Back in July, Nathan and I went to our first events representing our new company, Natril Gear. It was exciting, we met a bunch of great people, and we learned a lot of things to do and things not to do that I want to pass on to you all.
Here’s our booth at three different events we did over the 4th of July weekend.
The picture on the left is us at “Bike-It for Prostate Cancer”, a bike event that helped support prostate cancer research. This event was particularly significant to me because my dad is a prostate cancer survivor. The middle picture is our shared booth at “Westfield Rocks the 4th”, a community-wide 4th of July celebration in Westfield, IN. And the picture on the right is our table at the “Firecracker 5k”, a fun run in Angola, IN.
Our goal at each event was the same: show our prototypes and get as many people as we could to fill out a survey about them. To entice people, we had homemade granola bars (from my farmer’s market granola stand!) for all survey-takers. :-)
Here’s what we learned about doing events as a company:
- People are happy to help. We had a lot of very enthusiastic people take our survey and give us great ideas for our business, our marketing strategies, and our product!
- People like free stuff. Free food is especially good because it’s like instant gratification (you can eat it right away)!
- Other vendors/sponsors were very helpful and courteous. They shared their shade, took our surveys, gave us tips about industry events, and even said we could talk to them in the future if we have other questions!
- Bring the whole shebang. For the first time, we brought a bicycle, and there were a lot more “ah ha” moments when people were able to see the product being used on a bike (instead of trying to imagine how it fit on a bike).
- Use “required” and “optional” questions on surveys. People were complaining about how long our survey was (19 questions), so we designated “required” and “optional” questions. This solved our problems amazingly, and we had no more complaints. Also, instead of feeling like they had to fill out our survey, it was like they were choosing to fill it out, and they usually answered ALL the questions. It was like magic. :-)
- Need shade. The sun can be pretty brutal if you’re in it for hours and hours without shade. Buy a canopy, or at least bring along an umbrella!
- Need food and water. Again, the sun will just drain you. Be sure to take snacks and drinks.
- Don’t put boxes of food on the ground. We were horrified to find ants all over the bottom of our box of granola bars at the end of the day! We had to throw away about 30 granola bars and the box!
- Rehearse everything you’re going to say. Rehearsing is a good idea, because people like short, succinct presentations. Some people want a lot of information, but most just want to get in and get out and be on their way.
- Remember to point out sign up sheets. We only remembered this about half the time, and as a result, we didn’t get very many people to sign up for our email list. That was a bummer.
- Check your equipment. The moring of the events, we started to put my bike on the car bike rack, and we were shocked to find that the front tire was flat! It was too late to fix it, so we had to take it like it was. This was embarrassing, and we definitely learned to check our bikes out the day before we take them anywhere!
We also participated in the “Gator Gallop”, a 5k fun run that raised money for a local school. We were not able to be at this event, and we learned a few things about doing events long-distance. Here is the t-shirt that we got our name on from the Gator Gallop (our first t-shirt! Woot!):
- It’s possible to do events even when you can’t be physically present. Being present is ALWAYS preferable, but this gives you so many more options, especially when multiple events are happening on the same day.
- Event coordinators go out of their way to take good care of their sponsors. The coordinators for the Gator Gallop picked up our copies from a copy shop, stuffed our fliers into registration packets, and then saved all of our left-over materials for us after the event.
- Don’t let things slip through the cracks. Short story, things did, and we ended up scrambling at the last minute to pull it together. Make a list, check it twice, keep your head in the game, take responsibility, and don’t get caught saying “oops, I forgot”.
- Make sure you understand what you’re getting as a sponsor. We were told that our fliers would be included in all of the pre-registered runner’s registration packets. What we didn’t know (and didn’t think to ask) was that about half of all the runners registered on the day of the event, which means they did NOT get our fliers in their registration packets. We had a lot of left-over fliers, and we could’ve saved money if we would’ve thought to ask about this.
Hope that was helpful!
Does anyone else have experience with this kind of thing? Do you have anything else to add to the "good" or "bad" lists?