I’ve been thinking about allllllll of the businesses eagerly awaiting to open back up and how different things will be for everyone after surviving a global pandemic.
I wasn’t really sure *how* things would change moving forward, but after my husband and I went to the farmers market over the weekend, I have some thoughts.
This might be a controversial statement but…it wasn’t great.
Now, I’m going to drop some caveats. It was the first time going to this farmers market, so I don’t know what it was like before COVID. It was also the first time going to the farmers market in Denver…and I could just be used to going to the awesome market we had in Memphis.
But here we go. We had to wait about 30 minutes in line to get in because of social distancing, which I totally get and appreciate, but waiting for anything that you’re not used to waiting for in the past…sucks. It seems like there could have been something to make that wait seem a little less long. We also had to all walk in the same direction down the street. Now, I’m more of a wanderer, but again – social distancing. I get it.
Once we *finally* got up to the booth…it was like the vendors needed an invitation to talk to us. Hello!! We’re at your booth. Shouldn’t you have a spiel or something? You have a qualified, valuable customer, and you’re just staring at me like I don’t have a reason to be there. Don’t even get me started on the lack of samples. And Lordy, what’s up with the prices?!?
Holy shit. How expensive can you make a tiny jar of honey?? Or a 6-pack of kombucha?!?! Literally twice the price of fancy beer at the grocery store.
Like having a tent at the market gives you the justification of charging more than someone with an actual store front?
I could grill them ALL DAY. I’m obviously still hot about it.
Now this whole experience turned the whole, “let’s wake up early and go to the fun little market down the street” into an unenjoyable and fruitless (pun for the win! Get it?? Farmers market. They sell fruit. Anywayssss) adventure. But let’s translate this into an actual customer experience.
1. First off, a long wait for no reward. We are in weird and difficult times. When you have customers waiting out the door because of COVID, acknowledge that waiting sucks. Maybe pass out some stickers. Or give them a great piece of information. Or put out some interesting signs. Or play some music. Or hire a balloon guy to make balloon animals. There should be SOME sort of entertainment while people wait.
Customers get that COVID is not your fault, but sometimes it’s just nice to be appreciated for waiting and showing up in the first place to support the exact thing that’s putting food on your table. Have respect for your customers. They don’t HAVE to be there.
2. Once you did get in, very few booths actually welcomed you in and kinda treated you like you had the plague. Hellooooo, we’re all wearing masks. Smiling at your customers does not get the job done anymore. Use your words. Say hello. Give a “howdy do! I’m glad you’re here.” Prepare a spiel that tells them, “Here’s what we do, why we’re the best, and why you need it.”
Customers want to fall in love with you, your business, and the product you create. They want to go tell all of their friends that they found this awesome new x, and the WORLD needs to know about it. Everyone is so stand-offish because of the virus, and that’s really not convincing me I should buy something from you when you treat me like it’s a privilege that I get to be there. Give me a reason to rally together and support a cause.
3. And lastly, no samples! No testimonials. No one to vouch for them and their “awesomeness.” Don’t get me wrong. Price is a VERY important part of selling, but with the right story, sales tactics, and product quality…price becomes less and less important. BUT you need something that tells the customer “I am so awesome and here are ALL of the wonderful things that I offer that justify this absurdly high price.”
So if that means spending a little extra on individually wrapped samples people can try right there…seems like that would be worth it to make the sale.
Look, I get supporting local. I WANT to support local, but who wants to support local when you’re treated better at a Costco…or better yet…Amazon for half the price and conveniently shipped to your doorstep?
We are entering a new age of buying. Where saying you’re “local” isn’t a free pass anymore.
Small businesses will have to work extra hard to make the experience of shopping local trump the convenience of ordering online.
Just a few thoughts from our weekend adventure.
Till next time.
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