21 May 2019, 13:12 PM
  • Summer is almost here, which means more outdoor food festivals full of customers hungry for something new. Richard Cutmore, director of TFH Gazebos, shares his tips for making the most out of your pitch at a food festival
Food Festival 101: How to make your stand a success

For new businesses, food festivals are a great way for you to get your name out there and build a reputation — as well as make some money. However, food festivals are usually big, busy, and competitive, which means you can get overlooked if you fail to make an impact. Here, I’ll share my top tips for promoting your business at a food festival to ensure you stand out.

Design your pitch with customers in mind
Before the festival, it’s a good idea to research your audience and design your pitch accordingly. Think about where the festival will take place and whether it has a theme to determine what sort of crowd to expect. Once you’ve figured out who will be coming, you can tailor your marketing based on what you think they’ll be looking for. For example, at a community fair full of local people, it might be a good idea to point out if you use locally sourced ingredients.

Create a plan for how you will bring customers over to your pitch. It can help to offer free samples of your specialist product or have games where customers can win food, like a raffle or tombola, to capture people’s attention and make your pitch worth visiting. Plus, a gathering crowd can make more passers-by curious, so making your brand appear fun and interactive can really accelerate sales. 

Develop and display a strong brand identity
With everything else that’s going on, customers won’t have time to visit every pitch. It’s important you develop a strong brand identity that allows them to know everything they need to know about your business at a glance, and you can achieve this through your colour scheme or other design aspects, as well as prominently featuring your business name, logo, and social media links on your display and promotional materials. Even if they don’t manage to stop by today, they might remember you in the future.

Gazebos are probably the cheapest way to set up your pitch, but they are also the most versatile as they can easily be purchased with your business name, logo, and social media links printed on the exterior, roof, and interior to optimise the marketing potential. A printed gazebo also stands out and looks more professional, giving customers confidence in your brand.

Deliver excellent customer service
No matter how great your food is, customers won’t choose to spend their money with you if they don’t get a good vibe from your customer service. It’s important to be approachable, friendly, and knowledgeable in face-to-face interactions, even during busy periods, so always make sure you have enough staff and they’re all adequately clued up about your products and details about your business. Customers want to get to know your brand, not just your food, so keep them (and your staff) smiling all day long.

First impressions matter, so before the festival you should take the time to write a few hooks you will use to introduce customers to your specialty brand. These should be informative and evoke positive feelings in potential customers — but remember to keep them short. A good rule of thumb to say everything you want to say about your business in 30 seconds or less to keep their attention.

It’s also helpful to prepare some answers to the most commonly asked questions so you can respond confidently and in a timely manner. As innovators, you should already know the areas people are curious about and what it is that makes you different, so be sure to work those unique aspects of your brand into your responses.

With these tips, you’ll be sure to create a buzz around your brand and bring in more custom on the day. However, you’ll also make a lasting impression and stick in people’s minds, increasing the likelihood of future sales.

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