By Hattie James
From taco trailers to jewelry makers, small businesses are finding a new way to gain exposure for their wares: The local farmer’s market.
Today, they are a weekly meeting place for friends and family, a space for getting in a walk, a cup of coffee, and even a bit of breakfast.
They are also a great place for small businesses to gain exposure for themselves and their new products. Businesses, however, have to be diligent about how they use the limited real estate and time given while at the market.
Typically, farmer’s market only run once a week for about five hours a day and the space is limited to the width and depth of one pop-up canopy. In other words, vendors have just 100 square feet of space with which to work.
Every market is different, and in some cases, vendors can pay application fees for more than one space. But popular markets will limit vendors to their magic number of maximum real estate. Whatever the limitations, there are certain marketing and PR tactics you can apply to make the most of them.
Good Old-Fashioned Stumping
Many small businesses today have a good grasp on social media promotions strategies. For some, all it takes is maintaining their own Facebook pages. For others, it involves working with a brand manager.
But for building relationships within your local community, nothing beats the face-to-face public relations you can do at a farmer’s market. This is your chance to build a network for you and your brand. Make sure you’re following some of the how-tos of corporate networking. This is your business, as well you know.
The hours you’re at the market shouldn’t just be spent sitting at the table letting your products do the work for you. They should be doing some of the work, but make sure you’re engaging the market-goers, especially if you’re the only one at your booth.
Branding, Branding, Branding
You are your brand, so make the most of it. Many market vendors, no matter their product, are quick to create a banner that can be applied either to the front of a canopy or a banquet table. However, many forget that the air above market-goers heads is also available real estate.
In Boise, Idaho, one of the most prominent vendor booths at the Capital City Public Market is that of Miss Courageous. Why? There’s a flag of Miss Courageous herself floating over shoppers from the booth. You can’t miss the black, pink, and orange in a sea of white. When you step into the booth, you’re greeted by the owner wearing her own creations, which is another great way to show off your work. If you aren’t willing to use your product, how can you expect someone else to do so?
The market also gives you a great platform for showing off your particular packaging and design, which is an important part of any brand identity. It is, in fact, one of the seven trends that are influencing marketing today. A table full of unique wrappings and bottles are sure to catch shoppers’ eyes.
Smells and Tastes
What’s in those packages is the most important part of your marketing strategy. If you’re marketing a new doughnut or the next greatest wine, offer samples. Sure, you may end up feeding the masses of the community a free breakfast, but it costs very little to offer a small taste of your wares if it means you hook a new customer.
You may even hook a new business partner, as markets don’t just attract moms and dads or the college kids from town. They also can attract restaurant owners, shopkeepers, and other vendors who want to form partnerships.
Preparing samples may hurt your margin upfront, but samples will often result in sales. And don’t forget to let people know that you are running low on a specific item. If they get a taste of something they love, and learn it’s the last bottle you have with you that day, you are statistically more likely to end up with zero bottles after that sample.
Tell Your Story at the Farmer’s Market
The farmer’s market is a great way to tell your story. You have limited time and space, so you have to make the most of it.
Marketing at the farmer’s market is a great way to focus your energy on storytelling and certain products.
You have likely applied for more than one week at the farmer’s market, so integrate variety into your strategy.
This will only add value to the experience for you and your customers.
But, most importantly, have fun!