Selling at markets can help you establish a reputation in your local community and reach customers who wouldn’t otherwise know you exist. But a different venue may require different strategies than you use to sell online or in store in order to maximize your time and efforts. Here are a few ways for successfully selling soap at a farmers market.
Practice Your Process
Setting up at a farmers market is no small feat. Conduct several dry runs before your first market morning to make sure you're fully prepared. There are many tasks that take time and energy, including:
- Loading the marketing materials and goods you’ll sell at the market
- Setting up your booth
- Breaking it all down
In all likelihood, it’s going to require a few extra sets of helping hands, as well as more time than you may expect. In the days leading up to your market exhibition, practice how long it will realistically take your team to load trucks or vehicles, travel, and have your booth sale-ready before customers arrive.
Prepare Your Team
Make things easy on your team by taking several pictures of your “ideal booth” appearance and handing them out. If you get stuck in traffic, those who arrive at the market before you can use the images as a display guide. The image can also empower your team to be proactive about replenishing merchandise during the market. Armed with the tools they need to do their jobs, you can focus on giving customers the service that leaves a lasting impression.
Know Your Customers
Tailor your operations to the audience in order to best learn how to sell soap at a farmers market. Ask the market organizer about the audience and how you can best serve them in the sense of logistics, operations, and product price points. If you have relationships with other vendors experienced in selling at the market, ask for their personal opinions on what the audience expects. Conduct your own anecdotal research by walking around the market several times before you exhibit.
Then use all of this information to devise a customer experience strategy that addresses these questions:
- What form of payment do customers tend to use most at the market?
- Do many of the vendors accept credit cards?
- Is there a secure Wi-Fi connection for vendors who process credit card transactions?
- Do customers bring their own bags, or do they expect vendors from whom they purchase to provide them?
- How far away is your booth from the market’s exit?
- How do customers carry purchases to their mode of transportation?
- What are the busy hours and when are there lulls?
- Is there protection for your booth from the elements, or is it up to you to prepare for wind, sun, and rain?
All of these details have a significant impact on your experience (and that of your customers) at the market. If many of the vendors don’t accept credit cards, for example, it may signal a simple opportunity to sell more, simply because customers don’t have to stick to their cash budget at your booth.
If you sell items people need help carrying, bring a dolly or cart you can lend to customers. Protect your booth with some sort of covering so your sales day isn’t abruptly ended when the elements don’t cooperate. Offer free cups of lemonade or tea on a hot day.
At the least, these little “booth comforts” are an opportunity to draw interest, learn more about the market’s visitors and how you can carve out a niche that appeals to them — even if they're just waiting for a storm to pass.
Know the Mood of the Market
Your ability to gauge the “mood” of the market can guide you in selecting which of your products best align with the market’s vibe. A Saturday morning market that features many organic vendors, for example, probably draws food shoppers. Feature products that complement entertaining needs, like outdoor candles, dining décor, and hostess gifts.
Crowds that draw families, on the other hand, may signal an opportunity to feature kid-friendly sunscreen, hand sanitizers, insect repellent, bubble bath, and novelty soaps. You might even consider a simple hands-on kids craft station to drive booth traffic.
Research in advance in order to best understand market demographics. And always remember that the most important thing is to be flexible. Adapt to the mood and your customers' wants in order to continually perfect your booth week after week.
Let Your Customers Do Your Marketing
Visibility is key for any business, and there are many ways you can get customers to boost your brand at the farmers market. First, rethink your shopping bags. Investing in some reusable shopping bags is not only eco-friendly, but also gives you the chance to print your company’s logo, name, and social media information. When customers walk away from your booth with a bag, they'll carry your branding throughout the market and even beyond.
Higher quality items cost more to produce, but consider the long-term benefit. If the customer uses the item repeatedly, your company’s brand exposure also increases every time they or someone else catches a glimpse of the bag. It's a great way to gain both repeat and new customers.