Why Festivals, Fairs, & Art Shows Should Embrace Social Media

Today, social media is crucial to nearly any business. It serves a multitude of purposes, and really should be up kept all year round.

Most modern fairs, festivals, and shows utilize social media to some extent. Especially as the event nears, their social channels spring to life, in an effort to drum up attendees.

While the time leading up to an event is inherently of the utmost important, leaving social vacant throughout the rest of the year is a missed opportunity.

There are many ways to take advantage of social media before, after, and during the show to ensure your show is a success.

Event Info

Social media performs well in search results. Depending on how active your page is, it may even show above your primary website, especially city sponsored events. City sponsored events often live as a sub-site of the primary city’s website, which are not as visited as Facebook or Twitter.

That means it is vital to keep all of your time, date, and location information accurate on social. If they find you on Facebook before your website, and Facebook doesn’t have all the proper event info, it can be difficult for attendees to plan their visit.

Ticket/Attendance Info

To go along with the all the other relative event info, ticket purchasing, or attendance info is necessary. Aside from time, date, and location, how to attendance is the most crucial thing for visitors.

You need to be able to let them know if they need a ticket, how much, and where they can get it.

Some social media, like Twitter, has limited room for all this information. Be sure to point them to the correct website where they can learn more, as well as frequently share it in your Twitter feed.

Useful tip – Twitter allows you to pin tweets to the top of your feed. Utilize this to pin a tweet containing all revenant event info. Attaching a poster image with lots of information is also a good idea.

Promote Vendors

Vendors can travel significant distances to attend your show. It is often quite a financial investment for them to exhibit. Even smaller, local vendors take time effort to be there.

To help show your thanks to those vendors, as well as to garner some excitement before the show, it’s great to share any attending vendors on social media. You can even have a “mini interview” with them and share some Q & A’s with your followers. This is a great way to keep people engaged.

You can start registering vendors a year ahead of time, so this is great content to share throughout the year.

If your event is big enough, this is something you can opt to up-sell to your vendors as well. For an extra fee, you can give a spotlight on your well-followed social accounts.

Alternatively, you can use this as an added bonus to entice prospective vendors. Snagging up talented artists or exhibitors can be difficult, so if you can promise a certain amount of social exposure, that could be a tipping point in signing a vendor.

Musicians

Similarly to promoting vendors, if you are going to have live bands or musicians, this a great way to spur some interest. You can link to their past performances, and tag them in any posts. You can utilize their followers to help promote your event.

During the Show

During your event, there are many things you can do. Your audience is now not just perspective attendees, but people who are already at your event. By catering to this audience, they will already be following you for next year, and increase the return rate for your guests.

Share photos from fun things happening each day. Use the schedule to promote upcoming events or performances. Announce winners of any special contests you are running. Anything that would be useful if it was you attending.

Wrapping it up

Social media is more than just for friends to share photos and their every thought. It is a useful tool for businesses and shows to promote themselves, supply a host of useful information, and engage their audience.

Keeping up your social presence year round is taking advantage of a cheap, accessible service that any event, small or large can utilize.

Share your best tips on using social media, below in the comments!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

How Fairs and Festivals can Utilize Technology to Solve their Biggest Problems

Like flea markets, fairs have a reputation for not being technologically up-to-date. As the old adage goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The thing is, it is broke. And technology can help fix it.

There are a number of aspects fairs and festivals share, that are messy at best. Things like communicating with vendors, the application and jury process, managing layouts, and collecting post-event surveys. All of these things are vitally important, and can be substantially improved.

Let’s tackle these, one by one.

Vendor Communications

Historically, vendor communications are done through mail, email, or phone calls. There is no single, central location to house these correspondences and manage them in a realistic way.

Using a software program designed to help manage other areas of your market for communications helps bring everything together. A common situation is multiple people (often volunteers), handle these communications. By using a software platform, everyone can see past messages, notes, who sent them when, and any other vital information.

This is a whole lot easier for many people to tackle incoming messages, as well as keep up to date. Not only is it more beneficial internally, but it can reduce response time, and repetition for vendors, which of course will make them happy.

Applications and the Jury Process

We’ve seen many markets still handle their applications through the mail. sometimes it could be a form online, or a PDF that is printed and sent. This clearly isn’t ideal. The postal service isn’t infallible. It also tends to be slow. Mail can also be more difficult for vendors who are constantly on the road.

The jury process is often opaque. What are the requirements? If a vendor doesn’t get in, what can they do in the future to try again? Many markets don’t give out this info, let alone in a standardized way.

Software can do exactly that. You can build a form for vendor applications that can be completed entirely online. Accept digital versions of their work, that can be disseminated among jury members, allowing them more time to judge remotely. When jury members are often paid for single judging sessions, allowing them prep time to review entrants can save time and money for the market.

Layout Management

Layouts have evolved past printed out CAD drawings with booth numbers. You can use real map images for your outside venues. You can overlay different layers of booths, even adjust for different seasonal layouts or locations.

Using pencil and paper can present challenges. Moving booth locations. Re-assigning vendor assignments, or multiple layouts are frustratingly bad when you are having to make frequent changes.

Software can also make it more useful for multiple people to see what is going on, view visual reports, and make assignments simultaneously.

Post-Event Surveys

Many people say the same thing during their events post-mortem. “What worked and what didn’t?” A common practice is to send out post event survey’s to vendors. This is an undeniably great idea! Unfortunately, how do you send them? Mail? Too slow and inconvenient for traveling vendors. Digitally with something like SurveyMonkey? Too difficult to visualize data and import vendors.

A survey system integrated into your market’s management software solves these dilemmas and more. Think about being able to automate the sending of a survey as soon as your event wraps. All of that information can be integrated and viewed year-over-year for important changes.

It would also be great to view it visually, using your layouts to glean important information like hot spots in your market that tend to perform better than others. Maybe these statistically more lucrative locations could warrant a higher lease price. When you have the data to back it up, your vendors can appreciate it.

Wrap Up

Sure, this isn’t a definitive list on how software utilization can turn around your fair or festival. Credit card acceptance, vendor profiles, product categorization, and vendor discovery are just a few of the other reasons that adopting an integrated platform can provide your market.

Very few other investments have the ability too transform this many areas of your business.

What are some other pain points that you see in your business? Let us know in the comments below!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

Market Success Stories: Ohio City Pasta

Ohio City Pasta is a mainstay in the burgeoning Cleveland food scene, known for its handmade pastas and artisanal sauces, which are all- natural and made with care. What started as their mainstay booth at West Side market has now expanded to over 5 states and countless other farmers’ markets.

Ohio City Pasta was founded in 1990 by Gary Thomas, who just wanted to help other businesses who didn’t have the time, experience, or machinery to create their own fresh pasta. What they lacked, Gary had. He started producing pasta for local businesses, and eventually started selling at the unequalled West Side Market in Cleveland Ohio.

Ohio City Pasta is known for more than just pasta. They have an extensive array of fresh ravioli, all natural sauces, pesto, flavored butters, and more. They’ve sourced the finest flours and freshest spices available to produce some of the best Italian classics around. Gnocchi and tortellini are also popular items.

More than 20 years later, Ohio City Pasta has exploded. While still showing up week after week at West Side Market, they’ve amassed quite a fan base that could not be contained to a single shop. Top chefs have sung their praise and caused their audience to grow. You can now find OCP in grocery stores in Northeast Ohio, as well as a huge array of farmers’ markets.

They’ve listened to chefs and customers throughout the years on which farmers’ markets to exhibit their goods, and are currently visiting 21 different seasonal markets. Even some of your favorite restaurants may be serving Ohio City Pasta through their new distribution center.

Ohio City Pasta is another success story that started locally through farmers’ markets and small shops to make it big. Though unlike others, they have not forgotten their roots and continue to sell at markets across Ohio, as they expand even further.

Check out our other Market Success Stories like Utz and Pipcorn.

How Markets Can Evolve in a Digital World – A Roundtable Discussion

Retail is an evolving space, and some have questioned if retail is going away. If it is, how can small businesses stay relevant and draw customers? Recently, BoothBooks participated in a roundtable discussion on retail with renown retail expert Carol Spieckerman hosted by Off-Price (a must for any retailer and merchandiser), an industry leading publication on the retail industry.

Off-Price posed a series of questions on the retail industry that we parsed through and looked at how they apply to Flea Markets and Farmers’ Markets. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: What should small business owners focus on in 2017?

Everyone provided some great answers. There was much talk on staying true to your brand, and optimizing your store experience, as said by IndependentRetailer. “Knowing their brand & 100% committing to it (sic). A clear message seen in store layout, interactions, online…everywhere.”

Markets in particular can easily focus on what makes them “unique” and how they can better stand out from other markets. Perhaps a theme, or just shopping experience. A sentiment echoed by Carol, “Don’t get caught up in every trend and news cycle. Do what’s best for your customers and you’ll do whats right for your business.”

BoothBooks was quick to mention a high focus on data. Data gives you insight into your market: It can let you know who are your most valuable vendors, what days and times are most popular, or which products (or product categories) sell the best. Off-Price agreed, saying “Data & Content and King & Queen. Without data, how will you know what’s working?” Carol Spieckerman even called it a “match made in heaven ; )”.

Q: What can retailers learn from online retailers?

Once again, Carol provided some excellent insight. “Distinctions blurring, tho (sic) digital-to-physical is easiest play. Digital data makes physical forays pop.”

Another consensus was on the user experience in the store. A large reason for shopping online is pure convenience. Physical retailers need to try to increase their level of usability and ease. A great way to do that is to incorporate more technology.

BoothBooks always took this point to heart and worked to make it one of our core competencies. We worked hard to streamline the once laborious process of the vendor checkout. Billing, reports, maps, and more have all been streamlined to focus on speed, reliability, and the user experience.

We’ve also been making more information available to visitors, so they are able to find your market, discover its vendors, and learn what sets you apart. Carol agreed that bringing technology once exclusive to online retailers into the physical space was a crucial task to undertake.

Q: What are the biggest challenges for retail stores in the digital age?

Megan believes that it is “making yourself as accessible and convenient as digital competitors “ That’s similar to Carol’s sentiment, though she believes challenges are more like opportunities. “Nail customer experience & close sale while shoppers in store. Treat stores as experiential assets +Retail-tainment (sic). Ensure digital discoverability even if no Ecommerce.”

This is hyper-relevant to flea markets and farmers’ markets. Both are inherently sharable. Not only because #ShopLocal and #FreshProduce are popular, but because of the great finds that people love to boast about on social media. It is key to ensure a web presence to gain visibility and attract new shoppers. The same goes for customer experience. If the market looks dirty and uninviting, shoppers won’t return. For markets though, it’s not just shoppers, but vendors as well. You need to focus on their experience, and how they interact with your market.

Q: Who do you follow, or where do you find great insight for market and the retail experience?

There are so many places to get great ideas for small businesses. For markets, we humbly recommend our own BoothBooks blog (LINK) (shameless plug alert!) We here at BoothBooks are huge fans of podcasts, of which there is no shortage.

Carol pointed out a host of different twitter accounts, all of which are hugely popular and insightful. “retailwire I like aggregated perspectives: @wwd @adage @NRF @retailwire For creative thinking: @interviewmag @newyorker”

While its been widely reported that “Retail is Dying”, they couldn’t be more wrong. As Carol says “B&M (brick and mortar) never more relevant+enables digital. Hence clix-to-bricks Warby, Casper, Amazon. Different not ‘dead.’” Let us know your best small business tips down below in the comments, and stay tuned for more tips on how to rock your market.

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

Market Success Stories: Utz

Did you know that Utz is the largest privately owned snack company in America? Yes, the company selling cheese balls by the barrel is held in independent hands, and is determined to stay that way. Utz is a classic, all-American success story that continues to this day. And it all started in a small home, in Hannover, Pennsylvania.

Utz started in 1921 as the “Hanover Home Brand Potato Chips” with nothing more than a $300 investment and some hard work. Each batch of potatoes chips was cooked by hand by Salie Utz. Salie could only produce about 50 pounds of chips per hour, using hand operated equipment. Her husband William would then take those chips, and sell them locally at farmers markets and “mom and pop shops” in the Hanover/Baltimore area.

Utz girl next to the company name.

Word of mouth helped them expand, and just a few years later in 1930, they built the first section of the first Utz plant, an extension on the rear of their home. By 1938, a new plant was built on the very same spot with professional equipment, churning out 300 lbs per hour of their widely popular chips.

1948 held a post-war boom that allowed them to build a new production facility, on 10 acres of land. They never looked back and have been growing ever since. To this day, it is still a privately owned company, currently in the hands of Michael Rice, the grandson of Salie and William Utz.

Utz is popular nationwide, and manufactures1,000,000 lbs of chips and 900,000 lbs of pretzels, each and every week.  It employs over 2,500 people across the country. Even renown businessman Warren Buffet is a fan, but unlike See’s Candies and Dairy Queen, Utz is assuredly not for sale.

Utz is another great example of how hard work and perseverance can pay off. $300 dollars, a home kitchen, and local markets took this couple from obscurity, to the founders of a multi-million dollar operation.

Check out past market success stories! Like Pipcorn and Vegetabowls!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

Market Success Stories: Vegetabowls

In past Market Success Stories, we’ve looked at well known figures like Pipcorn which reached national fame on Shark Tank. This time we will look a less well known artist, Melanie Mckenney. The creator of Vegetabowls.

Vegetabowls are gorgeous handmade bowls and plates that resemble fruits and veggies. What is now a full time business for her and her husband, started with simple trips to the farmers market.

She got the idea originally while teaching pottery in Boston when she used a cantaloupe to demo plaster mold making and slip casting. She then glazed it like a cantaloupe and when her husband saw it, he told her she should sell them, and call it Vegetabowls!

She soon sought out the best place to discover new fruits and vegetables to cast and found that location at the farmers market. In an interview with Etsy, Melanie described visiting the market. “It’s my favorite place to be inspired and get my creative gears going.” She goes on to talk about meeting all the local producers. “Being able to connect with the person who made a fruit or vegetable, and then taking it home and making something new from it—it just extends the creative process.”

Eventually, the market would also become where she would start selling her handmade creations – and the response was phenomenal. The support and customers from the market would allow her to start working on Vegetabowls full time, and eventually, her husband left grad school to put his time and effort into the business as well.

Now located in Buffalo, New York, Justin and Melanie operate a 2,000 square foot facility. Half of which is used for production and order fulfillment of their online store, the other half acting as a storefront for locals to come and create their own pottery.

In case you were wondering, the best selling piece, it’s a tie. Between the cantaloupe and watermelon. You can learn more about Vegetabowls and their business over at their online storefront.

Be sure to keep coming back for more market success stories, and if you have one of your own, be sure to share it below in the comments.

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

How to Get Noticed Selling at Farmers Markets

When the average shopper wanders around the farmers market, it would be harder not to find someone selling tomatoes. The same could be said for carrots, lettuce, and other ubiquitous foods. Some vendors may corner the market on specialty produce like kiwano, but most vendors out there simply don’t have the means to stock them. So if everyone has the same produce, how do you convince shoppers to choose you, over your competition?

The answer? Sparklers!!

Ok. So maybe not sparklers. But the premise is the same. You need something to draw the attention of your potential customers. Whether that is by sight, sound, or smell.

Lauren Arcuri provides a great starting point for some specialty value-added products that you can grow on a small farm. This is a great way to stand out from the rest. Stuff can easily catch a consumers eye when it is different than all the others. If you’ve got 6 others selling potatoes, why not try selling fingerling potatoes instead? They are tiny, adorable, and delicious! People may be unfamiliar with them, drawing them in for a closer look.

Samples are also a smart way to entice people. They find out first hand how juicy those tomatoes are or how sweet that local honey is. Its hard to pass up! What’s more, it’s a lot harder to walk over to your competitor and buy the same product when they just tasted it from your stand!

One reason someone may not pick up some of your fresh fruits and veg is they don’t exactly know what they can do with it. “Why do I need this giant thing of ginger?? What could I even cook with that?” Source some great recipes, or come up with your own that allow people to be inspired!

If they see something that looks great, and you can give them a recipe on how to make it, why wouldn’t they buy from you? Even better, allow them to taste it! You could bake a fantastic sugar-free banana bread with that honey. Or mini cupcakes with strawberry rhubarb icing liberally applied to the top. These can be easily prepped ahead of time, and combined with recipes, are quite hard to pass up.

Alternatively, why prep things ahead of time? You can do live cooking demos at your stand. Either yourself, or have a chef join you for the day. Sauté up some fresh asparagus that will allow people to smell from a block away! That combined with the sizzling of the fry pan, and the visual of tossing them in the air are clear ways to draw in a crowd. Hopefully, when they walk away from your booth, they walk away with a recipe, and a handful of asparagus in tow.

All of these can clearly differentiate you from your fellow vendors. Allowing people to get the full experience of what you’re offering and giving yourself a solid competitive advantage.
If all else fails, pick up some sparklers!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.