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Marketing Through Event Participation

The key here is in the word “participation”. If you do an online or offline event correctly, you can do a great deal to help to establish a reputation that leads to sales and contacts later.

I think the most effective thing I ever did in the small town I am in is to participate in a local craft and business fair. I set up the crocheted doilies and banana bread on one end of the table, and the computers and business cards on the other end. My kids sold banana bread and crochets, and I talked to people about my computer and website design business.

Ever after, people in town associated me with computers. Even if they had not actually talked to me, they remembered me with that computer at that event. When they needed a computer service, they thought of me. In fact, that association was so powerful that even five years later, someone will still call me out of the blue here, and ask me if I still fix computers (I do only for local people now), because they remembered me there.

Events are a great way to get your face and a quick business message in front of a large number of people at one time. You can reach potentially thousands from a single effort. That is pretty amazing. And every single person who approaches your table does so because of interest.

Online events are not quite so powerful, but they still have a lot of ability to put your face, your name, and a message in front of people in a way that associates them together in their minds.

You can gain one of two things from an event:

1. Sales. Sometimes we go to an event to sell things. We set up a booth and a cash register and cash in on impulse buys. This works well for a range of businesses.

2. Exposure. For service or large item retailers, you rarely make a sale at an event. You make contacts instead. You build relationships and create a presence. It is just as powerful as making sales on the spot, even though you may not see those results for a long time. The full effects of an event for a service business may occur over years.

Go prepared. If you have products, you need to have enough, but not so much that you get stuck with a bunch of unsold stuff. If you have a service business, go with plenty of brochures, business cards, and other handouts.

One of the keys to successful event participation is to give them something to remember you by. If all you can afford is a business card, then hand those out. If you can afford to hand out other kinds of bits, then do so. Events are a good place to hand out pens, keychains, magnets, etc. Save the more pricey stuff though for places where there are likely to be people who are really interested in your service.

Shake hands, be friendly and not pushy. Be a real person. Find a way to connect with the people who come to your booth. Enjoy the interaction, and people are more likely to respond to you.

Leave them with a good memory if you can, and with something tangible. If you manage that, you’ll reap the benefits for years beyond what you think they’ll ever remember.

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