To Market! To Market!
In the last few weeks some of our clients have been considering taking their products to a local market. Many are petrified of doing it, worried about the costs, how to interact with customers, setting up their stalls and so on. So we thought we would write a blog post about it. While it can be daunting at first, participating in markets can be a powerful tool to reach new customers, boost your brand awareness, and drive sales. However, navigating the bustling environment of a market can be daunting, especially for first-timers. This post is to help you with a bit of insight and strategies you need to set up a successful stall and make the most of your market experience.
Choosing a Market.
Before diving into the market frenzy, it’s crucial to understand who you’re targeting. Research your market’s demographics, interests, and buying habits. You need to do a bit of research as to what market would suit your business best. Attend markets beforehand to observe customer behaviour and identify potential needs and preferences. By understanding your audience, you can tailor your product selection, pricing strategies, and sales approach to resonate with their specific desires.
In order to choose a market for your first one here are some considerations.
Target Audience- Make sure the market attracts the type of attendees that align with your target customers. Consider demographics, interests and the type of market.
Atmosphere and Vibe- Visit the market beforehand to gauge its ambience and the type of products or services that thrive there. Ensure it matches your brand’s tone and style.
Location/Facilities-Assess the market’s location and facilities such as toilets, car parking, and power accessibility. A well-located market with good foot traffic increases the chances of exposure to potential customers.
Competition- Are there lots of businesses in the same niche as yours? Sometimes there is a limit on the number of tables that are selling the same products. Check to see if there are others selling the same thing as you. A healthy level of competition can attract more relevant customers, but too much might dilute your market share.
Cost and Fees- Understand the cost of participating, including stall fees, permits, insurance requirements and if there are any additional expenses. Ensure the cost aligns with your budget and potential returns. Check if you can have a one off stall or if you need to to commit to a certain number of months.
Event Calendar- Check the schedule and frequency of the market. Seasonal markets or those held during specific events might attract different crowds.
Market Rules and Regulations:-Make sure yourself with the market’s rules and regulations. Some markets might have restrictions on certain products or specific guidelines for stall setups.
Networking Opportunities-Consider if the market provides opportunities to network with other vendors or businesses. Collaborations and partnerships can emerge from these connections.
Feedback and Reviews- Look for feedback from previous vendors or attendees. Their experiences can give you insights into the market’s strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing the rules– Familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations of the market you intend to have a stall at first. Each market has its own specific rules and regulations. Work out if the rules and regulations are acceptable to you.
Prior to the market leverage social media platforms to generate pre-event buzz and promote your participation in the market.
Make sure you have business cards/flyers printed to take to the market. Use eye-catching signage and promotional materials to attract attention to your stall. (Talk to us we can help you design and print these).
Work out what types of setups catch your eye at markets when you are doing your research. Offering special discounts or giveaways can encourage customers to purchase and encourage them to share their experiences on their social media channels. It is also a great idea to have a signup clipboard/iPad to your email list or newsletter in exchange for sales/coupons/giveaways so you can notify people of other markets you may be appearing at.
Make sure your items are priced or have clear signage for pricing, people prefer to see it rather than ask.
Setting Up Your Stall/Booth.
Some markets you can request a particular spot and sometimes you are allocated a spot. It’s good to practice the set up of your area before the market.
Location is key! Opt for a spot with high foot traffic and good visibility. Consider factors like nearstalls, access to power outlets, and sunlight. Design your stall to be visually appealing, reflecting your brand identity. Use clear signage, attractive product displays, and engaging props to attract attention and entice customers to explore your offerings.
- Plan your transport– Decide how you will transport your stall materials, products, and equipment to the market. Consider renting a trailer or van if you have a large volume of items.
- Pack efficiently– Organise your belongings into labelled boxes or containers for easy transport and setup.
- Use space-saving techniques-Invest in folding tables, stackable crates, and other space-saving items to make the most of your stall space.
- Arrive early-Aim to arrive at the market well before opening time to allow ample time for setup.
- Check stall location-Locate your designated stall/plot and familiarise yourself with any rules or regulations regarding setup.
- Assemble your stall-Carefully assemble your table, canopy, and display shelves. Ensure everything is stable and secure, taking into account the weather conditions.
- Unpack and arrange your products- Display your products in an attractive and organised manner, highlighting best sellers/products you want noticed and creating clear visibility for customers.
- Set up your payment system-Have your cash box/eftpos machine, or other payment processing tools readily available.
- Prepare your promotional materials-Display your business cards, flyers, and signage strategically to attract attention.
Preparing Your Inventory.
Select products that are relevant to your audience’s interests and ensure you have a sufficient quantity to meet demand. Arrange your products logically, showcasing their key features and benefits. Employ creative displays and effective pricing strategies to encourage purchase decisions. Take more stock than you think you will need, yes it might be painful to lug but having more stock is better than running out. Also consider having a range of items at different price points. Consider working out market only specials, or bundle deals to entice buyers to spend.
Make sure you also pack the stationary, first aid kit, sunscreen, packaging items you will need and refreshments. If it’s a long market you may want 2 staff members or a friend to lend a hand so that you can have a break or share the load.
Engaging with Customers.
Strike the right balance between friendly engagement and being pushy. Smile, make eye contact, and greet customers warmly. People at markets are more likely to ask questions and be interested in how you made something- answer them honestly. If the chat is going well ask them open-ended questions to understand their needs and demonstrate genuine interest. Use product demonstrations/tastings and storytelling to highlight the value proposition of your offerings.
Handling Sales and Transactions
If you have only sold online up to this point you need to be prepared to accept various payment methods, including cash, EFTPOS, and contactless payments. (eg. Square, Osko,Pay Pal etc).
Ensure your transaction process is smooth and efficient. Always offer receipts and maintain professional communication throughout the sales process.
- Pack up efficiently-After the market closes, carefully pack away your products, displays, and equipment.
- Clean your stall area-Leave your designated space clean and tidy, respecting the venue and other vendors.
- Double-check for belongings-Ensure you haven’t forgotten any items before departing the market.
- Unload and transport your belongings-Carefully unpack and store your belongings after returning from the market.
After Market Follow-up
Don’t underestimate the power of follow-up! Collect customer contact information during the market and send them a thank-you email or offer them a discount on their next purchase. This keeps your brand fresh in their minds and encourages them to become loyal customers.
Learning and Improvement
Reflect on your market experience. Identify what worked well and areas for improvement. Consider customer feedback to refine your product selection, pricing strategies, and sales approach. Implement your learnings to enhance your performance in future markets.
Some useful Australian sites.
Also, a simple google will find state and local markets near you.
Similarly join some conversations in Facebook Groups where people have done markets, most are more than happy to give your some tips and share what they have learnt.
Remember, conquering your first market is about
By applying the strategies discussed in this post, you can turn your market experience into a valuable opportunity to elevate your brand, connect with customers, and propel your small business towards success. So, if you have been tossing up whether to take the plunge,- just try it! Embrace the market environment, and watch what it can do for your business!