How to Promote Your Business at Community Events and Festivals

Festivals, business expos, health fairs, and other community events are all good opportunities to promote your business locally. These tips will help you make the most of your booth or table.

Small businesses often invest thousands in promoting their services online or by mail. However, many owners fail to advertise in their own backyards. If you’re not taking advantage of nearby festivals and community events to promote your business, you’re likely missing out on a valuable opportunity to grow. In fact, a recent study revealed that 44 percent of marketers see a 3:1 return on their event marketing investments.

Festivals and community gatherings enable businesses to connect with members of their own cities and towns. Not only can you interact with current and prospective customers, letting them know what it is you have to offer, but you can also give out brochures and even small gifts and freebies to encourage them to shop with you in the future. Additionally, owners can form potentially valuable relationships with other local businesses.

Here are some tips for promoting your business successfully at local festivals and events:

Do Your Homework

Before attending your first festival, it’s important to do your research. Communities offer a broad array of events from parades to picnics, cook offs to art showings, music festivals to holiday celebrations. Before booking your table or stand, take time to consider your target audience and what types of events they are most likely to attend. If you’re selling to families with small children, you will likely focus on different events than a company that targets senior citizens.

Not sure where your audience members tend to congregate? Speak to other business owners in your general field and ask what events have proven successful—and which ones are duds. You don’t want to spend a lot of time and money prepping for an event that is only sparsely attended. Additionally, you should consider the fees and registration costs, as they might affect the overall value to your business.

RELATED: Claiming Your Local Small Business Listings Online

Understand Your Space

Once you’ve pinpointed the perfect event, you should contact the organizers to determine how much space you’ll have on the big day. While some events afford businesses a whole stand, others allow them only a tiny table to promote their wares. Acquiring exact measurements helps you determine the type and amount of goods to bring. After all, you want your stand to appear clean and organized, rather than sparse or crammed with products and swag. It’s also wise to find out if you’ll be under a tent or other cover or out in the elements. You don’t want to cart along expensive goods if they’re likely to be damaged by rain. 

Bring the Right Freebies

It’s great to give your business card out to festival attendees. However, freebies tend to make a more significant effect than tiny pieces of paper. Before attending an event, take time to consider the best swag for the big day. Complimentary gifts can include items featuring your company name—like pens, mugs, and reusable grocery bags—and even coupons good for free products in your store. Additionally, companies sometimes use community events as opportunities to give away new products that they’re looking to introduce to a wider market. Offer deals on new items or pack up several products into an attractive gift set to save consumers time on their shopping.

To maximize the effectiveness of your event marketing, choose promotional products suited to both your business and your customer base. For example, a local gym would be better off providing free water bottles than chocolates. On the other hand, you probably want to avoid items like iPhone cases—most people already have these and are unlikely to use one branded with your company name.

Provide Value to Consumers

Customers appreciate receiving useful information in addition to gifts. When researching events, ask the organizers if there will be opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to speak to attendees. You might be able to hold a demonstration showcasing one of your new products or present a seminar on a topic of interest. For example, a local funeral home could host a mini-class on the value of advanced planning. Be creative and offer value to everyone who stops by your stand.

Gather Emails

When you attend local festivals, the marketing opportunities don’t stop when you pack up for the day. On the contrary, savvy business owners invite prospective customers to sign up for contests and giveaways. Collect customer email addresses in a database and use it to expand your business in the coming months. (Be sure you get permission to email them when you collect their email address.) For best results, avoid bombarding clients with too many emails and ads. Only contact prospects when you have something of true value to say. 

Many businesses have already seen the power of event marketing. In fact 83 percent of B2B marketers say they are very invested in events. Do your research to identify the best festivals or local events for your promotional needs and goals.

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