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Helpful Tips for a Smooth, Easy & Successful Event

Be sure you know the "rules" for holding and selling at special events in your area. Check with both your state and city sales tax revenue departments. State on your contracts that sellers are solely responsible for any and all sales taxes. No one wants the city or state showing up at your event to interview your sellers to be sure they are all compliant. With the economy the way it is, government agencies are hurting for money so you want to be sure you know and follow the rules to prevent large fines.

Research your date and see if there is any other event in your area. Check www.DollShowUSA.com website for other events in surrounding areas as well. Saturday or Sunday? Both have benefits and drawbacks. For instance, Saturday shows limit Sellers that own shops from coming and Sundays have church so some would not be able to come until later in the afternoon.

When searching for a venue, find out the size and how many tables you should be able to fit. Be sure you ask whether tables and chairs are included and if so, what size tables. Ask when they will be setting up and if you can be there.

Find out if there is a way to have food available on site (restaurant, snack bar, food truck, etc.) If attendees have to leave for lunch, they may not come back.

Start your event out right with a good "branding". Branding gives events a recognizable look and style. Name, logo, color scheme and font are needed to build from. Events often have a theme that can be built upon. Develop contracts, registration forms and/or flyers to follow your brand.

A word or two about contracts: Be sure all the bases are covered so sellers know what they may and may not do as far as set up goes. Many restrictions are because of fire codes but mostly, you do not want to be responsible for any mishaps that may happen. Also, many venues do require that your contract include wording regarding event liability so not only do you want to put the promoter (you) as being held safe from anything that might happen but also the venue. Click <HERE> for a good example that I use for my shows. Even though the contract/agreement is in reality, just a piece of paper, it's nice to know details for participating and what is expected by both parties. Also, be sure you add a space on the contract for your seller's email so contracts maybe emailed instead of snail mailed (whenever possible).

Printing contracts/postcards and postage is a huge expense especially in color, a lot of work and may not be necessary. That is why emailing is important. If you don't have an online email client (program that sends out emails) you should. My choice is MailChimp.com. With MailChimp you can have up to 2,000 emails on your list for free and you can also develop a link to a form that allows people to sign up and be added directly to your account. You can use that link on your website and/or on a Facebook page.

Whether emailing or having available on a website, always turn documents (contracts, registration forms and/or flyers) into a "pdf" file first so they are easily printed on the other end. Click for PDF INFO. You can download free software to do that at http://www.cutepdf.com/. It installs a printer driver onto your computer where all you have to do is print your document to the CutePDF printer driver and it will turn your document into a pdf. That way, the person should have an easier time printing regardless of the word processing program is used in the preparation of the document. Keep in mind that people don't always have access to a functioning  printer -- I don't know why but it is always an issue. Black and "white" is always better and when it comes to flyers, 4 on a sheet to save paper. You can always print on color paper to stand out.

Keep track of your sellers on a spreadsheet listing Name, Helper, Preferences, Number of Tables Requested, Amount owed, Amount paid. Makes for an easier transition to the table assignment chart. Always make copies of the checks received.

Sellers will often wait until the last minute to commit. Always allow for extra tables, if possible. If you don't need them for sellers, you can always use them for display, a make and take, other activity or for resting.

Help your sellers have a great show! Send the Selling Guide (http://www.az-ps.com/selling/Seller-guide.pdf) to each seller. Even though they may have been selling for years, there maybe a tip that they hadn't thought of. This helps them know that you are on their side and they may be more likely to help spread the word.

Always start by posting your event on DollShowUSA.com. If you do not have a website, include www.DollShowUSA.com on all advertising, flyers and contracts as the source for more details. By posting your event at DollShowUSA.com you also have the advantage of the site's excellent standing on the internet. With almost 2,000 visits a month, there has been a lot of work put into the site over the years to get it where it is on the internet/search engines. Deluxe listings cover everything you need including links to contracts and flyers available for printing 24/7 and links to subscribe to your email list if you have that set up. There is also a corresponding Facebook page with events for additional social media exposure.

Printed media advertising is EXPENSIVE! The rule of thumb is to be sure you are going to get a 150% return on your advertising costs. If you spend $100, you should get a return of at least $150. Think about how many people is that one ad in the newspaper really going to bring in? Keep in mind that doll enthusiasts probably already know when and where the next show is so you have to decide is it worth it to spend the money for a printed advertisement only to hopefully get a couple of new people into the event.

When advertising, start with FREE and go from there. Go online and search for free community calendars. Don't forget television and radio stations. Many have online submission forms. Click to follow the link to our list of Publications and General Free Online Calendars on DollShowUSA.com's Sponsors - Links Page. Non-profit organizations can send out PSA postcards (Public Service Announcement). Promoters can send out Press Releases -- best if sent out 2 - 6 weeks before. Spend a day posting flyers and leaving handbills. Carry some with in your vehicle and to leave at craft & fabric stores, antique shops, post office & anywhere there is bulletin board. The week or two before, hand them out to everyone you meet in a day, bank tellers, clients, grocery clerks, doctors offices, dentists, etc. You never know who likes dolls or knows someone who does. Make up some wire signs that can be used every year. They work great but do require some time and energy.

Google search for media community calendars (printed, radio, television) in your area. Most now have to be submitted online. This is pretty time consuming as sometimes you sign up wait for a password. Once you are in, if you type out the information in a notepad, you should be able to cut and paste the information in the appropriate fields to submit.

Facebook ~ Many people (myself included) are not a fan of Facebook but a Facebook page is one of the most effective way to promote your business or club/organization and corresponding events. This process is somewhat confusing -- especially now with the new format -- as to how to do correctly for the full marketing benefit.

It is important to know the difference between a Facebook "entity" (my term) page and a group page. An "entity" page is like having a webpage for your business, club, organization, community, etc. where anyone (Facebook members or not) can search, find and see. A group page is more like having an internet page for a group of people to communicate special interests or a closed event where you don't want just anyone to see what is going on. "Entity" pages are open to the internet public. Groups may be open to join with or without approval or closed and private with only special invite or approval to join. For best advertising results, it is suggested to create an "entity" page and not a group.

Facebook's new format has a separate profile for each "entity" page (business, organization, etc.).. New entity pages are set up through your personal profile page. In order to manage an "entity" page, logging into that particular profile first is required. When logged into an "entity" page, there are two "timelines"; one for your posts and one for additional post suggestions by Facebook that they want you to share to your post timeline.

This is the basics of how the new Facebook format is set up. By giving you this little bit of knowledge, I feel like it will help you to understand how to maneuver Facebook easier. I am always happy to help walk you through any additional tasks that need be on the phone. This includes: changing the user name; add authorized users to the page; make up an event, correctly doing a boost so not to waste money, etc.

Be prepared for someone to spend a little bit of time every few days to post on and share to the page to generate interest and as a reminder of your event. The more fun stuff you post, the more likely people are to like and share your page.

To promote your events, join Facebook special interest doll groups as your "entity" page profile (you can always turn off notifications later) if the group allows it or you may have to join as your personal profile. Share your event to those groups. With Facebook's new format, you may have to share as your personal profile.

Search Facebook for pages and groups that list activities in your area. For instance, we have a “Fun things to do in Tucson” and “Tucson Events” pages and groups like “Things2doTucson” and “Arizona.Families”. On the pages, you can usually post the event url but on the groups, you have to join first then you can share the event.

Website ~ If you still happen to have a website, it is important to check and update it to make sure it comes up properly in all browsers (Google Chrome, Bing, Modzilla Firefox) and that all the links work properly. Some of the "free" web builders run off the page to the right with information lost to the screen. Some are messed up on mobile devices. Both things to consider. Be sure to add a link to your Facebook page for people to Like/Follow/Share. Add the link for your email sign up form. Make sure your contact information is easily located on the page. This shows that your event is still active and creditable. There is nothing worse than someone trying to find information on an event only to find the page missing, inactive or broken. I do offer website development but if you have only one or two shows per year at the same location, the deluxe listing with DollShowUSA.com is sufficient.

A great way to track your advertising is to give a $1 off with coupon, ad or flyer. You can also encourage Sellers to place their initials on the back of flyers that they hand out and if someone were to redeem them, they would receive $1 cash (can be attributed to advertising for tax purposes).

Sellers should all realize that this is their show too. The success of the event, is not the sole responsibility of the promoter, whether club or individual. There is only so much that can be done as the promoter and only so much money that can be spent on advertising so it is always a plus when the show "family" sends out emails to their customers, posts on Facebook and hands out flyers.

Be sure you have your next event set up beforehand with contracts and flyers so you can get commitments during and at the end of the current event or possibly some new sellers. Some promoters offer table discounts for those paying in full at the end for the next event. This helps jump starting collection of the venue fee. Flyers are important so the attendees know when the next event will be.

Not going to lie, table floor plan is not easy the first go around but with each event, it does get easier. As each venue is different, you may need to work with them to get it just right. You can usually fit more tables where the sellers are either to the side or in front of their tables/booths. This also promotes sellers being more engaging with the buyers rather than hiding behind the tables. Items under the table can make for a messy unorganized look not to mention congestion and trip hazard. Most shows have tablecloths to the floor for a more polished look.

It never fails, there are always changes to the floor plan at the last minute. Therefore, it's best not to send table placements ahead of time but rather require the sellers to check in before unloading.

Allow sellers one helper for set-up and the day of the show. If they have 3 or more tables, allow one extra helper. Have them provide the names of their helpers in a timely manner so they can be provided with a show badge or name tag. Any additional family or friends do need to pay to attend. And why wouldn't they if they want to support them and the show?

Keep in mind that there are people out there who live their lives to try to get something for free. They will tell you at the door that they are only there to visit or help a friend or that they just want to look around for a particular item or just look around for a minute, etc. If they don't want to pay to come in, you don't want them there.

Consider an "Early Bird" Admission. Many Sellers will still be setting up but that's okay..... That's part of the fun!

Develop an email and snail mail list at the door of the show. Have each attendee fill out name and email (snail mail for no email) for door prize drawings. You can also ask how they heard about the show to track advertising.

Someone to do restringing and/or small repairs as well as identification and/or valuations brings people to your show. For the identification/valuations, we ask for a donation for the charity. You may need a sign at the door that states that they still have to pay the admission and if you charge a fee or how many dolls are included for those who may try to come into the show for just the identification/valuations.

If this is not a club event, consider having a charity benefit from the grand prize and/or raffle (sometimes known as helpers) drawings. Usually, the sellers are more than willing to donate nicer items for the raffle and the charity may have a mailing list that they can send notice of the event out to as well. Sometimes, television or radio stations will do a story on the doll show if a charity is involved.

Attendees love goody bags! Even if it is simply a pen and a couple of chocolate kisses or a raffle ticket. Set the mood and give out small stuffed animals or dollies at the door for free to children that attend.

Door prizes throughout the day add to the fun. Items can be donated from sellers or simply offer $10 Dollie Dollars. Raffles are fun but it does require someone to sell tickets. You can also do a scavenger hunt for extra fun. Make up a list of items people can search for throughout the event and they can get a little prize if they find everything on the list.

Doll displays, program or a "make & take" of some sort always spark interest. If you have the room, have a seating area for people to rest, visit & recharge. Some shows have a train display for the "guys".

At the end of the show, always thank the sellers for being there. Pass out the contracts and flyers for the next show (if you know the date)

Last but not least, have FUN!

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Last updated:05-28-24