I get asked numerous times, “I have an event coming up, what should I have at my pet sitting booth?” Having done more events than I can count over the years I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I am going to break it all down for you here and give you lots of ideas:
Let’s first discover what our goals are. Too many times I hear pet sitters posting on Facebook, “I did an event and got no clients. It was a failure.” What they don’t know is that they missed the whole point.
Events are a chance to network.
When you are at these events, sometimes the only person that you actually make a connection with is the business booth right next to you. If you can understand how to blossom this relationship after the event, it can prove to be incredibly valuable. Examples to illustrate my point:
- A realtor who knows that a new development is going up and tells you and connects you to the community manager. You start a relationship and become the official dog walker of the community or the first to be invited to events or sponsor things.
- Another pet business knows a few great connectors in the community that feature your company on their blog or social media.
- You make another business friend. Yes folks, sometimes it is THAT simple 🙂
- You connect with someone who invites you to an event where you meet a writer who wants to do a piece on you in the local paper.
- You meet the local PTO who tells you they love your business and give you opportunities to be in the know and have representation at their next events
There are SO many possibilities!
Just Strike Up A Conversation!
Think of this booth as an opportunity to START talking to the community and CREATE a chance to keep the conversation going AFTER the event. In everything you do, you should try to create relationships.
Sales are not made, and business does not grow, with one sided communication. Especially in the pet sitting industry. We are selling trust. They won’t just see your booth, trust you, and hand over their credit card and keys to their house. It doens’t work that way. They have to LIKE you… and KNOW you.
You can’t trust someone by walking endlessly up and down isle’s of vendors at a pet event.
You are giving away your right to build a relationship and sell if the sole purpose of your booth is to hand out things. To be giving, giving, giving, out THINGS. That is what everyone else does and will just make you a part of the “noise”
So how do we connect?
Good ice breakers are:
(Is their pet is with them) “Aww, what’s his/her name?”
(If pet is not with them) “Tell me about your fur kids at home!”
Even better, grab a baby pool (that collapses) and a bunch of balls that kids jump in and play find the treat” game. Put some stinkly dehydrated liver chunks in there. Dogs LOVE it and their parents will get a kick out of watching.
Relationship building find out about them so you can have something in common:
What part of town are you in? (Making sure they qualify as a client)
What do you usually do with them when you travel?
How often do you travel?
How did (your pet) find you? Tell me the story? (Awwww…)
ONLY after you have built a relationship with the folks is when you ask them for their email. With a notepad in YOUR hand and pen say, What is your email so I can send you a $50 Gift Certificate to our company? or I can send you the pic of Fido looking for that treat?
This ONLY works if:
1 – You ask them for it. (Not “Can I…” but What is?”)
2 – YOU write it down. Chances are their hands are already full and then it will be in your handwriting and you won’t have to worry about not being able to read their writing.
3 – You have already built a relationship with them (IE they are smiling or they have told you a story)
What should you have displayed on your pet sitting booth?
Since you are selling trust, you want to put things on your booth that help people trust you. Things like framed quotes your clients have said in 32
8 ft banner
8 x 10 pictures in frames of dogs AND cats. (It is crazy how people do not connect if you “discriminate”) Although I would do more than 1 or 2. Displaying your brag book for people to flip through. Maybe have a few business cards and brochures but literally, only keep about 20 out of each. That stuff is expensive and this isn’t Halloween where your handing out free stuff.
Focus on getting their email more than your business card so you can build on the relatiponship you started. It isn’t a numbers game. It is a QUALITY game.
It is important is to have your brand everywhere possible. Those stand up 8 ft vertical banners are great combined with the 6 foot horizontal hanging banners are great! Do your hair, put on some make up, put on some nice jeans with your company Tshirt rather than your average “pet sitter” pants, and maybe even some jewelry. Sell yourself and your business! People will buy (and talk to) those they like!
TIP: Leave the chairs at home or fold them up. This is not a time for you to be sitting down behind the booth. Standing up is more inviting to people passing by your booth and shows that you are ready to talk. It also puts you on the same level as them and non verbally this is very important when you are selling. Be in FRONT of your booth!
The basic point of this booth is it really isn’t about what you have to give away it is the relationship you can build. People will remember YOU, not your business card, or promotional item with your name on it. When was the last time you looked for a pen that you had been given for the companies name and phone number? Never. Right?
Understand what is going on in the mind of the pet owner:
There could be many scenarios but to sum it up: I highly doubt this person came to this event to say “Gee, I need to find a pet sitter. Let me go to this event to find one.” The point that many pet sitters forget is that this is passive selling. Most people are not in the place to buy your service now so you have to do other things to entice them. So how do you make them remember YOU after this event? After they go home with a bag full of papers and some trinkets and sit next to the trash can throwing everything out or putting it in a stack of papers in their house because they feel bad throwing it away right now?
I want you to follow up with an email. Individually. To everyone you got. Hopefully you wrote down that their cat’s name was Fluffy and in the subject line you write: To Fluffy’s Mom
“It was great to meet you at the Pet Expo this weekend! We would be honored to be Fluffy’s pet sitter whenever you are away. Please connect with us on Facebook as we have a very active and fun community over there. I try to pass on a lot of education, like the pet food recall last month. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me and please accept the attached pfd as a Thank You for stopping by my booth”
Then you add them to your email list.It is important that it look like it is a personal letter to them. Your response rate will be better. If you are one of those pet sitters who never have time for anything, hire one of your staff to type them for you and pay them a flat fee to do the job or by the hour. The point is, you need to do this and be personal!
For your business, you need to figure out what VALUE you have to offer them. Whether it is a gift certificate, a great Facebook community that provides value to the pet parents life, a pdf of recommended pet businesses in the area…SOMETHING.
What is NOT valuable is your monthly email newsletter. No one will read it, it is another chore, and this day in age will prob go right into their spam folder. No one cares about your business like you do and it is your JOB to get them to care! 🙂
Another really great idea at your booth is pictures. With Facebook being HUGE… you can offer to take a picture of them and their pet and position them in front of your sign so it is in every picture. You tell them you will post it on Facebook and get their email so you can “email them when it is up” Having a great Facebook page is a really great partner to having a booth because it is a way you can non threateningly expose people to your brand so they will subconsciously think of you next time they have a need you can meet. This works when you are working with the public and with other businesses as a Business to Business campaign.
Event goers filled out the white board and posed for a picture
See what I mean by looking at the 60 pictures here. By capturing everyone’s pictures I was able to capture about 1/3 of those people onto my Facebook. If I was not interactive and all about giving their pets “virtual shout outs” I would never have had a way to connect with these people again other than one sided. Even a year later after the event I still get calls, “Hey – I met you at that one event…” Get fun!
TIP: The whiteboard you see in these pictures say:
BARK & MEOW OUT:
My FUR KIDS NAME:
BEST THING ABOUT THEM:
At the bottom I wrote in info of the event (Networking Phoenix 2011)
I wrote all of the above in permanent marker and gave the people a dry erase marker to write. It becomes very popular and I would recommend having two boards
If you build relationships with people, become interactive, and create a way to continue the relationship after the event, your booth will be a huge success. Gone are the days of “enter my raffle” or “get on my email news list” People have grown smart to that and EVERY OTHER booth they walk by will be asking that. Stand out. Be different. Be YOU!
Sound off below: What have you done at your booth that has been successful? Unsuccessful? What do you define success at an event? remember it ISN’T about what you can hand out. It is about creating and building a relationship!