Sunday marked the beginning of our Spring / Summer Incubator Program. That’s where we’re nurturing and teaching a group of people toward their best businesses. Some of these people have ideas, some have actual businesses. The tie that binds them is that they all want to be strong brands, making their living doing what they love.
I (Steph) took a small group on a tour of Spring Flea. We visited specific businesses, got a peek behind the scenes at setup and even were able to ask these brave business owners a few questions.
So, what’d we learn?
IT’S NOT BUILT OVER NIGHT.
Not one of our business owners said that they flipped on a switch and had a brand on day one. In most cases it took years of thinking and trying and planning and not looking perfect to get where they are today.
A STRONG BRAND PRESENCE GOES A LONG WAY.
Most of the vendors we spoke with talked about their decision to brand, re-brand or re-label their products / tents / customer experience as being one of the best things they did. Why? It helped them feel confident in front of customers, for one thing. It also did much of the talking for them. If someone approached their booth, they could tell A LOT about how this brand thinks / what’s important to them just from signage and display and labels. People also love taking home products that look unique and well-designed. Shoppers at Cleveland Flea aren’t looking for the cheapest option, they’re looking for the most unique and valuable option. Branding sets businesses apart and tells customers something about you- that something is usually if you’re the right fit for them or if you’re not.
STUDYING YOUR CUSTOMERS IS SMART.
All of our brands told us that they know a lot about who their customers are. And it’s not one monolithic ‘customer’ it’s usually 2-4 customer types. Some customers are buying gifts for others and they have a different set of values than people who are buying for themselves. It’s so much easier to sell to someone if you can identify why they stepped into your booth in the first place AND what value they’ll have in the type of product you sell. Markets really help you get to know your customers so that you can understand how to sell to them better- and design new options for them.
TRY STUFF- AND THEN KEEP TRYING UNTIL IT WORKS.
Most businesses we spoke with didn’t get everything right on the first take. From labels to signage to taste to display to tent to photography- we’re all going to be beginners at some point. Just because one thing doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean it’s over. Being new at things will feel uncomfortable, but after a while it gets better and you get better.
The Cleveland Flea is here to help you love your city more, help creative small biz owners dare greatly to their best biz selves & have fun while doing it.