Farmer Marketing

Simple, inventive ways to increase the value of farm fresh products through direct marketing, internet marketing, and creativity.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Selling Organic Produce, Selling Crafts, Heck, Selling Anything

Getting this blog up and running has been a learning experience, but I am now ready to start a series of posts on how to improve sales of produce, crafts, homemade foods, and just about anything. My main point of emphasis will be in a farmers' market setting because I have been selling in a small Idaho farmers' market for 15 years, however, I think that the principles can be applied in many places


Besides having a great produce, I feel that having great signage is essential to success in a farmers' market setting. Why? Most farmers' markets are set up with vendor booths set up on both sides of walkways. How many aisles or the shape of the market is not really significant. What is significant to note is that customers are moving by your booth and will probably only spend from 5-20 seconds looking at your booth. This is a very short amount of time to convey the high quality, great value, uniqueness, etc. of your product. A key element in getting a customer to stop and purchase at your booth is signage

Simple and Direct

Given the short amount of time the customer is looking at your booth, don't put so much information on your signs that the customer just doesn't bother reading. Yes, I am talking to those vendors out there who have the big whiteboard/chalkboard that has their business name, specials, cute little additions, and all the prices listed. This is something I particularly have noticed with those vendors who are selling crafts. I am not telling you that you shouldn't have these type of signs, but I am telling you that it should not be your only signage.

Most likely the customer is not interested in everything you have to offer, therefore, they only want to see the price of the item that catches their eye. So, Rule #1: Have the price clearly marked on all the items you sell. And when I say on the item, the price should be in close enough proximity that a customer can tell it goes with the item even if they only look for 2-3 seconds.


I discuss this topic with a certain amount of anxiety because I think that the more pressing problem at farmers' markets is not too little creativity, but too much creativity. This is because most consumers don't expect the local farmer to be a marketing genius and have creativity oozing from their displays. The rough look and dirty potatoes actually can enhance the local farmer image for some vendors. However, with little work on creative and informative signs, this same local farmer can have a lot more success.

For starters use descriptive terms. Don't just put "Onions", put "Sweet Onions" or "Fresh Onions". This sells the product to anyone who reads it. Also try to understand what your customers value. Instead of "Fresh Broccoli", try "Fresh Broccoli. Pesticide Free." Of course, you have to be honest in what you say, but I believe that a common trait of farmers' market shoppers is that they value organic produce and locally grown and produced goods. So if you already have that quality, make sure your customer knows it at first glance.

Lastly, get your customers to focus on the benefits of your product. If you sell ingredients, get them to think about the final product. Put a picture of a salad with all the fixings on your lettuce sign. Then the customer is thinking about the salad they are going to make with your lettuce and not so much about the price. This can be especially powerful in a discussion (i.e. asking someone how they use your product), but don't forget how it can help your signs too.

In conclusion, I think that anyone can improve sales by improving signage. If you already have very good signs, work on your creative aspect (keeping it simple of course). If you know your signs are lacking, start with the basics. I'll post a new entry every week, so bookmark this page.

PS I read an interesting bit on investment diversity the other day. It is about investing in silver as a method of diversifying your portfolio. Feel free to check it out.