Engage Your Customers at Food Festivals

As we sit here waiting out the rest of winter, now is a good time to look forward to spring and summer’s food festivals! These events offer you the great opportunity to engage with your customers face-to-face, meet new people, and network with other food and beverage companies.

Food festivals are a great sales opportunity, because people are there to eat and buy food. Of course, your challenge is to make your offerings stand out from the rest, so people will buy from YOU rather than your neighbors.

This is a great opportunity for sales and marketing to work together. Marketing can design a great booth and some good leave-behinds, as well as promoting the upcoming event in the weeks leading up to it. Meanwhile the sales team works on how you’re going to pitch your delicious products to the hordes of hungry festival attendees.

Although you’ll want to have the sales team running the booth, you’ll want to also see if you can get the owner or the chef involved. Customers love to meet the people behind the food! Getting a chance to talk to the owners or chefs always makes me more likely to become a regular patron of a restaurant, or to seek out a company’s products when I’m grocery shopping. Food festivals are a great opportunity for your customers to build that personal connection with your brand, especially if you don’t have a restaurant or store front where you can regularly connect.

Food festivals are also a great time to run a promotion. If you’re offering a special deal, people are more likely to buy now than to move on to the next booth. Although traditional discounts and BOGOs are a good incentive to purchase, consider offering a coupon or gift card good towards a future purchase – that way you know they’ll come back to you after the festival is over!

Even if you don’t set up a booth at a festival, they’re a great networking opportunity. You may want to scout out an event in person before deciding if you want to vend there in the future. Make sure to bring your business cards and brochures or other leave-behinds and have your elevator pitch ready. Keep it casual, though. Most events don’t allow solicitation from non-vendors, so look for natural networking opportunities rather than trying to force a sale.

Now is the time to start planning. Look into the festivals in your area, or events you might want to travel for. Find the ones that best match your company’s vision. Do you think you’d be best served by being part of a general food festival, or one with a more specific theme (local, organic, vegetarian, taco festival, food truck round up?). Get your applications in and then sit down with marketing to see how they can support sales. Above all, be prepared to have fun meeting your customers!

-AJ

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