The Gestalt Experience; Combine a Web Site with selling at Festivals
Combine the benefits of an internet business with selling at festivals and what you create is a Gestalt experience. Definition of Gestalt: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
INTRODUCTION: Our family business began 25 years ago by buying, collecting, and selling German Beer Steins at local festivals. Since then, two members have become stein experts and one founded a local Octoberfest and the local chapter of Stein Collectors International. We work with several beer stein manufactures in Germany and our web site went online in May 2001.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT
To be successful in any business, it is necessary for you to know everything about your product. The ability to honestly and confidently answer customers questions builds trust for your business. If you are selling specialized, unique, or unusual products, it is even more imperative to know your products. Have an expert available to answer questions at your festival booth and at your web site.
KNOW YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS
Based on your knowledge of your product, you need to determine what types of people and groups would most be interested in your product. This will help you determine which festivals to sign-up for and who to target at festivals and at your web site.
PROMOTING AT FESTIVALS
A lot of promoting is done by the festival itself. Take advantage of it. Contact the festival chairperson and inquire as to special promotional opportunities they can provide. If you have a really interesting booth or product, they might want a picture for flyers or newspaper coverage. While at the festival, be on the lookout for press opportunities; radio, newspapers or TV coverage.
PROMOTING YOUR WEB SITE
Promoting your web site requires the ability to be creative, innovative, and resourceful. Think in terms of promoting at the local, national and international levels. At the local level try to get newspaper, radio and TV coverage. Post or pass out flyers at appropriate events/venues. Always have business cards available with your web site on it. Free business cards can be obtained at VistaPrint.com ($4.99 S & H). You never know who you may meet that will have connections or valuable information. Nationally, you can send a letter of introduction and flyer or e-mail to target groups in the U.S. (Use the internet to search for target groups). National/International: Get listed in internet directories and search-engines. Many will let you submit your URL for free. Some of the search engines are: lycos.com, altavista.com, AOL Open Directory, NBCi.com, General Search, Direct Hit, Alltheweb, google, hotbot, Northern Lights, whatuseek, scrubtheweb, SleepyShopper, yahoo, goto, etc. You can make multiple submissions to many search engines at once at: tabspider.com, xpectmore.com, and ineedhits.com. Look for web site directories that would be appropriate for your particular product. Remembering your target customers, look for appropriate web sites to request reciprocal links. This gives both your site and your link partner more exposure. Just one link to your site on an important web site could be key to your success.
PROMOTING FESTIVALS AT YOUR WEB SITE
At your web site you can list festivals you are planning to attend. You can also provide information through a periodic newsletter, like details about particular products you intend to sell at each festival. The web site can also be used to announce any special festival projects you are planing.
PROMOTING YOUR WEB SITE AT FESTIVALS
While at festivals always keep in mind promoting your web site. Post a sign about your web site and provide flyers, business cards, and bumper stickers (kits are available to make them from your computer/printer). Have interested visitors sign up for your web site newsletters. Pay attention to what your customers are interested in and refer them to your web site when appropriate. If you do not have an item they request, but you have it on the web site, let them know. You can offer to special order an item and make it available on the web site. If a festival customer doesn't have enough money to make a desired purchase, refer them to the web site or another festival you will be attending. If customers express a desire to know more about your products, refer them to your web site where you could have an educational section and sell reference books. Every time you refer someone to your web site, you have created the opportunity for more sales. Festival goers seem to like the combination of having us available to talk to at festivals and see real products, plus having the website for year-round shopping and continued contact with experts.
Our business is preparing to launch a project that would combine our festival and web site interests. This is a project where we would offer festivals the opportunity to purchase beer steins with their festival name on them for resale. The orders would be taken at our web site where we can provide information and photos of the sample steins. We will use Festival Network Online to determine which festivals to contact and obtain contact information. This project is an example of what other vendors could do, and emphasizes the important relationship between being involved with festivals and also having a web site. While at festivals, present your festival project idea to the chairmen.
If you sell at festivals, I highly recommend that you look into the feasibility of including a web site as part of your business. Keep your eyes and ears open and at all times and think "Promote". You never know what new ideas may be brought to your attention for promoting your business. When you promote your internet business, you are also promoting your festival work and vice versa. When you promote both sides of your business, you will end up with a Gestalt phenomenon. If you use comprehensive innovative promotional techniques to link all aspects of your total business, then anytime you promote one, you are automatically promoting all. By doing this, your promotional efforts actually become easier as each promotional activity effects all aspects of your business, delivering a more powerful punch.
Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, always think PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE. Use all the resources you have available. Take every possible opportunity to promote all segments of your business, web site, festivals, wholesale... Get results from the Gestalt experience.