Hosting a Table at Events: 6 Essential Elements to Make It Worth It
Have you ever had the opportunity to host a table at a Catholic couples conference, an infertility conference, or maybe a new mom’s event?
Your messaging, your preparations, and your expectations of the event can make it all worth it.
There are a few essentials you need to make tabling worth it.
Its best to keep your table simple, yet eye catching.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money giveaways like water bottles, candy, or raffle off an iPad. You don’t need internet access. You don’t even need an iPad or laptop to place on the table for digital presentation. You don’t need a way to accept money... and you don’t need lots of experience.
It’s okay if you’ve never done it before, or if you haven’t had much success with tabling in the past.
Follow this list of essentials for tabling success.
1. Understand your audience (and what they’re looking for)
Step one is understanding your audience because you’ll want to tailor your materials and conversations to the attendees of the event.
Creighton and NaPro can help women and couples in many ways. So, when you explain it, approach the situation like your talking to an old friend about their situation.
- At a Catholic couples conference you can emphasize SPICE, charting, or NaPro for infertility.
- At an infertility conference, focus on NaPro for infertility.
- At new mom’s event, or breastfeeding event talk charting postpartum
- And so on
A couple struggling with infertility has a different mindset, different concerns, fears, and questions than a new mother at a postpartum charting event.
Those thoughts, fears, and motivations make up what’s called the audience persona (sometimes called an avatar).
A persona is a representation of who your audience is. Infertility clients have a persona, newly wed couples have one, new moms, etc. They all have a unique persona.
You can brainstorm about the situations of each audience to sort of put yourself in their shoes.
Anna Saucier at Inspired Fertility Pro suggests answering these questions about the audience:
- Marital Status
- What makes them happy/sad/angry/scared/frustrated?
- What values or beliefs do they feel are most important?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What do they avoid because it triggers uncomfortable feelings?
Sometimes that’s all you need.
But if you haven’t actually lived out the situation of a person, it may be difficult to emphasize completely with their persona.
In that case I recommend sending a short survey to existing clients.
The gold standard of persona creation is done by sending out surveys with open ended questions.
I’m not talking about those super long surveys where you get so annoyed you quit halfway through.
Ask 5-7 strategic questions. They are:
- What can you tell us about yourself? can also be framed as In 1 sentence, describe yourself.
- What are you using Creighton Model for? What problem does it solve for you?
- What made you choose Creighton Model (or NaPro)? What convinced you that it was a good decision?
- What doubts or hesitations did you have before starting?
- What questions did you have that you couldn’t find answers?
- What is your biggest challenge, frustration?
- Anything else you would like to tell us?
I wouldn’t recommend more than 7 questions because people will quit your survey halfway through or provide rushed answers near the end. Less than 5 questions often doesn’t give you enough information.
If you can get responses from 7+ people you’ll start to identify patterns and similarities.
Bucket the responses into persona groups: Infertility, NFP, Natural, etc and you’ll start to get a sense of each persona.
And finally you want to understand the mindset of someone walking through the tables at your event.
Of course, they’ll probably have a lot on their mind during the event. So keep your table messaging attractive and to the point.
2. Use an Attractive Banner with a message aligned with the audience persona
Promote “How you help” instead of “What you do”?
Nobody wakes up needing “Business X”. They wake up needing help for a specific problem, pain, or discomfort.
Maybe your audience is looking for answers about the cause of infertility... emphasize that
Maybe they want help with finding the a provider who doesn’t push the pill for everything.
Align your message or your banner to solving the biggest frustration of your audience’s persona.
Next, imagine yourself meeting people and talking about what you do.
3. Always stand in front of your table
It's tempting to sit behind your table and expect people will approach if they're interested.
But you'll have more success if you stay standing.
I recommend you do not even bring a chair.
You'll interact with a lot more people if you are standing in front of your table, smiling and greeting people as they pass by.
Although this one is simple, it's critically important.
Be prepared to make some new friends and plan to follow up with them.
4. Plan to follow up, and assume you will not get many (if any) Intro Session commitments at the event
When you imagine yourself tabling at the event, consider what it’s like for the attendees.
They’re bombarded with lots of information, from lots of vendors, walking around with swag bags overflowing with business cards, brochures, candy, take home goodies, and water bottles.
You can give your business card to as many people as possible, but it's probably going to get lost somewhere in those the overstuffed swag bags.
For example, think back to the last time you had a bag full of interesting items from vendors.
What happened to that bag?
Most people throw away those bags or at least never get around to following up with the vendors who caught their attention.
Start with the expectation that most people will NOT get in touch with you after an event.
It’s not that tabling failed, or that people don’t like your flyers. It's just life. You’ve just got to plan on being the one to follow up.
Despite your exciting offer, it’s much easier for people to keep doing the same thing than to reach outside their comfort zone. It takes a heck of a lot of motivation to pick up the phone or email a stranger about something so personal.
Keep handing out business cards, but make sure you get their contact info so you can follow up.
5. Use sign up sheets to collect contact info
Get 2 clipboards with signup sheets covered in empty lines for Name (or couples name), phone, email, and attach a pen to each clipboard with a string.
That is all you need to collect contact info so you can followup with people after an event.
It's good to keep the sign up sheets simple to avoid intimidating people with invasive questions.
Pro-tip: write your own name on the first empty line of each sign up sheet to show people how to do it.
Better still, give away something for free in exchange for writing down their info.
6. Give away something relevant for free
Something that appeals directly to the audience you want to serve at the event.
This is where those persona survey responses come in handy.
Using the survey response you can develop a short guide on a relevant top for the audience at the event.
Liz Escoffery CFCP of Indy FertilityCare created “5 Ways to Less Stress While Postpartum Charting”
This is a great freebie to give away at an event!
Include your contact info at the back of the guide so readers can reach out.
Then follow up with people the day after the event.
Yes, the next day.
Don't wait for them to contact you, and don’t give them a little space after the event. Contact them.
You've got this!