Once you’re at the Farmer’s Market, your booth design and signage are going to play a big role in how successful you are. If you do it right, no one will even notice the impact of them – they’ll just feel drawn to it and want to spend time there.
Years ago, I was at the downtown Edmonton Farmer’s Market.
As I was walking past someone I overheard them say, “I’m the kind of person who walks all the way through the farmer’s market and then buy on the walk back.”
It occurred to me that I’d just done the same thing.
And a good reminder about how people work. People don’t like to be pushed into buying too soon. And, quite frankly, given the amount of choice that people have today, pushing them is exactly the wrong thing to do. Instead, you want to create a safe, warm and inviting presence. You want to be a hub. You want to stick out without being pushy.
And so I’m seeing that part of being a hub is being patient. Knowing that people might wander that farmer’s market many times that day, back and forth, before deciding to check you out. One day, they might already have enough potatoes and not need what you’re selling. The next day, they’re out of potatoes and your potato stand is super attractive. One month, they just bought themselves a brand new dress and would love to buy the one you’re selling but can’t justify the cost. The next month, they get a raise and decide to splurge.
So, patience and humility are good here. No matter how good your marketing is – some people will just take you own damned time.
BOOTH IDEA #1: Booth Design.
“Your product display should be a work of art that invites interaction.” – Andy Larson
And now to your booth.
My colleague Tiina Veer put it well when she said, “Make the booth attractive and display wares attractively. There are several roadside orchard markets near our family cottage and by far the most popular one is the one that has everything displayed so beautifully that it draws you right in. People even stop there to take pictures.”
Some key ideas in your booth design…
Open, clean and visible. A cluttered and confusing display will not draw people in. Many farmer’s markets make very effective use of baskets to display their produce. Pro tip: If you want to tip your baskets slightly forward towards the customer, consider using doorstops under them.
Also think colourful. And experiment with what mix of colours is most appealing. It’s often more eye catching to mix colours together a bit. If you have a pile of red peppers, maybe put a smaller pile of yellow peppers right in the middle. The display to the right does a beautiful job. One marketing expert suggested putting yellow in the front.
Note: red and blue canopies can cast a very unflattering light on yourself and your wares. Best to stick with a basic white.
And think levels. You want your wares displayed from waist level to six inches above the eye. Remember this: people shop from the hip up. Don’t make people reach more than three feet for anything by stocking it to low, high or deep on your table. And not everything flat on the table – having a few levels of things makes it more interesting.
Flow is vital. Make sure it’s set up for people to easily come in, buy things and move on. You don’t want paying customers to block out potential customers. Or vice versa.
Here is a great diagram of one potential set up for good flow from WallaceCenter.org.
Keep baskets looking full. A great way to do this is illustrated in the photo below.
Always give the appearance of overflowing bounty and make sure your containers are constantly restocked and beautifully arranged.
You don’t want people feeling like they’ve been left with the dregs of what you had as in the picture to the right.
Consider also the tables.
You could have a bare table but a simple table cloth or some sort of covering can go a long way to softening up the appearance and drawing people in.
For more brilliance on Farmer’s Market displays, booths and signage I recommend checking out this slideshow.
Below are some more photos of great booths. Notice how they use the elements described above.
For more brilliant ideas on creating a beautiful display read Felicia Friesema’s Do’s and Don’ts: Marketing at Farmers Markets.
BOOTH IDEA #2: Booth Signage.
Make sure your booth can be identified from a distance. This usually means putting your farm or business name just above eye level on the front flap of your tent. Make it beautiful.
The purpose of the clear signage isn’t actually to draw everyone in. It’s to draw the right people in and repel the wrong people. So, if someone is looking for mushrooms and you sell mushrooms, have a big sign that says, “MUSHROOMS!” on it. People who hate mushrooms will know not to visit your stand and those on the lookout for them will come running.
One of my friends commented to me about this, “I’d also encourage them to step up their branding a bit — why not have nice colors or a circus-striped awning? Or cooler signage? Because in my experience all of those set-ups look exactly the same, and I have no idea why I should buy zucchini from RosePink Farms rather than PinkRose Farms, you know?”
So, it’s not just about the name of your farm. You can and should also have signs that educate people about who you are, what you do, how you do it and why you do it that way.
Shelly Juurlink says, “Drop some marketing dollars into a nice sign with a picture of the family/farmer/farm/products for display at the market.”
Tiina Veer brings us back to story telling, “Tell the story of the farm, and/or the history of farming in the area of their farm… have this available/incorporated at the booth (photos of the farm and workers displayed too).”
Kathy Bibby shared something she had noticed, “What I’m always so curious about is where is the land where their produce grows? Pictures (BIG ones) or a video on a BIG screen showing the beauty of the land plus tasting at the same time would cover a number of senses. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
Think black board over white board for a more vintage, market vibe. Consider also posting photos of your family on the farm. “Is that your daughter?” they might ask and then a conversation has begun where they can learn more about you and your farm.
Below are some examples of great signage at Farmer’s Markets.
BOOTH IDEA #3: Clear Product Signage
Make sure each product is named with what it is, perhaps a little something about it (e.g. organic, vegan, hand made etc.) and the price.
Signage should be able to be read from three to five feet away, not covered by your tables and products from view and it should be secure and durable.
This blog post from the Government of Alberta made a good point: “Customers are less likely to trust ven-dors who do not display their business name and who don’t have product signage listing prices.”
Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.