Beyond Banners - Other Marketing Options for your Farmers Market Display

Signage and other marketing materials play an important role at your farmers market display.  They communicate key information such as what the produce is, its price, as well as your farm/business name, website address and where you are from.  Marketing materials also reinforce your brand image – the ‘personality’ of your business.

Banners

First a word about banners.  (The type hung by ropes and usually from the frame of your tent.)  These are generally the most popular and practical way to promote your items at the market.  Not only are they very durable – able to survive wind and rain – they tend to be hung at eye level, or above.  This way, when the market and your stand become busy, customers can still identify who you are.

Price signs

Consider using branded price signs.  This is an excellent way to reinforce your brand image.  Just visit any national grocery or hardware store and look at the price tags for samples.  Print or create a batch that feature your logo or company name and prices can be added to them at a later date.  Try starting out with using a border on the price tags in a colour that matches your brand.  Be sure the paper stock used is heavy enough to withstand the inevitable bumping and handling plus weather it will endure.  Of course, if you have price signs or a price list make sure they are easily visible.

Signage on the table

A simple 8 ½” x 11” sign in a plastic frame can do a great job of reminding customers where they are shopping because it is right beside your products that customers are looking at.  The downside, is that it can be difficult to find space for such signs and they can get knocked around.  Make sure they have an angle to them so that when customers are in close proximity they can still see your sign.  They are also low cost.  (Check your dollar store in the picture frame section, office supply store or online.  Their description is often acrylic sign holder or plexi sign holder.)  Consider having 2 or 3 on hand, and use them as space fillers as necessary.

Floor model banners

These tend to be more sophisticated looking but are not as weather resistant especially when it comes to wind.  Their biggest downfall is that they take up floor space and can make moving around your space difficult.  As Cookie Roscoe, Market Manager for The Stop’s Green Barn in Toronto notes, “in the fall I have 12’ for each vendor and the tables are heaped high with produce.  Although it’s one of my favourite times of year, it’s madness, and I just don’t have room for these [floor model] banners.”

Another downfall of these banners is that some involve multiple poles that can prove tricky to assemble.  Occasionally the poles may walk away when you aren’t looking or packing up after a long tiring day.  Ask ahead of time how much the poles are to replace and keep this in mind when deciding if the cost of a one piece ‘pop up’ banner might be worthwhile.

Tablecloths & Skirting

Another option for reinforcing your image is to use a tablecloth or table skirting that matches one of your brand colours.  Think through the logistics of using this, and if you can keep it clean and looking good all the time.  Again, weather resistance to wind, rain and sun is an issue as well.

A frame signs

These can either have a permanent look or the chalkboard/whiteboard style where messages can be changed.  The biggest challenge is their location and that they are below eye level.  They can also become a tripping hazard when the market becomes busy.  As Cookie notes, “if I allow a vendor to have one, I need to be fair and allow everyone to have one.  This impedes traffic, when the market wants to keep traffic flowing.”

Staff dress code

It could be a t-shirt, golf shirt, apron and/or hat that your staff wear.  Consider starting out with something plain in a colour that matches your branding.  The next step up is to have your logo or company name added.  Keep the sizing issue in mind if you work with lots of different staff.  For example, a hat or apron is more one size fits all versus a shirt.

Are there restrictions?

Always check in with your market manager to see if they have any guidelines or restrictions regarding signage.  If you attend more than one market, check with all of your markets to ensure signage can be used at each location.  For example, one market may allow you to state your produce is non-certified organic, whereas another may only allow you to use the term organic if you are certified.

Be true to who you are.

Don’t turn your booth into something that resembles the Las Vegas strip.  The goal is not to be the most sophisticated, slick marketing machine at the market – or at least not obviously.  Start slowly and build on your presence.  Make sure you have a basic item such as a banner and then consider the other options as you go.  And always keep the goal in mind – that customers can remember you and recommend you to family and friends.

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