How To Stand Out And Sell More At Your First Farmer’s Market
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.
1. Brand It Out, Even If You Are New
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!