8 Tips to Help Your Business Shine at Festivals

8 Tips to Help Your Business Shine at Festivals

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The temperatures are heating up, and that means festival season is in full swing. Today, everyone from music followers and craft brew lovers to comic book collectors and classic car hobbiyists can find a festival to suit their interests. And when it comes to businesses, the festival businesses extend well past promoters, venues, and performers. 

Festivals give small businesses access to sizable audiences in a way that traditional marketing methods simply can’t, and if you really want to make the most out of your booth, tent, or table, then you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.

1. Know Your Audience

Perhaps the single most important part of festival marketing is to know who exactly will be attending the festival. Failure to do so can limit your exposure and stunt brand awareness, and in some cases, if you completely ignore your audience, your efforts can backfire completely.

In addition to typical demographic information, it’s important to identify the needs, wants, and principles that guide those in attendance. Be sure to consider any information or literature provided by the festival producer and check out the festivals website and partners to get a feel for who will be in attendance and what, if any, causes (i.e, green living, health initiatives, etc.) may be associated with the festival. 

Establishing a general attendee profile(s) can help you identify the best way to reach guests and prevent you from making unsightly mistakes.

2. Show Value

By establishing an audience, you’ll be better able to prove value, a notion that will lead to higher interest and conversions. As you likely know, not every audience uses or views your product in the same way, and so your general value proposition may have to shift or become more specific to meet the needs and wants of the festival audience.

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3. Gather Info

The number one reason you’re at a festival is to promote your business and get customers, and so it’s likely that your primary goal is to gather information. Perhaps that information is simply customer data in the form of likes and followers, or perhaps you’re looking for more specific information like email addresses and phone numbers. 

Either way, before you finalize your festival strategy, determine what type information you need and the most efficient way to capture it given festival settings (e.g., limited space, short engagement periods, etc.).

4. Harness Social Media

In today’s connected society, any company that wants to stay relevant after the festival is over will need to utilize social media and develop ways to add and engage users both during and after the event. After you determine “who” you are marketing to, find out what social media platforms they are most likely to use and develop a strategy that implements one or more of those channels.

Contests, hashtag campaigns, photo requests, and check-ins can all bolster your efforts, giving your brand a long-term boost in front of relevant users.

5. Offer Swag Attendees Can Use

Swag is a great way to keep you brand in view, and the right swag is that which festival attendees will find useful in either their everyday lives or their time at the festival (ideally, both). After establishing a swag budget, consider what type of items the audience can use. For example, umbrellas and ponchos may be great for multiday events while mobile chargers may be just the thing to keep guests plugged into your brand well after the festivities end.

Conversely, avoid the overused (pens, keychains, etc.) as well as the non-practical (things that are too hard to carry).

6. Samples, Trials & Discounts

Samples, trials, and exclusive discounts are always attractive, particularly when the product or service being sold is framed in a way that proves value. Are you selling food or beverages? Consider giving away samples to entice festival traffic as well as year-round customers.

If your product or service isn’t conducive to on-site samples (website memberships, for example), trials or discount voucher, cards, or codes can easily be tucked away and used at a later date, giving your brand some longevity.

7. Make it Easy

Sometimes you may be able to capture an audience or chat one-on-one with your attendees, but that’s not always the case. Make it easy for those who want to learn about your company to do so. Literature, graphics, websites, handles, etc. should be in plain view and allow for guests to learn about your product or service quickly and efficiently.

8. Staff Properly

Sometimes staffing can take second seat, but for a festival appearance to be lucrative, you need to have the proper amount and type of employees at the event. If you’re expecting a large crowd and significant engagement, one or two staff members may not cut it.

Additionally, it’s important to select a staff member(s) that can easily and enthusiastically engage with audiences. Employee strengths vary, and staffing a festival is all about finding a balance between personality and company knowledge. For example, while you may have an excellent marketing strategist on staff, if you have a friendly and energetic customer service rep that can give a solid voice to your brand, then it’s worth considering sending them in place of or in addition to other employees.

Festivals are an awesome way for businesses to reach out to a targeted audience and show how their product or service can meet the needs of those in attendance. If you want to make the most out of your festival spot, then be prepared by identifying and catering to your audience and implement tactics that will keep your brand in their minds well after the grounds empty out.

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About the Author — Jennifer is a alum of the University of Denver. While in the graduate program there, she enjoyed spending time identifying ways in which non-profits and small businesses could develop into strong and profitable organizations that while promoting strong community growth. She also enjoys finding unique ways for freelancers and start-up businesses to reach and expand their goals.

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