Let’s face it, running a stall at any type of event can feel pretty awkward. You’re there to sell – you know it, the event attendees know it. Whether it’s a wedding fair, a conference, an exhibition or a farmers’ market – you can’t help but feel exposed and under pressure to make sales. But, if you’ve researched the right events to be at, you should be selling to those looking for, or interested in, your type of offering.
As a business owner, you know your company inside out – its offering, its value, its unique selling points. What you might not be as well-versed in (and perhaps where the awkward feeling can stem from) is the in-person sales side of things. The charisma that connects with passers-by and encourages them to approach your stall. Hiring smooth-talking salespeople is an unaffordable luxury for many entrepreneurs in the early days. Instead, many simply have to go outside their comfort zone and put themselves out there with their sales hat on.
If this scenario sounds familiar, here are some techniques you can use to make your stall stand out from the crowd. And even better, how you can successfully sell to visitors once you have their attention.
(And on a quick side-note, some of the below tactics can be applied beyond a physical stall! Online events, training workshops, webinars… instances where you’re looking to encourage visitors to pay you/your company a visit and check out your offering!)
1. Interactive demonstrations
These can be a powerful way to engage event attendees and showcase your product or service. Let’s say you’re selling snazzy kitchen gadgets. You could set up a cooking station at your stall and demonstrate how these gadgets can simplify meal preparation. For instance, if you have a vegetable spiralizer, show how it quickly turns vegetables into noodles for a healthier alternative to pasta. You can even offer attendees the chance to try it themselves. This hands-on experience not only grabs their attention but also provides valuable insight into your product’s functionality. The proof is literally in the pudding (well, the noodles).
2. Engaging contests
Hosting contests or challenges related to your products can create excitement and draw a crowd. Imagine you’re selling fitness equipment. You could organise a plank challenge where attendees compete to hold a plank position for as long as possible. The winner could receive a prize such as a free workout session with a personal trainer or a discount on your fitness equipment. Such contests not only attract visitors but also showcase the effectiveness of your products in a fun and engaging way.
3. Free samples or tastings
Offering free samples or tastings is a classic method to entice event attendees. Consider a bakery booth at a food festival. Display an array of freshly baked pastries or cakes and offer bite-sized samples. As people savour the delicious flavours, they’re more likely to visit your stall to make a purchase or place an order for a larger quantity. Free samples can also serve as a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool as attendees share their positive experiences with others at the event. (It goes without saying, but be mindful of people’s allergies and intolerances when offering tastings!)
4. Exclusive discounts
Exclusive discounts are a proven way to attract visitors and drive sales at events. Suppose you operate a clothing brand. You could offer a special event discount, such as 20% off all purchases made at the event. Create a sense of urgency by emphasising that this discount is available only for event attendees. Display signs and banners announcing the exclusive offer to draw people in, as well as promoting on your social media channels alongside the event’s hashtag. Providing a discount not only encourages immediate sales but also helps in building customer loyalty.
5. Live entertainment
If feasible and appropriate to the event and your offering, consider incorporating live entertainment into your stall. For instance, you could hire a local band or musician to perform at your booth. Live music creates a lively and inviting atmosphere that can attract passers-by. It sets your stall apart and makes it a destination within the event. Attendees may stop by not just to see your products but also to enjoy the entertainment, increasing the chances of making a lasting impression. Before booking any entertainment, check this is allowed with the event’s organisers.
6. Themed decor
Tailoring your stall’s decor to the event’s theme or the season can make your booth visually appealing and relevant. Suppose you’re participating in a Christmas market. You could decorate your stall with festive colours, lights and ornaments. You could even dress up in Christmas-themed attire(!). The goal is to create an inviting and immersive experience that resonates with the event’s overall theme and ambiance.
7. Influencer partnerships
Collaborating with local influencers or experts in your industry can significantly boost your stall’s visibility. Identify influencers whose audience aligns with your target market. Invite them to make appearances at your booth and engage with event attendees. They can create buzz by sharing live updates on their social media platforms, showcasing your products and encouraging their followers to visit your stall. Influencer partnerships leverage the credibility and reach of these individuals to drive traffic to your booth.
(It’s advisable to disclose influencer partnerships at events to maintain transparency and comply with advertising regulations. The specific requirements for disclosure may vary by country and region, so it’s important to be aware of the applicable laws and guidelines beforehand. This includes flagging the partnership in any social posts.)
8. Engaging signage
Eye-catching signage with compelling messages can pique the curiosity of event attendees. Consider a stall selling handmade jewellery. Instead of a generic sign, use one that tells a story, such as “Each Piece Tells a Story.” This not only sparks interest but also conveys the uniqueness and personal touch of your products. Additionally, use clear signage to highlight any special event promotions or discounts you’re offering.
9. Photo booth
Setting up a photo booth with props related to your products or the event theme can be a fun and interactive way to attract visitors. Let’s say you sell outdoor adventure gear at a camping and outdoor event. Create a photo booth with camping gear, tents and wilderness props. Encourage attendees to take pictures and share them on social media using the designated event hashtag. This not only draws people to your stall but also generates user-generated content and online visibility.
10. Educational workshops
Hosting educational workshops or mini seminars can position you as an expert in your field and draw a crowd interested in learning. Suppose you sell organic skincare products. Offer short workshops on skincare routines and natural ingredients. Provide product demonstrations and educate attendees on the benefits of using your products. (Again, be mindful of any allergies!)
Service-based businesses can also benefit from running educational workshops – sharing their knowledge and insight into key industry topics or exploring current pain points. Ensure the topics covered have a relevant link to your business. Offering valuable knowledge not only attracts visitors but also establishes trust and authority in your industry.
11. Leverage the event hashtag (before, during and after!)
Research the official event hashtag, then incorporate it into all related social media posts. Create engaging content showcasing your products or services and use high-quality visuals. Announce your participation beforehand, sharing teasers and exclusive offers. During the event, provide real-time updates, engage with attendees and run contests with the hashtag. Collaborate with influencers and encourage attendees to share their experiences using the hashtag. After the event, express gratitude and recap your success. Monitoring and analysing the hashtag’s performance allows you to refine your strategy for future events, extending your reach and online presence.
12. Everyone loves a hamper
Offering the chance to win a valuable or appealing prize, like a curated gift hamper, creates a strong incentive for attendees to approach your stall and participate. However, the effectiveness depends on various factors, including the perceived value of the prize, how well it aligns with the audience’s interests and the clarity of the entry process. To maximise effectiveness, ensure the prize is attractive, communicate the benefits of participation clearly and make it easy for attendees to enter. This approach can be a successful strategy for collecting email addresses and engaging event attendees.