Are you ready to sell your products at the local Farmers Market? As the Farmers Market season kicks off, Cottage Food Operators are wondering if they should consider selling at a local farmers’ markets. If you are among them, here are 7 myths you need to consider before you commit.
Farmers markets are an important entryway for most Cottage Food Operators because it offers direct marketing, and selling to the consumer; and just like any direct market channel, there are advantages and challenges, and widely held false beliefs about how successful you will be selling at a Farmers’ Market.
There are no guarantees you’ll make money.
While farmers’ markets offer you exposure to a diverse group of consumers, there is no guarantee your target audience will be at the market on the day you attend. This is particularly true if you have not informed your target audience about your market location, hours and the products you are selling on that day.
1. Check the Farmers’ Market Attendance Records
Before you sell at the farmers’ market, check with the market manager and obtain attendance numbers. How many people attend the market on the day you attend. While many markets have first timers and those seeking unique food products, if only 100 – 125 people attend over 6-10 hours, chances are your earnings may be minimal. Every good farmers’ market manager should be able to share the attendance numbers with you; plus check the competition.
2. Samples will bring about more sales
Another myth is “the more you bring, the more you will sell.” This is not true. There are a number of variables that impact your sales; namely, the cost of your products, how consumers pay for your product, and the shelf life of your product. If your product does not travel well and consumers need to take it home immediately, this may impact sales.
3. The more you take, the more you sell
If there is one place that is totally unpredictable when it comes to selling your product, it’s the farmers’ market. One of the best uses for a farmers’ market display involves sampling, gathering email addresses for your mailing list and engaging with the customers by telling your story. We aren’t saying don’t take products, just keep your sales goal realistic. A plush display filled with product is no guarantee consumers will buy. Now, with that said, having a beautiful display filled with product, does entice consumers, but don’t expect a win-win every time.
4. Everyone will want your product
“If I make it, they will come.” If you believe this you are taking a big gamble, particularly if you haven’t invited your customers to meet you at the farmers’ market. Take a walk around the farmers’ market several times over the course of several weeks (before you commit) and gain insight into who attends the market and what they purchase. If there are five bakers at the market and three sell cupcakes, ask yourself, “What sets me apart?”
5. Are farmers’ markets worth your time?
Do not underestimate the cost of getting to market; the time spent preparing your products, packaging, the market fee, money spent on gasoline to get to the market, bags and other containers to help set up your display, and make the sale. If all you make at the end of the day is $100, but you secure 83 names and emails from potential customers, was it worth attending? Only you can answer this question.
6. Will Social Media Bring In Customers?
Social media will only attract your customers and get them to the farmers’ market if you have a relationship with them and you engage with them on a regular basis. I might love your product and want it, but it is unlikely that I will visit the market if I have no real reason to visit. Host a sampling, plan a ‘bring a friend to market day?” Give customers a reason to visit you at the farmers’ market.
Are you currently selling your product at the local farmers market? What’s been your experience?