Networking for Trade Show and Market Vendors

By Sandra Christian on February 8, 2021

Vendor marketing ideas are easy to share with other vendors when you’re at a trade show or other event. 

"You should go see so and so vendor inside/outside and tell them I sent you!"

What do you do when the attendee doesn't find what they need with you? Do you dismiss and move on?

No! Here is where the real magic of a "community over competition" comes into play. If you and your neighbor vendors master this, you will have an audience that lingers and returns for more.

As trade show or farmers market attendees, don’t we love when a vendor is all about themselves and their product? Confidence is great, but our many experiences have shown us it is better to connect first and sell second.

Vendor Marketing Ideas at Trade Shows

Let's paint the picture of a vendor market, the hustle and hard work that goes into setting up early in the morning with canopies, flags and displays. These vendors are on their feet all day and meeting hundreds of new faces with smiles and small talk to sell what they have unpacked that morning. The hope for product-based businesses is to always walk away with less than they brought with them, or for service-based businesses to try to collect as many new contacts and leads as possible to follow up with later.

What is the first question you ask when someone walks up to your vendor booth? 

The best practice to sell your products is not to be overzealous or pushy. Even though every attendee knows that's what you're there to do and most attendees understand. For most market vendors, this is their in-person "storefront."

As a vendor, you cannot and will never be able to 100% control who shows up to the event. What you can do is support the mission of community sales — to share the platform the organizer has built where people gather for what they may need. When they see you actively promoting the event, they will know the location of your booth. To support all other vendors and help them see the value you are creating, the attendees will want to be a part and return the effort!

Supporting Other Vendors

Speak in high regard of your neighbor vendors; it will serve you well, and the right people will notice. 

One of the best vendor marketing ideas you can use is getting more exposure for everyone at the event. Don't keep the attendees to yourself; spread the wealth. And if someone does not buy from you — no big deal. They did not need what you have to offer. That doesn't mean they can't come back or tell others about you after a great visit and experience with you. Don't let the attendee leave your area without referring them to a different vendor. Promote the community, and hopefully, both the attendee and the neighbor vendor will remember your and may even return the favor. 

Some call this "Karma" or just being generous. 😇 

What you give to others, you will receive back by the thousands.

Build Rapport

Always get to know your audience before you start selling them your products. Unless the attendee is certain they want what you have, start by inviting them into common-ground conversations. The event you and the attendee are at is a great starting point when building common ground!

Great vendor connecting practices:

  • What have you seen so far at the event?
  • Are you looking for anything specific in this market?
  • Which vendor has been your favorite?
  • Before they leave the vendor area, tell them, "You should go see [one of your neighbor vendors] and tell them I sent you!" It shows unity and support of others in the same field/market! 😄

Of course, if the attendee seems rushed, read their body language and wish them well. Even this small gesture may leave them with a pleasant memory of you.

Other Markets and Interactions

Take every opportunity to attend other markets and study the vendors' interactions with attending prospects. It does not matter what type of market or trade show you attend — do your research. Even consider going to a flea market or a professional trade show. Find the vendor with most versus the least attendees flocking around their location. What's the difference? How do they engage with the crowd?

We have mentioned this before — take advantage of the vendor event market platform BEFORE, DURING and AFTER.

Vendor Marketing Ideas Before the Event:

  1. Tell the world where you and others will be.
  2. Connect and cross-promote yourself with the other attending vendors for additional exposure and new prospect reach.
  3. Add to what the organizer is trying to do already — attract an audience for all vendors to sell more and have a great experience at the event. You might see this as part of your vendor fee and rely on the organizer to pull the marketing train.
  4. We believe there are benefits in community and social marketing. Together we can do and reach more!

At the event, put the previously shared practices to work and see what it leads to, not only for yourself and your business but for the end results. The aftermath can be astonishing from new vendor connections to new leads seeing your brand. And the organizer will notice your support for their hard work.

After the event ends, more opportunities open up! Use the energy you, the organizer and the other vendors received from the attendees. Build onto this for the next event to exceed expectations! 😄

Now tell us, what in this blog post was most beneficial for your next market venture? What kind of trade show vendor marketing ideas did you get? What practices will you master to take your vendor business to the next level?

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