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Summer Festival Season: How to Stand Out at Street Fests

With the summer season in full swing, it's time for many businesses to start preparing for all the new opportunities summer events bring. Summer festivals, in particular, can help your business to connect with new customers in the local community and to reach audiences you otherwise wouldn't. Whether you are used to selling from a restaurant, through a delivery service or from a stall or food truck, summer festivals require a new approach to ensure you stand head and shoulders above other businesses sharing the same space.

Know Your Audience and Competition

You could attend all the summer festivals possible, but if you can't connect with your target audience, it could all be for nothing. In addition to understanding your audience, it is also worth knowing who your competitors will be and whether they will be offering similar products or services to you. Before you commit yourself to any summer event, try to find out the following information from event organizers:
  • Any specific event theme
  • The expected number of people based on last year's attendance
  • Details of past exhibitors and those who have committed to attend this year
You could also try to obtain information from past event participants about whether they hit their goals and what problems they experience along the way, if any. Some may not be willing to share that information with the competition, but it is certainly worth a try. The local Chamber of Commerce could also be a valuable source of information. Most offices will hold detailed statistical and demographic data on past events.

Plan Your Marketing Before The Event

As soon as you know which events you will be attending, it's time to start marketing. The more people you can make aware of your summer event schedule in advance, the more chance you have of people recognizing your brand when they attend. You'll need to set aside time and a marketing budget to do this effectively, but these are some of the tactics you can use:
  • Reach out over social media -- There are many ways you can reach out to prospective customers over social media. Sweepstakes, giveaways and discounts are all great incentives. Remember also to include the hashtag for the event at the end of your posts so that people know how they can claim their discounts and where you plan to be this summer. 
  • Use paid advertising -- If the summer is likely to be your busiest time of the year, it pays to use paid advertising. Using sponsored ads on Facebook, for example, can help you to target your most likely prospects at an affordable cost. 
  • Use images and video -- There are many ways you can use images and video to create aspirational marketing that resonates with your target audience. From sharing a story about the history of your food to showing images from the last street fest you attended, you can use vibrant and colorful marketing to get your point across beautifully.
  • Build a website or landing page -- Creating a website for your brand should be a top priority. If you already have a website, why not create a landing page specially created for the event or events you will be attending? You can direct your paid advertising to this page and generate more interest in your staff or restaurant before the big day.

Make Life Easier For Your Customers

Street events like summer festivals are all about freedom and enjoyment in the sun. You'll be offering your services and products to passing customers as they stop for a break or pass on through to another area of the festival. Here are some suggestions to make their lives as easy as possible and keep them in their happy place:
  • Accept mobile payments -- Your customers will love you for this. It means they can reserve their cash for other areas of the festival and make a purchase from you quickly and smoothly. Mobile payment providers like Stripe and Square offer secure credit and debit card payments through an app or a small device that plugs into the headphone jack of your phone. 
  • Freebies and demos -- Street festivals are busy, and while they attract a lot of people they also attract a lot of competition. Ensure your brand stands out by offering promotional products that are fun and practical. Brightly colored balloons for the kids and reusable shopping bags for the adults will bring them flocking to your staff, and will also be proudly on display as your customers wander around the rest of the festival. Creative demonstrations are another way to generate a crowd around you and engage customers in conversation. 

Check City Rules Well in Advance

Before committing your time to any street festival, it is a good idea to check out the city rules and regulations for the street festival and trading in the city in general. This is especially important for street vendors or business owners who have never offered their services at a street event.

The city's Chamber of Commerce website will usually have information on what is permitted at each street event. This will include information such as what time you can set up and take down your booth, what you are permitted to sell, whether you can play music and whether you are allowed to hand out marketing material.

Enjoy the Opportunity and Have Fun

Summer festivals are all about enjoying sun, fun and laughter and cramming as much as possible into one or two days. Well, for your customers anyway! By doing your research and preparing as much as you can in advance, you will have an excellent chance of standing out from the competition and enjoying a wonderful summer of success.

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