We were to select two of the following aspects to discuss related to direct marketing success ~
- Booth Design - Did the design and arrangement of the booth help make it more attractive? Did it draw in customers? Were the signs noticeable and aesthetically appealing? Was it easy for the customer to select and make their purchases?
- Product Displays - Were the products displayed to their best advantage? Could you see and easily access the products you wanted? Were the prices displayed where you could read them and figure it out without having to ask?
- Vendor Identity - Did they have a farm name? Did they include any information on their location or how they grew the products? Did they have pictures of their farm? Business cards or name on the products?
- Quality of Products - Did vendors have varying quality of products (based on appearance)? Did they provide labels of "local," "sustainable," or "organic" to highlight qualities of their products that might be of value to you?
- Price of Product - Did vendors have varying prices on similar products? How much variation was there among growers? Were the higher quality products the highest price? How was the pricing displayed - did that influence purchase?
- Number of Customers - Did quality, price, design or display seem to have any influence on the number of customers shopping there?
- Customer Service - Were you aware of any vendors' attitudes or customer service approaches that were particularly friendly, attentive or helpful to customers? How did that affect sales?
As our current plans don't include selling through a farmers market, we made observations regarding more than 2 of the above.... We did not have someone with us who is experienced in selling their product at a farmers market nor specific examples of what was good, better and best. We, therefore, share our experience with that disclaimer (our observations from our personal perspective):
We visited the Proctor Farmers Market in a Tacoma neighborhood. We had visited previously - one time - to purchase pickle making supplies from an organic farm. This is a lovely neighborhood area - lots of young families and friendly people and a nice size market to shop at; good variety of offerings.
We are a fan of wooden signs. I think it makes us think of smaller family farms or businesses, which we desire to support with our shopping dollars.
An observation: this company must have moved its business location (we didn't ask). For us, we would try to be more creative in adding the new location onto our wooden sign.
Small family blueberry farm in Puyallup. Seemed like nice people.
An observation: Take time to really think about your farm name, as some names can end up being too narrow for future expansion. In this case, there were no blueberries for sale, but they had containers of grapes and figs. The sign did say "No spray."
Second observation: Blaine overheard an older woman ask about the "green figs." (Traditionally, we think people are familiar with black or yellow/golden figs.) The young woman, at the booth, did a really nice job describing the fig and sharing its characteristics, but did not offer the woman a sample of fig to taste. The older woman did not make a purchase. Note to us - if selling a product that people may not be familiar with, offer a sample of the item for people to taste. Sacrificing a percentage of the product will increase sales for the long term.
Purdy Organics is a company we are familiar with, as they also sell at the Ballard Farmers Markets where we have shopped in the past. The second photo shows how they are transitioning from their "low budget, getting started" label to their professional commercial label (and soon to be "certified organic"). Their catch phrase is, "We make Purdy Good Pickles." Yes, it is a tasty product and we did purchase a jar of their pickled beets. They always have samples for customers to taste before buying.
An observation: In chatting with the young man, (after we told him we were enrolled in Cultivating Success), that because this is a smaller market, he doesn't make as much effort with the display that would be done at a larger market. The owner of the company is very outgoing, but he is more reserved. Perhaps a little more enthusiasm and display would draw more customers to his booth?
An observation: We really like seeing meat producers at the local farmers market, and while people likely don't want to see "which animals" produced the meat inside the coolers, we do think pictures of the farm go a long way in drawing people in to start conversation that may persuade them to become customers.
An observation: Lots of wonderful certified organic produce for sale, but for us, the produce boxes make us think BIG FARM operation and we'd prefer to support small, family farms (looked this farm up and it's 10 acres)
An observation: this is a large organic farm, which we've seen their booths at other farmers markets, but never purchased from in the past. As I said before, we tend to purchase from small, family operations. Because we were visiting a market with a homework assignment we checked them out. Super friendly salesman (and loved their overalls they were wearing) great displays of various products. And, a SAMPLE guy. He knew how to move their product. "Try one of these, I think you'll like it." He did this twice with Blaine and Blaine ended up purchasing multiples of those products. The pepper wreaths caught people's attention and drew them in, even though we only saw one sold while we were there. A very popular booth!
El Chito - Authentic Mexican Tamales
We first discovered this market food booth at the Capitol Hill/Broadway Market. Blaine purchased a couple tamales from them, because they had posted on their booth that they purchased ingredients from other local farms. He fell in love with their flavor and quality!
An observation: Partnering with other local organic/sustainable growers to purchase ingredients for your food product (and advertising who you purchase from) is additional incentive for people to try the food you are offering. For this business, El Chito sets up next to Alvarez Organic Farms which is a win-win for both of them.
Don't overlook the smaller farm booths, you may find something a little different at these booths or more of a connection with a farmer than at a much busier booth.
An observation: Some of our favorite farmers have smaller booths and often offer something that you might not find at most booths (growing a variety or different type of green, etc). They are also often the booths with the most character in their displays.
A female run farm - Mother, Daughter and sometimes granddaughters!
An observation: The most popular and busiest booth at this market. Lots of variety offered. I LOVED their displays (farm/garden eclectic). People had to wait in line to make their purchases. Not the lowest prices at the market either. For me, the dry erase board with all their offerings and prices was easily readable, but I, personally, would get frustrated trying to keep looking at the board to determine price on the product I was considering for purchase.
An observation: A couple of signs that we found difficult to read. Not that they are bad signs; just not easy to read. And the price sign was sitting outside the booth. Just didn't work for us.
Our personal favorite booth/farm at this market. We like their display, signage, customer friendliness, offering some things in bulk sizes at lower prices, customer service (can contact them prior to the market and order bulk - as Blaine did during "pickle" season). Their pricing signage makes it easy to see what is offered and the price. On this particular day, they had bulk beets 5 pounds for $6. Jim also overheard Blaine and I talked about juicing and told us that we can contact him and he will put together a juicing carrot bulk bag - everything certified organic on this farm!
We did shop and spent about $55.00 for everything purchased above.
A full market basket and market bag makes those market farmers very happy people! We encourage you to get to know your farmers and shop locally at a neighborhood farmers markets near you!
Good exercise for us to look at things a bit differently, as we shop farmers markets frequently when not growing our own food.