Welcome to The Rural Scene, where we are exploring all aspects of rural Britain; notably its enterprises, produce, industries and lifestyle and how clever PR and Marketing can help it to thrive.

As the Spring lambs, calves, bulbs and lush grass fill the landscape and the countryside starts to feel warmer and friendlier, farmers and rural entrepreneurs can settle into a new year and look forward to the busy calendar ahead.

By the time we have fought through late frosts, April showers (or rather deluges), Easter bank holidays, tax returns, IACS submissions, grant applications and many other industry-specific, time-consuming business requirements, the first summer sun and the promise of some social interaction is more than welcome.

Summer show season is the perfect airing for office cobwebs and for catching up and sharing highs and lows of the year so far, but as a business owner, they are not to be approached lightly.  Shows are extremely important platforms, responsible for much of the coming year’s successful trading.  They provide a sympathetic atmosphere and relevant all-in-one shop window to those trying or selling new products, discovering or promoting new concepts, and spotting or setting the latest trends.

Local, county and national shows are not to be missed for all these reasons. Each rural industry is represented and demonstrated. Flagship companies open their doors, show off their ranges, and give an insight into their inner workings and philosophy – the perfect chance for aspiring new businesses to get inspiration, and for consumers to try, compare and discover a wide market of relevant, and often essential, products and services.

The key question is: can your business afford not to have a slice of that cake?

There is so much to be said for appearing alongside the big players, where consumers can compare product quality on an even field.  The effort of taking a trade stand should be seriously considered, even at the expense of a jaunty day out.


Traders come back and reserve their pitch a year in advance
 

  • They must have made a profit the year before
  • They must consider the preparation and logistics worthwhile

 


Best possible showcase for your  business
 

  • Interaction with your products
  • Face to face sales pitches bringing a screen image to life
  • Real life contact with a database of digital customers.

 


Word of mouth advertising
 

  • Ensure visitors to your stand remember you
  • Word of mouth starts on the show day itself

 


Building contacts book
 

  • Connect directly with visitors on twitter
  • Subscriptions to newsletters, catalogues

 

 

Here are a few tips and wrinkles for making the most of your day – whether buying, selling, browsing or socialising, business can be done!

BUYING:

  • Do your homework – all major shows list their exhibitors on the show website prior to the event. Particularly if you are exhibiting yourself and will have limited time wandering the stands, target any stands that you would like to partner with, buy from or supply, offer a service to, or check out as competition. It is unlikely you will have a chance to discuss any of the above in detail with an owner/manager but two minutes face to face contact and leaving a card in person makes later e-contact much easier and eliminates any form of dreaded ‘cold’ communication.
  • As a business owner you are never not selling, so wear your branding! If you are wandering the stands, having an ostentatious logo on your back/umbrella/bag-for-life/child’s balloon can be enough to spark recognition as a visitor reaches your stand later on, comes across you on twitter the following week, sees your product in a shop or featured in a magazine.
  • Keeping up relationships – if any of your suppliers, service providers or partners have a stand (see point one), do take the time to say hello – and of course accept champagne – even for a few minutes. Everyone appreciates being appreciated, and they will remember when you next call.

SELLING:

These tips apply whether selling cheese, clothing, tractors and machinery, technical equipment or works of art:

  • be clear and concise while smilingly chatting up your visitor – whatever you are selling, there will be competitors nearby so be sure to get your USPs and best features across pronto
  • if someone returns to your stand they have chosen you over the competition – they need your 100% attention straight away
  • freebies – always go down well and provide a lasting memory of you for future needs – put them in a branded bag!
  • be more specific than ‘can I help you?’ – you have a very limited time to catch your customer so launch straight in with a food taster/try this one on/open the drivers door…once they accept you have an attentive ear…

and the one we can’t emphasise enough:

  • FOLLOW UP! Summer is a busy time for all, things that seemed appealing at the show may not be a priority back in the office. It is up to you to contact each visitor who left any form of details or link. Remind them how and why they were so interested in your products on the day and what a shame it would be to pass up the opportunity of a show discount on such a unique and important item.

Whatever you decide to do for each show, make the most of your day with your business in mind and plan your PR and marketing objectives before leaving home. Remember too that word of mouth still carries far and wide in this digital era – it pays to be seen and heard!

Contributed by Kate Duncan, Scene & Herd Consultant and Event Management Specialist

Scene & Herd specialises in all aspects of rural communications from traditional public relations to digital marketing and everything in between.  Contact us for an informal chat.