Ultimate Guide to Vendor Events for Direct Sellers

Selling Tips

Vendor events are an incredible sales tool you can use to grow your direct sales business.  Vendor events can be a little tricky and intimidating if you’ve never done them before, but they can also be HUGE money makers for your business. 

When I first started in direct sales, one of the first things I learned was that my friends and family could only buy so many things. I needed to get out of that friends and family circle. The first tip I would always share with my new team members is that you need to RUN from that friends and family circle! 

One perfect way to expand your circle? Vendor events! Put yourself out there, get the proper strategy, and follow-up in place, and you will see the rewards. 

At the end of my direct sales career, I had vendor events down to a science. Here are my top tips for how to rock your next vendor event!

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WHAT IS A VENDOR EVENT? 

A Vendor Event, sometimes known as a Craft Show, is basically a gathering of small business owners with potential customers for a specific event. Depending on the Event guidelines, becoming a vendor is typically a straightforward process and most Vendor Events last 1 to 3 days.

 

WHY SHOULD DIRECT SELLERS DO VENDOR EVENTS? 

Vendor events are an easy way to market your business and a great way to find new customers.  Vendor events give you a chance to meet people in your area and let them know that you are their local connection for your business.  A well-attended vendor event can have a very high return on your investment for your business.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO AT A VENDOR EVENT? 

In its simplest form, you set up a marketing display and share your passion for your business with others.  A vendor event is all about meeting new potential customers and marketing you and your business.   But there are a few things to keep in mind when looking for Vendor Events.

First, ask if other consultants from your company have already signed up; many direct sales companies do not allow more than one consultant at an event.

Secondly, determine how many years the event has been established and how many people attend on average. Other things to consider are whether it is indoors or outdoors, whether you need to provide your own tables, and how they advertise the event to the public.

Finally, determine if the cost of the event will be worth the return.  If an event is small, doesn’t have a plan for advertising to the public, or has not had high attendance in the past, I would not recommend spending higher than your allotted budget for the booth.  Marketing is always a bit of a risk on return, but make sure that you stay within your own budget.

 

HOW DO YOU FIND VENDOR EVENTS NEAR YOU? 

  • Google Search – Most craft fairs and vendor events have successfully moved into this century and have a website, so a quick Google search can help you get started. Search for vendor event (insert name of your city) and see what pops up. You can also search for “craft fair” or “holiday fair.”   Once you find one, reach out to the person in charge and ask if they have any spots available. And don’t be afraid of the events that are coming up quickly. You never know when a vendor had to back out, and the organizer is frantically trying to fill the spot.  If you’re willing to travel, decide how far you’re willing to drive for an event and check other local areas to see what’s happening there. Getting outside your immediate city is another great way to expand your circle quickly.
  • Local Facebook Groups – Community groups for your local area are a great way to see what’s going on locally in the next few months. Once you find a group, request to join and make sure you play by the rules. If there’s no chatter in the group about upcoming events, don’t be afraid to post and ask. I can almost guarantee you, someone in there knows what’s going on. And again, don’t just look in your city. Make sure you expand your search to cities within driving distance.
  • Craigslist – https://craigslist.org/ is a great way to find events in your area. You can filter by different geographical regions around you, the dates you’re looking for, and even specific types of events.  Most will even indicate if they’re currently accepting vendor applications.
  • Newspaper – Your local newspaper is still a great source for getting information on upcoming events in your area. Events can usually be found in the local section of the newspaper.  
  • Chamber of Commerce – These guys are in the know on all the local happenings, so check your local Chamber’s website often. They are there to serve the community, so a quick call might get you some more info as well. And while you’re at it, see if they have any directories or networking events that would work well for your direct sales business. You can network outside of vendor events and craft fairs, you know?
  • Schools – Many schools have fairs and festivals that are used as fundraisers. Not all of them take vendors outside of parents, but it never hurts to ask. Just call the school’s main number and see if they have any on the calendar. If you’re the parent of a student, this is also a great way to get your business out to the other parents at the school.
  • News Channel websites –  Your local news station usually has a website that includes local events. Check regularly for any that are accepting vendor applications. 
  • Non-profit organizations – Contact your local non-profit organizations to see if they offer any type of vendor or exhibitor events that you can either participate in or offer as a fundraiser. Many, such as the Humane Society, YMCA, Big Brother/Big Sister, Lions Club, Shriners, etc., have fundraising events to bring awareness to their cause.  Check their scheduled events calendar for when they accept vendors and any booth requirements they may have. 
  • Holiday and Craft Fairs – There’s usually a swarm of holiday-type vendor events and craft fairs during the last quarter of the year. Watch for road signs on these! Some are small and take place at a local church, but others are huge and can take up an entire convention center. These are a great way to meet other small businesses and connect for future business. 
  • Bridal Shows – Don’t forget about all those soon-to-be newlyweds! They’re starting to put together their own home and need stuff to fill it. If you offer anything home or fashion-related, wedding registries or bridal shower parties with local brides can give you a pretty big business boost. And you know, if someone is getting married, they probably have friends that are, too!  A good resource is WeddingWire.com
  • Fair websites – Many websites specialize in events.  Fairsandfestivals.net and Myfairsandfestivals.com are two big ones to check out.
  • Kids’ Consignment Sales – Kid’s consignment sales are amazing business-boosting events if they’re done well. Usually, it’s a 2-3 day event where people bring their slightly used clothing to sell to other moms and grandmas trying to save a bit of money. When my kids were blowing through clothes faster than I could think, this was one of my favorite ways to stock up on those things that they didn’t often use, like jackets and special occasion pieces.    There are almost always vendor spots alongside the checkout line for shopping while you wait to checkout. Remember to bring some candy or a small activity for the kiddos to do while you chat it up with mom! Trust me. That poor mom standing in line trying to occupy the kids will thank you for the distraction!
  • Other Direct Sellers – We all have direct sales friends. Reach out to them and see what vendor events they have personally participated in and if they know of anything coming up. Make sure you’re reaching out to people outside your brand. You don’t want to compete with someone within your company for a spot at the same event. #awkward 
  • EventBrite – Type the word “vendor” in the eventbrite.com search box, and the first list that comes up will be events in your local community. Underneath the local events, you’ll see “popular queries,” which include: Vendor Opportunities for Women, Vendor Booth, Craft Vendor, Vendor Fair & Jewelry Vendor. Search and go!
  • Create Your Own – This one might seem daunting, but it can be a lot of fun! Create your event with other direct sellers or small business owners. It can be held in someone’s home, church, or a rented space. Decide what types of vendors you want to be involved with and approach them.  Make sure you create a strong marketing plan on this one. You don’t want people showing up to sell their stuff and have no one attend!

    If you don’t have a lot of space, another option is to create an online vendor event. It can last several days, and each vendor gets one day to showcase their products. Again, marketing is key! So have a plan to drive traffic to the event and clear expectations for all of the participating vendors.

 

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A VENDOR EVENT? 

  • Be clear about your goals – If you know me even the littlest bit, you know I’m obsessed with goal setting. What do you want to get out of the event when you’re thinking about the event? Do you want bookings or sales? Maybe your company offers a registry option, and you want to sign up some brides for registries with you. It’s up to you to figure out what your goals are. 

    My goal was always to book parties. I couldn’t have all my items there to sell directly, but I didn’t need them because I knew I’d ultimately make more booking parties.  

    When you’re at a vendor event, it’s pretty clear what people’s goals are. You walk down the aisles, and you’ll see Stacey with a bunch of hair products laid out on display. Whereas you see Sally in the next aisle with not much on display, just chatting people up. Stacey is selling; Sally is booking parties. See what I mean?  

    I also think everyone should try to book some parties, regardless of whether you’re selling on-site or not. It’s additional revenue and new circles – that is never a bad thing!
  • Keep it simple Next tip is to keep it simple, ladies. You don’t need crazy complicated displays that will end up overwhelming people. 

    When placing the items in the booth, you want it to be cohesive, not cluttered. I’d use wood crates tipped on their side to add varying levels, propping items up top and inside the crates for display.  The options are endless and don’t have to be super complicated or expensive!
  • Gather your products – My strategy was always to have a few new or seasonal products to feature. Even if your company has been around for years and years, many people haven’t seen the new seasonal stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I’d be chatting up a lady who told me she had seen it all and  I’d respond by saying, “oh my, do you really? Wow! You must LOVE this new product then,” pointing to the display. Nine times out of ten, she didn’t have it yet!  

    Do your best to keep it seasonal! Bring cinnamon for fall and ocean breeze for summer if you’re selling candles. For clothing businesses, bring trendy seasonal pieces to pair. Keep it new and keep it relevant!  For ladies who have companies like nail decals which can load a lot of products up in the car, vendor events are perfect for selling. But, for those with a large inventory of heavy product, there’s no way you’re going to load all that in and out of your car every event.
  • Purchase Supplies – These include tablecloth(s), seasonal decorations, pens, clipboard(s), display shelving or boxes, bags for cash and carry items, drawing slips, etc.
  • Grab some cash – if you plan to have cash and carry, make sure you have change. If you plan to allow people to use a credit card, set up an account with Square or another payment processor for easy payment. Make sure you include what cards you accept on any signs. 
  • Create and Print Signs – Create or print some signs that help start a conversation.  Examples might be “We’re Hiring” or “Ask Me About Our Host Bonuses.”  I would always make some simple signs and put them in nice picture frames that added a little pop of color. 

 

TIPS FOR ROCKING YOUR VENDOR EVENT 

  • Share on social – Post about each event 3 times: before you go, while at the show, and after the show. Schedule posts in advance if you think you’ll be busy. And if you can, go live! In advance of the event, go live and share where you’ll be and what you’ll be selling.  During the event, go live and show them what the event is all about and why they need to attend. Then post-event, thank everyone for attending – you can even do this while you’re tearing down your displays.
  • Don’t give away the newest catalogs – While this tip seems counterintuitive – catalogs are expensive.  People at events walk around to multiple vendors, and chances are it may end up in the trash.   Instead, I recommend using simple postcards with all the places they can find you or giving away mini catalogs, which are much less expensive.

    If you want to give out catalogs, one idea is to give out your old stock from last season. Get rid of them while they are still relevant but make sure people know to contact you for the latest version after the show! I would also have a binder with the newest catalog that I tore apart neatly and placed in sheet protectors so no one could wander with it, but they’d have a chance to take a peek if they wanted to!
  • Perfect Your Pitch – Your 30-second elevator speech on what you do can make or break your opportunity to book a party or make a sale. You don’t want to say, “Hi, my name is Mary, and I sell Pampered Chef!”. That doesn’t mean anything to me as a potential customer, especially if I don’t know your business.  Instead, use something like, “Hi, my name is Mary, and I provide quick and easy mealtime solutions through in-home and virtual parties!”. Simple, to the point, and piques interest.

    You don’t even have to mention your company name. Focus on what you do, what you provide, what solutions you can offer. You are not your brand. Yes, you represent them, but you have your own unique flair to help you grow your business, so friends, make that pitch your own!!
  • Ask a Qualifying Question – Every person that walks by at a vendor fair is NOT your ideal client. Vendor events only last for so long, so you need to maximize your time chatting with people who could be a good potential client for you.   How to do this? Ask all the questions!   

    If you have a jewelry business and ask someone if they prefer gold or silver and their response is “well, I don’t wear jewelry,” move on.  If you have a kitchenware company and all they can say is how much they hate eating at home, move on.  You don’t want to get wrapped up in a conversation that isn’t valuable. Just be kind, respectful, say it was lovely chatting, and find the next person to talk to. 

    On the other hand, if they respond positively, keep the conversation going. Ask more questions, dive a little deeper, and show how your products provide a solution!  That’s how you’re going to book parties.
  • Don’t hide behind your table – Make sure you’re mentally present at the event! Even if you’re an introvert, make it a point to stand in front of your table, smiling and making eye contact with every person who walks by. Say hello, ask them how they are, compliment them, invite them into the booth.  People will walk on by if you’re looking at your phone and sitting behind your table.  Be approachable and be friendly!
  • Get Their Number – If you don’t capture contact details from the people you chat with when you’re at the vendor event, then there’s no reason for you to be there!  The way I like to gather contact details is a small giveaway. I found success with items around $25, which seemed to be the sweet spot where people were comfortable sharing their information.  I’d have some clipboards with papers they could fill out with name, phone, and email – nothing crazy. Then, they’d put it in a bowl, and I’d draw after the event.  I prefer paper to write notes about our conversation on the back for follow-up for in-person events.

    If it’s a virtual party, do a Google Form! Ask the Event Coordinator if you can share the link, and you’ll gather details that way too.  No matter how you capture their info, it’s just so important to get details for a follow-up!
  • Follow Up Quickly – I’ve seen this happen too many times. Consultants attend a vendor event, and they don’t do anything with the contacts they make. I’m going to keep it real with you all and get a little sassy – if you’re not going to follow up with every person who is willing to give you their contact info, don’t do the event. You’re better off flushing your money down the toilet.

    No one is going to come knocking on your door after a vendor event to book a party; you must be the one knocking on doors.  A simple phone call, email, or text if the phone isn’t your thing to follow-up goes a long way. When you follow-up, mention you met them at the event, let them know that they didn’t win the grand prize, but if they book a party with you now, they’ll still get a fun prize!   I booked a lot of parties with this simple gesture – it works!

Vendor events can be a great way to build your direct sales business, especially if you don’t know many people or don’t have a lot of local family and friends. Give it a try by researching vendor events and virtual vendor event opportunities near you, then get out there and book one.  Just do it – you’ve got this!

 

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Ultimate Guide to Vendor Events for Direct Seller
Essential Guide to Vendor Events for Direct Sellers
Direct Sellers Business Blueprint Mockup

Want a proven plan for growing your direct sales business without feeling like you're chasing your tail? The Direct Sellers Business Blueprint explains the 4 key areas you must master to build a simplified, systematic business. It will even tell you which area to tackle first, so you can stop feeling overwhelmed or confused about what to do next. The best part? It's completely FREE!

 

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Hey, I'm Mary!

I've been right where you are - in the middle of the direct sales hustle. I remember the grind of trying to figure out every new tip or trick to build my own direct sales business.  I want to show you a better, simpler way. My passion is helping you simplify and streamline your direct sales business using proven systems that reduce overwhelm and help you reach your business goals even faster! Find out more about what me and my team here.

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Have you tried every idea under the sun? Are you tired of wondering what to do next? That's why we created the Direct Sellers Business Blueprint. It walks you through the simple, proven plan for building a thriving direct sales business. No chaos, confusion, or overwhelm. Simple steps done in the right order. And the best part is that it's free!

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