Local events matter for small businesses in colossal ways. The more often you attend and participate in these events, the better known you become to the people who live and work within your community. If you’re the only vendor or business in your industry that is represented in these smaller, local events, the people you meet as a result will be far more likely to associate your business when they have problems you can address than competitors that did not have the opportunity to make an impression on them.
But that’s just one small piece of the pie. These are a few other, important reasons your business should participate in local events.
1. Fewer Competitors on Hand
Many local events planning for smaller audiences and seeking to appeal to all visitors will limit the number of vendors in specific industries so there can be a greater variety. This gives you a more dedicated audience than you would experience at a trade show where you may have multiple competitors vying for attention from the audience. The fewer competitors you’re dealing with, the greater the results of your attendance are likely to be for your business.
2. Captive Audience
Not only do local events deliver a more captive audience with fewer vendors, but it also delivers a local audience. For most businesses, it’s an audience rich with your target market group. That means you’re making more productive “touches” with each new person you meet. Since your audience is less likely to encounter others in your industry at a single local event, the impact of meetings with members of your target audience happens to be greater.
3. Affordable Exposure to Your Target Audience
It isn’t inexpensive to set up booths at major trade shows and other events. Add travel costs, food, and lodging on top of that, and the costs can really add up. That isn’t always the case when opening booths at local events. Participating in local events allows you to pack up and go home each night for a home-cooked meal while not having to spend on hotels and transportation.
4. Interesting Opportunity to Know Your Audience Better
From church events to county fairs, harvest festivals to haunted houses, service club events, business builder events, and even events that take place at local entertainment areas (lakes, beaches, amusement and entertainment areas, etc.), think of all the local events that happen in a year.
Each one of these events draws different and specific members of the community. There may be some crossover between the two, but the better you understand each local event, the more appropriate you can make your presence for that specific event. You want to take the time to understand your audience and what motivates them so you can anticipate and meet their needs with your promotions and giveaways.
5. Boosted Internet Presence
One of the unexpected side effects of attending local events is that you get to build a bigger, stronger, and better Internet presence for your building in the process. One of the first ways to do this is by building backlinks to your website. Gain these by linking them from the event website to your website. Most links encourage participants and vendors to do exactly that and it works for the good of both groups. The other way is by promoting your attendance via social media. Whether in the days leading up to the event when you Tweet or post about going or during the event itself, when you invite others to do the stop by your booth and say, “Hello.”
6. The Building of Better Brand Recognition Locally
Branding on the local level is even more important than many people who operate small businesses in small towns realize. At least on the local level. While people may not remember the name of your business, they will often recognize the logo in association with what your business does.
At local events, you can drive that message home by printing reusable cotton or canvas bags with your logo and giving them out. It will help to solidify your brand, locally, and build greater recognition and association between your brand, or logo, and your industry within the community. The more events you attend in a year, the greater the opportunities that will come from your attendance.
Making More From Your Participation
Before you attend, however, there are some things you should do so that you can make the most of your appearance. First, you should conduct research and ask some important questions. Some of the questions you’ll want to have answered include:
- How much does it cost to purchase a booth and what comes with that price?
- How many people attend the event in a typical year?
- What kind of social media presence does the event have?
- How long has the event been going on?
- Are most attendees local or from out of town?
- What kind of people attend? Computer geeks, builders, business owners, etc.
The more informed you are about the audience and attendance, the better choices you can make about how to decorate your booth, the types of promotional items to bring along, and whether they are even the right audience for your goods and services. For example, giving reusable grocery bags and similar items might be the perfect choice for local events that promote the planet while they may not be as welcome at pro-plastic events. Of course, these events might find the idea of rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate – rPET is much easier to pronounce) recycled shopping bags and totes somewhat appealing.
While attending local events is important for businesses, it’s even more important to present your products and invest your time and money working events that are likely to draw members of your target audience. Don’t forget, though, to do your research well and bring along plenty of “swag” that is likely to appeal to people attending these events. Doing so will help you get the best possible outcome from your local event attendance.