Wondering if your handmade, homemade product could be a hit at your local community market?
Spring is nearly sprung, and community markets everywhere are about to burst into beautiful, vibrant life. So now could be your moment to apply for a market stall.
As a Market Coordinator at Rokeby Market in West Gippsland, I can vouch for the power of a well-run market stall to build small business momentum. Going ‘to market’ gives you a priceless opportunity to get direct customer feedback and make new connections.
Done right, your community market can be one of the best places to win a whole lot of local love that will help launch you into the big wide world.
Here’s what 4 years of supporting startups to find their feet at Rokeby Market have taught me about making a successful market stall.
1. Do your market research
Visit your ‘target market’ to get a feel for who goes there and reality-check the fit of your product. In short, answer these three ‘make or break’ questions.
Are there lots of similar products? Heads up, Rokeby Market receives oodles of applications for candles, diffusers, and jewellery each week.
Is my product sufficiently distinctive and different to excite the coordinators and visitors? If you’re not sure, ask the cluey, kind, super experienced coordinators for advice.
Can I break even here? Figure out if you can price your product at a level that will work in that market and make it worth your time and effort to be there
2. Set the scene on social media
Let the world know when and where you’ll be and what you’re offering. Start building the buzz by kick-starting conversations that’ll continue long after you’ve packed up that particular stall.
Tell current and potential customers where to find you
Post high-quality photos of attractively displayed, accurately described products
Tag the market and some other stallholders – promote the entire event as well as your place in it
Post a short story about why you chose to be there
3. Show up in style
Get your brand out there, display your product creatively and practically, and be generous with ‘tastes and tryouts.’
Get great signage that promotes your business name and contact details
Show your products at their accessible best; stands are great, especially for displaying small things at the same height
Use props – plants, baskets, fabric etc. to help tell your product story and add appeal and depth to your display
Offer incentives to buy multiple items (buy 2, get the 3rd 50% off)
Offer free samples (if you have that kind of product) or demonstrate your product in action
Have a card or flyer for people who want to find you outside the market or tell their friends about you
4. Build relationships
Be part of putting the ‘community’ in community market. Connect, share, acknowledge. Build your business and be a part of something bigger.
If chatting to strangers comes naturally to you, get to it! If it’s a bit of a stretch, prepare (and maybe even practice) a few ‘opening lines’ you’re comfortable with.
Share your story with curious visitors and customers interested in what you do and why you do it.
Thank people for purchasing, and ask if they’d like to go on your mailing list
Chat with fellow stallholders and meet the coordinators. We’re here to help you make a red hot go of this.
Thank the volunteers
5. Follow up (a day or two after)
It’s no secret that ‘set and forget’ strips power out of your social media. Consolidate the cracking good job you did announcing your market debut with a solidly good round-up of how it went and what else you’re offering.
Do a wrap-up on social media to:
Share your experience
Thank your customers
Let people know how they can purchase directly
Encourage people onto your mailing list with a special offer
6. Take the next step
Put that newfound marketing confidence by approaching shops to stock your product.
Not feeling that confident about bridging the ‘stall to shops’ gap?
Wondering if tailored marketing mentoring might do the trick?