One of the more tedious chores of event trading is, as we all know, completing application forms for event organisers. Sometimes hundreds of them, and more often than not, just to get 75 responses.
I created Event Owl to alleviate this chore, but as we know, changing the mindset of events organisers is a slow process. What concerns me (and the main reason I created the system) is the time being taken up by UK businesses filling out repetitive, same questioned forms, when they could be producing, increasing their turnover, and creating employment.
Having sent and been the recipient of many, many stallholder applications in the last ten years, here are my top ten tips on increasing your chances of beating your competition, when applying to be a stallholder:
- Do your homework: Find out what the event and organiser is like before you apply. Seek them out on Trader Facebook forums (though large pinches of salt are needed on a lot of them from what I’ve seen!), Facebook page comments and rankings, websites, twitter posts etc. You can tell a lot about the event and organsier from the time they’ve taken to create a darn good FB page, website or even just a flyer.
- Look at the venue: Think wet weather, location, facilities, would your stand and products suffer losses?
- Look at the visitor footfall: Check footfall numbers by looking up news articles from previous events held, local papers will give an approximate number, many event organisers tend to beef up numbers sometimes, so do beware. Shortlist every year.
- Do yourself justice: 'Cakes and pastries' 'Jams and Chutneys' Floral arrangements’ Vintage clothing’ ‘Outside furniture’ What the? Do you care so little about your beautiful products and the time that went into making or sourcing them, to give this type of meagre description? No! So don't do it!
- What is your 'stand and products’ USP?: Why is it different to your competitors? In your product/stand description include things such as uniformed, friendly, knowledgeable staff, the provenance of your ingredients/materials, are your products gift wrapped, awards won, flavours, colours, textures, are you an artisan, an official rep, a specialist? Do you use environmentally friendly packaging, can you provide interesting demo's, mention any high profile events you’ve regularly traded at. Maybe you could offer to sponsor in some way?
- Be literally prepared: Create at least three versions: 100, 75, and 50 word descriptions as organisers differ in their requirements. Type up and save your descriptions on your desktop, in a phone memo etc, that you can copy and paste, time and again. A good events organiser will be able to use this information in their marketing blogs, posts, tweets etc. It also saves them having to check out your FB page, website again to glean more info and conjure something up! How many hours have I spent doing just that? Way too many. Oh and please ensure your handwriting is legible if you are completing a really old fashioned, makes my blood boil, form that requires waaaaaaay to much of a traders precious time to complete. Dark ages or what?
- Use your best images: If you do not have beautiful images of your stand, think of those you've seen taken by a pro photographer at the events you've attended – find out who they were and ask if you can buy them - just make sure you sort out the copyright. That's why they take those pictures though, to make money, just like you! Use them on your own website/social media accounts.
- Get in touch – Call them up, use their contact form or better still message them on Facebook bear in mind, many organisers now use external agencies to monitor their social media accounts, so use a quick message such as 'Hello, I really love the sound of your xxx event name xxx, and would like to be considered to be a stall holder/trader/exhibitor. Who would be the best person to email, message, or do you have a link to a stallholder application form? Best regards, xx your name and business xx”.
- Blanket mailing the same message to all organisers. No, No, NO! STOP IT! We can see it a mile off and generally into the trash folder they go! Make sure you use the name of each event in the email, the date of it and where you came across it (e.g. if Google – what were you searching for?) What website/Facebook/Twitter account? Magazine? Have you traded with them before? Have you been recommended by another trader to enquire - who? Be human! You want to build up a good working relationship with them so first impressions...
- What to include in that initial email?: If you really have to send an email (and as a busy organiser, I'd just rather you applied and set your stall out correctly on your application form, but that's just me) firstly – grammar and spell checking IS very important. If your first language is not English, DO send your draft email to someone who can correct it for you. Include your 100 word description. Attach 2 or 3 quality JPEG or PNG images (the right way round when they open please!) or, a link to your Facebook page or Website gallery. Testimonials are excellent, especially if you can glean some from a previous events organiser. Always include a sample price list.