A new study by EventBrite reveals that 80% of millennials went to 3+ food,or drink festivals in the last year. Incredibly, 99% of millennials said they would recommend a product they liked at a festival to family and friends. This means that festivals are positively ripe with opportunities to expand your business.
Large brands like regional radio stations, or Ace Hardware buy tents at street fairs for exposure. But a small business isn’t aiming for exposure; small businesses can use street fair booths to generate and connect with concrete leads to increase sales. And what better way to generate good leads than to talk to lots of people face-to-face about the business you’ve created? Participating in a street fair is a cost-effective way to build your small business while also supporting the community that supports you! A small business will particularly benefit from the face-to-face exposure of a street fair booth.
Here are the four steps to generating great leads at your next local street fair.
Generate Highly Qualified Leads (New Customers)
At your street fair booth, you will want to collect people’s full names and email addresses, and hopefully their phone numbers, depending on how you interact with your customers and your leads. This is a great way to grow your newsletter list, or to reach potential customers to announce big sales or new inventory- they’ve already expressed interest in your business!
In exchange for that contact information, give people a free trial of your product or service. This is the single best way to generate real leads that you can turn into paying customers. Make flyers just for the street fair, and if you’re really advanced, a landing page too!
Be careful about automatically handing out free giveaways in exchange for this contact information. While you might get more leads if you’re giving away branded keychain LED lights or reusable shopping bags, more leads doesn’t necessarily mean better leads. When you follow up, you might find that people were only interested in the free stuff and have no genuine interest in your business whatsoever. Of course, they’re still walking around sporting your logo now, so you can weigh whether or not printing this promo gear is worthwhile.
Grab Attention, Make a Brand Statement
There’s a reason street fair booths use tactics like fun music, prize wheels, or dancers: it works! Find an idea that works for the feel of your business while also attracting people to your booth. This is a great way to instantly introduce your business’ personality and brand. Are you fun, funny, spunky, or maybe even wacky? Themes that connect with your community also do quite well, whether it’s sporting teams or historic landmark pride! Be careful not to scare people away from your booth or anger your neighbors with music that’s too loud or other gimmicks that don’t fit the tone of the street fair.
Also consider wearing a T-shirt, hat, apron, or even just a bold nametag with your brand identity to make it clear who people should talk to when they enter your booth.
Print a large banner, use tablecloths that match your logo, and print signs. Make sure a quick glance reveals your business’s name, what it does, and how to find it on the internet (a URL is the tried-and-true method, but for some companies, a hashtag or @ handle might be more appropriate).
Network and Socialize
Make sure to have a team of at least two people working your street fair booth. That way, one of you can man the booth while the other walks around during slow times, or helps capture basic lead info during busy times (while you’re engrossed in conversation). During slower period, circle the entire area, possibly more than once, collecting leads and generating interest in your booth and in your business. This would be the perfect time to hand out those flyers you made!
For some people, the idea of walking around to generate leads can be intimidating. But at a street fair, people expect to be approached, so they’re already ready for you! It’s as simple as walking up to someone, smiling, and saying:
“Hi, I’m Sarah. I run the Good Times Dance Studio down on Main Street, and we’re giving away a free dance class. The coupon never expires! Are you interested?”
If they say no, that’s fine! Don’t waste your time trying to change their minds. After all, you don’t want the contact information of someone who isn’t interested in your business. How would that help you? Simply thank them and move on. Try to talk to everyone, so you can find the people who do want that free dance class. Those are the people you’ll be able to convert into paying customers.
One of the benefits of “pounding the pavement” to find your own leads is that no one knows your business better than you do, so who better to talk about it? But the other major benefit is that you will have more information about the leads you generate since you were the one originating the conversation.
As you take down someone’s information, write down additional information to help you remember them. For example, if someone was particularly excited about your business, make a mark next to his name to remember this. This will make your follow-up efforts more fruitful.
(Feel free to cross off leads that seemed like they would turn into nightmare customers. Why waste your time?)
Remember to follow up with your street fair booth leads in a timely manner (ideally within a few days), and be persistent! People leave the street fair and go back to their busy lives, but remember that these people have already showed an interest in what you do. They’re the best kind of leads you can get! If your business has the budget, a “lifecycle” email program would help send out several reminder emails over a period of time to any leads you collect.