By Richard Cutmore, director at TFH Gazebos

Food festivals present a unique marketing opportunity for catering businesses and small retailers, because they expose you to your exact target audience: foodies. However, the downside is that you’ll be given a festival plot among similar companies that have the same goals as you. This means you have to come up with some fun and interesting ways to grab the attention of food festival attendees. Here are some techniques that have been tried and tested…

Offer samples that will attract people to your stand

Everyone loves a freebie so, if you’re looking to attract as many people to your stand as possible, the best way to do this is with samples. Once potential customers have been reeled in with the tasters that are on offer, you’ll then be able to swoop in and tell them all about the work you do. It’s likely you’ll find it much easier to sell to those who’ve already tried your food. And, even if they don’t make a purchase straight away, you should stick in their mind which will increase the chance of them returning or buying from you in the future. Just make sure all of your testers are fresh and beautifully presented to give people the best possible first impression.

Go all out with your branding

Food festivals tend to be a sea of stalls and tents, so you’ll want to ensure you stand out from the pack. One of the best ways to do this is by ensuring everyone can see your branding. Set up your stall in a gazebo that’s in your company colours with your logo emblazoned on the side. Lay out tablecloths that are printed with your branding and ensure your festival staff are given uniforms — even if your budget will only stretch to branded aprons. When you’re competing with a huge number of businesses, it’s all about grabbing people’s attention and building brand familiarity.

Provide plenty of social media opportunities

People love an Instagram opportunity, so offering one up on a plate is likely to attract far more people to your stall. Plus, it will have the added benefit of gaining you free exposure, as any Instagram-worthy pictures your visitors take will then be shared with their friends, families and followers. But, how can you ensure you’ll receive plenty of shares? It can be as simple as creating an impressive display with your products or serving your food in an interesting way. You could even host a social media competition to encourage more people to shout about your business. For example, you could offer a hamper to someone who shares a picture of your food with a particular hashtag.

Make lasting connections

While you’ll want to make as many sales as possible at a food festival, it’s also important that you build lasting relationships. This will help to encourage repeat custom and could also mean people who don’t actually buy from you on the day might still do so down the line. To do this, you could promote your social media channels and ask people to sign up to your mailing list. Again, you could incentivise this by hosting a competition that will reward one of your new fans once the festival is over. If people see you popping up in their inbox and on their social media feeds long after you’ve dissembled your stall, they’ll be much more likely to buy from or hire you in the future.