Sunday, August 20, 2017

Free Food & Outragous Fun Grow Business Connections

Cooking shows are all the rage, whether for kids, master competitors or amateurs there is a common thread- what's "you" on a plate? Creating an authentic connection between ingredients that define you and the diner who enjoys the meal is a critical step among culinary masters. Yesterday I suggested that a team approach to marketing will yield stronger results; advancing your brand. However, marketing is often an fearful word for many business owners because deep down they are convinced the tools suggested to market the business are not worth the expense.

Several times this month we been referred to new clients who have decided to participate in an event- a festival, an expo, a fair or a charity event. The owner has signed up for the event because they believe the mass attendance in that venue will translate into new business. Looking sharp is important but clients are afraid of going over budget and wasting money. In a few weeks the Apex, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs Chambers have a joint Southwest Community Fest. How should a business plan for a successful event?
How should a business approach a community event to market their business? We start this type of planning by reminding clients this type of event requires a different position for your marketing.

1. Who is attending this event? Families and individuals 

  •  Are families an ideal contact to grow your business?
  •  If not, you have an additional challenge to connect with the attendees.
2. Why are they attending today?

  • Free entertainment for kids
  • "Something to do "
  • Food
  • Amusements

3. Why are you there?

Of course you want more business and brand exposure. Step back, think, what can you do to adapt your message that day to appeal to families and consumers rather than a traditional business to business connection usually associated with a chamber expo?

4. What is the call to action before, during and after the event? The demographic attending might have a different focus on the weekend, but attendees still have a "day job". Traditional trade-show techniques can still be applied for results, such as:

  •   Defining a list of ideal contacts you can invite prior to the event offering an incentive to attend.
  •   Inviting referral partners, encouraging them to share the event with contacts they can introduce you to during the event.
  •   Provide a reason for attendees to interact with you after the event- such as offering a discount coupon, free sample or gift for coming by after that event.
5. Keep in mind your general audience and don't be afraid of fun!

For a weekend event make sure you have some fun reasons for folks to visit your booth.

Like what? Games with prizes, fun photo opportunities- the quirkier the better.
    • For example, if you are a plumber using a toilet bowl basketball game, no doubt folks will laugh. 
    • A roofer with a beat the clock game to see how many balls you can put down the hole in the roof is a lot more fun than a static display about roofing options. 
    • A fitness business might targeting middle aged out of shape folks by offering rolling doughnut races to get the conversation started.
    •  If you aren't into fun, hire some fun- demonstrations, performers, artists, food samples there are numerous ways to engage the attendees in your space.

6- What do you give away and do you give away branded items? 

            Yes, I posed the question, do you give anything away?

Yes, we sell promotional items, but as a business owner it is difficult to see "treat or treat" attendees merely grabbing free items to put in their bag. For that reason in a business expo, we hide, yes hide, our give away items to vet interested prospects. While we might hide give away items at a business expo, we also are fortunate that we sell promotional items. There are so many fun things we can display at our table that the display alone is a draw to the booth.

For a community event, you are going to need to give something away. Be strategic with your choices. Do you want to bring folks over for food and prizes or does giving away a promotional item make more sense for your business?

Simple things make a difference:
  • Your products should hit on your brand message
  • Select useful items for the their daily routines to generate recall and retention for your company.
  • Make it easy for attendees to hear the message and connect with "you on a plate"
  • Select items you can use for other events if you are on a limited budget 
  • Limited budget? Our graphic artist can add a QR code to take the attendee to a website, video or blog to learn more about your business. 

7. What type of visual communication- display products do you buy or use? 

  • What other types of events are you doing this year- indoor, outdoor? 
    • Knowing how you will use materials later will help us to establish both a short and long term plan. 
      • For example, if you are doing a couple events a year locally you can save money and still look sharp by not over purchasing products intended for high use trade show circuits.
      • Selecting items that can be used more than one way for both indoor and outdoor events exist as options.
  • Will events always be in a trade show setting or do you need the flexibility to set up in an office or restaurant? 
    • Often we suggest a table runner rather than a table cover for some of our clients because runners adapt better to varied table sizes and shapes. 
Planning with a professional who can take an objective look at your plans and make strategic suggestions designed to generate the response you seek, but keep you on budget is an important step. Ready to put yourself "on a plate" and have some fun?

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