Finding the right market for your business can sometimes feel like you’re throwing wet spaghetti at the wall, except it’s your money instead. Knowing your business and what to look for when selecting market events are crucial to being successful on event days. This article will give you important tips and information for you to make better business decisions, and hopefully help you increase your sales revenue at events.
A Little About Us
Our background includes combined experience of over 40 years Texas real estate sales, 20 years Texas retail sales and 10 years special event coordination, as well as marketing and advertising, small business and midway experience. Our training has come from some of the biggest names in the real estate industry, law enforcement agencies, professional associations, universities, and large retail corporations. Our mission for this article is to help you better achieve your sales goals. So, let’s get started!
Step #1 – Refine Your Sales Objectives
Begin by making a list about your company. Answer the following questions. Be specific and expect to do some research for your answers.
- What do I sell?
- Who do I want to sell to?
- Who would benefit from my products?
- Who actually buys my products?
- What geographic area would be most likely to buy my products?
- Do I/Would I accept custom orders? For Whom?
- Do I/Would I sell online? How do/would I ship?
- Would accepting custom orders, online purchases and shipping benefit my in-person business?
- How would I incorporate custom orders, online purchases and shipping into my in-person business?
- Would offering my products in-person benefit my business? If so, how?
Step #2 – Find Your Maximum Rental Costs
Once you have your detailed answers from Step #1, create a separate list to complete Step #2 about taking your business to in-person sales. Be specific and realistic.
- How much money do I have for rental space each month?
- How much money can I spend for rental space each month?
- What is the price range for my products?
- How much do I have to sell to cover what I want to spend for rental space each month?
- How much do I have to sell to cover what I want to spend for rental space and my overhead costs each month?
Step #3 – Start Your Research
After completing steps 1 and 2, you will have a starting point to begin your search for market events. Now, you’ll start your search for market events. You’ll minimally want to do the following:
- Search market events on Google and other search engines for the area you believe would benefit your business.
- Search Facebook and Eventbrite
- Visit Organizer Websites for their event applications and review their vendor information, terms and costs.
- If you cannot find information, email organizers for their vendor information.
- Search online (each of the following should be searched for separately): This will give you an idea about the online advertising done as well.
- Organizer Name
- Event Name
- Events in [state the area]
- Events near [state the area]
- [state the theme of the event (if any)] Events near [state the area]
- Write down the ones you are interested in participating.
Finding the Right Market Event
There are many things a small business needs to consider when looking for market events to be a vendor at. Once you have a solid idea about what your business objectives are, the maximum space rental costs you want to pay and have a good general idea about what events are out there that you think could benefit your business, you’re ready to learn more about what makes an event right for your business.
What is the Primary Focus of the event?
Look for the PRIMARY FOCUS for each event. Does the event primarily focus on shopping, food, alcohol, kids, comics, etc.? Look at their advertising. You know who you need to advertise to for you make your sales. So, who does the event advertise to for them to get attendees?
If you’re a clothing boutique, you want a shopping focused event in most cases. The organizer will be advertising to local shoppers which drives sales to your business. Make sense? There are exceptions, but this is a good general rule to follow, especially if you’re not a part of a specialized event circuit yet.
What is the Organizer’s Objective?
When looking at the organizer’s website and advertising, can you clearly see their objective? In other words, have they developed a clear “thing” they want to be known for? Look for the answers to the following questions:
- Are they wanting to be known for the area’s festivals?
- Are they promoting the small business industry?
- Are they wanting to drive traffic to another business?
- Do they own another business and are they wanting to drive traffic to it?
- Do they hold events at businesses or are they held at independent locations?
- Do they not have a clear objective for their market event business? (Is it not defined or are they all over the place?
Pay Attention to Event Location:
Events at Other Businesses
Many times organizers hold events at other businesses and sometimes, other businesses are the event’s organizer. As a vendor, pay close attention to why this is being done. In some cases, it’s a low-cost way for organizers to get started. In many ways, the business venue has their own objective separate from the vendors’, and usually separate from the organizer, that is commonly overlooked.
When a business is hosting an event at their location, they almost always need to benefit from it and we have some words of caution you should consider. A few things could be happening when a business does this:
1.) The business needs more foot traffic.
Every business has their peak times and slow times, and wants to increase business during their slow times. This is natural and not a concern, unless it’s a weekend and it’s a retail business. Retail peak times are the evenings after work and on weekends. So, if a retail business is hosting a market event on the weekend which is supposed to be their main peak time, they more than likely need more foot traffic driven to their business. So, how do they do that? Host a market event of course! BUT, that’s not all.
They also want the additional advertising done by an organizer (if they aren’t hosting the event themselves) and by the vendors who pay to be there. Essentially, they’re getting additional revenue and free advertising. BIG benefit to them, right?
They aren’t usually wanting to give business away to the vendors and are certainly not paying an organizer for vendors to be there. They’re wanting more business for their business. Vendors then become the vessel in which to help them achieve their goals.
2.) The business needs more income
Retailers have taken a huge hit in the pocketbook over recent years. Large franchise companies are bankrupting, downsizing and doing what they can to hold on even if it means increasing the frequency of their sales events. This isn’t necessarily an indicator of the economy, though they are signs of failing health within the retail industry. Meanwhile, storefront rents are high and will continue to increase as businesses aren’t renewing leases. Those businesses still in their storefront spaces need all the help they can get to pay their rent, especially if foot traffic is consistently too low during peak times.
Receiving all or a portion of a vendor’s booth space rental can generate significant additional revenue (income) for the business which can be put towards rent, overhead, more inventory, maintenance and advertising.
3.) These can be good things for everyone
Hosting market events can be a clever way for retail business owners to maintain their business and increase presence within their community, all while helping smaller business owners (vendors) temporarily operate at prominent retail locations without having to pay the expensive costs associated with renting a storefront location.
Just keep in mind that as a vendor, you are expected to help contribute to advertising and the goals of the hosting business. You shouldn’t sign up for one of these events thinking they will drive traffic to you because in reality, it’s the other way around. When done right, all benefit and that’s the ultimate goal-just make sure your business can also benefit.
4.) Ask the business/organizer these questions
- What is the average foot traffic for the business location for this day/weekend of the month this time last year and currently?
- What is the average sales volume for the business at this location for this day/weekend of the month this time last year and currently?
- What are the projected numbers for foot traffic and sales volume of the business at this location for this day/weekend of the month without hosting the event and what are they for hosting the event?
- What advertising will the business (and organizer, if any) be doing to also help drive traffic to the event? How does it differ from their normal advertising?
Events at Independent Locations
Some examples of events held at independent locations are those held at parks, community centers, fairgrounds, etc. Independent locations are simply places to rent to hold special events.
1.) Find the Primary Focus
These types of locations more often than not have multiple private event organizers renting them throughout the year. The organizer is on their own with minimal help and advertising from the venue owners/managers. Many times, these events are held for the community for a variety of reasons. Be sure you know what the primary focus is for the event before paying the higher costs.
2.) Check the costs and advertising
Costs associated with these types of locations are traditionally higher than the other type of event locations, so booth space rentals will also be higher. However, the organizer has a vested interest in making sure there is adequate advertising to generate foot traffic to their vendors. If they continue to fail to do so, their event business eventually fails.
Both the organizer and vendors benefit from a heavily advertised event, and the more the event as a whole advertises, the higher the chance for more foot traffic and potentially more sales revenue for the vendors.
3.) More work, more payoff
These types of locations require more work and more money from all, but the payoff for everyone can be great. Use these types of markets to showcase your business at that event and location more so than you would if the event has another business advertising.
When done well, these types of events can create their own very targeted following and repeat business for regularly attending vendors. As a vendor, you’ll be more likely to build a repeat customer base and generate more online sales conversions in between your event dates. Eventually, you’ll have market event customers following you to each new event you attend. Think about it… They came for the event. They found you. They follow you.
4.) Questions to ask the organizer
These are questions beyond what you’ll find to ask in almost any craft/trade show tips blog article. These questions should help you know if the other answers are either hype to get you booked, or sufficiently tracked to help your decision to book.
- What is the target customer (not attendee) for the event?
- Approximate number of actual buying customers witnessed at the last similar event held?
- What is the overall estimated sales volume for the last similar event based on vendor feedback?
- What is the actual current response rates for this event? How are they tracked?
- What is the estimated attendance-to-response percentage of the last similar event held? What is the anticipated percentage for this event?
There aren’t any guarantees in business and the market event industry isn’t any different. There are a lot of long days of hard work, many challenges faced and a lot more hoping that things go well. Sometimes business busts and sometimes it’s the best day yet! Understanding your business and some of the behind-the-scenes basics of the event industry helps you make more informed decisions for your business. Remember: Events are in the business of temporary business. Nothing is ever permanent, especially in this industry. So, be sure to do your research and look for those events that meet your business goals. The best event for you is the best event for your business.