If you are a direct sales or home party plan business owner, a great way to get new contacts and leads for your business is by doing vendor events. There are several kinds of vendor events you can set up a display booth at right in your local area. A few examples include: community street festivals, county fairs, school and church bazaars, charitable events and direct sales networking group events.
Why participate in a vendor event for your direct sales business?
I personally prefer to spend money on a booth at an event as my main form of advertising. This type of event gives you the chance to talk to people, give out your card and let people in your target area and target market know that you are their local connection for your business. You are also able to get contact info from interested prospects that you can follow up with later. If you advertise in a paper or online, you have to wait and hope that people will see your ad and then contact you. A vendor event if done correctly and attended well can have a very high return on investment for your business.
Where do you find vendor events?
The best way to find out about these events is to ask your friends, family and customers if they know of events. You can also check out your local newspapers community calender of events and the events on sites like Craigslist, Eventlister.com and Craftlister.com You may also want to call your local Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Authority. For schools and churches, sometimes you just have to call and ask if they have events coming up.
What things should you consider before agreeing to participate?
When you are calling to check on the events there are a few things you need to keep in mind before signing up. First you want to make sure that there are no other consultants from your company already signed up and that they do not allow more than 1 consultant per company. Pretty much all direct sales companies do not allow more than 1 rep per company at an event. Also find out how many years the event has been established and how many people attend on average. Other things to consider are whether it is indoors or outdoors, whether you need to provide your own tables and a tent if outdoors and if and how they advertise the event to the public.
Cost is a big factor to consider before deciding to pay for a space at a vendor event. For an event that tens of thousands of people come through, it may be worth it to pay $250-$500 for a booth if you can split the cost and hours with several other team members to make it affordable. If an event is not that big, newer or has not had a high attendance in the past, I would not recommend spending more than $50 for the booth. It is always good to split the booth with a team member if you can. Not only does that reduce your cost, but it gives you someone there to help or watch the booth if you need to leave.
How to prepare for a vendor event:
Once you have found an event or two to participate in, it’s time to get yourself, your products and your display ready. If you need to provide your own tent or table, you may want to see if you can borrow these for your first few events until you make some extra money to buy your own.
You will want to purchase some tablecloths, preferably at least one with your company’s logo. I recommend using dark tablecloths, products and signage really stands out and pops more against a dark tablecloth. You can also get a large banner or sign printed with your company’s logo (and your name & contact info). You can put the banner on your table, on your tent or on the wall behind your booth. This helps draw attention to your booth.
As for products, I recommend bringing your business kit that new recruits get for signing up as part of your display. Then bring host specials and customer specials for the rest of your demo. You are going to want to be focusing on recruiting and dating parties so having those items and signage that goes along with it will help. Be sure to have catalogs, sales fliers, business cards and party and recruiting packets too!
Create or print some signs that say things like “We’re Hiring” and “Ask Me About Our Host Bonuses”. Signs like that help start a conversation. If your company allows you to sell your products cash and carry then be sure to bring a good selection of products to sell and set up a clean display. I like to use small metal shelves on my table to organize my display and my cash and carry products. It helps my booth stand out from the others and allows me to showcase many more products than just stacking a few on the table.
Be sure to dress for success or match the type of event you are attending. Wear a shirt with your logo and casual dress pants or a logo or polo shirt and very nice jeans. Depending on the event and the location of the event, I typically wear nice jeans with a logo shirt. Most of the events and the areas my business is in are outdoors or more casual so I would look out of place and not as approachable if I were wearing business attire. If your event is in a higher class area or business/location you may want to dress up more. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it is ironed and looks nice so you represent your company (and yourself) well.
How to get leads and new contacts for your business:
The most important reason to do vendor events is to get those new contacts and leads for your business – contacts that you can follow up with. The easiest way to do this is to a drawing for a prize! It can be products you have in stock or a gift certificate. The amount is up to you and should be based on the size of the event. For a smaller event, I may do just a $15 gift certificate. For a very large event, I may do a gift basket with $100 worth of products in it.
I put out a few clipboards with a drawing slip and a sign about the drawing. I tell everyone “there is no obligation, they don’t have to be present to win and I won’t call and harass them unless they just want me to.” That usually makes them smile or laugh and lightens the mood. The drawing slip asks for their name, address, phone #, email and then has a few check boxes asking their interest in learning more about earning free products by hosting a party, earning an income by beginning their own business and learning more about our fundraiser program. I do ask them to fill it out completely. While they are filling it out I will have a quick conversation with them. If they check off yes on any of the boxes I will go ahead and follow up right then and see if I can share more information or find out more about what specifically they are interested in.
Not everyone will want to fill out a drawing slip. Not everyone who fills it out is really interested in your product or company, some just want a chance to win a prize. The rule of 100 no’s to get 10 yeses applies to vendor events too.
Remember to smile and be friendly to everyone! Say hello, ask them how they are, compliment them, invite them into the booth. Use open ended questions to start a conversation. How long has it been since you’ve seen our products? How long has it been since you’ve been to one of our parties? What problems are you having that we can help you solve with our products? Be genuinely interested in helping people. You do not need to be pushy or sales person like to be successful in direct sales.
The #1 Rule to make your vendor events successful
You may give out 200 business cards and get 100 drawing slips filled out. You may even get a booking or two on the spot. All of that is great and an essential part of building your business, but you need do to one more thing to make sure your vendor event is successful. You must follow up. Let me repeat, you must follow up! “The fortune is in the follow up” they say and I promise you that is the truth! You need to call your leads within 24-48 hours to follow up, especially potential hosts and recruits. People lose 10% of the excitement each day so if you wait a week to follow up they are already going to be 70% less excited than when you spoke to them. Be sure to add people to your email list if they included their email and marked that they wanted to be added to your newsletter list. I always email everyone who didn’t check off any particular boxes and thank them for stopping by my booth and offer a coupon or shipping discount on their first purchase made within 30 days too.
Vendor events can be a great way to build your direct sales business. When I started my business I did not know that many people and did not have a lot of local family and friends. They are the main way that I have grown my customer base over the past seven years. I love doing the events, I love meeting and talking to new people and making new connections. I especially love letting people know that my direct sales company (Tupperware) is still out there and that I am their local connection and happy to help them!
What about you? Do you have any other tips for successful vendor events? I would love it if you would leave a comment below and share this post with your friends!
PS Be sure to check out my Success Planner System for Direct Sales / Party Plan Consultants! It includes My Vendor Event Planning Sheets!