The local food movement is gaining popularity in Australia. With more people demanding better quality, better tasting and more ethically produced food. Farmers’ Markets are therefore growing in popularity too. They allow producers and consumers to deal directly cutting out the big supermarket chains. Giving customers an opportunity to get to know the farmer and where their food has come from, enjoying healthy, in season fresh food.
Becoming a vendor at a Farmers’ Market is a business venture and to be successful requires planning and a solid business strategy. Here are some tips below to consider prior to setting up shop.
Are you a salesperson?
When you set up a market stand you are no longer a farmer, and now a salesman. You need to be confident and social. You also need to be prepared for a long day full of conversations.
You need to actively promote your products to your customers. If you are selling a food product think whether you can offer your customers a taste test as part of your stall offering. A good idea to spruik your product is to walk through the market offering samples to potential customers.
Markets are held outdoors so you need to be prepared for all weather conditions, heat, rain, wind and cold. Also consider potential impacts the elements can have on your customers. If you can offer shelter to your customers while they are looking at your products, it may result in increased sales.
Make sure you are prepared to stand for long period of times. You will sell more if you stand rather than sit behind your stall.
Stock! Stock! Stock! Make sure you have enough stock! Remember, if you don’t have it you can’t sell it! Customers will also gravitate to a stall that has an abundance of stock.
Make sure you also have plenty of bags to offer your customers. Plus plenty of change, also consider since we now live in a cashless society a mobile banking device to ensure you don’t lose a sale.
Start small and build from there. This will limit your exposure and give you a chance to find your niche. Use the start up phase to work out what sets you apart from your competitors. For example are the eggs you sell larger and offer more value than your competitors? Push what differentiates your business to win customers over your competitors.
Expect Ups and Downs in the Market
Be realistic and expect fluctuations in the market. Some weeks you may sell out, and other weeks you may feel like it was a waste of time. After a few months you will be able to determine realistic targets and access the viability of your business venture. Make sure you look at your takings over time rather than weekly to determine this. You may be able to predict some seasonality, however, exact sales will never be certain.
Marketing for Farmers’ Markets
Marketing is key to setting your stall apart from others. A mix of traditional forms of marketing and new methods can be used to economically promote your business.
Good signage is extremely important to pull customers to your stall. Remember that Farmers’ Markets can be busy with lots of people, noise and things to see. You need to stand out in the crowd. Often flags that can be elevated above the height of the stalls can be useful, so customers recognise your brand from a distance.
Clear signage on your products; explaining basic features, price, weight, farm location and cooking instructions, for example can also be useful. This way if you are busy serving customers, it may answer a few questions while they are waiting.
Sell Your Story
In your marketing material make sure you sell your story. Where is your farm located? How big is your farm? Who owns the farm? Does it have a family history? What type of crops and stock does the farm carry and produce? What makes your farm unique? Is your farm certified organic? Is your beef grass-feed? Are your chickens pasture raised? Explain to the public what the difference is with your farming practices and how that creates better quality produce.
Explaining your story will assist you with pricing. It will justify why you may charge more for your produce than the large supermarket chains. Educate your customer; if your produce is of superior quality tell them. Not all customers are price sensitive some people are willing to spend more for better quality – most consumers these days are looking mainly for value.
Brochures / Business Cards
It is a good idea to have brochures, fliers or business cards available at your stall for potential customers to take with them.
Make sure you tell the story of your farm. Explain what your farm produces and why your produce is better than what is on offer at the large supermarket chains.
Make your marketing material useful for your customers. Perhaps offer a recipe that uses your produce, or explain the different cuts of meat or the health benefits of different types of vegetables.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all useful and inexpensive ways to promote your business. It is also a useful tool to let your customers know what products you will have available weekly and what specials you have coming up. Use these tools to help create a community around your business and your brand.
Make sure you have a well designed and branded website, that is easy to navigate and promotes your product concisely. Use your website as a tool to sell and promote your products when you are not at the markets or available.
Another marketing tool to consider for your website is to generate a newsletter, this can be emailed to customers who sign up or be available as a download. It is a great way to communicate directly with your regular clients and create a customer database.
Differentiate your Business
Think whether you can offer interesting new products that compliment your range and are not offered at supermarket chains. If you are selling eggs or organic chickens – can you also offer organic stock? Can you offer specialised fruit or vegetable varietals?
Perhaps offer a recipe with all the items included. You could potentially charge more for the bundled product than you could for the items individually. Simply by offering an easy dinner solution.
Many farmers are now looking for more sustainable farming practices. Offering better tasting food that is produced in an ethical manner. A large number of consumers are also demanding locally produced, quality produce.
If you are looking at how to achieve more sustainable farming practices talk to Southern Cross Ag Machinery – we offer many products that assist in sustainable farming. From German Muthing Mulchers / flail mowers, True Blue Composter to the Australian made Seymour Spreaders. Call our office for more information (02) 4932 3011 or visit our website www.sxm.com.au and we would be more than happy to help you.