If you don't start with a number, you won't know how to anchor and steer your efforts. For instance, my team knows well ahead of time how many vendors we want in each category to be accepted to the flea. We know how many attendees we target to show up at each market, and we know how much money ($1,000,000) we aim to make this year.
Knowing our numbers is the first thing we do. It steers our entire effort. If you leave your sales to the whim of a market, you're not really being a business owner. You're letting your business (and shoppers) run your business.
Step into your role as small business owner, and start getting the results you want.
FIRST, FIND OUT HOW MANY PEOPLE TYPICALLY ATTEND THE MARKET YOU'RE SELLING AT.
We intentionally created a predictable amount of shoppers for each Cleveland Flea. Our number is between 5,000 + 10,000 attendees.
But what if the weather is 'bad'? This is the thing you might not understand. Our shopping market is resilient to bad weather. That means that the SHOPPERS still show up, rain or shine. This is not the case for other markets. But because of how we run things, we always ensure (unless there is a really really really bad storm like an 'act of God') that you can depend on a core group of shoppers who know that unless they shop TODAY, they'll miss out. The people who skip the flea when the weather is bad? The Seen + Be Seen crowd, who actually contribute very little to the market economics anyway.
So, don't get worried if there's a storm. Shoppers are still on their way.
Ok, so you have basically more shoppers than you need. 5,000 minimum.
IDENTIFY YOUR DREAM CUSTOMERS
Have you determined who your dreamiest customers are? If you haven't it'll be like you're shooting fish in a barrel. Sales is MUCH more difficult unless you know who is really into your stuff. Decide 4 types of people who you know will LOVE your products + your brand.
Make them real by thinking of real people in your life (or existing customers) and making a list of:
why those people love your products
what products they already own
what products you want to sell them NOW (think about the season, what's most likely to sell?)
new customers who you would REALLY love to introduce your brand to but who just haven't found you yet
You make this list for a few reasons, but one really big one is to be able to prepare yourself to spot these people in the crowd or when they come to your booth and have authentic conversations with them ABOUT products they love and why they'd find value in buying them.
If you don't do this (unless you're a natural-born salesperson) you'll most likely struggle with in-person sales and it will feel awkward or even confidence-crushing.
START WITH A NUMBER
This will be challenging when you're new but guess what? That's the situation you find yourself so stop the drama and just make a decision.
You will get better the more markets you do. The most stuff you sell. The more sales you track.
So, decide how much it is you WANT to make and then MAKE that happen.
Here's how that plays out:
Let's say I start with $1000 being the amount of money I want to walk away with and this number make sense for me (it is a number that feels really good) and I've done some planning to determine that will pay for my supplies and time, etc.
I'd then know how much product to bring. (with the caveat that making more is always better because shoppers love shopping booths that are FULL not sparse and empty, as a general rule).
I'd then know how to plan my pre-market schedule. I'd be able to decide how much raw materials I needed and how much time I need for production.
Then I'd think about all the other things that I would have control over in order to deliver myself $1000 on market day. Practical stuff like display, signage, what I wear, how prepared I will be, where I'll store extra product, my inventory list, etc. I mean, this is all the stuff business owners will learn to be great at, if they practice by showing up to markets.
Then, during the show, that number will guide my efforts. I'll know that each potential sale is really up to me. Sales will be about having authentic conversations with people that love my brand. My attitude will continue to soar. My confidence will go up. I'll be better at selling and pretty soon, I'll have blown past my number.
FIND A WAY TO SET YOURSELF APART
Don't fall into the Commodity Trap. What's that? Well, it's the thing that people do when they see something 'selling well' at markets and then decide they're getting in on that game, too. This might be a short-term (one market) win, but it's not a sustainable way to run a business.
Think about it. If your stuff looks like 20 other businesses, then you're truly directly competing for the SAME AUDIENCE.
However, if you have a distinct style, then you have a niche.
A commodity is purchased on price alone. So the only way you'll be able to make money is by:
keeping your prices lowest (that's so annoying and not fun)
constantly scoping your competition (you have better things to do)
following the whims of the market (putting your customers in charge of your business)
You can do better. Create items from within. Build a brand that is original and is designed based on the unique individual that YOU are.
This is the BEST way to build a sustainable business that gets better day after day.
Other ways to set yourself apart:
Create a display on-site that no one can pass by without stopping
Have samples of your product (if you're a food vendor)
Make sure everything in your booth makes sense as a whole.
Create a mission statement and display that.
Don't follow the trends of everyone else. Dare to be different!
DELIVER QUALITY TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
The businesses who do best:
Have a high-quality product that is well-made and well-cared for
Do something different than other people
Are confident in themselves and in their product.
Deliver a high-quality customer service experience. Greet customers happily and with confidence. Ask them questions. Tell them about your brand and who you are. They WANT to learn this about you!
Focus on what they can do to make the most out of a market day instead of just sitting in their booths waiting for customers. You're essentially managing a tiny storefront so look busy, don't look bored. Nothing turns customers off more than interrupting your low-energy social media browsing. They feel like they're interrupting you.
Now, spend your time focused on learning how to be the best version of YOU. Learn what you need to do. Have fun doing it. Decide what your dreamiest business looks like.
Stop the drama. Start being a BOSS.
Season Seven applications go live on Friday, January 25th.