Helpful Tips for a Smooth, Easy &
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
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.
(See TABLE FLOOR PLAN - EVENT SET-UP
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, a lot of work and may not be necessary in
this day and age. 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
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. 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 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,
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
TABLE FLOOR PLAN - EVENT SET-UP
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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