With the post christmas slump that is January nearly over I decided it was time to start booking events for the year ahead! If you run a small business events are a great way to get yourself out there, meet like-minded people and learn more about your customers than just an email address and postcode.
Over the past several months I have taken Alternate Normality to several events and fairs and while it can be daunting at first once you get into the swing of it, it's a great way to spread the word about your business. Even after attending several I am still learning which events work best for me and the business.
But if like me you are a bit clueless about where to start here are a few tips I've picked up along the way!
Choose established events!
In the beginning there is nothing more disheartening than spending your day in an empty village hall with no potential customers in sight! (trust me I've been there) If a fair is a regular ongoing event the organisers are much more likely to have a vested interest in it. This means that they are more likely to spend more time on promotion and ensuring traders have a great experience because they want them to come back again and again.
Take extra stock!
I personally always take more stock than I think I will need. This is especially important if like me you have a wide range of different items, having extra set aside means that if on the day a certain product range isn't performing you can easily swap it out for something different. Also if the day goes well and the world recognises your creative genius (and why wouldn't they?) you will need extra stock to refill your displays. Having a half empty table by lunch time is not a good look!
Find your target market!
If possible attend these events in advance as a customer. This will enable you to get a better feel for the people who are likely to be walking through the door on the day. Speak to the other traders and ask their opinion, if they regularly attend the event they are likely to be a treasure trove of information. They may also have some insider knowledge of other events that will be of interest to you and your business!
Money, money, money
What is your target for the day? When figuring this out you also need to bear in mind how much it cost your for materials as well as the cost of your stall. In the beginning when your business is still a baby money is often tight so you will probably be better off booking more affordable events to start off with. There are plenty of options available from as little as £15 per table! These events provide a low risk way to help you find your feet, practice your customer interaction and fine tune your display & product lines.
As a side note make sure all your items have visible pricing! In the beginning as the socially awkward shy girl, I would often get flustered when someone asked me how much an item was that I would end up selling it for less than its worth just to try to be nice! Visible prices save awkwardness on both sides!!!
Accept the uncontrollable
Sometimes for whatever reason events will not do as well as expected! Any number of factors from the weather to transport strikes can affect footfall on the day. Try not to get disheartened if you don't meet your targets for the day. In the past I have attended events that did not meet my expectations but do not feel like you have failed! Quite often the person that you chatted with but didn't buy anything or the customer that only spent a few pounds will turn into a regular customer. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture! Make sure your business cards are readily available & they clearly show how to find your online shop and social media.
Making connections with your fellow stallholders can be invaluable! They will often recommend you to others, share info about other events and generally be the perfect person to have a natter with. They are also great if you are attending an event alone, going several hours without a hot drink or toilet break is no fun! Help each other out!
So go forth, get out from behind your desk and smile!!!
If you have any tips you think i missed let me know on Twitter!