Changes to Local Craft Shows & Annual Events are Imminent
“The show must go on,” is ringing in the ears of local organizations impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus. Many local serving organizations host in-person events and fairs from Halloween through New Years to catch all the busy holiday shoppers, and the revenues they bring with them. Artisans, local eCommerce and those with blends of online and bricks and mortar use the holiday season as an opportunity to substantially increase their annual revenues.
The holiday shopping season for 2020 will undoubtedly look quite different than those of seasons past. In person events should expect to be sparse, as patrons will likely be required to wear uncomfortable face masks and mandated to keep distance while shopping. Meantime shop owners will be busy sanitizing everything consumers touch and don’t buy, working to keep their holiday shoppers safe by placing “please don’t touch” signs on merchandise that once was routinely touched or smelled prior to purchase.
As shows move online the organizations often have a minimal ability to digest the transition, and therefore simply won’t likely have events at all. Some local vendor craft shows pending cancellation after serving the community, and local artisans, for over 20 years. In many corners of the “handmade” or artisan movement are those individuals yet to adopt the technology necessary to hosting events like this online.
Bridging the Technology Gap
We are seeing everything from wine tastings to craft fairs being hosted online. There are rumors of annual awards ceremonies contemplating the change to an online format as far in the future as December. The challenges of transitioning to an online format have caused so much stress that many organizers have given in to the requests, but don’t know where to turn. Having helped organizations to increase the depth of their reach through online resources for years, Hunter Marketing is a wealth of knowledge on making the transition. Here are a few of the most important items you should complete to have successful online vendor events this holiday season.
Choose a Platform
Social media channels can be challenging when working with a large number of people in different places. This is why, for the most seamless and user-friendly experience, we recommend running these events instead through your website. If you are more comfortable with a specific platform you may want to consider this: in order to attract the maximum number of attendees to your event the least amount of effort is necessary.
Hosting an event on your website. Attendee goes through a signup or checkout process. Each person registered will receive a series of emails leading up to the event to promote vendors, products, and giveaways. During events you maintain control of and are privy to all aspects of attendees and their entered information including contact details. In every way you are in control. You may preload the content, allowing you to focus more on customer retention and revenues. With some of the horror stories regarding Zoom outages, it may very well save your sanity, too.
Create a Game Plan
Ensure that everyone firmly understands timing and time limitations. Each vendor will receive the spotlight, and any set scripting. Giving clear guidance will help everyone feel as though they’re receiving the attention and their products have been given the time they deserve from your event.
You can even publish a schedule for your event so that attendees know when their favorite brands will be presented.
Practice & Prerecord
Preparedness is key, and therefore practice is essential. Whenever possible it is also best to prerecord at least portions of your event. This will minimize technical issues during the event as well as keep messaging and timing on-point. Be sure to record the entire event, and offer a rerun for those who couldn’t attend live.
Be aware of your on-air background and room settings, including noise and Internet reliability. Use a greenscreen whenever possible. And keep in mind that the better the technology to record, the better the final result. People will forgive mistakes if they happen, to a certain degree, so don’t worry so much about minor errors.
Choose the Right Time & a Rerun Time
Making sure that the time of your event is convenient is of the utmost importance. Then choose a second time to rerun the event without giveaways or live event specials. To further boost attendance and sales some online events will even offer a special discount during the rerun to push attendees through the checkout process.
Promote & Cross Promote
You can’t rely on word of mouth, especially while people are sitting in isolation. However, with less in person interactions more people are taking to social media, which gives you a great opportunity to promote your event to a captive audience. Be sure to offer incentives to vendors and influencers for attendees, and be sure to follow through.
Make it Inclusive
“A little something for everyone” will make sure that your event is well attended. Consider the order of your vendors and how they fit together. Keep in mind your audience, and how you can grow it through your most loyal followers. Taking steps to minimize alienating individuals, or groups, will ensure that everyone feel welcome, and attends with enthusiasm.
There are a variety of ways you can encourage individuals and groups to engage with your event. Offering access to prizes or special low priced goods are somewhat common. Others give vendors better placement or reduced fees based on their registrations or attendance, shares, comments, and other engagement activities through social media. Whatever you decide to provide be sure to provide it equally, and according to your promise.
Extra Points for Originality
With so many businesses, organizations, and events hopping on the virtual bandwagon, one way you can edge ahead is by making your event unique. Consider what others are doing, replicate what is working, and be sure to adjust it to make it original. Some of the ways people are standing out include ‘experience’ giveaways, local goods, and even getting people to post something specific to social media and tag your organization. Regardless of what you choose be sure it’s fun, and above all else, engaging.
Keeping Costs Low for Virtual Events
While venue and hosting costs are at a minimum, the overall cost of your virtual event will likely rival that of an in-person event. You’ll have added technology and broadcasting costs, potentially costs from professional assistance to ensure your event is up and running, and if you were charging an entry fee you can say goodbye to that revenue line. If a budget is in the forefront of your mind be sure to write one out completely before making any financial decisions, especially if you haven’t hosted an online event before.