Marketing NOLA Entrepreneurs

Everything You Need To Know About Event Marketing

Warmer weather means it’s officially festival season.

Event marketing is a great resource for businesses to get their product or service in front of both locals and tourists. Marketing at an event does take quite a lot of planning, however! To get the most out of your budget and to foolproof your operations, keep on reading.

What is Event Marketing?

Event marketing is when you promote your business at an event. Oftentimes you can directly communicate with potential customers in person. This usually takes place at festivals, conferences, markets, conventions, races, trade shows, and street fairs. Businesses choose to participate in events for various reasons such as increasing branding and awareness, generating lead generation, and engaging with customers in person.

How to Choose an Event

In our hometown of New Orleans, there are over 30 festivals taking place between April and September! That’s not even counting the numerous conventions, competitions, and other events that take place in the city.

In some cases, the type of event that best fits your business is obvious. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you can market your business at a food festival. Events in every city has different types of people that attend them, so it’s important to choose an event that your target market is likely to attend. If you know who your ideal customer is, you can reach them at the right time at the right place with the right message!

Another factor to take into account when choosing an event to market at is timing. For example, selling gloves and jackets at an outdoor music festival in Florida during the summer will probably make for a tough sell. If you have a seasonal product or service, consider how this will affect your sales at the event you decide to participate in.

Types of Event Marketing

There are two types of event marketing you can do for your business, being a sponsor or being a vendor. There are pros and cons to both.

Being a sponsor of an event gets your business a lot of coverage. You have the opportunity to get your face or logo in front of your target audience. This is especially beneficial for new brands. Note, it tends to be more expensive to be a sponsor of an event so a large marketing budget is needed. Also, though your reach is increased, the exposure is hard to track even if you’re giving away freebies. For example, Toyota is a sponsor of the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans. They give fest-goers a uniquely designed bandana with their logo on it each year. They can track how many people sign up to get a bandana but they can’t track the number of attendees who see their name/logo on the tent, fest schedule, stage, or other places around the festival.

Being a vendor helps to put your product directly in the hands of your target audience. It also helps to build relationships with them even if they don’t purchase right then and there. That one in-person interaction can drive them to your storefront or online store and further down the sales funnel. Your business will also remain top of mind because of it. Your marketing budget as a vendor will be less than one of a sponsor but make sure to calculate vendor fees, time, and paying an employee to assist with manning your table into your costs.

Other Types of Marketing Events

If you don’t have a huge marketing budget or if your business is just starting out, there are other alternatives to marketing your business at events. You can pursue a pop-up shop. A pop-up shop is when you temporarily use a physical space to create an impression with potential customers. To successfully launch a pop-up shop, you should partner with another store or vendor that has a physical storefront. The partnering business should have a similar audience to yours and items that compliment your goods or services. For example, if you are a jewelry seller, you can partner with a clothing boutique for an in-store pop-up shop. Make the connection and you can help grow your brands together.

Prepare Your SWAG

You’ll want to think about what ways you can attract attendees to your booth, storefront, or website. You can collect emails, phone numbers, or business cards to follow up with customers who have interacted with your business. Here are a few fun ways to bring customers to you:

  • Giving away branded freebies: Handing out branded swag like a sticker with your logo on it, a pen, or a t-shirt can attract people to your station.
  • Feed or Quench the Crowd: Everyone loves free food and drinks. If you’re a restaurant, you can hand out samples of your food items or beverages at the event. If you’re not selling food or drinks, you can hand out free snacks or cups of water with your logo on them to customers.
  • Raffle off a product or service: You can require customers to opt-in to your email mailing list to win a gift card or one of your products or services! Make sure you use both digital and paper forms to collect their email information.

Besides giveaways, other ways to attract people to your booth are table include interactive games and photo opportunities such as a photo booth or a themed cutout.

How to Collect Payments

When it comes to accepting payments, it’s important to offer your customers a variety of payment options. Making the payment process easy for your customers keeps them coming back and spending more.

Consumers are making more mobile and online payments than ever before. Here are a few different ways you can collect payments from your customers while at events.

  • Venmo is a mobile payment service owned by PayPal that allows users to transfer funds to others via a mobile app. Venmo is free for payments funded by bank accounts, debit cards, and prepaid debit cards.
  • Square Up is a mobile payment company that accepts all types of payments. If you want to start small, they offer a free magstripe – a credit card reader dongle that plugs into the headphone hack of your mobile device or your computer. And you don’t have to work about internet connections. No signal? No problem. You can swipe payments without a connection in offline mode.
  • Accept eChecks and ACH payments through QuickBooks for free. It’s hard (and rare) to accept paper checks while at an event. You can expand your customer’s payment options and increase sale by using Quickbooks. They don’t charge processing fees for ACH transfers or eChecks.
  • Cash App is a mobile payment service developed by Square, Inc. (the same people who made Square Up). Like Venmo, users can transfer money to one another using a mobile phone app on Cash app.

Create Social Buzz

Getting on social media is an important way to create momentum. You can use the event’s hashtag in your social posts along with tagging the event and its sponsors. Before the event, inform your current customers and social media followers that you will be at the event. During the event, create a social post to inform attendees about giveaways, raffles, sales, and other important information that will draw them to your booth. You can also go live on social platforms like Instagram or Facebook to showcase how much fun you’re having! After the event, share a quick thank you with a picture or video from the event.


After discovering who your target customer is and what type of event you’d find them attending, contact the event(s) and begin coordinating the details for your specific booth if you’re vendoring or what sponsorship entails. Make sure to read the fine print and ensure all the details you discussed is written out on the contract.

You need to know the location of your booth – is it near a stage or main area where there is foot traffic? What is the size of your booth? What is provided – chairs, a table, a tablecloth, a tent, etc? Will you be located near electrical outlets? Are there any restrictions to displaying that you should be aware of? Are there advertisements included with your sponsorship or vendor contract?

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