How To Maximize Your Time And Money at Vendor Events

How To Maximize Your Time And Money At Vendor Events |
NOTE: This content may be out of date. There are plenty of solid takeaways that stand the test of time, but some strategies and ideas may not be relevant any longer. This blog is no longer actively maintained nor supported. The author has moved onto different things present [ here ]. Thank you.

Can I assume that you're the kind of person who values your time and money?

After plenty of potentially wasteful events, I found other strategies to not only bring the event more visitors, but I found ways to utilize it to it's fullest extent, no matter how many hours you spend standing at your booth. 

In this first post of our 2-part Vendor Series, I'll guide you through 7 event-boosting methods to nurture every opportunity, and amplify profits and time spent at your vendor events.

We'll cover how you can:

  1. Keep it simple

  2. Network with vendors

  3. Reconnect with customers

  4. Connect with attendees

  5. Increase brand recognition

  6. Get contact information

  7. Set up consultations

Let's get started.

Tip 1. Keep It Simple

Who are the people who have to show up really early to set up at a vendor event and also the last people to get out of the event? The people who set up huge displays. 

And what are these people missing out on? Networking.

Unless you can justify hiring a crew to set up and tear down for you, keeping your display simple is best. I'm not suggesting a barren table, but do you really need to create a whole landscape of product, displays or whatever you feel you need to reflect your brand?

Most likely no.

People will remember your face and demeanor more than they remember your display. A simple, tasteful exhibit will do more good for you in the end.

I'll express this deeper in the next post, but the point of this leads into:

Tip 2. Network With Vendors

Be sure to nod and smile to the vendors with the huge displays as you're walking through with your rolling case in one hand and a small basket in the other.

While they're spending that extra time setting up, you create your Monet of a masterpiece exhibit in less than ten minutes.

The rest of the time before the show starts can be spent chatting with fellow vendors.

Personally, I go around and take photographs of vendors' booths I like. It's a great way to get display ideas for future shows and to appreciate their work.

You can put together a small goodie bag stapled to your business card—or put your card in the bag and nicely tie it off—with a special, vendor-only coupon (for a service or product) and a piece of hard candy or mint for each vendor.

(You can find out roughly how many vendors—account for one or two people helping each of them—with your initial questions to the event organizer.)

Collect business cards from every vendor. Make it a rule not to give out your card unless you collect one (or contact information) in return.

Imagine handing people a twenty dollar bill stapled to each of your business cards. Would you give that to just anyone? Or would you make sure you have a way to get in touch with them first?

Value your business card like you do money.

If you feel the need to offer something more, you can provide a vendor-only drawing for a discount off a product or service, as well.

(That way you're connecting with people who could actually benefit from and use your service or product.)

Personally, I found the "vendor drawing" to be an uninspired way of networking with vendors. A way of dodging making a connection with people. 

I'm simply giving you options here.

Straight up, if they aren't willing to give you a business card without any "what's in it for me" right off the bat, you shouldn't concern yourself with them. You're all there for the same reason. Why not connect?

Tip 3. Reconnect With Customers

Take the opportunity to reconnect with existing clients or friends who would enjoy the theme or event you're vending in. 

For example, if you'll be displaying at an outdoor event featuring a country band, can you think of any friends, family or existing clients who would enjoy that? 

Suggest they bring a friend or two you haven't met. Or even some you have. 

The more the merrier.

The event organizers and other vendors will appreciate the additional people and your guests will appreciate the thought and/or the event if they attend.

Don't take it personally if they don't show. You did your due diligence in reaching out.

Tip 4. Connect With Attendees

Stand out in front of or beside your booth and smile. 

As an event attendee, I barely acknowledge the existence of the people sitting behind the table. Probably because they're on their phones or just don't care enough to engage the people who could potentially be their next customers.

They could be wonderful people, however my general opinion is that's how they'll treat you as a customer.

Don't waste your money or time sitting (or standing) behind the table.

Engage or don't bother with vendor events.

Ask everyone who looks at your booth, "Have you entered to win yet?" 

At events, don't ask open-ended questions like, "Would you like to enter?" That allows too many No's in a negative context.

A question like, "Have you entered to win yet?" allows close-ended questions that captivate visitors.

Be prepared with a concise, verbal summary of what you're offering.

Have something to do at your table. If you're in the makeup business, you can offer a "Kissing Booth" where they can try on sample lipsticks or glosses (from wand or stick to paper and applied with a finger to the lips). Take a [kissy-face] photo of them for fun.

If you're a jewelry vendor, be sure to have interactive displays with a mirror or two so people can try on your sellable products.

Don't offer a takeaway prize for entering. For example, "Enter to Win a Free [Singular Product]" or anything that only allows one actual winner and everyone else is a runner up for a consultation or a discount on a service.

Even if you can afford to give away a full product or service to every single entry, it's never a good idea. Your buck generally stops there.

In a perfect world, your generosity would generate a lifetime profit. In reality, you'll end up giving away obscene amounts of product/services for nothing.

It's better to offer a "free consultation", or a coupon for your product or service with a consultation. Anything to get back in front of your potential client without undercutting yourself. 

Tip 5. Increase Brand Recognition

Refer back to tip one and keep your display simple.

Again, they'll remember your face more than they'll remember your display. (Although a careless display makes you look unprofessional.)

Display your brand in an attractive way. This includes your attire, table, and even how it correlates with the theme of the show.

If you're in camouflage shorts at a bridal event, you seriously missed the mark. Unless the theme is an Outdoor Woodsman Wedding, then you nailed it.

Use the event to create positive Public Relations (PR). Whether you're representing yourself as a contractor for your direct sales company, or your own small business/sole proprietorship, you are the face of your business. Be on tone with your brand.

Tip 6. Get Contact Information

A one-off sale is final. A contact can be forever.

I've seen it mostly with craft vendors. Many may think that they have nothing further to offer their show-based customers except what they have on display at the one event

Not true.

This is where direct sales taught me to value the contact. 

Refer back to tip four for more ideas on collecting contact information, as well as the next post.

Tip 7. Set Up Consultations

Have your planner open and ready. Don't use a phone or tablet for booking.

Have you ever tried talking to someone while they're looking at their phone?

Even if they're looking something up for you, it feels like they're not listening.

Don't start off your potential business relationship this way.

Offer a gift certificate or another incentive for booking on-the-spot (if you feel like you need to offer something). And if you're in direct sales, have at least 20 team-building packets and 20 host packets ready.

I recommend storing them under the table to easily grab when you need them. Otherwise people take them from the table and that generally turns out to be wasteful with no return contact information.

The faster they're on your books, the more likely they are to hold. The longer time between seeing you and being contacted by you, the less likely they are to book and hold.

How are you going to maximize your time and money at the next event?

How To Maximize Your Time and Money at (Vendor) Events |

Network with vendors, reconnect with existing clients and their (new to you) friends, connect with event attendees, share your brand, get contact information, book those consultations, and keep it all simple. 

And don't forget to follow-up. Remember, the longer time goes on between seeing you and hearing from you, the less likely a sale, customer, and consultation are to hold. 

Don't forget to connect with vendors. Get to know them a little. Share information on future shows with each other. Start a Facebook Group and invite all the vendors to join.

Follow-through. Stay in contact with the event organizer. Get on their mailing list and get them on yours! Follow-through with the attempts to contact your potential clients, and reap the benefits of your efforts with each of your well-executed, full-circle vendor events.


P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle. So, blog comments got the boot. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.

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