The two farmers’ markets I work are some of the most profitable time I spend in my business. Last week we covered tips #1-4. Here are my tips #5-9 for success:
5. Something free first. Remember: you’re not trying to get a person who has never heard of you to walk up to your table and buy three cases’ worth. “Hi, nice to meet you, buy my stuff” doesn’t work anywhere, with anyone.
You want to offer them a commitment-free, easy (and fun, if possible) way to sample or taste or test out your offerings. If they don’t like it, you can let them go freely, because they are not your customer. If they do like it, they have just built trust and their first transaction with you. You are now connected, and now maybe the next step can be taken.
I make prepared foods, so we offer samples at every market. Of course, we’re selling orange food in a jar, a food that no one has ever seen anywhere before, so we’d darn well better offer samples! But no matter what you make, you can offer the free introductory experience: Farmers can offer snippets of carrot, a sample cup of salad, a cuplet of apple juice. Crafters sometimes offer a twist of alpaca yarn freshly spun, a free ring with her website inside the band, a tiny swirl of burl wood.
6. Make friends with the other vendors. You need each other. Offer to help with a stuck folding table. Know who offers what, so you can knowledgeably direct searching shoppers. Ask and (when asked) share advice. Attend any market meetings religiously. Do your share and a little more. Always thank the market manager.
7. Have someone look over your booth display before you start. Your university Cooperative Extension office may have an experienced marketing support team. If not, the manager, a friend, your spouse, a local colleague, or another successful vendor may be willing to spend a few minutes with you. Women at the local kitchen store recommended my recently improved plating and color arrangement, thank goodness. If there’s no one, at least practice setting up once at home, and stand back and view it. From a distance, can everyone see what your business is? Is it all flat down on the table, or is some attractive image visible vertically? Is it colorful, matching your business logo? Is it obvious what you offer and what the customer is to do at your booth? Nothing has to be fancy — it just has to be clear and attractive. Handmade is usually fine, and sometimes even better.
8. Make sure you are following all the laws and regulations for your industry, the tax code, and the rules of the market.
9. Insurance. It varies by state. Ask.
Next week: farmers’ market tips #10-14.
Lisa Johnson, Y’Ambassador, Yummy Yammy