Marketing & Growth

Summertime Event Marketing for Your Small Business

By Rieva Lesonsky

It’s summer, and for many of your customers, outdoor events such as street fairs, festivals,10K races, and movies under the stars are beckoning. Since a big part of event marketing is being where your customers are, having a presence at summer events can help attract attention, build your brand, generate leads, and boost your sales this summer.

  1. Research

    Start by looking into local summer events to see which ones would be the best fit for your business. Contact local chambers of commerce, look at online event listings on community websites or in local publications, and talk to event managers at stadiums or fairgrounds to find out what’s coming up. The roster of events you might want to participate in can range from “a taste of” food fairs and classic car shows to concerts in the park or swap meets.

  2. Contact

    Once you’ve got a list of possibilities, contact the event organizers to get more information. Ask what the expected attendance is, what types of people generally attend the event (basic demographics, where they’re from), and what other businesses are involved. It’s a good idea to focus on events with a history of success—if you’re new to summer event marketing, you don’t want to work with organizers who are equally green.

  3. Event Marketing Opportunities

    The next step is finding out what kinds of opportunities there are for your business to be involved. For example, can you rent a booth at the event to sell products? Can you hand out free samples (such as giving out energy drinks to participants at a fun run)? Can you work the crowd and hand out flyers and/or collect contact information from prospective leads? If you don’t have time or staff to physically be present at the event, ask about sponsorship opportunities—donating money to the event and, in exchange, being listed as a sponsor on all promotional materials.

  4. Estimated Costs

    Get costs for each option you’re considering, such as hosting a booth or sponsorship opportunities. Also ask for details about exactly what you’ll receive in exchange for your event marketing budget. It’s important to know, for example, whether your booth will be in a prominent location at the event, or tucked away where it will be hard to find. If you’re sponsoring the event, where will your business name be listed and how prominently—on banners and signage, or just in the small print on a program? It’s important to get the most for your money from your summer events.

  5. Plan and Budget

    Once you’ve decided on which summer events to participate in, it’s time to start planning. Set a budget for each event that includes the cost of the event sponsorship or booth, any product you’ll be giving away, staff time, and other costs. Determine how much staffing you’ll need at the event—and make sure you bring your most energetic and outgoing staffers to attract attention. Figure out the nuts and bolts, such as what type of signage, point of sale system, and extras you need to bring to your booth, and what the organizer will provide, if anything. Gathering leads is a huge part of participating in any event, so make sure you have a foolproof system for collecting contact information. Finally, set specific goals for what you expect to accomplish from these events, whether it’s a certain number of leads or a specific revenue total.

  6. Assess

    Once the event is over, assess the results. Did the event meet your goals? If not, what can you do differently next summer for better results? Also be sure to follow up on any leads you gathered within a short time after the event while it’s still fresh in the prospects’ minds.

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