By Mary Oquendo
If I could only do one form of marketing, it would be live events. I love them! The social butterfly in me is indulged. I meet people and chitchat all day long. Though there is more to attending a live event than just showing up; proper planning can make your day lively and without incident, as opposed to boring or problematic.
What kind of events sell booth or table space?
The list here can be endless: craft fairs, pet adoption days, shelter events, town events, and so forth. My favorite event is a local Fairy Day. Everyone, including the pets, wear fairy wings while walking around the town green. It really doesn’t matter what event you go to because a survey by the American Pet Products Association found that nearly 65% of families own a pet. That means at least six out of ten people that walk past your table own a pet.
Your local newspaper should have a listing of all upcoming events. If you belong to a chamber of commerce, you will most likely receive an email invitation to buy booth space at upcoming events.
How much should you spend on a booth?
Consider your ROI or Return On Investment. I have seen prices range from free to a couple thousand. That’s dollars. Will you generate the clients to cover the cost of the booth? Generally, I will spend between $0 and $50. However, for an animal shelter’s fundraising event, I have dropped $150. Some events will trade booth space in exchange for providing a free service such as nail trimmings or a short informational talk.
What do you need to consider when choosing a venue?
Are they providing table and chairs? If not, you will need to provide them. If you plan on attending several events, the investment in a table and chair will be around $100 new.
Will you need electricity or Wi–Fi? I have a video on my Facebook page that I like to play that shows what my mobile grooming van looks like. Sometimes a venue includes these services for free or for a nominal fee if the service is available to the venue.
If indoor or sheltered booth space is not available, you will need a tent. Trust me—you will need it. Do one event under the sun and I guarantee as soon as you get home, you will order a pop–up tent for the next event. Cheaper is not better when it comes to these tents. Expect to pay about $130 for a new one. The inexpensive ones are hard to put up and take down and the first good breeze will send them sailing.
For mobile groomers, some events may allow you to bring your van to act as your booth.
What should you bring to events?
- Bottled water for you, as well as a water bowl for dogs passing by, as it can be easy to dehydrate sitting outside in the sun.
- A bagged lunch for you and a bowl of candy for people stopping by your table. As a general rule, people will stop and open the candy giving you an opportunity to pitch your services. Sometimes there are food vendors at events, but usually there is a long line.
- Promotional material such as business cards, brochures, or coupons. Consider a treat bag with a business card attached. Sometimes loose business cards have a way of getting lost at the bottom of their bags and forgotten. Potential clients will have a way to contact you. Magnetic cards are even better as they usually end up on a refrigerator.
- Raffle off an inexpensive gift bag. Make sure it is pet specific. You want to make sure only pet owners are putting their names and emails into the jar. Once you have their emails, you have a way to contact potential clients through a newsletter. Don’t have a newsletter? I will discuss that in an upcoming article.
- Many events coordinators will hand out gift bags to all participants. Make sure they have something of yours to add to the bag. It can be a coupon or an inexpensive item that has your business information on it such as a personalized lead.
- Many events collect larger items such as a gift certificate that are raffled off with proceeds going to a local shelter or rescue.
- Bring a friend so you can hit the potty or visit the other booths.
Your booth should be attractively laid out and inviting. Call attention to yourself. Vistaprint has a large inexpensive selection of banners and event posters.
How do you market an event?
- Create flyers to hand out to your clients to hang up in the break room where they work. I like to give my clients a job to do.
- Send out a newsletter detailing the event.
- Post the event on your Facebook business page.
- Live broadcast at the event using Periscope or the live video feature of your Facebook business page. Either can be saved and used for future marketing.
I do well at live events because I enjoy doing them. It’s a chance to showcase my enthusiasm and knowledge, as well as present potential clients with the opportunity to see my passion shine through.✂