How To Find Vendor Events That Drive Traffic To Your Business

how to find vendor events

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If you’re looking for a detailed tutorial on how to find vendor events, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll be discussing the steps to find vendor events that can boost your brand awareness and sales.

So the scenario goes…

You’re a business owner with a product or service to sell.  You may have been introducing your product or service to people you know, but you’re not getting the leads and sales you’d like, so you’re looking for ways to get out of your social circle and find more leads and sales.

Learning how to find vendor events is one way to gain more traffic to your business, but it has to be done strategically.  Let me explain…

how to find vendor eventsDifferent Types of Vendor Events

There are so many types of vendor events.  There’s:

  • Bridal expos
  • Craft shows
  • Gun shows
  • Festivals
  • Church events
  • Seminars and retreats
  • School events
  • Business fairs
  • Flea markets
  • Expos
  • Toy shows
  • and more…

It’s important to choose events that would be appropriate for your business based on whether or not your target audience would be present.  For example: Let’s say you make lingerie.  Do you think your target audience of people who would wear lingerie would be at the toy show?  Maybe so, however, you’d want to set up your area that’s cohesive of the show’s main focus to display and sell toys (likely to children).

To find out more details about the shows beforehand, you can call to the administration staff to ask questions like:

  • How may people usually come to the show?  Sidenote: Bigger shows don’t always mean better shows. Often times, small shows are more intimate and have higher conversion rates to sales or signups.
  • What is the normal demographics of the attendees?
  • Or, can you be set up near a complimentary vendor rather than a competitor? For example: In the case of the lingeries dealer at the toy show, they may want to be positioned where babies and kids are less prone to go.

How To Find Vendor EventsThe Cost of Vendor Events

Once you’ve narrowed down the types of events where your target audience would be, you want to calculate the cost by answering a few questions like:

1. What is the booth rent?

2. What are the travel expenses?

3. What decorations do I want to have at my table? (branded table cloth, pamphlets, business cards, goodie bags, contests/giveaways, product samples, forms to capture information, card reader, inventory, etc.)

4. How much time will it take to prepare and to attend?

As a warning, vendor events may seem cheap because it may be $10 here or $5.00 there, but if you’re not careful, they can add up, and your business can be in bad financial standing without you realizing what happened.

You want to calculate the costs fairly accurately because vendor events will likely have an upfront investment from your business (even if it’s minimal).  Whenever you invest in your business, you want to ensure you know how much and what it will take to get a return on your investment.

If you’re not careful and serious about finances in your business, your growth could be stunted drastically.

How To Find Vendor EventsEstablishing Your Breakeven

Many people will tell you that a more expensive event doesn’t necessarily mean a higher return on investment.  Sometimes, events with high vendor fees will be less profitable than those with very small fees, so be mindful when you’re choosing your events.

Once you’ve calculated your costs, you’d know how much sales you’d need to breakeven.  Then, you can set up a strategy that could make your return feasible.

  • Let’s say for example, your costs pan out like this:
  • Vendor booth rent: $125
  • Folding table: $20.00
  • Branded table cloth: $115
  • Googie bags: $50
  • Business cards (500): $45
  • Pamphlet design: $40
  • Pamphlet printing: $125
  • Clip boards: $10.00
  • Follow-up information forms: $5.00
  • Travel: $100
  • Total investment for the event: $635.00

With the total, you’d know you need to make $635 to break even from the event.  With that amount in mind, you want to set up a funnel that walks customers thru the customer purchase life cycle: from the discovery phase of your business thru to the buying phase.

To make the event a successful sales funnel, you’d want to think about how to nurture each phase of the customer purchase life cycle while you’re at the event.

How To Find Vendor EventsSome Facts About Customers to Keep in Mind

  • Customers rarely buy or take action on the first point of contact
  • Customers don’t buy from people they don’t trust
  • Customers exchange money (or something of value like their personal information) for something that improves their situation

The Research Phase

With the facts in mind, you want to consider a person in the research phase may be attending the event for:

  • Entertainment
  • To discover local products and services that can improve his/her situation
  • Without directly realizing your product or service could solve an underlying problem they have
  • In fact, they may not realize the problem was there before meeting you!

At this phase, people are sponges of information.  Pamphlets and information can help a person in the research phase to be more informed about the solution your products and services can solve.  They may want to compare to see your competitive advantages or learn more about you and the products before making a decision.

For example: Let’s say you’re an Avon representative with a vendor booth.  The people coming to your booth think Avon is all about makeup, and they’re expressing a dislike of makeup.

You can inform them that Avon is not about makeup, it’s about self-esteem, and people buy the products to feel more confident and beautiful.  You can also explain the variation of the product line, and the specific products that might be relevant to them.  As a result of your clarification, you could turn a cold lead in the research phase into a warm lead in the decision or purchasing phases, but this may not all happen within the event.

In fact, unless you have a pattern of attending the same events consistently, you may find the majority of visitors to your booth may be in the research phase; therefore it’s good for you to have a funnel in mind.  Getting follow-up information may be the best option to escort people thru the lifecycle from this phase thru an email marketing sequence or an alternative series of follow-up.

How To Find Vendor EventsThe Decision Phase

Some people will come to the vendor event with a specific product or service in mind.  These people will likely pass your booth unless you have a creative way to persuade them to interact with your booth.

As an example, your fellow vendors at the events may be your target audience, however, they came to the event for traffic to their businesses, so how you do get them to engage with you?

People who had decided on an alternative product or service prior to the event can be persuaded to interact with you by:

  • Giving out coupons
  • Freebies and contests
  • Attractive branding and aesthetics
  • Music or attractive environment
  • Friendly and courteous manners
  • Having water, drinks, or food to give away
  • Entertainment whether technology, blow up balloons, or comedy

It’s best to know what the event is usually like, what other vendors are doing so you can outpace them, and to understand the typical attendee.

The Second Strata of People in the Decision Phase

There’s a second strata of people who may come to the event in the decision phase.  The second strata are the people who come focused on buying a product or service equivalent from your competitor.  For example: Someone comes to the event to sign up for MetroPCS but you’re Cricket Wireless.

To persuade a person to change their decision, you’d have to identify the competitive advantages of their service of choice and exploit an offer that diminishes their advantages.  Going back to the Avon example, if you’re an Avon rep and a person comes to the event decided on buying Mary Kay, then you’d persuade them by brainstorming potential competitive advantages.  Some examples could be:

  • Product scent
  • Product availability
  • Familiarity
  • The results of using the product
  • etc.

Once you’ve brainstormed about the competitive advantages, you could make your decor to exploit how your products:

  • Have the best scents
  • Methods for them to get products very quickly
  • Which familiar Mary Kay products are comparable to Avon products (or less quality)
  • and, Testimonials and galleries with results

Even in the research phase, the most important thing to do is collect follow-up information, so you can continue to inform, educate, and build a relationship as a trusted advisor.

5 Ways To Find Vendor Events

In the beginning finding vendor events may be a challenge, it would be helpful to use these 5 methods for finding vendor events:

1. Google Alerts

How To Find Vendor Events

Google will send you notifications to your email inbox whenever something is posted online that’s relevant to keywords you’ve requested alerts on.  For example, if you set up an alert for the keyword “San Antonio vendor event”, Google will send you an email notification when something with that keyword is published online.

Brainstorm keywords that people would use to market or publish information about an event similar to where you’d like to become a vendor and set up Google alerts.  Some good keywords could be:

(city name) vendor events

(city name) craft shows

(city name) farmer’s markets

(city name) festivals

(city name) expos

2. Social Media

Social media is a place where you can find like-minded people.  It’s also the perfect place to find out about vendor events.

  • You can use hashtags like:

#(city name) vendorevents

#(city name) expos

or another hashtag with an ideal keyword to find events.

  • You can use the search bar to enter keywords and find events
  • You can join groups where other vendors are to network and find out about vendor events

How To Find Vendor Events

3. Craigslist

Craigslist is another resource to find vendor events.  Now that they charge for ads, there’s likely to be more serious vendors who have more viable opportunities.  Similar to finding events on social media, you could type in optimal keywords and search the craigslist results.

How To Find Vendor Events

4. Billboards

Sometimes, event planners will pay for billboards to market their events.  They may not say “vendors needed”, but they may say information about an upcoming event.  You can call to find out whether they’re accepting vendors, the price, and requirements.

5. Word of Mouth

You’d be surprised how much you can find out simply by asking around.  You can ask family and friends or people in your community if they’ve heard of any vendor events coming up soon.  Some alternative places to get great word of mouth vendor event recommendations are:

  • Niche/industry professional associations
  • Networking groups
  • Business Meetups
  • Direct Sales newsletters, meetings, or events
  • Schools or Community centers

Final Words on How To Find Vendor Events That Drive Traffic To Your Business

The goal of this article was to show you how to find vendor events so you can grow the traffic to your business. Vendor events can be a very exciting addition to your marketing strategy that enables you to meet people face to face.

If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.  I’d love to help you out!

If you would like to start or scale your business, check out my free e-course! It’s a framework to grow a business: from idea to full-time income, and from full-time income to enterprise. Check out the free e-course here.

Now, it’s Your Turn…

Have you gone to vendor events?  How did you find out about them?  Have you been a vendor at an event before?  How did you hear about the event?

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4 thoughts on “How To Find Vendor Events That Drive Traffic To Your Business”

  1. Fantastic article on utilizing vendor events to drive traffic to your business! I feel like I learned quite a bit from reading through it. Love the idea of looking at the cost of attending for your business as an investment. Makes it easy to know how much you need to make off the event for it to be worthwhile. You have some awesome tips on how to target those customers in the research and decision phases of the buying cycle as well.

    Do you have any tips on identifying vendor events that one would want to actively avoid? With all the different ways to find events I would imagine there are some that would just be a waste of time for anyone to sign up for. Thanks for your insight!

    1. Great question Jon! When you do your research about the events, you want to know your target audience will be there otherwise, you don’t want to spend lots on pure optimism.  It’s also important to understand the demographics and psychographics of those who typically attend.  For example, going back to the example of the lingerie retailer, if they’re doing a church event, they would need to strongly consider the conservatism that’s typical of that population, and they may even want to avoid it.  A simple overlook of the psychographics could disable them from getting an ROI.

      I’ve also seen people who don’t have success at events because there are too many competitors.  For example, one event with 50 vendors and 25 are Mary Kay reps.  Ideally, you’d want vendors with complimentary offers so you can exchange referrals, however, even void of the complimentary approach, you want to be high demand and low supply.

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