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.

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.

BoothBooks Vendor Tip #25: Payment Methods

There is no denying that now more than ever, technology guides the way we do things. In our world, we rely on it to get us through our daily life. For many of us, we have transitioned away from the almighty dollar and gone to the (hopefully) mightier debit card. Even something as simple as our morning bagel is now a technological experience. As vendors, it is important to stay up to date on the easiest ways to buy, and while it may seem like cash is the simplest way to go, you could be putting your business at risk by clinging to that cash register.

Thankfully, there are solutions, and as the technology grows, those options are easier to obtain. Debit and credit cards have changed the way we pay, but companies like Square and PayPal allow you to stay ahead of that change, by allowing vendors with a smartphone to accept payments via mobile card readers. This keeps your business from missing out on those last-minute sales when everyone has emptied their cash reserves after a long market weekend.

Even without cards, there are other purchasing options available to customers. Apple Pay is a great new way to allow businesses to accept a payment from an attached bank account. Customers can sync their Apple Watch or iPhone with their accounts, making purchasing even simpler. But what about our non- Apple customers? Programs like Venmo and CashApp let you send money directly between phones, and it is simple as a retailer to accept payments from customers, at no cost to you.

Although there are many non-cash options, we can’t forget about our green friends. After all, cash is king, and it feels good to walk away from a busy market with spendable profit. However, we must keep in mind that carrying large amounts of money can be risky, so it’s good to practice caution. Never keep more than $20 bills in your register, and try to only keep what you need to make change. Also, it’s recommended that vendors keep a sturdy safe or lockbox, preferably out of site, like in a camper or car, with the doors locked. No one wants to walk away from a day of sales with less than what they started with, so be vigilant.

No matter how customers choose to pay, it’s up to vendors to stay ahead of the ever-growing technology. Utilizing the resources that are available, retailers can keep up to date on mobile card readers, payment apps, and even Google for those newest fire-proof lock boxes.

Be sure to check back regularly for more great market tips!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handling payment history, 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.

5 Ways to Make Money at a Farmers Market

Spring is here! That means farmers markets are popping up all across the country, and with them, the chance to make some extra money. There are many different ways to capitalize on farmers and other outdoor markets so we will just take a look at the top 4 ways.

Sell Great Produce

Ok so this is probably an easy one. I mean… that is the main thing people go to a farmers market for. Fruits and veggies! It does pay however, to differentiate yourself and offer up different ones people don’t always see, as well as making sure to pick the ones that can most lucrative. Since everyone sells lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes, why not sell a specialty variety? Think fingerling potatoes or cherry tomatoes. Here is a list of great alternative crops that might be useful. That aside, we’ve already covered the best produce to sell, so we will leave you to check out that post for more details.

Bees!

Honey is a great produce to sell at farmers markets. Everyone loves fresh honey and there is some serious change to be made here. While it is a LOT of work, beekeepers can make $40-60k a year depending on their location.

Plus, you don’t have to sell just fresh honey. There are so many honey based products out there. You could have fresh baked goods (honey banana bread!), honey cough syrup, lip balm, or herbal honey mix-ins for tea. Now you really set yourself apart!

Jams & Jellies

You can sell fruit, but people will only pay so much for fresh fruit. With a little bit of extra effort, you can take that fruit and turn it into jam, jelly, marmalades, or spreads. These can garner a much higher price tag, plus if you do a “recycling program” where you have customers return your jars for a discount, you can save some additional money!

IMG_9508

Baked Goods

Why stop at jams and jellies? Or maybe to accompany them! If you like to bake or cook, why not actually make things to sell? Some fresh loaves of bread! Scrumptious desserts! Whatever you are great at, make it! Again it is just a little bit of extra effort that can increase your margins quickly!

Crafts or Used Goods

Now this can depend on the market, but why stop at food or food products? You could sell vintage cookware like cookie cutters, aprons, trays, etc that you can source from flea markets or online.

You could also make pot holders, bag holders, or other simple crafts that can be easy add-on items or gifts. You will find much less competition for these items as well. There are 10 people selling carrots but only one selling kiss the cook crocheted pot holders!

Good Luck!

Here is the last tip – get out there and sale! You can count that tip as a freebie, but it could be the most important! If you aren’t out there, you won’t be selling. So take our list of tips, put your best foot forward, and go make an impression at your local market.

 

Best Produce to Sell at Farmers Markets

If you exhibit (or are looking to exhibit) at a local outdoor or farmers market, you may be wondering what are the best picks to sell. We’ve sourced around to get vendors recomendations for not only what sells the most, but what yields the most profit. Granted, this is definitely going to be location-specific. Some places have specialty fruit or produce that does better in their area, but here are some good staples to get you going.

Tomatoes

Yes. Tomatoes still top as probably the most purchased piece of produce from farmers markets – and for good reason! Grocery store tomatoes often can be poor tasting and grainy. The ones from farmers markets are super fresh, and have so much more flavor. Plus, there are just so many things you can do with them between sauces, salads, pizzas, etc. There is also a huge variety that you can use to help differentiate yourself. If you aren’t sure, cherry tomatoes are a popular option to get started.

Herbs

Herbs are a great money maker. They are widely utilized and taste so much fresher than the dried brethren most people default to. Genovese Basil is a very popular topping that doesn’t have that negative perception of some herbs. (We are looking at you cilantro!) They also go for a bit higher of a price than most produce though they require similar amounts of work, and take up less space.

Potatoes

Who doesn’t love tomatose?! They are a cheap, bulk, utility ingredient. They come in many different varieties like russet, redskin, and fingerling (my favorite!) as well as different colors. You can go with plain potatoes, but picking one of the other variants may give you an edge that lets you stand out, and charge a bit more.

Carrots

Carrots are another popular item because they are one of the most popular vegetables. They are great for kids and adults alike. Plus, they can be eaten as is, chopped into sticks, or cooked with dinner.

Lettuce

Lettuce, like tomatoes, is much better fresh from a farmers market than the grocery store. With the current health trends, salads, and exotic lettucies are all the rage. Hop on the bandwagon with some different varieties to set your stand apart.

Flowers

Sure, they don’t really count as produce, but they are so similar! Grow alongside vegetables to give yourself a non-edible option to sell. They are always great to have aroud to make your booth look good, and are somethign people tend to buy on impulse when they see them in person. Offer more intricate arrangements for higher prices as well.

All of these are proven sellers that sell in quantity, and can earn you the most money. Try these with a mix of local favorites to make your stand the cream of the crop at your local market.