Originally published in the Fall 2017 Explore Local Field Notes E-Newsletter
Whether your market attracts just a few or many hundreds of people, here are three ways to convert those casual visitors into paying customers.
Improve your curb appeal
Just like selling a house, a prospective customer forms an initial, and sometimes indelible, impression of you and your product by the appearance of your booth. The first and perhaps most important thing you can do is have a well-lit booth. Boost your lighting (especially during the dark winter months) and you will attract the attention of far more customers. The second thing you can do to boost your curb appeal is to always keep your booth well-stocked and meticulously organised.
Nothing is more important than making your customers feel welcome and appreciated. The initial encounter is the most important: when a customer approaches your booth, be standing, smile, and extend a friendly greeting, then let the customer dictate the level of contact. Some people like to be waited on hand-and-foot (they’ll let you know), whereas others prefer to browse privately. After the customer has had a few seconds to look over your merchandise, pipe in with a short explanation: “By the way, these vegetables all come from our family garden.” Or “Our family makes these products from the yarn we spin from our sheep.” This engages the customer in the unique, quality nature of your products – available only in a farmers’ market setting. Wear a name tag, it’s an easy way to subtly start an informal relationship. Your customer can say: “Thanks for your help, Jane, I’ll be back.” Get to know the names of your regular customers. This is a sure-fire way to develop loyal, repeat customers, and is another unique aspect of farmers’ markets – customers become extended family.
An up-sell is a psychological strategy of getting the customer to purchase additional items beyond what he/she normally would. For example, you are a jeweler, and a customer is in the process of purchasing a pair of earrings, you might say: “Oh my, this necklace would look SO good with those earrings!” You’ve now just doubled or tripled your original sale. For long-term vendors, lease a portable credit card machine. Although there is a cost, about $80 a month plus swipe and transaction fees, the mere sight of a credit/debit machine will significantly boost sales (guaranteed!), and it won’t take long for your machine to pay for itself many times over.