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How to Sell Food Products at Your Local Farmers Market

A guide to building a food business locally

By

Spend more on packaging when you market food at a farmers market

Spend more on packaging when you market food at a farmers market. How you label tells customers who you are.

Amanda MacArthur, Partner, BuzzFarmers.com
Farmers Market Post your website everywhere at your farmers market booth

Farmers Market Post your website everywhere at your farmers market booth

Amanda MacArthur, Partner, BuzzFarmers.com
Hand out samples strategically at your farmers market booth

Hand out samples strategically at your farmers market booth

Amanda MacArthur, Partner, BuzzFarmers.com

Product Launch Marketing For New Food Businesses

Word-of-Mouth marketing can launch a product from roadside stand to grocery store shelf. If you can get customers to talk about your goods, your business will grow the legs it needs to take off.

Before there was Foodzie, Foodoro and Etsy, local gourmet food producers paid $5-15 per week at Farmer's Markets to connect with customers and promote to vendors.

Farmer's Markets are still a great platform for product launch marketing because they eliminate the middleman and get you directly in front of your most targeted customers- the ones who spend more to shop local and perpetuate the word of mouth promotion you need.

If you want to learn how to market food products at your local Farmer's Market, use this guide to assemble a brand that's worth talking about:

Start By Creating a Marketable Brand

Create a debut event for your launch: When you're launching your first booth, use Facebook or Yelp to launch community events that can be shared. Offer a volume discount to anyone who mentions Facebook or Yelp. (Note that Twitter is Fast Becoming and Effective Tool to announce your food demos to the world)

Spend more on packaging: How you label tells customers your budget, which translates the outward quality and popularity of your product. A great label can sell a product on its own. Just think of all the catchy-named wines out there that fly off the shelves based on novelty alone.

Post your website everywhere: If you have a website, and you should, make sure the URL is on your labels, your bags, your table, your signs, your business cards and anything else that people might take home with them. If you're on Facebook or Twitter, include your URL and @ also. That way people can tweet things like, "oh my gosh, the hot chocolate wands I bought from @yourstore are amazing!"

Hand out samples strategically: Every successful vendor will offer samples. Be creative with yours; give out 100-calorie portions, labeled as such. This attracts the health-conscious and gives you an edge. If you use this strategy, you might also sell bundled packs too.

Let the customers advertise for you: A recycled plastic bag is earth-friendly, but so is a recycled paper bag or reusable wooden box hand-stamped with your logo and URL. Let them advertise for you. As your brand evangelists carry it around the farmer's market, everyone else will see your logo and web address.

Connect With Your Customers and Earn Their Loyalty

Be a brand ambassador: If you can't be at your booth, make sure someone is there representing you that is a brand ambassador for your product. They should be able to answer every question about cost, ingredients, production and ethics with authority and enthusiasm.

Ask for suggestions and follow through : When someone says, "Oh you should make a chocolate covered bacon cupcake", don't just nod and smile; come back next week with a sample batch.

Meet and greet with your neighbors: Some of your best customers may be in the booth right next to you, and if they love your product, they can pass the word onto their vendors and non-competitive customers.

Be familiar and consistent: Don't switch up your staff or products from week to week. Familiarity is key and sometimes customers come back the next week to buy a product they neglected the week before. The same person with the same table design, signs and booth space will enable this transaction.

Don't be the center of attention: Although it's best to be present and engage each customer at your table, make your displays the focus of attention. Don't sit at a big empty table with a desperate smile, big sign and four samples of jam. Some people don't like to chat, and this screams, "talk to me!"
 

Final Thoughts for Food Startups

In order to inherit any kind of word of mouth marketing results, you will need to stand tall at your booth and educate your customers, sell a superior product, label it like it's worth a million bucks, and make it easy for customers to buy it.

Selling your product on the front lines also offers the advantage of identifying certain reactions to taste tests and pricing that no other venue can deliver.

For many food startups, it takes about three seasons to get the hang of your market and customers, but these tips should give you a start-up advantage.

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