How To Stand Out And Sell More At Your First Farmer’s Market
Photo Credit: Coastside Farmer’s Market, Half Moon Bay, California
Last year was the first that every state in the US offered some kind of cottage food law, the regulatory framework that allows small food businesses to sell legally from a domestic kitchen. These laws also made it easier for new foodpreneurs to enter the market via Farmer’s Markets in their local area.
Check out our article here about why the Farmer’s Market is a great place to test a concept or menu as you scale your food business.
Rolling into your first Farmer’s Market may feel intimidating, but fortunately, most are full of like-minded people who value the community aspect of the market. These events are a good place to launch your new food business for several reasons.
They attract a diverse group of people.
A market offers a place to test your concept and get honest feedback.
They are a way for people to meet YOU, the maker!
Your market table offers a great place to take pictures and use them for marketing.
It is an invaluable forum to network with potential customers and future collaborators.
Markets are a place that encourages communal growth, with vendors helping each other learn the way.
Whether you sell only to friends, on an online plaform, or through a food app like SAPi, Farmer’s Markets are a great place to connect with the public once a week. Your product may be the best available in town, but that’s not always enough to grab the attention of new customers or set you apart from the competition. Your first foray into the market should be bold and polished.
So we’ve created a list of where to start, how to make your brand stand out, and sell more.
8 Ways To Stand Out & Sell More At The Farmers Market
Farmer’s Markets are a feast for the stomach AND the eyes. Walking in, weekend markets can be full of hustle and bustle and people who know what they want. Your job is to be the pleasant new addition to their shopping list.
When it comes to catching the eye of potential new customers, you’ll need to go bold and prepared. While some markets may have just ten vendors, other more competitive markets may have 150 vendors or more. This creates massive competition over the attention of a potentially large amount of foot traffic that you hope to convert to loyal customers.
We love a “fake it til you make it” moment in foodpreneur. We’re not talking about dishonesty; we’re talking about showing people that you are serious about your product, that you have a cohesive vision, and that your product is boldly the best through clean branding that can be more effective than food samples.
While you might think that just dipping your toes in a market environment to test a product out doesn’t mean thinking about a branding strategy, the average consumer doesn’t want to wait for you to believe in your own product.
Coming with matching table clothes, color-coordinated signage, and proper labeling are imperative to building a subconscious experience for new customers. The truth is, humans are visually drawn to and psychologically driven to go towards products that look polished and proven.
2. Clean Signage & Pricing
Clear signage with pricing may seem obvious, but customers like to know about pricing. Not all customers feel social enough or want to wait to have a conversation with you about the pricing of your goods. A clear sign with pricing goes a long way to silently communicating to your customer base, speeding up transactions, and can even be a place where you further explain your product.
Hopefully, you’ll find yourself too busy at your market table to be able to answer every question. When this is the case, signage about ingredients, sourcing, and contact information that can answer customer questions! Also, consider popping a QR code up for people to quickly access a landing or social media page to see your products in action or answer commonly asked questions.
In regards to pricing, do your market research (no pun intended) and make sure that you are competitive with other like minded vendors. Too low and you’ll undercut the competition while potentially making your product look low in value. Too high and savvy shoppers will move on from sticker shock.
3. Stay Clean and Organized
The organization of your Farmer’s Market booth provides insight into your food business operations. While a busy day for a market vendor may mean some chaos may happen with boxes flying, empty sample trays stacked in the back, and marketing materials being blown around, do your best to have your booth represent your brand.
4. Come Prepared
Ensure you bring more than enough stock, marketing materials, sample packaging, and takeaway packaging. The latter is a big one. Imagine having an excited line of new customers and no packaging to serve your product in!
However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to run out. Let us explain. There is nothing more intriguing to a consumer than a “sold out” sign.
“Was it THAT good?”
“How can I get it?”
“I’m coming early next time!”
It’s the good old crowd that attracts a crowd principle.
5. Everyone Loves A Free Sample
Building on the “crowd attracts a crowd” principle, nothing attracts a crowd like samples. Don’t be precious with your product, especially the first few times into a public forum. Letting people try your product gives them a risk free way to experience your goods rather than weighing a purchase to try.
Be prepared to chat with people, and receive honest feedback. Keep a notebook! Customer trials are a great barometer for what flavors people reach for most, whether you need to tweak a recipe, and if they fully understand the product. It is a valuable, free, real time research opportunity.
6. Founder Representation
Show up. Don’t leave your booth to a teenager who is just trying to make an hourly wage. Selling is an art and authenticity is a gold that should come directly from the Founder’s mouth. No one cares more about your product than you do. No one will be able to answer questions, upsell, and make strong connections better than the maker of the product.
Letting people see you is important in establishing that real local face that is behind your product.
7. Create A Call To Action
Your job isn’t done after the sale is complete. Asking people to become ambassadors in an organic way can create a domino effect in attracting and retaining customers. A call to action (CTA) can be as simple as a sign that says:
“Tag Us On Social Media”
“Follow Us On Instagram”
“Come Back Next Week To Try Our New Flavor”
“Enter Our Contest To Win a Free XXX”
Catching the attention of your audience and convincing them to continue interacting with your brand is the key to food business sustainability.
8. Consider A Market Promotion
The sky is blue, the grass is green, and humans love a good deal. If it’s your first few appearances at a market, start with some goodwill! A two-for-one deal that includes a new product is a great way to incentivize people to buy more and try new products. A sales promotion is a marketing activity that is designed to increase sales, encourage customer loyalty, or generate brand awareness.
Farmer’s Markets are an incubator for new food businesses, a place to grow and learn in equal measure. The connections built and feedback given are incredible assets to a new business. Start small; just start!
How defining your purpose will help your food business define its values, create momentum, and become the ultimate touchstone for longevity.
Defining your brand’s purpose is an essential starting point for creating your brand story. While everyone’s story will be different, and the way you tell your story can take on various forms, your unique brand story should be anchored in your company’s purpose. Check out Grow Your Kitchen Series: 5 Steps To Creating Your Brand Story for more on how to build a compelling brand story.
A purpose statement will inform your brand story. It is a succinct description of why you exist beyond financial gain. Are you making your community healthier? Are you introducing authentic international flavors to an otherwise bland food desert?
The Harvard Business Review reports that companies with a defined sense of purpose can foster better employee satisfaction, facilitate business growth and transformation, and boost customer loyalty. Your Purpose Statement will provide a guiding compass to your business internally and a representation of your values and mission to the public externally.
What Is The Difference Between A Purpose Statement and A Mission Statement
When you are starting a business, you are inundated with different terms that are needed to create pitch decks, internal guidelines, and marketing copy. Your mission, vision, and purpose are all separate parts of creating a focused foundation and roadmap for your food business.
Many people confuse Mission, Vision, and Purpose Statements. Here are the key differences:
Mission Statement: This statement is about what you do and for whom.
Vision Statement: This is where your food business is going is goals and intentions are accomplished.
Purpose Statement: The intent of a Purpose Statement is to define the reason or reasons you exist as a business.
Your Mission and Vision Statements will be the tangible goals and people that you serve. Your Purpose Statement will tie this all together to show your resolve and determination is seeing your mission and vision through.
How To Create A Purpose Statement
Deep diving into your company’s morals, ethics, and beliefs will help you define your purpose. You will often find your purpose organically by asking yourself and your employees:
“Why are we here?”
“What problem do we solve?”
“What movement are we championing?
In the food world, this could be that you are championing the slow food movement where everything is prepared fresh from local farms.
Maybe you are solving a gap in the market where your community has no authentic Asian cuisine.
The problem + your solution = your purpose.
The Five Steps To Creating a Purpose Statement
When crafting such an essential piece of your company’s foundation, it might seem hard to hone in the perfect concise purpose statement. It takes time to create a purpose that perfectly captures your food business’s essence. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Consider Forming A Committee
This doesn’t have to be a formal group, but of course, it can and should include stakeholders when suitable. A committee can be a group of close friends and like-minded business people who know you and your goals and can help you define your purpose.
2. Figure Out Your Why First
You can refer to Finding Your Why to inform your purpose. Your “why” is the reason you decided to open up your food business in the first place. It is the excitement that keeps a foodpreneur up late at night dreaming, and it is essential to be able to describe the motivation behind your purpose.
3. Identify Your Legacy
Identifying your legacy is a good exercise to put you in a purposeful frame of mind. The description of your purpose should be informed by what your future impact looks like. Knowing what you want your legacy to be and working backward will help you develop your core purpose.
4. List Your Values
In listing your values, you will find some of the most critical vocabulary that will become the words you use for your purpose statement. Your values will help you align with your purpose.
5. Create A Draft and Leave Room To Grow
Once you have collected feedback from a trusted group, listed your values, determined your ‘why’, and identified your future legacy, it’s time to create a draft. Try to keep your Purpose Statement between 1-2 concise sentences. Also, aim for easy-to-understand vocabulary and a tone that matches your audience.
Remember that your business will evolve, and your Purpose Statement might as well. Leave room for growth.
Examples Of Purpose Statements
Here are a few examples to fire up your creativity in creating your own Purpose Statement.
Grow Your Kitchen Series: Jumpstart Your Food Business
During this series on Save A Plate Inc, we will look inside the JumpStart Your Food Business course, which is a comprehensive approach to start, grow, and scale your food business.
The JumpStart Your Food Business course provides a curriculum you can tackle at home on your own timeline, which will demystify the process to launch your journey as a food entrepreneur.
Why Build Your Dream With JumpStart Your Food Business
SAPi believes that every food entrepreneur deserves a seat at the table, and a lack of resources or time should not stop a dream from becoming a reality.
The food and beverage business can feel financially intimidating, and resources to develop a sound business model can be costly. In addition, lack of resources and confidence to take the leap can exclude some of our most valuable contributors to the food ecosystem. Now first time business owners, young entrepreneurs, and those switching professions will all have a seat at the table.
This course is written by SAPi’s founder and food visionary, Dr. Brandon Gantt. It provides all the pieces you need to create a food business plan coupled with your unique vision and value proposition with a sound strategy to make it a sustainable reality.
Likewise, his experience with previous endeavors that required copious amounts of research and bootstrapping business plans together, Gantt decided that the way to grow our food community was to make resources to start your own food business accessible to everybody. This course to grow your kitchen is for the people that know a food hustle is often grown late at night while working multiple jobs to make a real dream happen.
How Does It Work
The JumpStart Your Food Business curriculum is built for people who:
Want to find all the guidance in one place.
Need a flexible learning plan.
Want real-world examples of concept success.
Are ready to make their food hustle into a thriving business model.
The curriculum is broken into 20 self-guided units that can be done at your own pace. The JumpStart Your Food Business course will take you from idea to opening day without leaving any stone unturned. In doing so, you’ll go into your new endeavor confident that your business has a solid foundation. In addition, your brand will have a solid identity and voice.
The JumpStart Your Food Business course includes modules to:
Take your idea into action.
Learn strategies for market research from consumer to competitor.
Develop your unique selling proposition.
Develop your product.
Create a legal framework and financial foundation.
Build your brand.
Create a marketing strategy.
SAPi connects people in a diverse locally minded ecosystem that encourages and supports food providers in building and growing their visions. Your success is our success. So let’s meet at the table and make your food business dreams into reality.
Finding Your Why Is One Of The Most Important Steps Of Your Food Business Journey
In this installment of SAPi’s Grow Your Kitchen Series, we’ll be digging deep to answer one of the most critical questions a new food entrepreneur should ask themselves: why? Why do you wake up every day to hustle for your dream? Why should you keep going? Why should your customers invest in your brand?
Renown author and speaker Simon Sinek, renowned author and public speaker said:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do.”
There is a place where your “why” and consumer demand will cross over, and this is the sweet spot to success.
Finding Your Why Is The First Step To Creating Your Dream
A “why statement” is your purpose, who you are, what your stand for, and how you want to contribute to the better good. If your “why statement” is powerful enough, it will inspire and move people to share your message.
Finding Your Why To Communicate To Consumers
You may not realize it, but as consumers, we are buying someone else’s “why” every day. Does their “why” align with our values, hopes, and goals? Your why should translate to your product, mission, and vision. An authentic “why” will resonate with your customer base and create loyal customers who trust in your brand.
Finding Your Why To Keep Growing Your Kitchen
Before you even consider your future customer, you need to answer the “why” for yourself. At the end of the longest days, when you feel like giving up, you’ll need this anchor statement to remind you who you are and where you are going. A strong why statement is imperative to your personal and business success and longevity.
Here are five solid reasons you should invest time and thought into crafting a strong “why statement”.
1. It will define your purpose.
Understanding your own true purpose in life should be a priority whether it is part of a business dream or otherwise. Humans fundamentally do better with a personal sense of purpose, a true north that will always be there to guide them. Purpose offers stability and direction.
2. A “why statement” will help you to maintain focus.
When you define your “why” with good clarity, this becomes a place to go back to when chaos sets in. Your “why” will remind you of your bigger goals when small setbacks happen.
3. It will help guide you in making hard decisions.
A well-crafted “why statement” will help you from making rash decisions or “quick fixes” in the heat of the moment. It is also a place to revisit when you feel yourself compromising your core values.
4. It will act as an accountability partner.
To grow your kitchen, you’ll need a strategic timeline to consult when you find yourself off track. When you find yourself drifting off course, your “why statement” will remind you that you have work to do and goals to meet.
5. It will keep you resilient.
Perhaps most importantly, a business owner must possess otherworldly resilience. Thomas Edison once said:
“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”
So much of succeeding is failing first. A “why statement” will remind you of your original mission and the big dreams that require determination and resilience to keep moving.