Getting your products into the hands of consumers can sometimes feel like a daunting task, especially on a new-business budget. Technology is a great asset, but some of the biggest opportunities for my own t-shirt company, Bad Pickle Tees, have actually come about in person.
Here’s why you should consider setting up shop at local or national events:
Attendees help build your brand
At events and festivals, the people in attendance are not your only audience. These days, everyone is on social media sharing the experience with their own networks and communities. So, you are not only putting yourself in front of the of people you meet at the event, but you are putting yourself in front of their Instagram or Twitter followers, Facebook friends, etc. I once had a lady who, unbeknownst to me, was a food blogger who clicked a photo of herself at an event in her new Bad Pickle Tee and put it on social media. By the time I got home, I had 300 new orders from her followers!
Network new business relationships
The truth is, you just never know who you might meet. I have met boutique owners, food companies & large restaurant chains at shows who have all ended up buying wholesale through me. Most recently I met a representative of Hormel, who was sponsoring a “Bacon Fest” I was selling at, and it has turned into a partnership where I am now producing specialty shirts for them. There are so many varieties of festivals and events -- get creative on how your brand could make a splash at them, and be open to the possibilities there.
Get inspired by your customer
Two amazing things happen at events with real audience facetime: For one, you get to hear directly from your customer what they think of the product. Do they think it is funny? Do they like the material? Is there a certain food they want a shirt about? I have created some of my best shirts when people have said "You know, you should really do a shirt about..." Secondly, there is a motivation factor. Sometimes it's hard to be motivated staring at the computer screen while building your business, but when you see the actual smile you put on someone's face with your product... that can keep you going for a week!