Suggestions for Event Vendors

March 7, 2014

I love events. I love doing them as a vendor. I love helping to organize events. I especially love attending events. However, I don’t love every vendor at the events I attend. I thought I’d share some suggestions that came out of the last event I attended.

Greet people who enter your booth. Seriously, every person who enters your space deserves a “hello” and, at minimum, assurance that you’re there if they have any questions. We visited several booths where the vendor reps were so busy talking with one another (or reading, staring into space, or messing with their tech gadgets), that they didn’t even say hello. If you’re busy with another customer, that’s fine. If you’ve simply decided that the person who just walked up isn’t a good potential customer (or you’ve checked out mentally because you’re tired or bored), you lose. As a matter of fact, several vendors at the last event my husband and I attended missed out on a very good prospect when they ignored my husband. He waits for the vendor to initiate contact. If they don’t, he considers them uninterested in doing business. You’re the professional; it’s your job to make that contact.

Don’t be overly aggressive. The opposite of ignoring guests to your booth is ignoring the clues they’re giving that they want to leave. These include saying “no, thank you” and backing away while you’re talking to them. If they’re not interested, they’re not interested. Allow them to move on so you can move on to a better prospect.

Keep your wording positive. Talk up your products (“our product is made of stainless steel”) instead of talking down your competitors (“[competitor] is poor quality”). Generally you should choose positive language over negative–“I agree” instead of “I don’t disagree.” It seems small, but positive language draws people; negative language repels them.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers the most irritating things I encountered at my last event. And, even worse, they’re the things that cost those vendors potential customers.

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Michelle Duggar, Wendy Williams, and Me

March 1, 2014

Warning: This blog post deals with the subject of sex.

I’m a fan of The Wendy Williams Show. It’s the celebrity dish that I enjoy. She had an interesting bit on the other day about Michelle Duggar.

In case you’re not familiar with the Duggars, they are a large family that has a reality show on TLC, 19 Kids and Counting. Michelle and her husband have 19 children, though I understand a few of their children are now grown and on their own. I’d tell you more, but I’ve never seen the show. I have an antenna, so I don’t get TLC. Everything I know about them comes from entertainment shows and a couple of online-searches.

Back to Wendy Williams. During her Hot Topics segment she talked about an interview that Michelle Duggar had done. They asked Michelle about her secrets to a happy marriage. She suggested that a wife “say yes to sex even when you’re tired.” She went on to say that a friend told her “Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.” Wendy asked her audience to clap if they agreed. A majority of them did. Eventually Wendy admitted that she agreed, too, but would find the suggestion easier to accept from someone who “didn’t have that 80s hair.”

I found that really interesting. No, Michelle Duggar doesn’t have the latest hairstyle. She’s not a model. She’s the mother of a large brood. She lives in Tontitown, Arkansas. I’m not sure how big that town is, but I’m guessing it isn’t a large metropolis. She probably fits in well with her neighbors. And, I imagine she’s had some version of that hairstyle since the 80s. That’s what a lot of women do.

The thing is, it’s not Wendy Williams (or anyone else) she’s trying to attract or impress. Clearly her husband finds her attractive, even with “that 80s hair.” She’s not giving hair style advice. The way she looks has nothing to do with whether her advice (which she’d been asked to give) is good or bad.

For the record, I agree with Michelle Duggar. When I talk with someone about the physical side of marriage, I usually suggest that a wife be as available to her husband as possible. (I would also suggest that a husband be as available to his wife as possible, but I don’t usually have those conversations with men.) I suggest that if a woman isn’t really in the mood at the moment her husband makes his move, instead of saying no, she respond that she could be persuaded. Women usually need a little longer to switch gears than men do. When she’s doing the dishes, or the laundry, or helping the kids with their homework, she isn’t usually thinking sexy thoughts. A bit of extra snuggling can work wonders to help a woman switch from homemaker/mommy mode to sexy wife mode.

So, good for you, Michelle Duggar. It sounds like you have a solid, happy marriage.


Distractions

February 13, 2014

I had an interesting experience recently. I was at an event where the speaker was talking about avoiding distractions. While she was speaking she was completely distracted by the two women who were having a private conversation instead of paying attention to her. How ironic.

I have two observations. The first is that it is incredibly rude to talk while the speaker is talking. Anything beyond “I never thought of that” or “What did she say?” should wait until after the speaker is done.

Second, when you’re speaking you need to be able to shut out those kinds of distractions. Granted, this particular speaker was talking about reducing the number of distractions in your workspace, but, since she’s a speaker, this was her workspace for that evening. I do a lot of speaking. I know how frustrating it is to feel like people are missing something key you’re saying. But, stopping to single them out (whether by saying something or simply waiting until they sense the silence and tune back in) is disruptive to the entire group. Respect the ones who are listening enough to keep going. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s the professional way to handle things.


Banning Babies

January 16, 2014

A few restaurants have recently made the news for banning children. I’ve witnessed several debates about this on various talk shows. And, I’m probably going to make some enemies here.

First, let me say that I LOVE children. My husband and I have many honorary grandchildren (no actual grandchildren yet). We work with small children at church. If you see a very furry guy and a short woman with flippy red hair both cooing at random babies in the grocery, it’s probably us. I even carry two different finger puppets in my purse to entertain little ones wherever I am. So, I’m not one of those people who just doesn’t like children.

That said, I don’t have a problem with fine dining restaurants banning children. It’s their restaurant. They have the right to set the rules. If you don’t like the rules, choose another restaurant. If enough people feel the same way, the restaurant will either close or be forced to change their rule. So, let me address some of the comments I’ve heard.

If you ban children you should ban the annoying, loud-talking drunk guy. Of course. And, no one questions the restaurant when they throw that annoying, loud-talking drunk guy out. However, say something to a parent about a screaming baby or a child running around the table, and you’re suddenly mean and evil.

Children are entitled to good food. Of course they are. They can get that at restaurants who welcome children. You can’t tell me that this handful of restaurants is the only place to get good food. It’s not like you have only two choices—fine dining or fast food.

Children need to learn how to eat in nice places. Yes, they do. And, if parents were teaching small children how to behave properly, this wouldn’t be an issue. Actually, they need to learn how to behave properly, no matter where they are. So, teach them to behave at the place with the clown. Then, teach them how to behave at the local diner or family restaurant chain. When they reach an age at which they are welcome in these restaurants, they’ll know exactly what to do.

Parents deserve to be able to eat in nice restaurants. I agree. They also deserve a night out without the children occasionally. If the babysitter couldn’t make it at the last minute, change your plans. I know it’s a pain, but changing plans is part of being a parent.

I know my view probably isn’t popular. That’s okay. I’ve never really been that popular anyway.


Those Pagan Christmas Symbols

December 6, 2013

I’m reading a book about making Christmas count, (25 Days, 26 Ways to Make this Your Best Christmas Ever). It’s an advent book that tackles a different aspect of the Christmas season on each day from December 1 through December 25.

The reading for today addresses Christmas trees. The author, Ace Collins, made an interesting point. A caller to a radio program on which Mr. Collins was being interviewed pointed out that Christmas trees, along with most of the other decorations we associate with Christmas, have pagan roots. The caller felt that Christians, and especially churches, should eschew all of those things that did not have “Christian roots.” Mr. Collins asked the caller if he had been a Christian all his life. The caller said he became a Christian at 16; he was now in his 30s. Mr. Collins pointed out that, using this same thinking, both he and the caller should be kicked out of the church. After all, they both have some pagan roots.

I love Mr. Collins’ answer. I occasionally encounter people with the same opinion as the caller in Mr. Collins’ story. I have pointed out that the origin of the tradition doesn’t take away from what it has come to mean today, but I’ve never thought of it in quite the way Mr. Collins approached it.

So, I will embrace my family traditions of the Christmas tree, the wreath, gift-giving, and the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25 (even though that is almost certainly not the actual anniversary of the birth of the Christ child), taking solace in the knowledge that they have been redeemed from their pagan roots in much the same way as I have been.


When an Event Disappoints

December 1, 2013

I did an event yesterday. In addition to the booth fee, which I thought was very reasonable at $30, each vendor was asked to donate an item for a silent auction. The funds raised from the silent auction will go to the church at which the event was held. The event was a bit of a dud. There were few people who came through. I know it was well advertised in the area. Still, sometimes those things just happen.

One of the vendors was much less understanding than I. After the first half hour she began complaining. She complained to the coordinator. She complained to the vendors around her. And, because she wasn’t exactly quiet with her complaints, we all knew how displeased she was.

Halfway through the four-hour event she demanded a refund. When she was told that her booth fee was non-refundable she began accusing the coordinator of fraud and theft. She threatened to go to the media and “let them know” that the event was a fraud.

Eventually one of the people involved in the running of the event gave the disgruntled vendor her money back. The vendor also took back her silent auction item. Even though she had been packed up for at least half an hour, it took her another half an hour to leave. By the time she left she had spread vile accusations through about a third of the vendors–several of whom left early.

This particular vendor left a bad impression of herself and of her company. The company is almost completely unknown in that particular area. Now most of the vendors there will associate her behavior with the company. That’s bad business.

There are several things to consider when you decide to participate in an event. Is the booth rental fee reasonable? Is it too far away? Is it an established event? Are the demographics in the area a good fit for my products? And, even if the event passes all of these questions with flying colors, it can still wind up with few attendees. That’s the risk you take when you decide to do an event.

The disgruntled vendor had traveled a long way. But, she made that choice. This was only the second year for the event. Since it was called “The Second Annual . . .” she had to know that. The event was in a somewhat small town. Since her business involved security devices, a town where many people don’t bother to lock their doors might not be the most target-rich environment. So, in my opinion, the disgruntled vendor was at least partially at fault if she didn’t like the way things turned out.

Here’s the thing, though. Even if she had good reason to be upset, the way she handled things was completely inappropriate. She upset several people. She made a public spectacle of herself. It would have been fine to go to the event coordinator and express her displeasure. It would even be fine to request a refund, though I consider it unreasonable for her to demand it. And, once she had her refund, it was even more inappropriate for her to stay around and stir up more trouble.

When you do an event you need to remember that no one can guarantee an outcome. As a matter of fact, even if there are hundreds of attendees, that’s no guarantee that you’ll have great sales or add lots of parties to your calendar. And, lack of sales and/or bookings doesn’t mean your time is completely wasted. I’ve done events where the only thing I gained was a new friend. But, what could be better than that?

Also, make sure you’ve taken responsibility for your part in the event’s success. Talk about it on social media. Invite your friends, family, and customers. If every vendor brings in 5 people, the event will usually go well. If each one brings in 10, it will probably be a smash.

Finally, no matter how upset you might be, don’t make things worse by throwing a fit. That disgruntled vendor’s behavior said much more about her than it did about the event.


He’s a Winner

November 21, 2013

I once read (I’d attribute it if I could remember where) that a man will gravitate toward where he feels successful. It made me think about the way we women often treat our husbands at home. Does my husband feel successful at home? Do I talk more about the things he does right or the things he does wrong? How about the things he hasn’t gotten done? When he walks in the door is he greeted with joy and love, or is he greeted with a list of things to do and a list of the things that have gone wrong?

I want to make sure that our home is the place my husband would most like to be in the whole world. I want him to know that I see him as a wonderful, talented man. I want him to know that I consider myself blessed to be his wife.

Yes, I’ll still remind him of the things that need to be done. But, that will only happen after I make absolutely sure he knows that he’s a winner in our home. If men gravitate to where they feel successful, I want to make sure our home has the strongest gravitational pull on him imaginable.