Events are all the rage from business brunches to midnight mashups. As business owners, we are hosting these events as leaders, attending the events as participants, and participating in the events as vendors. Vendors add excitement, information, and unique items to events. Yet, we often get into positions as vendors without quite knowing all of the details of vending.
Let’s start at the beginning. Vending is the process of bringing your products, marketing materials, and samples to an established event hosted by another party in order to sell your items, promote your services, or network with other business owners or potential customers. When you are vending, you may be asked to pay a fee, bring along presentation tools, and/or provide products to the hosting agent. This is the basis of most vending experiences. You may have experienced different elements, both good and bad. However, you can avoid the pitfalls of being a vendor with these five steps.
Research the type event where you plan to become a vendor. Ask others if they have attended the event, ask other business owners if they have been a vendor in the past, and do your homework by looking up the event (especially if it’s a recurring event).
Get clear information from the host. Ask how many attendees for proposed number of attendees, ask if email addresses from attendees can be shared with you for marketing purposes, and inquire about the marketing strategy of the hosting agent.
Choose events based on your ideal clients; not popularity. Even if the event is being hosted by a popular personality and being talked about by many, if those individuals aren’t your ideal client, skip that event.
Be mindful about how you present your items. This may be the first and only time people see your business and items. Attempt to create an experience for the attendees of the event. Choose your best selling pieces to display, use neat racks, have your items tagged and priced, steam your pieces if you sell clothing, and keep branding materials on hand. This will help your business stand out in the midst of several other businesses in the building.
Focus on more than one goal. Yes, it’s important to earn money during your vending experiences; however, have more than one goal. You can have multiple goals such as earning profit, meeting 2-3 major business connections, and collecting emails of future customers.
In the end, vending experiences can be positive. We simply have to ensure we’re dotting our I’s and crossing our T’s before we agree to become vendors. All events won’t yield 5,000 attendees and you may not earn $5,000, but you can definitely capitalize on your vending opportunities and leave feeling successful about it.