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Vendor Applications :: Part I - About Your Event


A vendor application is a very important piece of communication between you and potential vendors. First impressions count... big time. Even the simplest application can send a message to your vendors, and we want it to be the right one! If your application is misspelled, sloppy, and missing huge chunks of pertinent information, vendors will wonder how organized you are and what kind of event you will put together. A professional and organized application sends a clear and concise message: whether you've done this a million times or this is your first show, you are putting the time and effort into doing it right.

DFW Craft Shows goes through several vendor applications in a single day. My goal is the same as your potential vendors’—gather all the information needed to make an educated decision about your event. Pulling all this experience together, I have constructed a guide to vendor applications. This guide will cover the key information that your application needs to contain, as well as some insight into why your vendors are looking for this information. The guide is broken up into three parts: About Your Event, Vendor Information, and The Template. As you might have guessed, part three will include an easy-to-use template demonstrating everything we have discussed.

PART I: ABOUT YOUR EVENT

Let's start with the basics. In one glance, a vendor should be able to easily identify the basic details of your event: what, why, when, and where. These same basic concepts also apply to your flyers and promotional items as well. If a vendor/shopper has to dig for this information, there is a good chance they are going to give up before they even really get started.



When & Where
The “when” and “where” are pretty self explanatory, but obviously extremely important. I highly recommend including an actual street address or cross section. This allows people who are not as familiar with the area to easily map out their route without having to dig for information and possibly end up in the wrong place. Shoppers can be fickle creatures and it is important to make their lives as easy and error-proof as possible.

What & Why
“What” and “why” are great opportunities that a lot of applications pass by. This is a great time to sell your event! Simply having an Arts & Crafts show is not reason enough for vendors to start knocking down your door. They want to know why your event is the place to be. If you can't sell a vendor on all the wonderful attributes of your show, then how can they expect you to attract all those shoppers? And we all know, many from experience, that a show is only as good as the traffic it can attract. All the good intentions in the world will not save an event with 15 passersby.

Being the sweet, thoughtful event planner that you are, your “what” and “why” just provided a lovely blurb for vendors to use when promoting your event. Now they know exactly what to say and how to help you attract more shoppers. I bet having a little help is sounding pretty delicious to you right now. (Just keep in mind that this is rarely enough press on its own.  It will still be primarily your responsibility to spread the word.)

How
This is a good point in your application to tell your potential vendors what you are going to do to get their products in front of as many people as possible. How will you be advertising the event? Now, I’m not going to tell you how to do your job, but here are just a few avenues to get the word out:

  • Flyers: Pass them out and make them available for your vendors. Many local businesses will gladly oblige a flyer from a local event.
  • Websites: Post your event on event or arts & crafts related websites such as DFWCraftShows.
  • Facebook: Social networking is not to be ignored. Create an event or page and invite everyone you know. As them to invite everyone they know, etc etc.
  • Radio: Many stations allow event listings on their websites, but some of them will even mention them on the air.
  • Local Community: Reach out to your contacts or community for distribution of flyers etc. (Gym, Church, Daycare, etc)
  • Signs: Find out ahead of time where you can post signs the weekend of your event and do so. Contact businesses in the immediate area, they may allow you to post signs with them.
These methods are not exclusive to event coordinators. Whenever I have an event, I do everything I can to help promote it. It’s just smart business, more marketing means more traffic, which we all hope means more exposure and sales. For a more in-depth exploration of advertising methods available to both vendors and event coordinators, check out our article on advertising (coming soon).

History
I know plenty of vendors who will not even think about an event until they know how many visitors it usually gets. They want to weigh the booth fee against potential sales and all those numbers translate into valuable information. For many vendors, numbers are numbers and they could care less. The important thing is to attract as many vendors as you can, and having that information shows that you are paying attention to your events and measuring each year's successes and shortcomings. There is value in that! If it's your first year, that's fine too! Pay attention to the traffic you get when the event comes around so you will have the information for next year.  Regardless of whether or not you decide to advertise this information, being prepared will help you quickly and accurately answer those vendor inquiries.

2 comments:

  1. Just wanted to let you know we've featured your blog post at Craft Buds today!

    http://www.craftbuds.com/fresh-picks-for-wednesday-5-25-11/

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  2. Thanks for sharing this with potential show co-ordinators. You are right, if I have to dig for info, I will not bother with the application. Also, I am sure you will cover this later, but the show sponsors need to realize that if you want to attract indie crafters as vendors, the booth spaces need to be affordable. If I have to pay more than $150 for a 2 day show, I won't go. Yes, I want to get my name out there, but I also need to make a little money so I can afford my next booth rent. :-)

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