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Winning Strategies for Small Business Owners to Succeed at Pop-Ups, Farmers Markets, and Events

Jun 11, 2024

Summer is OFFICIALLY here friends, which means it’s time for Pop-Ups, Farmer’s Markets, and Event season! I am a HUGE proponent of attending all the events you can and getting out into your community whether you’re just starting out in your business or you’re a 10-year vet with a successful storefront! Whether you’re a baker, hairstylist, balloon artist, DIY enthusiast, or an artist, these venues provide a unique platform to connect with potential clients, test new products, and build brand awareness. So, to help you WIN at your next event here are some strategies and tips to help you make the most of these opportunities.

PREPARATION IS KEY

  1. Research is everything! One of the biggest mistakes I see with business owners starting out and wanting to get into events and pop-ups is they immediately sign up WITHOUT researching the event. You have to understand the demographics of the event attendees, the typical foot traffic, and the kind of vendors that participate. You want to choose events that align with your target audience to maximize your chances of success.
  2. Have a SHOW-STOPPING display! Your booth is a direct reflection of your brand. My biggest advice is to invest in high-quality signage and display materials that are both eye-catching and professional. Use your brand colors, slap your logo on everything, and utilize other visual elements consistently across your display to create a cohesive look. (These could be the product signage, the fonts you use, and any other graphics that you use regularly with your branding). For those of you just starting out, I know it can feel discouraging going to events when you don’t have a TON of money to invest in signage, but I wanna encourage you to get CREATIVE! DIY things if necessary but if you can only go with one thing, make it a HUGE SIGN that clearly states the name of your business.
  3. Know HOW MUCH product you need to bring! Based on your research (which is the FIRST thing you should do), estimate how much inventory you’ll need. It’s better to have a little extra product than to run out early. However, be mindful of perishables and overstocking. Use this as an opportunity to test new products or limited-time offers. One helpful way to figure out how much product you’ll need to bring is by knowing how many people are expected to attend this event (or have attended this event in the past) and figuring out HOW MUCH money you need to make to recoup your investment in this event. Once you know that number you can then start doing the math on your products and figuring out how much of each product you’d need to sell to make that money back and THEN SOME! (Remember, we always wanna include profit! 😉)

ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE

  1. Be Approachable! Your personality is a significant part of your brand. Freaking smile, say hi, and be willing to engage in conversations. (I know this is uncomfortable introverts but you HAVE to put yourself out there! Your products aren’t going to sell themselves!) By being friendly and kind, you can make a lasting impression that will encourage potential customers to stop and look at what you have to offer. Also, people buy from people! They want to get to know you- the business owner but also the face behind the brand. Let your personality shine and lean into the things that make you, YOU!
  2. Bring Samples! EVERYONE LOVES SAMPLES! Samples are a GREAT WAY to attract customers! Look at Costco and Sam's Club! People shop there for the samples! Bring them!
  3. Collect everyone’s information that you speak too! Make sure to have a sign-up sheet for a newsletter, or offer a discount for following your social media accounts. You want to collect their information because the more times they’re exposed to your business the MORE likely they are to purchase from you. Collecting contact information allows you to continue the relationship after the event and keep potential clients informed about future products or services.

LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Post and Promote where you’re gonna be! If you wanna meet your clients and potential customers IRL, you gotta tell them where they can find you. Share details about the event, what you’ll be offering, and any special promotions they can expect and encourage your followers to visit you.
  2. Live Updates! Your followers wanna feel like they are APART of something. Include them in your journey by giving them live updates. During the event, use Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, or other platforms to share live updates. Show behind-the-scenes glimpses, highlight popular products, and share customer testimonials. This creates excitement and can draw more people to your booth.
  3. Follow up with your NEW contacts! After the event, post a thank you message and send an email to the people who visited your booth. Share photos and highlights from the day, and remind followers where they can still purchase your products or book your services. You don’t want to get these new customers' contact information and ghost them. You wanna nurture the relationship and continue to grow that client bond.

CREATE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE

  1. Offer Exclusive Discounts or Products! And make them only available at the event. This encourages immediate purchases, and scarcity, and makes attendees feel they’re getting something unique.
  2. Branded Packaging! Not only does this makes your products look more professional but it makes your products feel more put-together. It’s as if your products have a personality and it’s a great way to get people talking about your brand.
  3. Have FUN with it! Whenever we would attend events, we would always bring an interactive element, like a photo booth. But don’t stress! It didn’t cost as much as you’d think. We had a DIY sign made, and bought paper props from an Etsy store, and used an iPad to take photos of people at our booth. By incorporate interactive elements like photo booths, contests, or DIY stations related to your business, it can make your booth more memorable and engaging.

LEARN AND ADAPT

  1. Get Feedback! You can do this through customer interaction, through surveys, polls, or by asking in that Thank You email I mentioned earlier. This can provide valuable insights for improving your offerings and booth setup for future events.
  2. Look at the NUMBERS! Review your sales data after the event to understand what sold well, what didn’t, and most importantly, whether or not you made money on your investment. This can help you refine your product selection, inventory management for future markets, and whether you attend this specific market in the future.
  3. Network with other vendors! See a vendor that catches your eye, TALK TO THEM! Building relationships with other vendors can lead to collaborations, shared tips, and support (which is something all small business owners need more of). They can also provide insights into other events that might be beneficial for your business.

Participating in pop-ups, farmers markets, and events can significantly boost your creative business, allowing you to connect with a wider audience, test new products, and increase brand visibility. By preparing thoroughly, engaging with your audience, leveraging social media, creating a memorable experience, and continuously learning, you can turn these opportunities into successful ventures. Remember, every interaction is a chance to showcase your passion, creativity, and BUSINESS, so make the most of it and watch your business thrive.


P.S. Want more tips on how to SUCCEED at Pop-Ups, Tradeshows, Events, and More? Check out my YouTube video as I explore the SoFlo Cake & Candy Expo in Miami! I interviewed talented business owners, explored stunning displays, and uncovered valuable insights for bakers and entrepreneurs. If you're thinking of participating in some pop-ups or events anytime soon, you NEED to watch this

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