Every now and then an event opportunity comes along that is bigger than you are used to – more people, bigger location, more marketing, and inevitably, a higher pitch cost.   So here are some top tips to help you make the most from your bigger than normal investment:

Before you book – things to think about?

The plan here is to make sure that you only pay high ticket pitch prices, for busy well run and well marketed events:

  1. Ask directly about the opportunity for a revenue split/profit share.   This way, the risk of a bad event is shared between you and the organiser, and protects you if the event is a washout.  Don’t be scared – Ask!
  2. Ask for “facepainters rates”.  Some organisers reflect the fact that you are providing entertainment which adds to the value and impact of their event, rather than just simply presenting a shopping opportunity.
  3. Check the position of your pitch before you book, and select your pitch location carefully.
  4. Perimeter Pitches – Never take a pitch on the perimeter – people tend to access the event, go straight through the first row, and then do a kind of up and down or zigzag pattern, however, many skip the ends of the rows and the outside perimeter.  There is a reason that event organisers phone up with great last minute deals on these positions, its because exhibitors never re-book them – they don’t make money, if you are positioned here – move.
  5. Is your pitch near a food and drink outlet?  Even better if it is near somewhere where the parents can sit within eyesight of your stand.  Food and Drink usually means that the parents are happy to wait longer whilst their children make pictures, and has a definite impact on helping families come back for second and third pictures.
  6. Shopping tents are not the best place to be, usually the pitches are too small, and adults will visit these tents without their children in tow.
  7. Do the public have to pay to get into the event?  If so, it’s likely that there will be free entertainment.  Check the free entertainment being offered isn’t too close to your pitch.
  8. Does the event tend to sell a lot of pre-paid tickets or likely to be a “sell out” event (think Airshows etc).  If so, then even if the weather isn’t perfect, if people have paid a high price for their tickets they will go regardless, which means you will have less of a negative impact if its wet or windy.
  9. Talk to previous exhibitors.
  10. Look at the previous years marketing footprint (google event name, prior year).
  11. How did you find out about the event – did you hear of it naturally, or was the first time you’d heard of it when the organisers contacted you.
  12. What media are they using to market this years event:  Radio, local papers, local TV, social media, partner companies etc.
  13. Google event name, and current year and see how many references – if its only 1 or 2, then it looks more local community that big ticket.
  14. Do the maths – If an average customer spends £5, how many customers do you need to cover your pitch cost – if that looks scary, particularly after looking at their event marketing etc, then don’t be afraid to pass this opportunity by, and instead go as a member of the public and scout it out for next year.

Between Booking and Event date

The plan here is to make sure that you have everything that you’ll need:

  1. Make sure you have suitable cover should the weather be bad – provided by either you or them – but make sure you have it.
  2. Helpers – if you are paying a lot for the pitch, you are expecting to be busy, so make sure that you have people there to help you (Teenagers are good!)
  3. Promote your attendance on social media.  Post on their facebook page/event page, include them in tweets, talk about how excited you are to be going there etc.
  4. Ask them to include you in their marketing.
  5. Ask them to include you in their program, telling people where they can find you.
  6. Prepare your stock, If this is your first time at this event, take products from all price groups.
  7. Check your packing, this is not the type of event to turn up at and find out you have forgotten your plastic sleeves.
  8. Promote your attendance on your own social media accounts, you will have social media followers who will be there.
  9. Follow other exhibitors and tweet them etc.
  10. Ask the organisers about average spend – a lot of the larger organisers will have data that indicates how much an average family spends whilst at their event.
  11. Make sure you have all your event info ready; pitch details, car passes, registration numbers, insurance certificates, etc.
  12. If the weatherforecast is dodgy, then do some posts about sand art being “weather proof”
  13. If the weather forecast looks terrible, then keep in touch with the organiser who may be planning cancellation or postponing.
  14. Its always a good idea to add a couple of trays and some filled bottles into the car – these are ideal for children with autism or other special needs that prefer to work in a quieter environment, and for children in wheelchairs etc where access to table could be tricky in busy times.
  15. Make a poster to take with you which tells of your next booked events and venues.
  16. If you have a workshop planned, then take a poster and a booking form so that people can book with you at the event

 

At the event & Making pictures

The objective here is to make sure that as many people as possible at the event know about you, can find you, and can make pictures with you:

  1. Find the organiser and say hello, and confirm the details.
  2. Add the organisers mobile number into your phone.
  3. Go find the sound team, and give them your details and ask them to give you a few announcements on the tannoy.
  4. If there is a cafe (as opposed to catering vans) take some flyers along and leave them there.
  5. If you have family/helpers with you.  Send them out with vouchers telling people where abouts they can find you – particularly around lunchtimes when more people are sat down eating and drinking.
  6. Wear branded clothing and a smile, talk to everyone, make sure your pockets have flyers or cards in them so that you talk to everyone possible – even on a walk to the toilet.
  7. If it is a very busy event, set up your stall so that all the pictures etc are at the back of your pitch to minimise chances of people helping themselves.
  8. Make sure your gazebo is as open as possible, take sides off etc, so that there is as much visibility as possible.
  9. Allow time to walk around the event at the beginning, find out the prices of other activities and entertainment etc so you can get a feel of how much the average spend is going to be.
  10. Set out your table on a “zone” type basis, so that people can select from similar priced products quickly and easily.
  11. Get some children on your table as soon as the event opens – if you don’t have your own children with you, borrow some from other exhibitors, or best of all, find the organisors child and give them a really big complicated free picture – that will keep them on your table for a good 40 minutes or so, and their parents will love you.
  12. If you can’t do that then make sure you’re round the front of the table and ask every child who passes if they want to help you by colouring in a section of your picture.
  13. If you find one particular pricing group is selling well the focus on that and remove from display some of the slower moving products.
  14. If you’re busy put away the complicated pictures.
  15. If you’re quiet, get the complicated pictures out.
  16. Put stickers on the kids when they pay, that way, a quick visual sweep around the table will easily reveal any who have sneakily snuck on whilst you were busy talking to other people.

 

Finishing Pictures and After the Event

The objective here is to start building relationships with your customers to make sure that work with them again:

  1. Even though you are busy, you will still have approx 30 seconds to talk to the parents and children when they finish their picture, so focus on what information you want to be sharing at that stage.  Remember that talking about birthday parties might not bring you in instant cash, but its a much bigger future customer.
  2. Take photos – either of the children, or pictures of their pictures if people are sensitive to you taking photos of the children.  Tell them you’ll be putting the pictures on your facebook page so remember to check.
  3. Ask them if they enjoyed it and if they’d do it again.  Then tell them where they can find you next – your next few events.
  4. Put flyers in every picture.
  5. Have recruitment flyers available incase you are too busy to talk to potential new team members.
  6. Run a prize draw, where you collect name, contact details and DD/MM of the kids birthday’s.
  7. Give them a voucher for a discount when they come back the second time that day.
  8. Put stickers on the kids – so that when they are walking around the event they are advertising your product.
  9. Put stickers on babies in prams and other toddlers etc who might not have done pictures with you.
  10. Don’t use carrier bags – that way the carried pictures are very colourfully visual and make other children curious and want to make one.
  11. Make sure to find the organiser to say goodbye and thank you.  If you can’t physically find them then email or text them.

And don’t forget…..

Write into your diary the sales for the day, and any notes that are important for next year – preferred pitch positions etc.

 

Don’t be scared……

A lot of consultants shy away from the more expensive events, but a good event, well organised, well attended, and well marketed, can give you high sales and a good return for your pitch price.  The secret comes in doing the leg work before and after the event to make sure that you squeeze as much as possible out of the opportunity.