So, I’m fairly confident that the South Orange/Maplewood area has exponentially more festivals than, well, anywhere. The weather breaks, and the festivals begin. And, they’re all pretty awesome. As residents, we are quite lucky… As marketers, we have an amazing opportunity. Here are a few ways that you can make festival season work extra hard for your business.
Become a Vendor: So, this is the obvious move. But, being a vendor is not just about the sales revenue during the event, it is also a valuable branding, marketing and networking opportunity… for every type of business. What being a vendor can really mean:
o Positive Brand Association: your customers/prospects will be happy to see you out in the community and supporting local events.
o Brand Awareness: seeking those things known as “customers”? Strong signage in your space offers visibility and name recognition in the community.
o Trial and Engagement: You rarely will find another opportunity to connect with so many potential customers in a condensed period of time. Consider the state of mind of festival-goers, and give them a reason to stop by. Don’t worry about the sale, aim for a conversation and trial experience.
Sponsorships & Giveaways: Not ready to go all-in, but still looking for a way to participate? Explore sponsorship and giveaway opportunities. By donating a prize or gift certificate, you can give back to the community while raising awareness of your business.
Network: Festivals, like many social gatherings, are a networking opportunity. No need to be pushy, but try to meet other local businesses, talk to neighbors and meet more of the community. Referrals come from all places. The more people that know you and what you do, the bigger your referral network becomes. So, pack some business cards with the sunscreen.
Research: This may sound odd, but you could already be doing it. Attend events with open eyes and learn more about your audience, new market potential or your competition. No need to be methodical, but take advantage of the opportunity. Look more closely at handouts, signage, and why some vendors are more successful. Observe your customer base: what activities are attracting your audience? Even small insights into your audience’s lifestyle and personality can help you to better engage with other communications efforts.
And, if nothing else, come say hi to me. I’ll be out there... cleverly disguised as a mom.
Upcoming Festivals: Below is just a sampling of 2016 festivals in SOMa. I invite you to comment and fill in the gaps with any festivals that you’ve attended in recent years.
5/29: Mayfest, Maplewood
5/30: Annual Rubber Duck Race, Maplewood
6/5: South Orange Maplewood Studio Tour, Maplewood & South Orange
6/12: 2016 North Jersey Pride Festival, Maplewood
6/17-6/19: South Next, South Orange
6/18: Maplewood Green Day, Maplewood
7/9-7/10: Maplewoodstock, Maplewood
9/16-9/18: Stay & Play Weekend, South Orange
9/25: Art Walk & Music Fest, Maplewood
10/8: Health & HarvestFest, Maplewood