Ask around! Churches, schools, and local businesses often have seasonal events that you could ask to participate in.
Ask friends and family! They may know of churches, schools, or local businesses hosting events.
Ask fellow vendors. If you have any friends or family who are also in direct sales, ask them if they know of any event coordinators you can contact. Reach out to the event coordinators and ask them to keep you in mind for any future events.
Don’t be afraid to ask your local businesses if they have customer appreciation days and ask if you can set up a table offering samples to their customers.
Ask local schools if you can host coffee for any teacher functions or teacher appreciation days.
Check social media! A lot of Facebook groups exist that are regional (state specific, county/parish specific, or even a section of the state specific). Join the groups and watch for events in your area.
Set yourself a limit on what you’re willing to spend. There are cheap events and there are some very expensive ones. Set yourself a limit and stick to that.
Research before committing. Ask around if other vendors have done the events and if they had been successful in the past. Ask the coordinator if the event has been hosted in the past and how many guests attended. Ask the same of fellow vendors who may have participated in the past. Research before committing to the event. You are running your business, time wasted is money wasted.
Table set up
Know your event and plan ahead! Did you get a table with the event? If so, what size and shape? Often times events will allow for a 6 foot or 8 foot table. Some offer round cafeteria tables. Some don’t offer a table at all and you need to supply your own. Knowing the space you will have to set up is the first step to a successful table display.
Pack light. You do not need a lot of inventory for events. You can offer a few cash and carry options and take orders at the event. Make sure your customers know that they will be receiving a fresh product this way. If you tell the customer “I just sold my last one, let me order that for you”; often times they have no issues with you placing an order for them.
Have promotional items available. You can display the monthly subscription boxes or you can display a flyer of the subscription boxes.
Use height on your table to draw attention. Customers are visual. If they see everything on one level on the table there is nothing to catch their eye. If you add height and dimensions to the table its eye catching and appealing.
During the event
Have a game plan. What is your mission for this even? Are you looking for sales? Are you looking for party leads? Are you looking to recruit? Know what you’re mission is before the event starts and prepare for your mission.
Keep your table neat and organized. If your table is not neat and organized your potential customers will assume you are not organized and you will lose a potential customer. If potential customers touch your table top displays and move them, after they leave straighten up your table again. If you offer samples at your table and a mess is made, be sure to clean up after each potential customer.
Interact with potential customers. Greet everyone. Say hello, would you like to try a free sample. Be out in front or to the side of your table if at all possible. This is more welcoming to potential customers than you standing behind your table.
Stay off electronics. Your potential customers will see you on the phone and walk right past your table. Stay engaged!
Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Introduce yourself to your neighbor vendors. If time allows, walk around and let other vendors know you have free coffee samples. Some of the best customers are other vendors!
Have something to attract attention! This can be as simple as offering lead slips during the event and doing a drawing. The prize can be as simple as a sample bag of coffee in a dollar store mug wrapped up in a large gift bag. People love mysteries! If you place a gift bag on your table with a sign that says “Win Me”, people will ask! Other vendors play games. You can have a prize wheel, plinko game, pick an envelope game, anything that works for you. You pick the prizes.
Use your order forms. During your event, whether it’s a cash and carry order or an order to be placed, use your order forms! The forms have the return policy on the back for the customer, plus this gets you their contact information. If they ask why they need to complete it, you can tell the customer they’ll need that receipt with the return policy on it if for any reason they’re unhappy with their purchase. Be sure your contact information is also on there. You can let them know to contact you should they have any questions or concerns with their order. Use this information to follow up with the customer. You have a record now of what was ordered and you can use this as part of your follow up.
Always follow up! Whether it’s a party lead, someone who visited your table, or someone who placed an order. Follow up. Thank them for stopping by your table. Make sure they have your contact information. Let them know if they have any questions they can reach you by any of the contacts you provided. Ask them if you can follow up again in a couple weeks to check in and see if they have any questions about their orders.
Create a follow up system. There is no wrong way to do this. There are apps you can utilize to help with follow up (AMI is one). Some create spreadsheets and input information into the spreadsheets. And we also have a tool available in Flight (back office) that allows you to enter leads and customers. In Flight, there is a Lead section. You can enter in leads through this section. You can also generate broadcast messages through Flight and send emails to your leads and customers as an easy follow up option.
Dedicate time. You can dedicate however much time works for you. Block your schedule as many days, hours, or minutes as you’d like. Use this time to call, text, or email customers. Let them know about any new products that might have come out they might be interested in.
Few Additional Tips
Make a plan for what you plan to sample. Be creative. If there’s a theme to the event you can match with a flavor of coffee or tea, do so. Is it an event where kids are invited (school events for example)? Have a cocoa product to sample for the kids and a coffee and/or tea for the parents to sample. How many samples you offer is your choice but keep in mind your set up area. If you don’t have a lot of space, and you plan to offer cash and carry, you need to remember your table space. Also, if you plan to offer cash and carry, you may want to have 1 or 2 of the items your sampling. People tend to purchase what they try because they know they like that product. If you sell out, you can take orders.
Plan ahead. If you plan to offer cash and carry, be sure to order with enough time to allow the order to arrive. Plan ahead for shipping delays. At minimum, try to order at least 3 weeks before your event if at all possible. Standard shipping is up to 10 business days, and depending on your geographical area it could take a few days to reach you after it ships out.
Seasonal options. When planning out your samples, be mindful of the seasons. Are you doing an outdoors event in the middle of the summer? If so, cold brew coffee and/or tea might be a better option to sample. Doing an event in the fall or winter? Warm coffee, tea and/or cocoa might be a better bet.