Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tips to Stand Out at Your Next Event

As a small, independent publisher in Raleigh, North Carolina, I have to do things differently from a big publishing company.  I need to get the attention of the reading public directly, a lot like an independent author.  So, I travel to regional book festivals,  and often look for unique props to draw attention and work with the author to create engaging and entertaining book events.

Below you'll find some pointers we have come up with to increase attention in a room full of big fishes. Think about Tiffany Jewelry. Women swoon over the iconic little blue box, they can point it out from a mile away, even if they've never even owned a piece before. Men know that if they want to hit a home run, they simply need to show that box...then it's game over.

Tiny package, poignant punch.
Something so tiny, such as a blue box can pack such a large punch. Your business may not  have all the bells and whistles that the big ones are pulling out of their armory, but you can have something to their advantage. Just like Tiffany, beautiful things come in small packages. These pointers will help you to package yourself and your business into something that will catch attention from across the room.

  1. PREGAME- College students study before an exam; athletes practice before the big game. You need to know what you're getting into so you can prepare yourself. Start by looking at pictures posted from the location or event.  You can usually find these on the host's Facebook page or Google the event and search IMAGES.
    • Take note of simple things like table cloths.  At the Blue Ridge Festival, all of the exhibitors used the plain white table cloths provided.  We laid a bright green (dollar store) table cloth over the white which instantly made it different.
    • A lot of exhibitors spend a significant amount of time and money making their tables look very high end using top of the line banners, big props and electronics to give the perception of BIG SUCCESS.  This is not a bad thing - but, if you see this in a lot of the pictures from past events, go opposite!  You want to be different!
    • Practice makes perfect. Tape out the area that you'll be occupying on the floor in your home and set up your display. Is it functional? Too cramped? Is it inviting or isolating? Try different combinations to see what feels and works best for you and your business.
You won't get ahead if you don't know where you're heading.
2. BODY LANGUAGE- Look around - is everybody sitting?  Then, stand and walk around your table.  Don't stray too far, but don't be static either.  Movement draws attention! Once someone approaches your table, if you're sitting back in your chair, you're showing them that you're disengaged. This is a bad idea. You've gotten their attention, now make it work for you! Click here for some helpful hints on body language and business.
They don't even need to open their mouths to speak.

 3. HERD MENTALITY-  (aka Mob Mentality) Whether it's engrained in our DNA or just a learned behavior, it's an undeniable fact that humans behave in a herd mentality. They want to see what everyone else is interested in, and they want to get what others are.  When we see a crowd, we invariably want to find out what is so interesting.  Use this to your advantage by hosting a raffle or an interactive activity in your space – keep your audience engaged!  Always, always, always make a big fuss about a winner – everyone wants to be a winner.  Clap, hoot, smile! Peggy Noodle, Hula Hoop Queen written by Dolly Dozier has a hula hooping theme.  We brought hula hoops and encouraged participants to hoop in our space (one at a time, of course). At another event for a travel book, the author created a Jeopardy-style game to engage the audience. Coloring pages for children’s books is always a winner.  Children are distracted, allowing parents to actually focus on your business.  Encourage the child to color the page at the table (time permitting) and ‘oohh and ahhh’ over the final work. 
Hey, you noticed him didn't you?

4. GET INTO THEIR PANTS- Get into their pockets, hey you, get your mind out of the gutter. You can get into their purse or briefcase too! Have inexpensive material for your audience to walk away with – and make ABSOLUTE SURE it has your information on it.  What was the point of spending time to engage, entertain and educate your audience if you're sending them out the door without your information. Let's face it, not everyone's memory is sharp, and if you're participating in an event with more than 10 exhibitors, you're likely to be forgotten by the time they get home. It's simply too much to process.  We created book marks that included a graphic on the front, a list of our books on the back and a QR code to access the website via smartphone.  If your book is on Kindle, create a QR code to take the reader to the “Click to Buy” page on Amazon. Think about it...if you're on their smartphone, you're in their pocket as well!
Hey, is that my business info in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Take a look at our recent table display below for more ideas.

Tips to help you set up a table display at a book festival from Peak City Publishing

Shiloh Burnam, publisher and owner of Peak City Publishing, Raleigh North Carolina
Shiloh Burnam is an NC resident, small business owner, wife and mother of two. She has a full time career as a project manager at Verizon Business as well as a thriving publishing company: Peak City Publishing.
As a former book store owner, Shiloh became passionate about the many aspiring and talented authors in the area.  After publishing two short story anthologies written by young adults, she officially opened Peak City Publishing.  Peak's mission:  engage, entertain and educate through books and multimedia products.  Since 2010, the company grew from 2 titles to 16 titles in children's and adult fiction.  Peak authors and artists are active community members and participate in events to raise awareness and educate in today's social issues.  Find out more at our website or connect through facebook.