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Tips for exhibiting at an event/fair/expo?


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I have only recently opened my first MP and inworld shop and it seemed like a good idea to register for an expo/fair (RFL) to get some exposure for my products and brand as well as have a fun new experience. I am interested in hearing from other merchants that have experience with these kind of events. What tips do you have for first timers? Do you attend the fair until it's over or do you set up shop and get on with daily business? Do you have a business (note)card to hand out at the event?  Do's and don'ts? etc...  

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Set up my booth in time and do some marketing, usually send blogger items and follow social sites to leave nice comments to those who used my items. Make sure to check my notecards/IM's more often during the event just in case someone did not get their item delivered and did not read my profile to see that I have a redelivery terminal at my store. 

At the fair I like to visit other shops while the sim is closed for public and we're all set (usually the last day of the setup) because its nice to shop in peace and quiet. Nothing special... :)

I can give you advice not to apply on too many events at once, rather chose 1 or 2 that fit your themes. Later, when you get more familiar with everything, apply to more events. This way you will have enough time to "make things right" and not to feel too big pressure. 

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2 hours ago, Christhiana said:

Do you attend the fair until it's over or do you set up shop and get on with daily business?

You set up your business and run away as fast as you can. ;)

That's not a joke actullay. If it's a popular event, you don't want your avatar to stand there addign to the lag and taking up one avatar slot on the sim. If it isn't a popular event, you dont want to spend more time than absolutely necessary on it.

 

2 hours ago, Christhiana said:

Do you have a business (note)card to hand out at the event?

Yes. Or even better: a landmark to your inworld store. I don't usually bother with events but sometimes I do join one and I've noticed that the increased sales at my regular store while it lasts can sometimes be just as high as or even higher than the sales at the actual event.

 

3 hours ago, Christhiana said:

Do's and don'ts? etc...  

Events may be the only way for new merchants to get a foothold in the market now but it is hard work if you want to do it effectively. As Tamara said, you probably want to do only one or two to start with, just to get the feel of how things work, but in the long run, you either want to do events continuously or not bother with them at all. Most events require you to have some new content specialy for them. Can you manage to do that once a week? or at least twice a month?

It's hard to get into the big events. They're already filled up with merchants and on the rare occasions a slot becomes available, they'd much rather fill it up with an established well known brand than with a new unkown one for obvious reasons.

Most of the sales at events are from impulse buys. So you need to make whatever you want to sell as attractive at first sight. You also want to focus ont he kind of things people are likely to buy on impulse, clothing, relatively small keepsakes, cool gadgets and such.

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Thank you for the replies!

 

5 hours ago, Tamara Artis said:

Set up my booth in time and do some marketing, usually send blogger items and follow social sites to leave nice comments to those who used my items. Make sure to check my notecards/IM's more often during the event just in case someone did not get their item delivered and did not read my profile to see that I have a redelivery terminal at my store. 

5 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Yes. Or even better: a landmark to your inworld store. I don't usually bother with events but sometimes I do join one and I've noticed that the increased sales at my regular store while it lasts can sometimes be just as high as or even higher than the sales at the actual event.

 

I hadn't really thought about generating traffic from the event to the store yet. I will probably make an info sign with a landmark, fb profile, etc.to put at the expo store. And put up a sign that there is a redelivery terminal at the store :)

 

5 hours ago, ChinRey said:

You set up your business and run away as fast as you can. ;)

That's not a joke actullay. If it's a popular event, you don't want your avatar to stand there addign to the lag and taking up one avatar slot on the sim. If it isn't a popular event, you dont want to spend more time than absolutely necessary on it.

 I was planning to be at the event as much as possible so I could get feedback on my products and meet possible new customers but you have a good point about taking up an avatar slot on the sim. I guess I'll just have to see how busy the event is and decide when the time comes.

 

5 hours ago, Tamara Artis said:

I can give you advice not to apply on too many events at once, rather chose 1 or 2 that fit your themes. Later, when you get more familiar with everything, apply to more events. This way you will have enough time to "make things right" and not to feel too big pressure. 

5 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Events may be the only way for new merchants to get a foothold in the market now but it is hard work if you want to do it effectively. As Tamara said, you probably want to do only one or two to start with, just to get the feel of how things work, but in the long run, you either want to do events continuously or not bother with them at all. Most events require you to have some new content specialy for them. Can you manage to do that once a week? or at least twice a month?

It's hard to get into the big events. They're already filled up with merchants and on the rare occasions a slot becomes available, they'd much rather fill it up with an established well known brand than with a new unkown one for obvious reasons.

I was a little on the late side applying for the event and all but the smallest store were already taken. Luckily a store one size bigger became available and I was able to upgrade. :) It fits all my needs for now... I'm planning to first see how this event goes before applying for another one. And I think your absolutely right that it's better to do one or a few events and do them well.

 

5 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Most of the sales at events are from impulse buys. So you need to make whatever you want to sell as attractive at first sight. You also want to focus ont he kind of things people are likely to buy on impulse, clothing, relatively small keepsakes, cool gadgets and such.

Excellent point. I will keep that in mind too!

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Another great tip I got on the caspertech support forum was to put giftcards for the actual product in the donation vendors. this way when the customer redeems the giftcard it will register in your vendor system and the customer will be able to redeliver while you can track sales.

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This is my opinion so please don't take it as a rule or something... I am not sure about the signs with landmarks and other infos... You are limited with prims and its better to "spend" them on vendors that will generate some money than on signs that will give infos which people can easily pick up somewhere else.

Right click on any of your items gives me link to your profile where I can find infos about your store, teleport links, where to go for redelivery etc. My suggestion is, if you really want to put something out, to place a little gift and inside that gift put the landmark, info notecard, write about your redelivery terminal and anything you find important. I've tested it many times, people are more likely to pick up your free item and get the landmark with it (or right click and check for the creator) than to take only the landmark. I mean, if they really are interested in your items, they'll get that LM anyway, you want to reach out to those that don't really care or don't know you enough to take that LM just because its there but might find your stuff interesting. 

I am not sure what kind of a feedback you want to get but maybe its better to ask it in a notecard which you pack with the product, for example you can write few lines saying you'll give a certain amount of store credits to customers that offer you constructive feedback. At the event, you'll only get those "ohh its nice, you did awesome job" etc. and people will hurry to the next booth... 

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4 hours ago, Christhiana said:

I was planning to be at the event as much as possible so I could get feedback on my products and meet possible new customers

Have you noticed how many people in SL tp away in terror the moment somebody says hello to them? They do that at events too - perhaps even more than elsewhere.

On second thought, maybe it's my avatar that is so scary... :P

 

4 hours ago, Christhiana said:

Another great tip I got on the caspertech support forum was to put giftcards for the actual product in the donation vendors.

Reminds me of something I found at a hunt once. One of the hunt prizes turned out to be a giftcard and the prices in that store were all high enough that even with a giftcard you'd end up paying at least as much that you could normally get simialr items for elsewhere...

Anyway, sicne you mention CasperTech, they have a special low lag vendor for events. Use it if you have to but ideally you should try to settle for unscripted vendors. Even the simplest script will sometimes fail when the server is as overloaded as it often is at an event and every vendor script misfire means a lost sale.

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I echo quite a few comments already made. 

Don't worry about being at the event for shoppers to talk to. In the very olden days (and still now really) customers DID / DO like to know there is a person behind the brand and it is important to give good customer support and chat at your shop if and when you run into someone. But in general people at events are there to shop. Set up early (unlike SO MANY SHOP OWNERS) as I can't help but think that those running the events notice; "I" certainly do :D. 

 

RFL events are good to apply to when your brand is new, but not all are equal. I just made the most I have EVER made at an event except for one gacha at Fantasy Faire. Another recent RFL event I made nothing (yes, that was nothing). There were no PEOPLE THERE!!!!   So don't just opt in to anything you can get into. 

 Realize that you may not make a ton of money at an event; you might even go into the red. Note that recent RFL debacle was the first time that I ever in nine years didn't make a profit at an event. I am going to ignore it and just consider it a donation to RFL which is OK *wink*. 

 

Your marketplace store suggests you are selling building supplies but not full perm ones. Original mesh is good but your current product line is not compatible with hardly any event venues at the moment. So a lot of our advice probably isn't all that relevant. As you continue on you might want to make some more commercial products that would be acceptable in popular venues.

But yes, even the folks IN the popular venues have trouble getting into others :D so it's a tough go.  Just keep working at it and enjoying the journey. 

Oh, and I would make some BIGGER and closer up photos for your Marketplace page. I couldn't see what you were selling -- hence I wouldn't be buying even if I wanted the product.   As someone said, make it  P-R-E-T-T-Y. 

:D

 

 

 

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Thank you Chic, you have some good points there! 

8 hours ago, Chic Aeon said:

I echo quite a few comments already made. 

Don't worry about being at the event for shoppers to talk to. In the very olden days (and still now really) customers DID / DO like to know there is a person behind the brand and it is important to give good customer support and chat at your shop if and when you run into someone. But in general people at events are there to shop. Set up early (unlike SO MANY SHOP OWNERS) as I can't help but think that those running the events notice; "I" certainly do :D. 

That was why I was planning on spending much time at the event. To show there is a human behind the brand that is available for questions and support.

They do notice! I already got feedback from the organizers that they were happy that unlike many others I was fast to respond with my logo and payments :) I'll have my exhibit prebuild so I'll be up and running in no time.

8 hours ago, Chic Aeon said:

RFL events are good to apply to when your brand is new, but not all are equal. I just made the most I have EVER made at an event except for one gacha at Fantasy Faire. Another recent RFL event I made nothing (yes, that was nothing). There were no PEOPLE THERE!!!!   So don't just opt in to anything you can get into. 

 Realize that you may not make a ton of money at an event; you might even go into the red. Note that recent RFL debacle was the first time that I ever in nine years didn't make a profit at an event. I am going to ignore it and just consider it a donation to RFL which is OK *wink*. 

I have no Illusion of making money at this event. I'm doing it mostly for the exposure and sponsoring RFL.

8 hours ago, Chic Aeon said:

Your marketplace store suggests you are selling building supplies but not full perm ones. Original mesh is good but your current product line is not compatible with hardly any event venues at the moment. So a lot of our advice probably isn't all that relevant. As you continue on you might want to make some more commercial products that would be acceptable in popular venues.

My first product line is indeed building supplies but I do intend to expand into other categories. I have a small store at the H&G Expo so that should fit my product well. In the future I may end up on a different event with a completely different product. There would indeed be no point in featuring my products at something like the Fantasy Fair atm :D 

8 hours ago, Chic Aeon said:

Oh, and I would make some BIGGER and closer up photos for your Marketplace page. I couldn't see what you were selling -- hence I wouldn't be buying even if I wanted the product.   As someone said, make it  P-R-E-T-T-Y. 

:D

Your right about the extra images. I have been meaning to add them but then I applied for the expo. Got in. Had to make extra products. Had to build a store.... so that got sidetracked a little. I wil have extra images on mp for the products by the time the Expo opens. Maybe I shouldn't have applied for the expo so soon after opening my store but as you mentioned there aren't that many events that fit my current productline and I didn't want to wait a whole year for the next H&G expo. Applying some elbow grease will help getting things sorted out in time :)

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9 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Have you noticed how many people in SL tp away in terror the moment somebody says hello to them? They do that at events too - perhaps even more than elsewhere.

On second thought, maybe it's my avatar that is so scary... :P

You have a very valid point there! :D And I don't think it's your avatar. Your probably one of the least scariest things out there! xD

I'll be carefull to approach people that enter the shop. I do have experience in running several RL shops so talking to customers and giving support is nothing new to me and I am actually quite good at it in RL. But as you mentioned, people in SL tend to react a little different from RL.

9 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Reminds me of something I found at a hunt once. One of the hunt prizes turned out to be a giftcard and the prices in that store were all high enough that even with a giftcard you'd end up paying at least as much that you could normally get simialr items for elsewhere...

That's just terrible practise! What I meant was a giftcard for the specific product they buy. No extra payments.

9 hours ago, ChinRey said:

Anyway, sicne you mention CasperTech, they have a special low lag vendor for events. Use it if you have to but ideally you should try to settle for unscripted vendors. Even the simplest script will sometimes fail when the server is as overloaded as it often is at an event and every vendor script misfire means a lost sale.

I did already set up the vendors with the event script since that is preferred by the organisers. I do want to register as much of the sales as possible to my caspervend system to give me some insight on how I did at the Expo.

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11 hours ago, Tamara Artis said:

This is my opinion so please don't take it as a rule or something... I am not sure about the signs with landmarks and other infos... You are limited with prims and its better to "spend" them on vendors that will generate some money than on signs that will give infos which people can easily pick up somewhere else.

Right click on any of your items gives me link to your profile where I can find infos about your store, teleport links, where to go for redelivery etc. My suggestion is, if you really want to put something out, to place a little gift and inside that gift put the landmark, info notecard, write about your redelivery terminal and anything you find important. I've tested it many times, people are more likely to pick up your free item and get the landmark with it (or right click and check for the creator) than to take only the landmark. I mean, if they really are interested in your items, they'll get that LM anyway, you want to reach out to those that don't really care or don't know you enough to take that LM just because its there but might find your stuff interesting. 

I am not sure what kind of a feedback you want to get but maybe its better to ask it in a notecard which you pack with the product, for example you can write few lines saying you'll give a certain amount of store credits to customers that offer you constructive feedback. At the event, you'll only get those "ohh its nice, you did awesome job" etc. and people will hurry to the next booth... 

Different opinions are what I'm looking for! :) I don't have that many products yet so I do have some extra prims to spare for decoration and other stuff. I like the idea of a little gift with all the info inside. I will look into doing something like that (If I have the spare time xD ). You have some valid arguments though and I will need to think on them a little....

 

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Hmmm...the gift card in the donation vendor idea got me thinking. Maybe I will put up a vendor in my inworld store that sells giftcards for the products in my store. Since they are trans only they can be given to someone as a present. When they 'claim' the item they would get registered with the vendor system and be able to get deliveries. That would solve the no redeliveries on gift items problem :) 

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I have to agree with Tamara on the 'redelivery' info signs etc.

Many events do NOT allow you to use scripted "brand x vending system" vendors, for lag issues, you end up using a good old LL-Tech "buy contents of prim" vendor.

So, after an event you end up having to go through your payment notifications adding customers manually to your vending system records. Sending a customer to your store for a redelivery, when you haven't added them yet (you have to log and sleep some time right?) makes for bad PR.

The giftcard idea is a neat way to bypass this.

Speaking of gifts, put out a gift, make sure it's clearly labeled as such, easy to find on FS area search for example. That gift draws people to YOUR booth instead of dozens of others, ensures they get YOUR LM and a notecard with YOUR marketplace weblink.

It also shows them the quality of your products, and yeah, while many will just collect the gift and go, a significant percentage will buy something else later, either returning to the event, or heading to the less laggy mainstore.

Keep your booth build simple, avoid hi-res textures for the booth its self, even the vendor pics shouldn't be too hi res, lots of large textures adds to gpu lag and slows rez times, you don't want people walking past your booth because its grey and staying that way....
 

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I also agree with a lot of points that were already made. Events are a great way of getting your name out there. For a new business its all about gaining exposure and I love nothing more then finding an item I like at an event and discovering a new vendor at the same time. With that said, focus on events that target your core audience and have your booth setup on time and to event standards.

Make sure you have all the appropriate links in your profile for consumers to find you on social media or to locate your store in world or online. Regardless if someone makes a purchase today, they could be a customer tomorrow. Advertise your presence at the event, provide dates, LM and or other specific info. Too many sellers assume everyone has been to an event regardless if it is well known or not. Often times I will see a Flickr page with something along the lines of "Available at FLGHR event" with no dates or LM and I am left thinking wtf is that?

I really like Tamara's idea of having a little gift there for people to get a sample of your work and to distribute other pertinent info about your business.

 

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