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Dream Big!

A Day at the Arts Festival/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/JULY08/images/YouInc

Booth Rental: $550 Handouts: $200
300,000 Potential Contacts: Priceless!

Need a way to promote your business?

Take some tips from this brokerage, and secure a spot at your next community event.

When some 300,000 visitors roll into the town of Mount Dora every February, the team at Dave Lowe Realty is ready to roll out the red carpet. The occasion is the annual Mount Dora Arts Festival, and the brokerage has had a booth at the event for the past two years.
As sale associate Craig Henderson explains, the decision to commit two days and a small budget to hosting a tent at the festival has paid off in ways they didn’t anticipate. “We sold a condo in Mount Dora [after the festival in 2007],” he says. Henderson, who worked the tent this year and last, says he’s netted one sale and two leads by greeting passersby and handing out property fliers, copies of The Real Estate Gallery (featuring local listings) and even chocolate candies during the festival.

The decision to take part in the annual weekend event originated with Ashley Lowe, the company’s broker-owner. Rounding out the team to host the tent in three-hour shifts were Michele Lowe, Nova Fuller, Skye Smathers Runnels and Janet Shatzer.  Each participant paid $150 to cover costs of space rental, printed materials, candy and other favors.

“One solid lead is worth just the cost of setting up the tent,”

Henderson notes.

He believes that taking a chance with something different can pay off in the current economy. “The old tried-and-true ways don’t take into
account how the market has changed,” he says.
Here are his tips on preparing for your special event:

1. Plan Ahead
Planning should start about six months in advance with four to six people to host the tent or booth, Henderson says. He recommends lining up people for setup, cleanup and keeping supplies stocked. The team is already thinking about next year’s event. Nancy Zinkofsky, executive co-chair of the Mount Dora Center for the Arts, says Oct. 15, 2008, is the deadline for reservations for the 2009 festival, to be held Feb. 7 and 8. Costs include the application fee, $30; a single booth, $300; a double booth, $550. Add $100 for a corner spot and $75 for electricity.

2. Pick Your Best Spot
A good location was vital for Dave Lowe Realty because, unlike many other real estate companies in town, its office is several blocks from the festival area. “We don’t have a storefront window, so this is our chance to be downtown,” Henderson says. This year, the company picked a spot at the top of the hill, “a great location to catch the people as they enter the festival. We aren’t there to sell anything—we’re not there to push people to make any sort of decision. We’re just there to start a conversation.”

3. Add a Sweet Touch
Staff members at Dave Lowe Realty spent hours preparing their giveaway grab bags. “We have simple brown bags, one color, printed with our company logo,” Henderson explains. The bags contain a map of the area, a 24-page booklet of the company’s listings and candy.

“Candy is the icebreaker and the common denominator. No matter what, you can still entice people with a piece of candy,” he says.

4. Refine Your Approach
 “Last year was more of a novice try,” Henderson says. This year, the company added a PowerPoint presentation that’s a digital version of its listings booklet. The group also used folding tables to hold its giveaway bags and display its printed materials. It avoids a tent rental fee because it owns a tent, bought for other office activities. “Our office managers painstakingly wrapped Hershey Nuggets for about a week” in papers printed with the company logo, Henderson adds. But visitors this year ate the candy and discarded the wrappers. The wrapper idea will be scrapped, but the candy will remain.