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Booth vendors should engage customers to boost profits

Nov 1, 2012 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Question -- "I recently attended an event where I rented a booth. People looked at my products, but I didn't sell as much as I would have liked. What strategies can I do to get people to linger longer and get more interested in my products?"

-- Shelly, Newcastle

Answer -- I am putting on my customer hat on this question.

I recently attended a fair -- the Mother Earth News Fair that had more than 250 vendors. I walked around and looked at all the vendor products. I didn't need or want anything specifically, but enjoyed touching and looking at new things. Many vendors were excited the first day, maybe still the second day, but their energy waned on the third. I get that, and my energy was low as well.

The few items I did buy were a result of three things: the vendors were engaging and passionate about their products; the products were unusual and I had to have them; and crowd pressure.

I bought several books, and people were snatching them up so quickly that I didn't want to miss out. Yes, I could have ordered the book, but it was "the have it in my hands satisfaction" that I craved.

I don't like to be pushed into buying; that is different from showing enthusiasm and passion.

Ask yourself honestly, "Are you totally in love and believe in your product?" If you answer no, then maybe you should rethink what you are doing.

When you are passionate and believe in your product, it comes through as well. The conversations with people are more engaging. They will ask questions and talk or listen longer.

If you are sitting in your booth looking bored, I usually just walk by. If your product interests me, I may look for something to find more information. This is your cue to engage me. Ask me a question. Don't ask a "yes" or "no" question -- it's hard to engage a person with such a short answer.

Be prepared ahead of time with questions to elicit more than a "yes" or "no" answer.

Don't sit in your retail shop or a fair booth looking bored. Brainstorm activities to demonstrate your product or activities to engage a potential customer. Yes, as a consumer, I love some entertainment factor. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Something simple will catch my attention.

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Editor's note: Debbie Gorski is the social media community manager for WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, email at wsbdc@uwyo.edu.

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