once the event is over, be sure to follow-up with those attendees and vendors you met, as well as thanking your host for the opportunity. People remember people who acknowledge them; be sure to remind them of what you had discussed and of your services, as well as asking for an opportunity to meet either by phone or in person. Send them something, like an article your wrote or that speaks to their need and put them on your list to follow-up periodically.
Adding vendor display opportunities to your strategic marketing plan can have big pay-offs if done right. The more you do, the more comfortable you will become and the more exposure your will gain, while your business grows!