One of the best ways for a fledgling business to get out into the world and start selling is at local events. Most communities have a posted calendar where you can find out about trade shows, festivals and farmers markets as well as parades, church events and other happenings in your local area. The benefits of showing up at these events are many. Let’s face it, you have to start somewhere. Through attendance at these types of events you’ll learn a great deal about who your ideal customer is and the best way to market your product to them. Research and Development Before you mass market your product, you need to test it out with the public. The reactions and feedback you receive allows you to improve upon your product, tweak your recipe or approach as well as develop the way you package and present it. This type of immediate response can be invaluable to you in perfecting your product. Your Space at the Event There is generally a fee to reserve a space at festivals and trade shows, but this is just part of the cost of doing business. Make sure that you decorate sparingly and make your product the focus of the space. You don’t want your customers to be overwhelmed by too many distractions. You want to clearly show what you’re selling and have the information about the product available in the form of a business card, brochure or other takeaway. Free Samples Giving away free samples is a great way to draw attention to your booth and your product. This pertains mostly to food items, but could be samples of other products as well. Samples should be packaged in such a way that there is information about ordering the product, a website, or a business card included. Feedback Give your customers an easy way to provide feedback on your product. This can be on your website or at the event. You can provide a card for customers to give you instant feedback, and you might also want to provide a mailing list for them to subscribe to. One way to attract customers to your website is to offer a discount on their first order through the website. Print a coupon code on the back of a business card that they could enter during the checkout process of your website to receive their discount. The Personal Connection Showing your face at regular community events builds goodwill and brand recognition. If you have a tasty cookie for example, people who may have obtained a free sample at the last event you attended will come looking for you at the next one. You may also be asked to provide your product for other upcoming events as a sponsor or caterer. There’s also the potential at public gatherings to meet representatives of other companies that might want to do business with you or collaborate with you on other projects. Meeting and greeting your public will build your customer base and open the door to future opportunities for you to sell your product. Create a Buzz People spread the word when they discover new products they love. Regular attendance at public venues can create a buzz around your new company that you just can’t get any other way. You’ll know when you’re doing things the right way when you begin to recognize return customers at regular events. It’s well worth your while to devote some weekends, especially during festival season to getting out and getting noticed.
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