Disclaimer: The FMANSW does not receive any payment from any of the resources mentioned in this post. All advice and information is provided in good faith. We do not accept any liability should you experience any financial hardship after following any of our recommendations.
Finding customers can be a challenge. Farmers markets and stall holders are often operating on tiny budgets with small teams and limited time. With so many logistics to take care of, marketing – attracting customers – often ends up at the bottom of the pile.
And have you seen how much it costs to advertise in the paper? On radio? On social media? And how do you know if your limited funds are being well spent? Are you reaching your target?
Never fear, because there are lots of things you can do that don’t cost a cent (just your time) that will get you “out there”, give you instant feedback and put you in a position to build your customer following.
These suggestions work just as well for individual stall holders as they do for market organisers. In fact, we strongly recommend that all stall holders take on and enthusiastically activate their own marketing. A farmers market can only achieve so much with their marketing. When stall holders also get on board promoting their business and “@-ing” the market, the combined reach explodes.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Getting your market or enterprise properly listed on Google should be your first priority. A good Google presence is essential. Without it, your website or social media can be less visible or even invisible to potential customers.
Don’t let yourself be hard to find.
Google My Business is free and they now even offer a free website, if you really can’t afford your own (but we’ll look at how cheaply and easily you can set up your own website in another post).
Doing this stuff is easier on a computer, but if a phone or tablet is all you have, you can still get your market or enterprise on the interwebs.
On the landing page, hit the blue “Manage now” button and a login screen will appear.
If you don’t already have a Google Account for your market or enterprise to log in with, click the “Create account” link at the bottom left of the box, then select the “To manage my business” option from the dropdown. You can set up a Google Account with an existing email address or you can create one with Gmail.
For markets operating under a not-for-profit model, we will also step through how to get set up with G Suite at no cost in another post and having a Gmail address is handy, so it might be worthwhile setting up a Gmail address if you don’t already have one, even if you have your own domain-based email accounts. G Suite is very useful for managing domain-based email accounts as if they were Gmail, you can store documents in Google Drive and it keeps things simple for handover of email and records when committee members or employees move on. It also gives you free access to other Google business tools, such as Google Meet, for video conferencing.
For now, let’s assume you have a Google Account and you’ve logged in.
Google My Business will then step you through the process of getting your business profile set up.
You can select what kind of business you are.
And you can indicate that you want to create a free website, if you don’t already have one (or don’t want to create one with your own domain name). If you’re not ready to think about a website yet, don’t worry. You can select the “I don’t need a website” option and create one later.
Your profile will be created and you’ll be taken to your Google My Business dashboard. You will need to verify that you’re the legitimate business owner and there’s a process to follow that requires Google to mail you (yes! actual snail mail!) a code that you can then login and enter to unlock full functionality.
BUT… you need a street address for this process. They ask for a street address, because that’s where Google will place the pin for your market or enterprise on Google Maps. A post office box won’t cut it. That can make this process a hassle for markets, who don’t receive mail where they operate.
In this case, you will need to look for the “Pending verification” tile on the dashboard and click the “Learn more” link. There, you will find more options to verify your Google My Business listing. Good luck with it, because it can require some patience.
Stall holders will mostly want their map pin to be at their farm or place of business, but if you don’t want that, you’ll need to consider where you want your pin to be placed and work with Google to sort that out. If you attend multiple markets, you will have the option to have multiple locations added to your Google My Business listing after you’ve verified your business for the first time.
Until you’re verified, you can edit some basic details, including your business hours, add a logo (make sure the image you upload is a 1:1 ratio), add a description of your business etc. None of the edits will appear on your listing until you’re verified, but you can make a start.
Once you are verified, make sure you keep your Google My Business listing up-to-date!! It’s often the first exposure to your market or enterprise that new customers will have. Before your website. Before your Facebook or Instagram. Plus people will start to leave reviews (especially because before too long you will encourage them to!!), so you need to make sure you’re receiving notifications for when people are interacting with your Google My Business listing and responding to them.
Your Google My Business listing alone can have a huge impact on your market or enterprise. Make sure you set it up well!
Upload some great photos (especially because customers will start to upload their own when they leave a review and attach them to your business listing… they might not take great photos and everyone will see them). Write an engaging description. Make sure your contact details are current. Google My Business is what the Yellow Pages used to be, but free. It’s important. We can’t stress this enough.
There’s quite a lot to a Google My Business listing that we can’t go into here. Just get on there and get started. Before too long, you will discover that it has a lot of features you can take advantage of and they’re all free.
You can also find a heap of freely available information on how to maximise or optimise your Google My Business listing. Try googling using terms such as those and you’ll find some great hints on how to make this powerful free marketing tool work for you.
In our next post, we’ll look at just a couple of the features that come with a Google My Business listing: their free website and Google Reviews.