From my perspective, it doesn’t take a small business owner long to feel like a veteran in the local market game. In my relatively short time as a vendor I have seen savvy marketers ‘killing it’ in sales and others literally sobbing as they pack up their goods with no sales at all. The results of the day are either gratifying, humbling or somewhere in between. Every market is a valuable learning opportunity and after much observing, reflecting and learning I am writing a series of short blogs over the summer that describe my 5 tips for success at markets.
They are: Preparation, Organization, Choosing the Best Events for your Business, Knowledge and Sales Pitch and finally, the most important one – Attitude and Resilience!
Part I – Preparation
I now know that if you are not exceptionally well prepared for your market you will risk losing valuable time, energy and sales. I have learned this from watching successful vendors who arrive early to get the best market locations, unload, set up a complex booth in short order and have time to add to their social media while calmly waiting for the show to open. How do these accomplished business owners do it without breaking a sweat? They will say, “solid planning and preparation is key.”
Here are a few preparation tips that will help you along the road to a successful market!
First of all, protect time in your agenda early for market prep as this will help you avoid the perils of late nights before market day and develop a solid time management system that works for you. This is especially important for those of you who are juggling multiple markets, fairs and bazaars.
Make a list of everything you will need from snacks to charging cords and stick to it. If you have added absolutely everything to your list then be certain that it’s the last thing you review before leaving your house or shop. This strategy will guarantee that forgetting something important (urgh!) will not be an issue to cope with later. See my list here. My event list is bit of a security blanket to me.
Inventory is another key factor in your market preparation and it’s a major challenge to even the most experienced vendor as one can never anticipate the demand; weather, competing events, promotion, location and the mix of vendors at your market can all impact on the volume and type of shoppers. The looming question is how much to take? My research results and advice from co-vendors is varied from ‘take everything you have’ to ‘calculating a percentage of the attendees’. Neither of these options worked for me so I take a moderate approach, that is, I take enough soap to showcase my various products and make a few sales and then twice as much of my standard, popular soaps. I no longer try to stock something for everyone since I’ve learned that’s not realistic, instead I accept the fact that I can’t meet all demands. The website comes in handy here as I can direct prospective customers to it but most of all accepting the fact that you literally cannot take your entire shop to a small market is helpful.
Make use of your social media to let your customers know your market location – I am always so happy to have customers introduce themselves as followers on Instagram or Facebook. For those readers who are super planners, schedule your photos and posts days in advance using a social media scheduling app like Buffer or Friends+Me. While I don’t use these apps I do have tech smart friends who recommend them.
If you’re not already an early-riser, learn to embrace the morning as markets normally require an early take-off. I find it best to have everything prepared in the car the night before and then concentrate on getting a good night’s rest. On market mornings I totally minimize my chores which helps to get my day off to a good start – shower, dress, grab my lunch and charged devices, review that list and along with a very large coffee in hand, I head out on another market adventure.
Finally, markets can be stressful for a lot of reasons that we can’t anticipate but careful preparation will definitely help you avoid some of those ‘oh sh*t’ moments, provide you with confidence and the chance to focus on what’s really important – your customers! -C-
Photo Below: Me at a Pop-Up shop this April, Muskoka Yarn Connection