What I Learned As a Vendor At the Farmers Market
& How It Can Help You In Your Business
by Jody Calkins
You might be wondering what a farmers market has to do with writing and marketing, but, as a retail environment, it provides valuable tips for the taking.
My husband and I joined a farmers market to sell our chicken eggs this year for the first time. Because it's typically so expensive to join, we were planning to opt out and sell our eggs at the farm. Long story short, and a tough decision later, we decided to go for it. Last Thursday was our second day at the farmers market. With an estimated 400 people at the market (double from opening day), you would think we would have done alright. A few things became apparent.
Most People Don't Read (or retain the words they see)
Who wants to stand at a table and read? Not many people, apparently. It was becoming obvious that we had too much information on our flyers. How do I know? When someone stands there looking down at the flyers, and then asks a question that was answered on the flyer, I know they either weren't really reading or they didn't retain the information.
Actionable Steps: Keep the words to a minimum on your signage and flyers. Keep it simple. If you're there to talk about your product or service, lead them through your flyers to ask questions. (Note: If you are not present, then you will need to rely on your prospects to read your materials to obtain the information.)
You Need to Tell People About Your Product or Service
Since most people don't read or retain the words they see, your job is to let customers and prospects know about the products and services you provide. If you don't tell them, they're not likely to know.
Actionable Steps: Talk to people and let them know about what you do.
Communicate the Value of Your Product or Service
Our eggs aren't cheap, but they're also not the most expensive we've seen. With feed prices going through the roof, we have to charge a minimum of $2 a dozen just to break even on the feed. Then we have other expenses like the refrigerated truck (a Colorado Department of Agriculture requirement for transporting eggs) and auto insurance, our liability insurance, and required fees with the state and the county.
Getting people to understand why our eggs are so expensive when they can go to Walmart and pick up a dozen for 99 cents can get a bit tricky. If they don't see the difference between commercialized caged birds (even those labeled as free range or cage free) and local, free range birds, we have a serious problem. It's time to move on; they're not our ideal clients.
It turned out that if I let people read the flyers, they were less likely to buy than if I talked about what the flyers said. And once we were able to communicate the value of our eggs, the majority of the people who were reluctant changed their minds.
Actionable Steps: Do the talking; don't make them read why your products and services are better. You'll have better success if you do your best to convey the value yourself (even if you're not great at talking).
You Need Samplers
People love free stuff. If you have nothing to give them, the majority of people will walk away without even stopping.
This week I'm planning on making a potato salad type dish and serving it with crackers or french bread (any good recipes would be greatly appreciated!). We'll see how it goes.
Actionable Steps: Provide something for free, a sampler of your product or service, or a chapter of your ebook.
You Need to Be Accessible
It's rare that people will go out of their way to check you out. The market had about 400 people come through, but only an 1/8th stopped by our table. Our table was just too far away from the rest of the market. If we can get the people at the market to not only stop by our table, but also understand the value we offer, we'll be able to sell more eggs.
Actionable Steps: Make it easy for people to stop by or find you.
People Get Confused By Mixed Marketing
This one seems like a no-brainer, obviously, but there are a number of reasons why you would use materials with the name of another company or individual. For instance, James Patterson works with a number of other writers and their names appear on the books with his name. It's a great marketing advantage for those other writers. But it is confusing to the reader. Did he write the book or did the other person?
In our case, we have beer stickers covering the entire surface of the sides and the back of our refrigerated truck. They're really hard to get off. And the products that will take them off are either expensive or hard to find. We thought the beer stickers would attract customers, but they've been doing a horrible job at selling our eggs thus far. Most people saw the beer truck and kept walking.
Actionable Steps: Determine whether or not mixed marketing would work for you and your goals. If you try it and it doesn't work, fix it.
Do you have any tips you would add? I'd love to hear them in the comment section below!
About the Author: Jody Calkins is a copywriter and editor for global business management and leadership development corporations. She specializes in writing and editing articles, case studies, newsletters, and reports that showcase her clients' expertise and unique capabilities. She also assists writers in improving their writing skills through her copy editing services. For more information, please visit https://www.emeryroad.com.
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