When the weather’s nice and people are looking for ways to spend an evening or weekend with their families, outdoor events pop up on community calendars across the nation. Music festivals, craft shows, races, carnivals, county fairs, charity fundraisers, street festivals and more all provide potential opportunities for your business to connect with your local community.
In some cases, you might even organize your own outdoor event. This may be a good idea if you’re celebrating a company anniversary or a new opening. If hosting your own event is too much of an undertaking, however, don’t worry — this isn’t your only option. You can become a sponsor of a local community event, such as a charitable event or race, or can simply pay for booth space at a local event, such as a county fair or street festival.
No matter what type of outdoor event you attend, you want your business to make an impression. Especially if other businesses are also there, vying for the public’s attention, you need your company to stand out. Getting people’s attention initially isn’t the only challenge, either. You also want them to remember you. After all, the hope is that these community members will become loyal customers of your business.
While this is a challenging task, it’s not an impossible one. Let’s look at some ways you can make sure your company makes an unforgettable impression at your next outdoor event.
1. USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE THE EVENT
Whether you’re hosting the event or you just plan to attend, you want to start getting the word out early so you can generate interest both in the event itself and in your presence there. You want people to come to the event and to look for your booth once they get there.
Social media is an excellent way to promote an event. Facebook is the most widely used site, with over two-thirds of adults using the social media site, but if your target audience is younger, you should also consider using social media platforms like Instagram or Snapchat.
Whatever platforms you use, share the event page if one exists and post on your business’s accounts about the event, encouraging people to come and visit your booth. Don’t stop sharing about the event once it starts, either. Make sure a member of your team is on top of tweeting, posting and sharing about the event. Show people how much fun you’re having interacting with the community with some fun photos. Also be sure to incorporate any official event hashtags into your posts and use some hashtags of your own.
2. BE AWARE OF REGULATIONS
If you’re hosting an event, make sure you research any city ordinances or local regulations that may impact what you can and can’t do. For example, you may need a license to hold the event, or you may need to monitor the noise level. These regulations aren’t always obvious, so it’s worth looking into. For example, in Boston, concession stands must be at least 4 feet apart. You don’t want to discover during your event that you’re violating a local ordinance and have to disrupt activities or shut down your event.
If you’re taking part in an event that’s being hosted by another organization or by the community, then you need to familiarize yourself with any rules they have set in place for the event. For example, a street festival hosted by the chamber of commerce may include rules that prevent you from giving food or drinks away for free or from playing music in your booth. Since every city and every event is different, do your due diligence upfront to make sure you cooperate with all regulations.
3. INVITE FOOD TRUCKS
If there’s one thing almost all people have in common, it’s that we love food. This may be especially true when we’re out to have a good time. When most people think of outdoor fairs and festivals, their minds are probably instantly filled with the sights and smells of festival foods like corndogs, funnel cakes, kettle corn, apple dumplings and french fries.
Depending on the type of event and your budgetary allowances, in some cases, your company may want to provide free food for attendees. Of course, this can get expensive pretty quickly. Fortunately, this isn’t the only option if you want to have food available for guests.
If you’re hosting an outdoor event at your business, consider inviting some food trucks to attend. You can provide extra incentive for food vendors to come out if you don’t charge them to set up on your property. With food vendors there, the food doesn’t cost you anything, but your guests will still have plenty of snacks and sweets to choose from. You may even want to invite some local food trucks who offer more unique food options or local favorites.
4. OFFER FREE DRINKS
Salty and sweet foods and hot weather are going to make people thirsty. If the regulations of your event allow it, consider handing out free drinks. Offering people a cool drink at no cost can easily make you the most popular booth at the event and can make your company appear hospitable. You can do this rather inexpensively by purchasing cases of water bottles and keeping them in coolers or by having a drink dispenser filled with water or lemonade and plenty of disposable cups on hand.
If you go with the water bottle option, print off labels with your company’s name and web address or phone number and wrap each bottle with a label. This way, as people walk around the event drinking from your water bottle, they’ll be like a walking advertisement for your company. Make sure you include a large sign at your booth that lets people know they can receive a free drink.
5. HAND OUT USEFUL FREEBIES
Another option if you want to dazzle the public with free goodies is to hand out some branded freebies, also often referred to as event swag. Of course, we know people love free stuff, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be happy to receive just any item. Once-popular items like stress balls or keychains are considered generic these days and aren’t likely to impress your attendees.
Instead, try to give out items people will actually use. If your event is in the summer, consider giving out hand fans or plastic sunglasses with your logo and website printed on them. If you’re at an event where people are buying things, give out custom fabric bags. This way, people can consolidate their shopping bags, which fulfills a practical need and means they’ll be displaying your brand everywhere they go at the event but also at the grocery store or other places later on.
6. CREATE A FUN ATMOSPHERE
Attitudes are contagious, so if you want attendees, and especially those who visit your booth, to have fun, make sure you and your staff are having fun. Don’t try to act too serious — this isn’t the time or place for that. Smile and chat with guests who walk up to your table. You may also want to stand out front instead of sitting behind the table to appear more energetic, though sitting from time to time to rest your feet is fine.
If you’re organizing the whole event, make sure you include activities and entertainment that will maintain an atmosphere of fun for individuals and families. Invite local bands to perform for some live music. Set up a bouncy house or carnival games for kids. The activities and types of entertainment you include will partly depend on the event and your budget. The important thing is to make sure people who come out have loads of fun.
7. HOLD A GIVEAWAY
Holding a giveaway is a great way to generate some excitement at your booth. It’s also a great way to generate leads for your email marketing list. Here are a few considerations you’ll need to figure out if you want to hold a free giveaway:
- What the prize(s) will be: The best strategy here is typically to offer a free product or service from your company as a prize. However, if that doesn’t make sense for your company, you can alternatively offer a gift card to a popular local restaurant, coffee chain or online store — any place you know will have wide appeal.
- How you’ll determine the winner: The simplest way is to have participants fill out a slip of paper for a random drawing. However, there are other ways you can determine the contest winner. For example, you could have people guess how many gumballs are in a large jar or award the prize to whoever can get the most reactions to a post about the event on social media.
- What contact information you’ll collect: One advantage to your company should be getting some contact information for potential leads. You can ask for phone numbers, addresses, email addresses or all of the above. If you want to be able to contact people who enter your contest, either let them opt-in or tell them that they enter the contest by signing up for your emails.
- How you’ll let the winner know: Some companies doing prize drawings at events require participants to be present at a certain time for the drawing to claim their prize if they’re chosen. If you decide to do this, make sure everyone knows that is the case. Or, you can tell people you’ll call, text or email the winner to let them know.
8. USE A CUSTOM EVENT TENT
No list of outdoor event ideas is complete without a focus on canopies or tents. For one, canopies provide shade to your staff and the public when it’s hot and sunny outside or shelter if it happens to rain. A tent or canopy also helps to define your space, setting it off from the rest of the booths. Some tents include full or half walls on the back that further define the space and direct traffic to the front of your booth.
In addition to meeting plenty of practical needs, tents can be used to market your brand. At most events, you’ll probably see plain, white tent after plain, white tent. If you have a custom popup tent or dome tent, complete with colorful branding, it will surely stand out. You want people to know with one glance that your tent belongs to your company.
Of course, a custom canopy or tent will initially cost more than renting or buying a plain canopy tent, but you’ll be able to use it time and time again, and it will raise your brand awareness at every outdoor event you participate in.
9. GET OUTDOOR EVENT DECORATIONS THAT SHOW OFF YOUR BRAND
Your tent isn’t the only part of your booth that can be customized. You can incorporate other decorative elements that will spruce up your space and will provide even more brand exposure. Here are some examples:
- Flags: Whether blade, teardrop, flutter or feather shape, flags have an especially festive feel and are a great way to decorate the entrance of your booth. If you’re hosting the whole event, you can include custom flags at the entrance to direct traffic and all throughout the area.
- Table coverings: You can bring some branding and some visual appeal to your tables by using a customized table covering. These table coverings can be made to stretch or hang over your table, or you can use a table runner over a solid tablecloth.
- Banners: Banners come in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations, so no matter how much space you have, you can incorporate a banner to spruce it up. Consider a banner stand so you can set your banner up on a tabletop or on the ground rather than hanging it.
- Floor graphics: For an unexpected splash of color, apply some floor graphics to the sidewalk or parking lot in or around your booth. Floor graphics can also be the perfect means of providing wayfinding signage throughout a whole outdoor event space.
If you’re planning for an outdoor event, you want to make sure you create custom event graphics that will catch the attention of attendees and raise awareness of your brand. For visually stunning graphics in a variety of formats as well as quality custom event tents, we are here to help.
Many of our graphics are designed to last, so you can reuse banners, table covers and more again and again, whether you’re at an outdoor event, an indoor trade show or simply in your office.