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Events and Shows – 10 Tips for Getting the Most from Events

Whatever your niche market, whether custom t-shirts or embroidery or sports, we can guarantee they have a show or live event. The people at those shows are planning to come away with a purchase, whether it’s food, apparel, art, etc. You’re there hoping to earn some business, both at the show and in the future. Here, we’ve put together a list of the top ten things you should do at events to earn more business.


If you are planning to attend a show as a vendor, connect with people before they even go to the show. You can do this in a variety of ways.Some shows will allow you to rent the email list of attendees from the previous event. You then email those past attendees to let them know you’re going to be there.

Other times the organizers might send an email on your behalf. Find out from the organizers if they advertise for the vendors attending the show. If they don’t, you might be the inspiration for them to start. Here’s the question to ask, “What’s the best way for me to connect with people that are attending the show or have attended in the past?”

You might also want to market to your existing mailing list. Let them know you’re going to be there, especially if you sell to a niche market. They might not know the event is happening. If they already do plan on going, doing this will help them find you.

You can create your own Facebook event for the show and get your customers to commit to going – send them an invite. Going back to something we mentioned in our upselling blogs, if you get people to commit publicly to something, they’re more likely to keep that commitment.

Keeping all that in mind, you don’t want to invite your customers to an event that’s full of your competition. If you create custom caps and you look on the vendor list, and there are four other apparel vendors, don’t invite your customers.

It will set you apart from the crowd by setting people up, so they’re familiar with you.

Refining your 30-second pitch

You’ve got 30 seconds before you lose the attention of the person you’re trying to sell to. Have something ready to go – whether you want to talk about a special you’re running, what you specialize in, whatever your unique selling proposition is.

At the show, don’t just to the general pitch. If you’re there to sell the goods you already made, you’re going to want to make it related to what you have with you. “My name is Bob. I’m here today because I specialize in pet clothes and dog apparel and custom t-shirts. I’ve got two things you have to see.”You can also ask them an open-ended question to bring them in.

Find some good buzzwords that will capture attention. For example: “All these custom t-shirts are made from 100% bamboo fiber.” “We donate 10% of every transaction to help homeless pets.”

While planning your pitch, tailor it, so it appeals to a wide variety of people. If you’re in a busy show one of two things will happen.

1. You’ll engage with one person, and everyone else won’t get any attention at all.

2. You’ll not engage with anyone at all because your pitch is geared towards one type of person.

Make connections

This could be the most profitable thing you could do at the show. For many people, it’s the only reason to go to a show.Using the example of a farmer’s market, there are 30-40 successful business owners.

All of them should be wearing custom apparel to that event. However, most of them are not. If you have one of these local events, you should go just to sell, even if you don’t have a booth.You come with your best version of your custom apparel.

Then go around and introduce yourself to the other vendors.If these are weekly or monthly events, it’s a great opportunity to go back again and re-connect.  There are specific events which cover pricing for embroidery and other topics of interest.

The bigger the show is, the bigger the opportunity it is for you. If you’re at a cheer show with 100-150 vendors who all paid $5,000 just to be there, those are prime customers for you. It’s also likely a 2-3 day event. You might be able to talk some of those vendors into working with you to let you outfit them for all of their shows.

You can even get to the show early and sell apparel to those vendors before you even open up your booth. If the venue lets you start setting up at 6 am, then be there right at 6. That way when everyone else is setting up later, you can walk around and introduce yourself.

Also, don’t ignore the event planners and the facility you’re in. You never know where these connections are going to lead you or how much money they could turn into. It could be a month or a year down the road, but it will have an impact on your business.

Get people into your network

Collect emails, get reviews, get followers on social media, and find ways to collect people into your network. You cannot leave the burden of contacting you up to your potential customers.

Handing someone a brochure and a card is okay – it’s a very non-threatening way for you to get your information out there. The real accomplishment is when you can gather than potential customer’s information so you can contact them.In many of our other blog posts – on upselling and marketing – we talk about reaching out to people you’ve connected to in the past about your newest custom t-shirts

This is where it happens. You need to have some way to go from talking to you and buying goods to capturing their email address.You can do that in a variety of ways. It might be a coupon available to anyone who likes you on Facebook. This allows you to remarket to those people. When you post something, you can boost that post – spend $20 – choose to promote to people who’ve liked your page. It lets every see what’s going on in your business.

Collect their email address and do the same thing as above with Facebook. You might offer a coupon in return for their email address or simply have your laptop there to collect their email – letting them know you have some great stuff you’d like to share with them.

If you use a mailing service like MailChimp or Constant Contacts, they have easy ways to collect email addresses right there on the screen.

If you have enough email addresses, over time, you can use those email addresses to market to those people on Facebook.

Go before you attend

This is a bit of a pro-tip because not a lot of people do it. If the event is a once a year thing, seize the opportunity to have a booth.

Don’t wait an extra year.However, if the event is every other Saturday, you can skip one and go as an attendee to see what the environment is like. Who’s there vending?

What’s the crowd like? Is there any competition?As an example, a few weeks ago we went to the Seminal Heights Market. It’s every other Saturday. It’s famous for being a hipster area. As we were walking through though and thinking about it from the perspective of a new vendor selling custom t-shirts if we showed up selling nothing but biker style custom t-shirts it wouldn’t fit. We likely wouldn’t be very successful.

However, by scoping everything out, I’d plan to show up with craft beer shirts, beard care shirts, etc. I’d tailor what I show and sell to the audience whether it be custom t-shirts, or embroidery or whatever.

Are the market on a Sunday afternoon, and the crowd is dressed up as if they just came from church? That crowd is likely not thinking about cheer shirts. What could you sell that is family oriented?

Another thing to look at is, are there any specific vendors with really busy booths? Why are they busy? And can you get the booth next to them?

Custom T-Shirts | Bundles and Upsells

Both Colman & Company and ColDesi do a lot of bundles when we attend tradeshows. You always want to give someone a reason to buy right there on the spot. Once they leave, they’re subject to other businesses, whether they’re direct competition (custom apparel) or any other booth at the show.

They have $35 to spend, will they spend it at your booth or somewhere else?You don’t always have to have the item available and made right then and there. You have a tote bag with a design on it that you’re selling for this event. You can offer them a bundle deal, “I’ve also got a mini purse and duffle bag combo, the tote is $25, but the bundle is $95.

Normally it’s $130 for the whole kit.” It may be that you have to order the duffle bag in and deliver it to them later.You can also offer the customization of items later. “If you buy now, I can put your name on the back, if you’d like.” You keep the item and send it to them later once you finish it back in your shop.

This is also a great way to collect their email address when they’re filling out their information.Bundles can also be one shirt for $25, two for $45, or three for $60.

You can work with scarcity, especially if you make inventory before the show. You’ve premade 50 shirts specifically related to that show; you can let customers know that’s all you have available. Then you can offer a bundle deal.

Always do offer something special to get as many people as you can to make a purchase right now. Especially if you haven’t captured their email address or they’re like on Facebook, they’re gone forever.

Have a way people can keep your information

People need to have something they can take home if they want to.

Some people are going to want to call you later on. You need to make sure you have a flyer, brochure, and business card.You can also create items like pens, magnets, or flashlights to give away with your information on it.

It can be a way to get someone to come up to your booth.If you’re in the custom apparel business, you can give away something that’s fun, meaningful, and has something to do with your business. It could be a custom headband, can koozie, or dog t-shirt. Something that didn’t cost you much, but that shows what you can do.

Something that we don’t care for about candy or other items to give away is that it brings over what we call “future unsubscribers.” If someone is just in your booth just to collect a pen or candy, maybe you’re an awesome salesperson and can turn that into an opportunity, but probably not.

Because of reciprocity they might give you their email address or like your Facebook page. However, later they’re going to unsubscribe because they don’t have any interest in you.

How many people are potential customers? If it’s a boat show and 95% of the attendees own a boat and are likely interested in getting a custom polo or cap with their boat’s name on it, it may be worth it to give away something worth a little bit more.

If it’s a farmer’s market, chances are there is quite a bit of a smaller market or people who will contact you later. In this instance, a business card or flyer will suffice.

Find the right thing. Have some thought behind it. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it.