Last week, we wrote you about developing an effective strategy to turn out customers to your Farmers Market stand.
With more and more local food options in the marketplace all the time, it can be harder to capture your target customers' attention and hold it. It’s up to you to provide folks with clear and concise communication. It’s your job to:
- Get them the information they need about the market right when it’s most useful for them and...
- Motivate them to show up by offering a promo or sneak peak of what’s fresh that week.
An effective pre-market communications strategy can turn out your best customers week after week. But what about the customers who arrive at the market without a clear idea about what or if they’re going to purchase that day. How do you make sure they gravitate to your stand to spend their money with you? Here are eight tried and true tips to maximize your time spent at farmers market:
- Take it all in! Walk around your table and have a look at your display before market begins and at least once an hour during. What does your display say about your farm and your product? Does it feel abundant? How about during the fourth hour of the market?
- Track your numbers! When you’re packing up or arriving home from market, the last thing you want to do is count your market returns. But knowing what goes to market and what comes home means the difference between decision making based on feelings and decision making based on data. Week to week, these numbers can tell you what to bring to satisfy your customers. Remember, even incomplete data is better than no data at all. Create a system at the beginning of the season and stick with it!
- Use images to tell your farm’s story. Your customers are shopping at the farmers market because they care about the story of their food and their farmer. A small photo album with pictures of your farm and crew displayed among your product is great for efficiently sharing the story of your farm while you're simultaneously helping customers and restocking your stand.
- Signage, signage, signage. This is about brand identity. It’s also about clarity. Make sure that your farm’s name is prominent. Make sure that your items are labelled and prices are clearly marked. If you sell meat or another product which needs to be in a cooler, print and laminate attractive images of your product (raw or cooked) and attach them to the outside of your coolers.
- Build your contact list and use it! Take mailing list sign-ups every market and develop a routine to enter these into your bulk emailing and text messaging lists each week after market.
- Pile it high, watch it fly. Your market display should express bounty, even during the shoulder seasons and towards the end of market.
- Avoid the ‘picked-over’ look. When you get to the point where you can’t restock from what you have on hand, start to move the remaining product to the middle of your display, and break down any tables or risers that you aren’t refilling.
- You are your brand. Everything from the color and style of your signage, to your vehicle, to how you dress express the values and ethos of your business. Set aside some time to think and talk about your farm’s brand identity this spring and see what small changes you can make that can have a big impact on your market presence this season!
There are lots of other resources out there to help you up your farmers market game. Here are a few additional articles you may find useful:
- Marketing Tips for Vendors, New Mexico Farmers Markets
- New Farmer’s Guide: Cultivating Success at Farmers Markets, Randii MacNear and Shelly G. Keller, David, Farmers Market Association
- Sell More! Farmers Market Vendor Booth Guide, Washington State University Small Farms Program via the Farmers Market Coalition
Remember, growing a quality product is just part of the battle of building a successful farm business. Selling your product effectively at farmers market or whatever marketing channel you choose is equally important.
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