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The Top 5 Reasons You May Not Have Been Accepted To An Event, Market or Pop-Up!

Updated: Mar 18

And what you can do if you find one of those reasons pertains to your business!


Events, markets, festivals, pop-ups and expos can be a wonderful opportunity for you and your business. They provide you many opportunities to network, share your goods and services, make sales, build new customer relationships, and have access to additional lines of marketing and promotion for your business. While there is no shortage of excellent spaces to showcase your goods or services, many small businesses face challenges when applying to high quality and high value events. Many small businesses would be surprised (and some not so surprised) that small actions or indications can be the cause of a small businesses' lack of acceptance to an event. We're here to help, by sharing the top 5 reasons that you may not be accepted to an event, and some helpful tips to ensure you will be selling or showcasing your goods or services in person.


The Products Or Services You Offer Are Not What The Event Is Curating For

A difficult reality that most small businesses will be faced with at some point in their small business journey is simply that not everyone is going to want what you offer. It does not mean that what you offer is not valuable or good, it is simply a fact of life that each person has their own likes, tastes and aesthetics. How this comes into play for small businesses in events is that many small businesses, especially in the early states of their business, do not know who their target audience is. So they will apply to any and every event that that think they may want to do. While you may want to participate in an event, the event may not feel that you fit their theme, niche or be a business that their audience is interested in. Again it does not mean that you are not good or the event is not good. It simply means it may not be a good fit. If you have applied to an event multiple times and found that there is no success in your acceptance. It may be time to look at your brand and figure out if your products and marketing are appealing to the desired audience you want. With the sheer variety of events available in any given city, there is usually a place for all businesses but there is and will likely be an event that simply does not accept you. Most of the time it is because what you offer is simply not what they are looking for.

What to do if this is the case for your business?

  • Look at your businesses offerings and assess if they are in line with the brand image you are putting out. Assess if they are diverse enough to appeal to different kind of audiences. Make necessary adjustments to your products or branding, if needed.

  • Stop applying to events that you are continually not being accepted to. Apply elsewhere and work with the events who want to work with you. Not every space is the right fit for every business and that is an okay thing! There is likely a place perfect for your business and exploring other options is a good thing.

  • Take this opportunity to lean into your niche, should you have found yourself unintentionally in one. Use it, and build a distinct client base or audience on the basis of said niche and then apply specifically to events that align with that niche. Many successful businesses have found themselves in such a situation and used it to platform themselves and their products or services.


Applying For Events Followed Up By Non-Responsiveness On Your End

They say that no response is a response in itself. Well that is true, and it speaks louder than any other form of communication. It can create a perception of you and your business that you do not want event organizers to have. Like you, event organizers are busy people. They too have deadlines, tasks to handle, and lives to live outside of the professional world. It takes time and care to curate an event. It also takes administrative time to respond to applications. When applicants apply for events, are accepted, and then do not respond to instructions and inquiries, it comes off as unprofessional. It also indicates you do not care about the opportunity presented to you. Many small businesses will apply to many events throughout the year, and when accepted, simply do not respond if they have decided they do not want to participate or if their schedule has changed. Just like it would be uncomfortable if you sent out an email and received no response, the same goes on the other end. No one likes taking the time to follow up with someone only to receive dead silence. If your business is accepted to an event and you do not want to or cannot participate, a short ''Thank you for the opportunity but unfortunately we are unable to attend'' will take you a long way in showing you are a professional and polite business operator. For many events their process is simple. If you apply and are accepted, and they do not hear from you, the likelihood they are going to send a second opportunity to an unresponsive small business is drastically decreased. A more patient organizer will send a follow-up - because hey, life happens and sometimes emails end up in spam. If they extend that professional courtesy and still receive no response, your no response will be a response and it will also ensure you are not invited to any of those organizers events again.

What to do if this is the case for your business?

  • If you applied to an event, were accepted, and then failed to confirm your attendance, but you would like the opportunity to potentially participate in a future event, send a note to the organizer. You can explain why you didn't respond, or indicate if there was a conflict. Most organizers will be understanding and appreciate that you reached out.

  • While the most simple, this advice is the hardest: Apply only to events you are actually interested in and invested in attending. It is easy to form the habit of spam-applying anywhere and everywhere and just replying to those events you perceive as best. And then ghosting other events. While its easy to form this habit, it's not so easy to come back months or years later to an event you have ghosted, perhaps repeatedly. The best way to avoid this is to be decerning from he get-go. Take your time, apply to what you want and maintain the relationship. While there are lots of events, there are not so many that a business can afford to be a applier/ghoster. It will catch up to you sooner or later.


A Lack of Social Media Presence, Infrequent Or Dormant Social Presence

While this may not seem like a big deal, it really is. In the digital age your social media presence is synonyms with your business. It's how people engage with your business and, in turn, how you engage with your audience and customers. Experts rank your social presence as one of the top five most important factors in building and maintaining a successful small business. Events want to promote and market you and your goods. It can be difficult to do that when your social presence is infrequent or non-existent. Even posting content once or twice a week is better than nothing at all. When you are applying to an event, organizers will look at your website first and your social media second. An organizer can tell a lot about you as a business by the social presence you create and maintain.

What to do if this is the case for your business?

  • Pick a couple platforms and stick to it. Instagram and Facebook are the easiest as they are linked. If you post to your Instagram it will automatically also post to your Facebook. With some preplanning and setting up the connections between these apps, you will be able to post and go.

  • Make time for your social media. Every aspect of your business takes time and you need to manage your time. Commit to a posting plan and stick to it. The very minimum should be once a week. That is enough to keep engaged but still ensures that socials are not taking up all your work day and time. Use that time to also comment on some posts you enjoy, offer some 'likes', and participate in engagement posts by other platforms. If you engage, you will get engagement back!

  • Take a week and plan out your posts for the month. Spend time over that week setting up the photos, content and links you want. Apps like Instagram and Facebook allow you to schedule them. With a little time and effort on your part, your socials can be on auto-pilot.

  • For some of you, socials are just not something you are interested in. Hey, not everything about business is everyone's favorite. You could consider hiring a social media manager. Note that this will still require you to put some time into your socials, and it will be an extra cost of doing business. This is an option for those who can afford it, have a clear idea of what kind of presence they want, and are able to comminute it to a secondary party.


Not Participating In The Promotion Of Your Business When Attending An Event

A long-held misconception in the small business and the small business events community is that it's only the organizers' job to promote the event. While that is partly true, not all of the responsibility rests with them. Yes, event organizers should be promoting not only the event but the businesses that are participating in that event. Be it though via paid advertisement, news, radio, social media and newsletters. They should be doing the bulk of it in a fair and equitable way in which each seller is featured. The event's job is to promote the grouping of small businesses as a whole. Promotion is everyone's job to do when participating in an event. Small businesses taking advantage of in-person events should be promoting themselves and their attendance. This is not only beneficial to a businesses' overall success, it also gets your audience interested in meeting you in person and encourages people to make a point of shopping from you or using your services. Events are not dissimilar to group projects. There is often a group leader and they will lead and organize. However, it is the job of each member of the group to contribute to the overall success of the project. Most events will offer a clearly laid-out promotional plan, provide different ways you can assist in promotion, and offer clearly laid-out expectations for what promotion should look like from your end as a small business. This can vary from event to event, and more established events may do the majority of the promotion and marketing. But regardless of size, promoting your business is always also going to be part of your job. For almost all events, it's very simple; events will not invite back a small business that did not promote their attendance. It is unfair to the collective grouping of businesses when one person does not do their fair share, as it makes the job harder for everyone else.

What to do if this is the case for your business?

  • Almost any event will give you ideas, deliverables and actionable steps to help with promotion. Follow those steps. Depending on the event, there can be a lot requested of you. Sometimes less. But try to do as much as you can. No one will fault you for trying. They will however notice when you are not trying at all.

  • If you are unclear or maybe not familiar with how to do the actionable requests, reach out to the event and ask. Let them know what you are having issues with and a seasoned and experienced organizer will guide you though it. This is strongly advised as most small businesses do struggle with marketing and promotions. Your organizer - again, if they are experienced - will be able to teach you in a short time how to do it in a way that works for you.

  • Follow the rule of three for every event. These are the three without-fail actions you can take to promote yourself at a market which are fast, easy and always work.

    • Share the event on your social platforms and have a link on your upcoming events page of your website or Linktree.

    • Share the flyer of the event with the information two weeks before the event and then again one week before.

    • When you are promoted, share the content that the market has created to spotlight your business.


Gossiping, Bullying And Being Disrespectful

Your vibe attracts your tribe as they say and, oh goodness, is that true when it comes to events. This one should be pretty self-explanatory due to the very nature of events. They happen with large groups of people, and this is one of the biggest reasons small businesses do not get invited to or invited back to an event. Business is about people, and sometimes success in business has a lot to do with how you engage with people. It is not uncommon for businesses to have the urge to want to socialize and engage in event-type settings with other businesses and organizers. Just like in any other social dynamic, there are going to be people you may not jive with, and that's okay. There may be organizers who's organizational style may not be a great fit for you and that's okay, too. There may be businesses that are your direct competition and that is also okay. What is not and never will be okay is engaging in gossip, bullying and disrespectful behaviour. In business, you will find yourself interacting with those who perhaps in your personal life you would not choose to engage with. It is important to learn to exist within these spaces in a professional, productive and appropriate way. Just as you would like to be treated with respect, dignity and kindness, people expect the same from you. It is an event's first priority to create a space where those who enter feel welcome, safe and accepted. If you are a business owner who participates in things like gossiping, bullying businesses online or offline, or being disrespectful to other small businesses, organizers and event staff, it does not go unnoticed. This behaviour will play a large factor in whether or not you are not invited to or accepted to future events. You can have the best products or services in the world and be a very successful business, but none of that will matter if you are someone who can not behave professionally or treat others with respect. If you do not like your tribe, take a closer look at your vibe.

What to do if this is the case for your business?

  • People make mistakes, and sometimes the stress of events can make people more short-tempered and harsher than they normally may be. Anyone who has ever done an event will tell you its pretty frenetic. Should you find yourself in a situation in which you were not respectful or professional, apologize. People will not always remember what you said but they do remember how you made them feel. Sometimes in life it's best to say ''Hey, I did not like how that interaction went or how I participated in it. I am sorry and I hope we can interact better going forward.'' This approach will 99% of the time be enough to salvage a working relationship. Everyone makes mistakes but it does take a elevated person to admit when they have made one and apologize. This is standard for dealing with organizers, event staff, other sellers and pretty much every human.

  • Stay out of the drama. What other people think of you or think of someone else is not your business nor do you need to participate in it. Should you find yourself in the presence of someone gossiping, bullying someone else or being disrespectful, disengage. An event is busy enough that you can surely find something better to do with your time. You will find the busier you are the less time you will have for gossip or drama. We can not control how others behave, we can control how we engage. If an interaction turns from causal, calm and friendly to something that is gossipy, hurtful or harmful, just disengage.

  • If you are the one who's engaging in things like gossiping, bullying or being disrespectful, the answer is simple. Stop it. If you feel like you are not able to do that there are resources available to you to figure out the root cause of the behaviour. Consider if these events and the social aspect of them are right for you. There is no excuse for gossiping, bullying or being disrespectful in the professional environment and it will not tolerated. The best thing you can do for yourself if you are the person taking these actions is to stop. You are hurting yourself, your business, your future and the people around you.



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