“I’m a new vendor at a Farmers Market and I need to know what and how I should communicate. I secured my booth. What do I do now?”
This is a very valid concern for many vendors, both new and old. We all know technology speeds along in the fast lane and many farmers prefer the more scenic and peaceful route of the slow lane. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have a computer or a smart phone, but it also doesn’t mean they are familiar with the latest trends in social media or have an internet speed faster than “snail mail.” I can personally attest from living in the country, internet speeds in the rural south are,... sorely lacking. Still, one of the best ways to disseminate information is via the internet.
Most farmers markets have some sort of organizational structure with a preferred way of communicating and sharing ideas. Cotton Mill Farmers Market has a board to make decisions and through which to share tasks and the workload of running a market. They volunteer their time and work extremely hard to provide goods to and a great service in the surrounding community. In addition to managing a market, farmers often work 10-18 hour days to plant, grow, and harvest crops and tend to animals, fences, and other farm assets.
As hard as farmers work, the task of market management needs to be simple (although it often isn’t). Using a Google Drive account to share pictures, documents, schedules, and to allow vendors to add themselves to a weekly market layout, is essential.
If you’re a new vendor with Cotton Mill Farmers Market, contact a board member to gain access to the market layout document so you can add yourself in one of the spaces.
We send out an e-mail newsletter each Friday and hold market hours on Saturday mornings. This is important to know because if you haven’t signed up for a market space by Thursday night, you won’t be listed in the newsletter!
If you’re a vendor in a market similar to ours, here are some tips that may help:
Add yourself to the market layout no later than Thursday night.
Send the Communication Manager a message if there’s something specific you’d like to promote, no later than Thursday night so it can be added to the newsletter!
Take pictures of ALL your products to store in a file in the google drive. You can take pictures of them while they’re set up at market or you can have a special “picture place” designated at home, to do this.
If you have a designated picture place, make sure there’s good lighting, no odd shadows, and a pleasant background. I find my kitchen light works best. I can lay my items out on a simple patterned tablecloth, set up a poster board or cutting board behind my item for a background wall, prop it up by using a pitcher behind it, angle my camera so it doesn’t cast shadows, and take great pictures.
Work with your communication or social media manager so they always know what you’re bringing to market. This is how you get promoted! They can’t do a social media boost or a website vendor highlight if they don’t know what items you’re bringing this and next week - ahead of time!
If you, the vendor, posts to social media, post no later than FRIDAY morning, not Saturday while at market! Most people make plans for the weekend during the week. That means if you want to advertise your bringing a special product this weekend you need to already have pictures of it, ready to use in your post.
Whether it‘s the Communication Manager posting or individual posts by vendors, all posts featuring specific products would best be received by being posted Thursday or Friday. This gives potential customers a chance to actually “see” what will be at market, and make plans to be there.
On Saturdays, once Market is set up, leave the posting to your Market Manager or Communication Manager. This is when overall pictures of people, events, and crowds should be posted. It’s also a good time for live feeds and Instagram posts.
Follow these tips for communication and social media use, and you’ll have much more organized digital assets with which to work when promoting your organization. Do these and your market will be booming in no time!