It’s time for festivals and fairs. People come out to enjoy the good food, great music and spring weather and it’s a great opportunity to reach a significant number of people face to face. Tabling is a way to gather our audience. As with any event where the table is set for us, so to speak, to reach out effective there are some best practices.
Plan in advance:
1. How will you collect names and sign-up new members?
2. How many volunteers will you have on hand?
3. What materials will you have on hand?
4. Do you have anything to sell or give away?
Sign-up sheets, a petition or a list for folks who want to get on your online alert list are obvious choices for signing folks up. It’s a good idea to have ‘multiple stations’ for people signing up to prevent a bottleneck of lost opportunity.
There is probably a point where you have too many volunteers and we should always be so fortunate. But having at least 2 people behind the table and one in front of it is the preferred minimum. The ‘greeter’ standing in front of the table is a good way to direct traffic to you. The greeter can hand out info or get people to sign-up if they are just passing by.
Hand-outs – fact sheets and fliers are standard fare. You can also consider materials people can view at your table like a bulletin board or notebook of press clippings and pictures of your chapter in action. You might also consider a popular action visual, like the penny-poll, which has proven popular.
Water and ice cream are popular items for sale at fairs. Water is simple enough, all you need is the cooler. Ice cream requires more preparation but can be a money maker. Either will help draw and audience.
A bowl of little individually wrapped candies can be given away to visitors. It’s a pretty cheap but popular way to attract attention. Maybe the avid bakers in your chapter will volunteer to make a big batch of cookies…
Of course, old stand-byes like tee shirts and buttons can work as well.
Have your follow-up mail materials or phone calling plans set in advance including who will input data into a spread sheet as needed. Think through how you will get back to people within a week.
At the Event
Messaging is important. Think through your greeting – what is you are promoting. And, don’t be shy direct people to your table. Make eye contact, smiling as you deliver a sound bye size message like ‘we’ve got water’, or ‘we have a petition to prevent war with Iran’. Don’ sit passively waiting.
The interactive approach works best. Take the petition into the crowd.
Have an agreed upon process for ‘starring’ any ‘hot’ prospects to be given priority in follow-up.
In signing up new members/donors, consider offering folks a ‘discounted ‘subscription to your newsletter if they’re not ready to sign up as members.
Follow-up materials (a letter inviting a prospect to join, reply card and return envelope – news article or fact sheet optional) can be prepared in advance of the fair to insure follow-up doesn’t become a burden after the fair.
The United States Postal Service can send out a post card cheap to a list (Excel is fine) you provide them. You design the post card and it can include your logo or other graphic.
These Tabling Tips were prepared by Peter Deccy, national Peace Action’s Development Director