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3 Vendor Tips for an Engaging Event Contributing author: Augusta Reinich, CEM, Assistant Show Producer, Family Productions Inc.

Family Production Inc produces the Edmonton Pet Expo, Mom Pop & Tots Fair, Edmonton Woman's Show & Edmonton Ski & Snowboard Show. Photo by Alicia Jones on Unsplash

1. Not all events are created equally.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as different events are suited for different goals. Much like investing, there are different options depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example – if you are going to do a market, you’re probably looking to sell as much product as you can, as quickly as you can. If you’re trying to sell a service or trying to carve out your piece of the pie in your industry, this is probably not the place you are going to do it. Like a short term investment, you’re looking for the pay off right now – you have 100 carrots to sell and you need to sell them now to whoever will buy them. This is great for things like produce, food, seasonal items, etc.

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Now if you’re goals are a little more long term – you’re looking to brand your business, carve out your piece of the pie, become a lasting name, and build long-term, loyal customers base who are going to seek you out outside of the event, you’re going to be look at events on a larger scale. These are not markets, or community hall events… these are Edmonton EXPO Centre and Shaw Conference Centre level events. They are typically run on a much more complex scale, and put a lot into things like advertising to attract a more targeted demographic.

You know that your goals are bigger and more complex than the immediate, and like a long term investment, you know they are going to cost more, take more time to build, and take a more thought out effort. The return on investment is going to be bigger in the long run, but it’s going to take 3-5 years versus a few hours. These events can also work for you if you’re after sheer volume in sales, but you’re going to have to come at your participation very differently in order to meet that goal! So make sure you’ve thought about what your goals are before going in so that your decisions are leading you to your goals.

By knowing what the target is, you’ll be able to better choose and event, and also plan out your strategy for your participation in a way that will accomplish what you are setting out to do. Don’t compare apples to oranges, but better yet, don’t choose an apple when what you really wanted was an orange.

2.Make it engaging!

For the love of garlic bread, please make it engaging! Don’t waste an opportunity to engage potentially clients by throwing up a haphazard booth, throwing a table across the front, and sit there browsing your phone to pass the time. Make it exciting, and not only will you be more engaged, people will want to engage with your business more! Take that table and move it anywhere in your booth other than across the front (unless you are meaning to use it as a barrier, then by all means), invite people in!

Edmonton Woman's Show, Edmonton Expo Centre.

This not only allows you to connect deeper with them, it also allows them the comfort of being out of the aisle where they are being bumped and jostled, and generally feel like they are in other people’s way and must keep moving with the flow. Allow them that space to relax in your booth!

Take the time to think about who will be showing up to this event – think through who it is out of that crowd you want to attract and what will call out to them. Then design your booth around that! If your product or service is all about bling and ritz, for example, then bring blingy, shiny, sparkly components that are visually going to cue people to that and attract them to your booth. Where you can, make it interactive! What better way to showcase adoptable pets than having people interacting with those adorable adoptables right on site?

3. Be professional.

This isn’t about just about ensuring you have professionally created and printed signage and materials (although that is a must – no one has ever branded themselves, or impressed anyone, with handmade signs taped to a curtain), it’s about ensuring the people in your booth are professionals. People have a tendency to send whoever they can get to do events – and this is a major misstep. The person or people in your booth should not only be competent professionals, they should be knowledgeable and passionate about your business. They should be able to have real conversations with people – the right people. They should know your business so well that they know who your people are, and who they are not. Often the booth-person’s tactic is to talk to as many people as they can, and they are discerning. This can derail the success of your event participation. Knowing who they should be talking to – who it is you want to attract as a customer – and who they should politely skip over, is key. It’s about finding the people who fit into your tribe. After all, a great conversation with someone who is allergic to peanuts is not going to gain your peanut butter business a peanut butter fan, even if it was a pleasant conversation.

Contributing author: Augusta Reinich, CEM, Assistant Show Producer, Family Productions Inc.

Superior Show Service is an event contractor specializing in trade shows, festival & events. Serving communities through Superior events.

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