How to Sell Food at Farmers Markets
Try Starting Your Specialty Food Business at Low Cost
Word-of-Mouth marketing is the all the buzz, and most of us focus on social word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc… However, we somehow ignore Farmers Markets as a viable low-cost strategy to launch a food product.
The Foodpreneur entrepreneur path is getting out of the kitchen, getting on the shelf, and getting on the consumer's plate. Farmers Markets help you get your product out of the kitchen in a prototype state, let's say not quite retail ready, jumping ahead of getting onto a retail shelf and using the farmers market stand to get your product on the consumer's plate.
Farmers market customers will talk about your food products, driving more people to the next farmers market you attend and your business will grow the legs it needs to take off.
Here are some tips for moving your product at the market.
Design a Stand-Out Booth
Look fresh and use bright colors: Take a note from the Apple Store and use contrast in your table design. Try a bright tablecloth, clean white shelving, and uncluttered samples.
Label everything legibly: Label everything you're selling by name with ingredients and with a price tag. Make a sign that tells people about you, like whether you're organic, vegan, or refuse to work with pesticides.
Inspire them to take it to the next level: Content Marketing Don't make people think, give them ideas instead. Giveaway recipes for how to use your product alternatively or divide them into 100-calorie packs.
Sell out in style: Be bold and bring a limited supply. In terms of marketing, people want what they can't have, and if your table is full of delicious-looking treats that look to be dwindling, customers will make it to your table first. Don't try this with produce though, as nobody likes to buy the last unwanted apple.
Price It Like You Mean It
Don't haggle, this isn't a flea market: Try not to sell yourself short by haggling with customers; the last customer who paid full price wouldn't appreciate it. You can always lower your prices, but it's hard to raise them.
Offer discounts on volume instead: When you have sales, customers tend to take note and wait to buy until your next cash-saving sale. Eliminate this mindset. Charge what your product is worth, but if you feel the need to discount, try offering volume discounts instead.
Don't hide behind your prices: Make prices bold and easy to find. Many people look for the price first and ask questions second. Don't put a barrier between you and the customer.
Give a discount for recycled containers: Want "regulars?" Ask customers to re-use your container for a little discount. It'll save you money in materials, and it'll give them a reason to come back and show your logo off to the crowds again.
Go Digital: Use social media marketing. To drive more customers to your booth, get them to be your brand influencers and get them (and their friends) coming back for more.
Accept Farmer's Market coupons: On the same note, many of the larger markets sell coupons, and you can register to accept them.
To inherit any kind of word of mouth marketing results, you will need to stand tall at your booth and educate your customers, sell a superior product, label it like it's worth a million bucks, and make it easy for customers to buy it.
Selling your product on the front lines also offers the advantage of identifying certain reactions to taste tests and pricing that no other venue can deliver.
For many food startups, it takes about three seasons to get the hang of your market and customers, but these tips should give you a start-up advantage.