I love going to events, especially food festivals. Most recently, I attended a food festival with over 50 vendors giving samples of their food and products. As a consumer, I was excited to eat all that food, but as a businesswoman, I was mortified! I was mortified about the opportunity these vendors were missing.
When you decide to become a vendor for a conference, trade show, or festival you pay a fee. That can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the caliber of the event. For participating, many of these events will promise exposure and indeed you are exposed.
Additional costs may include employees, setup, marketing, security, and/or travel. You may need to hire or schedule additional employees because if you have a brick-and-mortar location, you will need someone to manage that location while participating in the event. Sometimes vendors must bring their own setup, and even if they do not, the area may require some form of brand materials. This is the perfect segue way into why I was mortified.
Most of these vendors had business cards, brochures, and marketing materials at their tables. I will give them props for that. However, when was the last time you went anywhere, picked up a brochure or business card, and saved it into a file or digitized it for your use? I am waiting for your answer. - You didn't! Vendors were leaving money on the floor. Even though visitors stopped by their stations, none of the vendors collected emails or social media to establish a long-lasting relationship with potential new customers.
I will admit that I hate giving out my email address. However, if I am getting something of value, I am happy to do it. So, if you are a vendor at an event, start collecting names and email addresses. Let us say you are a baker with a bakery; think about giving cake samples or conducting demos for each email address you get. Maybe create a free raffle to get names and email addresses, where the winner could get a free cake for any event. It could be sharing the email address that gives them a free cookie or a high discount coupon on their birthday in the future. People will be motivated to give their information then. If email addresses are not your goal, it could be having people follow you on social media to build your following. Make sure you use any vendor opportunity to generate customer information that could eventually grow your business. So, if you ever decide to become a vendor. Make sure you collect leads.