The Top 10 Mistakes You’re Making While Vending

You’re at an excellent vendor affair. There are tons of customers in your target market. It was well advertised…but you’re not selling anything? You could be making some serious vending mistakes without realizing it.

  1. Your table presentation is less-than-spectacular. If you have a lot of product for cash-and-carry, then make sure it is organized in a logical manner. Think of a grocery store and categorize your products with the same pragmatism. Make sure things aren’t on top of one another and people don’t have to go digging through piles of stuff. Use height to display in a small space. Make it easy for customers to pick up your products and interact with them, as if they were in a brick-and-mortar store. If you don’t have lots of products for cash-and-carry, then make sure you have samples of everything you’re selling. People who are at vendor events truly prefer to be able to grab and buy at the moment, so catalog or internet sales at events are not ideal. Try to build up your inventory before you spend money on booking events.
  2. You’re giving off an unfriendly vibe. Vendor events can be very long, especially to spend so many hours on your feet, but when you sit and hide behind your table, you seem disengaged with your customers. People who come to these events want the personal touch, or they would just be shopping online or in a department store. All you have to do is stand up and say hello, ask if they need help, or to let them know you’re there if they have any questions. Most importantly – smile and say hello! Even if people aren’t customers today, they will remember how you behave for the future.
  3. You’re talking about your most “popular” products. Unless someone specifically asks what your best-selling products are, people want to feel like what they choose is unique. Instead, if you notice someone looking at something, share an anecdote about the product. Or you can ask if they had an idea in mind so you can guide them to the perfect product they were looking for. They want their needs filled, not the general populous.
  4. You’re on your phone way too much. It’s normal to spend empty time perusing through Facebook or checking your email, but if you see customers nearby, put down your phone and give eye contact with a smile. People lost in their phones give the perception of being disengaged, even if that’s not necessarily true.
  5. You’re over-selling. People want to be heard. Instead of trying to sell your product, ask questions about what the customer wants to buy. Ask about their interests, needs, even give a genuine compliment. You don’t need to start going off about the history of your company or why people should buy from you – pay more attention, listen more, and you will sell more.
  6. You’re using your vending table as a lunch table. Sometimes this is hard to avoid, especially if you are vending long hours or alone. If possible, bring a second person with you so you can take lunch “shifts.” If that’s not possible, pack a cooler and keep your food off the table and inside the cooler. When there are no customers around, grab a bite of your sandwich. Customers will feel funny interrupting you while you’re eating, so keep them comfortable by keeping the food out of sight.
  7. You’re not dressed to sell. Ideally, you’ll be wearing something with your company logo. If you don’t have something like that, or your product/service doesn’t work that way, then dress business casual. Presentation matters because it demonstrates that you are a professional and care about what you’re doing.
  8. You’re making the purchase process too difficult. This is the age of digital money. You absolutely need to accept credit cards! It’s so easy to sign up for Square and offer credit card services for anything you’re selling. Square offers free/low-cost credit card processors that you can plug into your smartphone with very low processing fees! If you’re using paper receipts, make the order form/receipt super-easy to write out. You could even pre-print them at home so all you have to do is quickly fill in the items. Be sure to also have plenty of small bills to make change and bags for customers to carry their purchases!
  9. You’re not responding to negativity with positivity. We all encounter those customers who have something grumpy or rude to say. Do not take this personally! Instead, use some verbal judo with: “I’m so sorry you feel our products are too expensive, perhaps you could let me explain how we price our products?” “I understand you believe you could find this item in a different place, but perhaps you could let me explain what our small business does to support the local economy?” This is hard and it takes practice, but if you could engage in mental-mindfulness, you can realize customers are just expressing a deeper frustration that you can flip into something positive.
  10. You’re not creating a long-standing relationship. This begins with having literature and a clear way to contact you. You can use brochures and business cards that offer your website, email, and phone number – all of this contact information builds trust which builds a customer base for future orders.

Do you have any other suggestions for vending success?

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo
President
Vine Vendor Network

Determining Your Target Market

You have a great product, offer amazing service, but are not seeing any sales; the issue may not be with you or your business, but how you’re targeting your marketing. Once you work through these steps, it should help you define who your target market is and from there, guide your decision-making for your business.

What problem does your product solve?
Take a close look at your product offerings and determine what needs your product is filling. For example, an organic coffee company may be filling the gap of natural coffee grown without pesticides. What makes your product unique?

Who are your current customers?
Watching your current sales and getting to know your current, and especially, your repeat customers, can give you a good idea of who your target is. It’s okay to send them surveys to ask about their hobbies and interests to generate a framework for your customer. Once you see who is buying, you should start to notice patterns. Maybe most of your customers are women, maybe they all take exercise classes, start noting down patterns.

Know your competition.
Are there any companies like yours? Most likely, there are some. Take note of their websites. Pay attention to the tone of their marketing, their color use, their branding, even details like font can give you a picture of who they’re targeting. My favorite example here are cereal boxes – look up images for Special K compared to Frosted Flakes, notice the colors and language.

Find your demographics.
Demographics are key for products and services. Token demographics include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Religious group
  • Income level
  • Marital status
  • Education level
  • Location
  • Occupation

These key demographics can help you define your general branding, and how to go about advertising. Perhaps your product fits a need specific to one or more of these demographics. An episode of Shark Tank featured a product called “Mensch on a Bench” – We can see this fits a certain need: Jewish parents who want their children to embark on the same seasonal fun that comes during the holiday season.

Personality targeting.
Sometimes products focus more on a special personality trait. There are far too many to list, but to give a general idea, let’s look at Harley Davidson’s website:

harley-davidson

They use “Bring Out Your Dark Side” as a tagline to highlight this specific motorcycle because it’s appealing to people who may consider themselves rugged, independent, and live-on-the-edge.

Evaluate the market you’ve chosen.
After you make all the considerations for who your target is, you want to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • Can my market afford my product? / Would my market think my product is too cheap?
  • Am I really filling any needs for my particular market?
  • How can my market find me? How can I find them?
  • Will I find my target audience at the market/fairs where I’m vending?*

*Especially when it comes to vendor events, you want to truly evaluate your market. If you feel like previous shows have been failures, think about the demographics of the people who go the show you’ve chosen and your own product. You may find that there are not as many shows you should be going to, but that’s fine: the point is to make money while you’re there. Pick and choose for your right market.

Make the hard changes now.
You may be right on target, and that’s great, but if you see that there could be a gap in what you’re offering and your target, start making changes now. Every moment without the right direction can lead to lost sales. You don’t have to make all the changes at once. Start with your brand package: your logo, your general packaging, then start making changes to your website, your social media marketing.

 

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo
President
Vine Vendor Network

What Vendors Expect at Fairs

The Holiday Season brings its fair share of fun holiday fairs and events, and this is a perfect opportunity for small businesses to thrive and survive, but for events to be especially useful, there are certain expectations vendors have. If you want vendors to be excited about your event and show up time and time again, here are a few tips (in no particular order):

  1. Be clear about vendor pricing and placement in the contract. Vendors should know exactly what type of space they’re paying for.
  2. Do not book more than one type of the same vendor. It is incredibly uncomfortable for vendors to be selling against competition in the same place.
  3. Advertise, advertise, advertise! We understand this costs money, and we don’t mind absorbing a few extra dollars if it will get the word out and get customers to the show.
  4. Give directions for location, for booth presentation, and for what will you will be offering (such as chairs, tables, lighting, etc.). Let vendors know if there will be Wifi, electricity, and other amenities.
  5. Have a focus for your event, such as “handmade items only,” “flea-market,”  “direct sales consultants,” or “holiday-themed items.”
  6. Make sure there is plenty of space between vendors so they can store their wares and boxes.
  7. Book your event and your vendors far in advance to give everyone plenty of time to advertise and prepare.
  8. Create an email list to keep vendors aware of any changes or incidentals.
  9. Introduce yourself to each of the vendors while at the event.
  10. Check the authenticity of products as you vet vendors. You can truly change the tone of your event if you allow knock-offs or counterfeit merchandise.
  11. Do not be afraid to disallow vendors who break your rules or contract.
  12. Ask for photos of vendor displays and/or products before allowing people to your event. Once you set the tone, it’s very hard to change.
  13. Create a public Facebook event and allow people to like and share the event across all platforms. This is free and incredibly useful!
  14. Contact The Vine Vendor Network to have your event posted in our blog and our calendar!

If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to comment below!

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

Using Email as a Marketing Technique for Your Small Business

What Newsletters Have Done for My Business

Consistent newsletters are key for successful marketing. A newsletters is the most cost-effective way to get directly into the eyes of your customer.

 By maintaining a twice-a-month newsletter, I have propelled my business with these stats:

  • 25% Average open rating
  • 60% Direct sales conversion
  • 20% Increase in Facebook group membership

A 25% open rating doesn’t seem very high, but in the retail industry, where the average is below 10%, it still is. You’ll find that the larger your email list grows, the less opens you’ll have. It’s okay, because the people who ARE consistently opening your email are the ones making purchases, as you can see from the sales conversion. So, mathematically speaking, using my percentages, let’s assume you have a small email list of 100 email addresses. That means 25 people are opening the email, and of those 25, 15 are making purchases. Not bad for a beginning entrepreneur! As your list grows, you may find your open percentage drop, but as long as you keep your newsletters engaging, the direct sales conversion should be consistent (seasonally, of course.)

Getting Started with Newsletters

  1. Use a free source to collect emails, such as Mailchimp. Mailchimp is great because it not only maintains a list for you, but you can easily drag-and-drop beautiful HTML emails.
  2. Grow your list in a number of ways. Make sure you have the ability to subscribe right on your webpage, encourage readers to subscribe via your social media, collect emails at vendor/trade shows. Offer something for people to sign up, such as an initial discount or free shipping. If you’re looking to quickly blow-up your list, you can run a giveaway (such as through Fishbowl.com), but note that these subscribers may only be looking for freebies.
  3. Choose a consistent schedule for your newsletters. The general rule for maker businesses is somewhere between once a week to once a month.
  4. It’s all about the subject line! You want your readers to open up your email, so give them a sneak-preview of the topic with a clear and catchy subject. Avoid overuse of emoticons and exclamation points (it can appear tacky or cheesy).
  5. Grammar and spelling must be in order. Because you can’t take back an email once it’s been sent out, it may even be a good idea to draft them in advance, and proofread it at a later date with clearer vision.
  6. Use lots of pictures and links to make it easy for your customers to get to the goods.
  7. As a note for #5, make sure your pictures are optimized for fast-loading, especially on mobile devices. Use a free website like imageoptimizer.net to optimize your images.
  8. Tone matters! Is your brand formal or friendly, silly or sophisticated? Match the tone of your brand in your email campaigns.
  9. Use Google Analytics to track your sales and understand your conversion rates. Check to see who is reading and who is buying to understand your demographics.
  10. Try different newsletter themes until you found one that works for your customers and your brand.
  11. Make your newsletters like a special club, or an insider scoop, so your readers feel like they are getting something from reading them as opposed to just checking your social media accounts.
  12. Alliteration works! Make Poe proud by putting your poetry to prose (see what I did there – it helps people remember). “Super sale on scrumptious scrubs!”
  13. Related product recommendations are a great way to boost sales in your newsletter. For example, if you’re featuring a new necklace, add a photo with a link to a matching pair of earrings.
  14. Use personalized features, if available, such as directing the email to someone by name.

I hope you found this information useful!  Thank you for reading, and should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at vinevendornetwork@gmail.com or by phone at 718-667-3150.

Best wishes and cheers to your continued success!

Kristen