Community Events: The Fast Lane to More Business

By Gary Buterbaugh

Wouldn’t it be great to have hundreds of potential customers visit your store or office in just one day?  Impossible?  Not really!  That’s what happens when you exhibit at a community event – your exhibit space is your “store” or “office” in the eyes of the attendees and other participants.


Every year, hundreds, often thousands, of residents and visitors attend local community events such as festivals, fairs and expos.  Businesses and organizations who participate as a sponsor, exhibitor, vendor, speaker or advertiser are sure to experience the obvious benefits of goodwill in the community and the warm-and-fuzzies of supporting the community and, often, a worthy cause.   As the TV announcer says: “But wait, there’s more!”.

More Benefits

Events present an accelerated, concentrated marketing opportunity where participating businesses and organizations show their brand, message, products and services, then make powerful face-to-face contact with a large number of attendees, and with other participants, in just a few hours or a couple of days.  Businesses find new prospects to convert into new customers and strengthen the bond with existing customers.   Organizations attract new clients, donors, underwriters and volunteers.

Even More Benefits

During my many years participating in and producing community events, I have seen participants conduct competitive research, test new products, recruit employees, find a new supplier and build alliances with other participants.

Unable to be Present?

An event’s date or location doesn’t work for you?  No worries! Sponsoring and advertising options will give you a presence without the need to be present. Typically, sponsors and advertisers have the option, not the requirement, to be present during an event.  In the months before, during and after the event sponsors benefit from being seen by the public, prominently and frequently, in the event’s advertising, press coverage and during visits to the event website.  Advertisers will be visible in the many creative advertising options that may be available at the event, in event marketing vehicles, in event publications and on the event website.

Long-term Benefits

It’s not just about the day of the event.  In the weeks and months before, during and after an event, a well-publicized event with a good multi-media promotion strategy, and a website, exposes the brands and messages of the participants to the public who see the event’s advertising, read articles about the event and visit the event’s website.

The Cost

The benefits describe, and possibly more, will cost just a few hundred dollars, or less, if you are an exhibitor, vendor, advertiser and speaker, or a few thousand dollars if you are a sponsor.  How many other comparably priced marketing options will deliver hundreds of interested visitors to your office or store, face-to-face, in just one or two days?  Sponsors, may also experience months of promotional exposure, before, during and after the event.

The Bottom Line

If your competitor is participating in an event and you are not, guess who is being seen by and talking to your customers and prospects.  Or, if you are participating and your competitor is not, guess whose customers and prospects see you and are talking to you.

Best Practices

There are many ways to be sure you maximize the return on your event investment, however these five best practices are a good start:

  1. Pick events that attract your targeted demographics or attracts attendees with characteristics like your best customers.
  2. Pick events that offer a variety of marketing options, allowing you to make multiple impressions, and use as many options as you can afford. Some may be free or very low cost.
  3. Register early to get the best pricing, the best options and the most exposure
  4. If you are an exhibitor or vendor, prepare your staff to represent your brand, fearlessly engage attendees and deliver your message. Then, rehearse before the event.
  5. Be sure your ads and graphics will deliver your brand and message in three seconds. Keep them simple, bold, visually attractive and easily understandable.

Every day we are bombarded with messages from many sources.  Using a variety of delivery channels gives your brand and message a better chance of being seen, making an impression and being remembered.  Many believe that the most memorable contacts are made during   face-to-face contact, like at a community event. Community events should be an element in every annual marketing mix, right alongside of print, broadcast, digital direct and social media.

To understand how your business or organization could benefit from community events, maximize the return on your event investment and get your event participation questions answered, contact Gary Buterbaugh for a free one hour initial session.  For more information about our event planner and exhibitor workshops, visit