The question on every small business owner’s mind is how to get on everyone’s lips. Regardless of the size of your marketing budget, it takes a lot of time, effort and creativity to get new customers. Fortunately, you can take advantage of big events to gain momentum.
Your community is the best source of local marketing ideas for small businesses. If your biggest obstacle is directing traffic to your business, events like trade shows, festivals and conferences have a lot to offer. Get a list of the events your clients attend, and embrace the opportunity to promote your brand face to face with your consumers.
Know your audience
Find out what local events are of interest to your customers. Travel and government websites are great places to find event calendars. If you sell food or crafts, almost any fair or festival is a great opportunity. But if your niche is very specific, think about how your customers use their time. What excites them? What items do they need before, during and after the event?
Sponsoring a local bike race or stunt show would be perfect for a bike vendor. A T-shirt vendor would make a lot of money at a music festival or comic book convention. And a children’s furniture designer would be a hit at a conference given by a mommy blog writer.
Research profitable events
Don’t waste time and money on an event no one wants to go to. If the organizers expect 300 people and only 50 arrive, you may not make contact with enough customers to justify the cost. So it’s best to only get involved with events you’re sure about, there’s a strong attendance record. Contact the organizers to find out:
- How often do you organize the event?
- The average attendance rate in recent years.
- Typical attendee demographics.
It’s also a good idea to ask the percentage of attendees who come from other cities. You may prefer to be part of a different event if you can only cater to local customers.
Decide how much to get involved
Are you planning to buy booth space, or just take advantage of the event’s traffic? If you choose the first option, talk to veteran participants about the best way to stand out at the event location. They often have great advice on how best to use the signs to direct people to your location, or the best location for your booth.
Make a list of everything you will need on the day of the event, and order supplies well in advance. Remember that most local businesses will buy their own supplies to prepare for the big event. So you don’t want to get into trouble looking for some important item at the last minute.
Even when you’re not involved in the festivities, you can get extra traffic from tourists and locals who are in the mood to spend. If you won’t be at the event site, plan creative ways to direct traffic to your business. For example, offer a discount or a raffle ticket to anyone who shows their event ticket.
Become an event sponsor
Sponsoring an event is a way to get many people to know and see the name of your company. The best part is that a sponsorship doesn’t have to take a big chunk out of your budget. You usually have two options: fixed sponsorship scales or donations.
Evaluate the costs and benefits of becoming a sponsor. Ask an organizer for the details of each package and exactly how your business information will appear for attendees to see.
At the top of the sponsorship scale, you may get full-page ads in the event program, signs at the venue, a prominent booth and radio mentions. When appropriate, get a written contract to ensure you get the level of exposure you want.
Would you prefer to make a donation? Give a gift of a product or service that has the potential to bring you repeat purchases. The data you have collected from customers can be very helpful in these cases. Take a look at your past sales to find popular products that usually open the door to future purchases.
Another option is to donate the space or location for the event. Organizers are always looking for ways to reduce costs, especially when it comes to events that take place in several locations simultaneously. If you own the space, you have even more opportunities to place your ads in highly visible areas.
Organize your own draw
Whether you are part of the event or not, the raffles are a way to make yourself known, using little money. Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have any exciting products. “I don’t have products that are easy to pack and deliver.”
It doesn’t matter. All products have value for the right customer, so focus on selling your services as an experience. Think beyond the physical products. Imagine you own a printing company or a small accounting firm. Raffle off a consulting session or an introductory package.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a little longer to find the right method or the ideal product to raffle. The goal of local marketing is to put a human face and give your business a personality. Let’s say you are about to open a personal training business.
A fun way to reach your customers is to set up a booth with water and snacks at a marathon, sporting event or music show. Give out healthy snacks to customers who are willing to have their picture taken doing their favorite muscle poses.
Collect consumer information
Following up with customers is the key to obtaining repeat purchases and referrals. Customers are often bombarded with all sorts of marketing at big events, so they tend to easily forget the salespeople. Find an efficient and respectful way to collect their contact information.
Many people don’t want to hear you talk about your company for 20 minutes, but they don’t mind leaving you their business card. If you give them a gift from your company, ask them to leave their business card in a vase in return. Print your own business cards and make sure they include all your online contact information, so customers can track all your accounts.
If you sell to the public, try to collect phone numbers and email addresses. If your customers are primarily businesses, team up with other vendors to exchange new contacts. Choose business owners who are not your direct competitors. That way, you can do less work and still reach potential customers, even if you don’t know them through the event.
Promote the event on social networks
Take local marketing to the next level using social media. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are excellent places to create interest. Visit the Twitter events page to find popular hashtags.
Hashtags are short phrases or words that identify trending topics. By using event hashtags, you can get the attention of any of your followers. Imagine the impact when it’s an event with thousands of followers.
Consider creating promotions that follow and culminate in the event, which can work anywhere you choose. Offer a discount or small gift for sharing your tweets, photos, videos or any other type of content. At the same time, give people a reason to stop by your booth during the event. After all, the goal of attracting attention is to increase your sales.
Experience and learn
Local marketing requires a lot of practice. But don’t worry, it gets easier as you interact with your community. Make sure you have friendly and fun staff working during the event, good energy usually makes all the difference.
Most importantly, focus on what makes your products special. When you have something unique to offer, it’s easy to create incredible marketing ideas for your small business.