Maximizing Consumer Engagement at Community Events
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Community events and local health fairs can be an effective way to engage existing shoppers and reach new consumers, and retail dietitians are often invited to participate in these events as a central community member. I recently had the opportunity to interview Kathy Jordan, MS, RD, CPT, Consulting In-Store Dietitian for Big Y Foods on how to capitalize on these events to better engage shoppers and market your nutrition programs and services. Kathy’s career has spanned various retail, health care and food industries, and she had the opportunity to receive training specific to trade shows in one of her roles. During our interview, she shared the following tips for maximizing consumer engagement at community events.
Draw Event Attendees
Many health fairs are set up with a table in front and you standing behind it. Instead, Kathy recommends you stand out front. “Smile and be proactive,” she recommends. “Assume not everyone knows who you are and what you do in your role as retail dietitian. Ask someone if they want to learn more about your booth.” Kathy has found success in having a booth activity to draw attention, whether it’s a cooking demonstration, drawing, or game.
Another approach Kathy has found objective is offering to speak at events. “Presenting gives you visibility and draws people to your booth,” says Kathy.
Make It about Them
“Look professional, and yet, not intimidating,” suggests Kathy. “Listen, find out why someone has taken time to stop by your booth, and make it more about them than you.” While you may have goals in exhibiting at a health fair, such as reaching a certain number of consumers or getting sign-ups for a program or class, the most effective approach is to keep the consumer and their needs in the forefront of your mind.
Once you’ve engaged the event attendee, offer a business card with your contact information or share a calendar of upcoming events. These options can drive follow-up after the health fair.
Practice Booth Etiquette
If traffic is slow at an event, it’s easy to spend your time reviewing emails on your phone. But remember that how you present yourself is a reflection on your company. “Standing vs. sitting in the booth, keeping food containers out of site, staying focused on attendees vs. chatting with your coworkers in the booth, storing your phone so it won’t distract you – these are ways to stay focused on your event goals and objectives,” reminds Kathy. Even one new lifelong shopper that you attract at a health fair or show can be impactful to your programs and your retailer.
Trade shows present an opportunity for retail RDs to establish themselves in a new community, to help consumers get to know you and your retailer, and to impact the perception of what dietitians can do. Following these tips can increase effectiveness at these events.