Snack Food at Festivals

It’s more than just selling hotdogs…

How festivals and community events can be a spring board for your small business

In 2007, there were 496 music festivals alone across the UK; 5 years later this had increased to 929 and today, in 2014, estimates are that there are well-over 1,000 music festivals and other events hosted up and down the country. The likelihood is, there will be one or more near you.

And festival goers, as we know, need several things, including food and drink. Hiring a stall or pitch and simply opening the shutters will see you run of your feet in minutes, begging your support team for more supplies.

But the time has come to think outside of the box. These festivals and events could be so much more for any local snack business. But, how?

Branding and the power of social media.

Two words that small business owners roll their eyes at. On one hand, the small business entrepreneur is encouraged to focus on the services and products that make them money (after all, how else do we pay the bills and the wages?).

On the other, we are old we need to make every transaction count; every outing from behind the desk should be up there, sparkling with lights on and waving an enthusiastic hand at the passing customer, shouting ‘don’t forget me!’

Branding and social media, isn’t that all for the bigger brands?

Not necessarily…

Regardless of the product or service someone is buying, it is an emotional decision. It may be that your customer is hungry or thirsty. Or, you may offer a different kind of ‘fast food’, such as a selection of Mediterranean inspired snacks and the customer needs or wants to be ‘healthier’ in their food and drink choices.

But what can happen in a small business is the ‘doing too much at the one time’.

Just when you think you have this marketing and brand ‘thing’ licked, you feel it all unravelling. Marketing and PR experts suggest this is because small businesses try to do too much at once, hence the branding – how it feels to buy from you – becomes muddled and confused.

The moral of this story – choose one thing you do well and that you are passionate about, draw people in using this product or service and then show them what else you do.

So a snack bar at a local food festival, attracting young ‘city worker’ type folk and this is your ‘target audience’. What do you offer that is different to your competitors?

Pizza is done by everybody but your pizzas are ‘create your own’; your list of ingredients is extensive with the buying process simple. Choose the size of pizza, 4 toppings for one price and – boom! – within 5 minutes they have tasty pizza with all the toppings they like!

And then you show them all the other products you, along with the extensive range of drinks etc…

Get the picture? Hang your hat, as the saying goes, on one thing you do brilliantly.

But this branding and social media lark, how can I do that when I’m creating tapas?!

It is a long term approach. Think local festivals 2015 and think NOW about how you can really expand this marketing opportunity for your business:

  • What it is not – offering branded key rings or a fancy deck chair, with matching umbrella
  • What is it – running your social media alongside the selling of your product; inviting customers, for example, to load photos on to Facebook or Twitter, or any other kind of social media you use, to show how much they enjoyed their product or where at the festival they ate it etc. You may want to start a discussion – such as an ‘olive or no olive’ debate as a pizza topping – via your social media pages but, you also need to respond!

There are so many ideas –see for some ideas on linking social media with on-the-ground service or product.

BUT, you must know your audience

Of course, suggesting that every local snack bar or business has a stand at a show, event or festival may not the wisest investment of the marketing budget, at this time. This is your own marketing decision.

Choose the ‘right’ event or festival too – will the festival goers be your target audience? Your brand, after all, is nothing more complicated that how people ‘feel’ about your product, and what it feels like to buy from you. shows how some of the larger brands can be inspirational to small businesses, introducing quirky, yet practical and functional ideas. Looking and feeling different is the spice of branding.

Rolling on up, selling your snacks and drinks will make you money on-the-day but will people remember you? Will they want to seek you out? Try something different and see if you can ride the festival wave for weeks or months after…

Still not convinced brand identity is needed for your small business?

This clip talks about branding our products and services… what holds us back and why we feel that sometimes, taking a chance can be the most courageous thing to do!

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