Business & Markets

When a Market is a Bust: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

August 5, 2019

Ever been to a market and not sold one. single. thing? It’s a huge bummer, but luckily, it helps you to select appropriate markets in the future. Learning from your mistakes and mishaps, you’ll be able to better select markets in the future.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to determine what went wrong. With future markets, make sure you’re considering everything before you commit.

1. Was the event properly advertised?

Sometimes event hosts put a sign out and hope to gain some traffic. Once, I attended a market at a local YMCA. The host created a Facebook event and said there would be over 4,000 people attending a swim meet. It’s easy to get sucked in by that number. 4,000 people?! That’s a great chance to sell some products! When I arrived, there was a small sign in the hallway that said “Craft Show,” and nothing else. Everyone was there in swim suits, walking around barefoot, not carrying purses around, and totally not there to shop. A few happened to walk past, lugging swimming gear on their way to the pool. Basically, no one knew we were there. And the ones who did, were not there to shop.

Are there signs? Social Media promotion? New/Press Releases? Social Media events are really helpful in determining attendance! If there aren’t any, you can create your own!

2. Is your target customer attending this event? 

So maybe the event was well-advertised, but you still didn’t sell much of anything. Did you have a lot of folks looking at your items but not buying? Maybe you aren’t attending an event that your target customer attends!

If you don’t know your target customer, take a minute to get to know her (or him). What’s their name? What problem are they trying to solve? What events do they frequent? For me, my target customer was not attending a beer-fest in the streets of a small rural town. This event was well-advertised and well attended, but the folks there were not there to buy my crocheted items, they were there to drink beer!

3. Does your display attract customers?

Is your display eye-catching? If nothing draws your customer in, they’re likely to walk on past. Do you have a sign displaying your name? Are your products organized or haphazardly thrown onto a table? Are your prices clearly displayed? These are all things to consider. For a while now, I’ve been splitting a booth with friends/family members in an effort to save a little on the booth fee. However, we sell very different products, which doesn’t allow for the cutest setup at times. If you’re in a bad location, your target customer isn’t in attendance, and the event is not well-advertised, this will never help. I still do just fine at well-advertised events with a good location and my target customer, but image what I could do with a proper setup.

4. Are you set up in a good location?

I don’t necessarily mean the location of the event, but more the location of your set up. I’ve been to several markets around the holidays where local high schools host. One ran out of space in their gymnasium and cafeteria and instead of not accepting additional vendors, they decided to place vendors in classrooms. These vendors were DOA because there was one doorway in and out, folks would poke their head in the door and take a quick glance and keep walking, and honestly who wants to fight a crowded little room/entryway. Know the set-up before you commit.

I had one event that I previously attended that changed up their setup and moved outdoor vendors to two different locations. Some lucky few were placed right in the front of the building, getting all traffic. A few unlucky ones were placed on a patio that was behind a main room. It ended up raining, so once people had made it inside, they never ventured back out. I sold two cacti that day and a scrunchy. I had even verified the setup days before, but the last minute change got me! I have another event here next weekend and I’m already emailing to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

5. Are you making something people want? 

This is a tough one to swallow, but maybe the market is over-saturated or you’re selling something that was a fad last year. Is your product in demand? This is why it’s important to be ever changing and diversifying your products.

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