In recent years, buying local has become a major motivator for consumers across the country, supported by campaigns like Small Business Saturday and National Small Business Week. According to a 2020 Shopify survey, 61% of buyers plan to continue buying from local, independently-owned businesses post-pandemic. Farmers markets represent a great opportunity for new and growing businesses to capitalize on this trend. According to the USDA, farmers markets contribute $9 billion to the US economy every year. Interest in farmers markets is growing rapidly, with over 8,600 markets now in operation. Indeed, farmers markets have evolved from simple fruit & veggie wares and now tend to feature an array of local craftmakers and artisans, offering everything from jewelry to artisanal beverages.
Cost effective first step into retail for small or new businesses
Farmers markets provide a low-cost opportunity for new businesses to begin making retail sales and for small businesses to grow their sales. While individual market fees vary, most tend to be under $100, allowing entrepreneurs to start and build their businesses with low overhead compared to leasing a retail or commercial space. For smaller brands without a marketing strategy or budget, farmers markets allow you to reach a wide audience and provide a steady stream of potential customers. For more established businesses looking to grow, farmers markets offer a great opportunity to test new products, to see what consumers are interested in before making a heft investment in a new scent, flavor or product line.
Opportunity to connect with customers & build brand loyalty
Customers shop at farmers markets because they want to buy local and discover new products. Keep in mind, you are a representation of your brand, so when you present your products for sale at a farmers market you are also presenting yourself as a business owner. Make sure to stay engaged – while it may be tempting to bury your head in your phone and wait for customers to come to you, doing so is a turnoff to shoppers. Farmers market customers enjoy getting to know their local growers and craftspeople, so don’t be afraid to talk about how or why you started selling or making your products. This also helps differentiate you from other vendors who may be selling the same or similar products. By getting to know you and your unique backstory, customers are building a relationship with you; it is this relationship that will keep them coming back to your booth again and again. These are also the types of happy customers who will refer you to their family and friends, further helping to grow your customer base. Once you have this type of strong support at a farmers market it is much easier to make the jump to a retail space, knowing your loyal customers will be there to support you.
Excellent marketing platform
Your farmers market booth is a billboard for your business. Make it inviting for your customers while also showing off your brand identity. Hang signage and banners with your logo; give out business cards that advertise your website, Etsy shop, brick and mortar location (if you have one) and social media handles. Use social media to your advantage! It’s quick and easy to set up Instagram and Facebook business pages to keep your customers updated about what markets you will be at and new items you have coming out. This is a great way to gain an online following and allows your loyal fans to share your profile with their family and friends, increasing your business’s visibility. You may also consider offering special promotions that are only available onsite at the farmers market, further encouraging your followers to come out and see you.
Grow your email list
Selling at farmers markets is a great way to grow your email marketing list. Encourage shoppers – even those who don’t buy anything –to leave their information via a simple signup sheet. Plug that information into the email marketing platform of your choice (MailChimp, Mailerlite or even an Excel spreadsheet) so you can keep in contact about new events, products and special promotions.
Sell consistently at the same markets & earn repeat business
Though your diehard fans will likely follow you to any events and markets where you’re selling, the best opportunity to establish loyal, repeat customers is to consistently sell at the same farmers markets. Shoppers generally frequent markets for a reason, maybe because the market is in their neighborhood or they simply like the vendor selection, so being at the same markets is a great opportunity to reach out to these shoppers, get to know them, and earn their business.
While a farmers market might not get you national recognition, it can help build brand loyalty in your local area. Building a loyal fan base is an essential step in launching and growing a business, so do your research, find the farmers market that works best for your brand, and get selling!
What makes farmers markets a great option to help build and grow your business? Read on to find out by downloading our helpful guide, Tips To Sell Successfully At Farmers Markets.
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