Hey there! I’m so excited to write today’s blog post because I truly believe that selling in person is SO so important to growing as a business owner, even in 2017 when the internet abounds with opportunities to sell your products. There are so many opportunities around you to sell in person and it can move your brand forward in SUCH an incredible way. I really believe that my business has grown as fast as it has and as naturally as it has because I’ve put myself out there to sell in person, and it is totally accessible for you!
I know selling in person for those of you that haven’t can seem like a big, terrifying, expensive step. And it can get expensive- but it doesn’t have to. Start small! Practice at small markets, parking lot festivals, and art walks. I promise- it’ll work! In case you need more convincing, here’s 5 (and a half) reasons why in-person selling can be HUGE for your business.
1. Find (and legitimately interact with) your Ideal Client
This honestly has probably been the most powerful for me - my three main selling channels right now are wholesale, retail online, and retail in person at events. The first two are wonderful and profitable, but all I have is a name and a zip code. With the stores, I can dig a little deeper and find out about the other products- but the customer remains a mystery.
The great power in in-person selling is that you can see your customer, and talk to them, and hear from them, and watch them interact with your product. I promise- it will change everything. Even if its stings a little- it is SO important to watch people interact with your products in the real world. They’ll pick something up, and then see something more exciting and practically drop everything you meticulously laid out on the ground to hold up the new, shiny thing.. It happens every time. Watch them use the products and react to your prices. More importantly- watch for patterns in who your customer is. Who is consistently walking over? More importantly, who is handing you their card? Who is pulling over a friend and looking you up on instagram? Remember THOSE people- what they like, what they could do without, and what they literally can’t live without.
2. Creating a brand identity and vibe
Did that sound too fancy? Hm. Anyway- it is so so important to have a brand that pulls together everything you do. When I did my first show, i had zero idea what my brand was. But after a couple years of loading in, loading out, and adding items and colors here and there- I know what represents my business and my brand aesthetic well. I know what will translate in an outdoor market, and what can stand out against 300 other white tents. By practicing creating a physical space for your business, you’ll be cultivating your brand identity and practicing figuring out what works for your shop and what doesn’t make any sense. While this might just seem relevant to markets- it isn't. It helps you build out a website, design your brand, design print materials, and talk to people about what you do. Speeakkingg of whiiichh (good segway?)
3. Practice pitching yourself! Figure out how to talk about what you do and how
Pitching! Elevator pitches! The thing we all love to hate!
So there’s the thing- they suck, but they’re wildly important. The more times you have to explain your business and your story and your products, the better you’ll become. And when you’re better at selling yourself- people get better at buying. It’s important to start practicing and start telling people about your business, even if its super choppy at first. You’ll become more comfortable, and before you know it, your customers will be pitching to other people and selling for you. Crazier things have happened.
4. Build relationships with other vendors / sellers
My favorite! Girlboss friends! Though guys, this goes for you too. The friendships I have built with other vendors are genuine, deep and needed. These are the friends that understand what you’re going through- and whether they’re ahead of your business or they’re just getting started, everyone has valuable information to share. As we love to say in our Rising Tide chapter, a rising tide truly lifts all boats.
Also- building relationships and networking with other vendors, shop-owners and festival organizers will present you with future opportunities and might not have been possible otherwise. Go early, stay late- i know its exhausting. But make an effort to reach out and make one vendor/shop-owner friend at each show. It will add up, and you’ll be surrounded by a strong community before you know it.
5. Make a name for yourself locally, make the community familiar with your brand and yourself as a person
Love this one! After a few shows, the community and attendees will start to recognize you. I know this can be a double-edged sword- sometimes it can be frustrating to stand at a table and have people mill past, telling you they already have all of your products, “and we love them!”. While thats great, its not bringing in new cash. BUT- don’t worry. The more comfortable they are around you, and the more familiar shoppers are in your area are, the better. You’ll come back to their mind when Christmas rolls around, when their sister is organizing an arts festival, and when they want to assemble a locally-sourced gift basket for a friend coming in town. Be friendly, familiar and welcoming to those that you’ve met before and thank them for their purchase- it won’t be their last.
6. (bonus!) Feel out in future possibilities and brick-and-mortar selling
This one might just be personally relevant to me as I dive into my own temporary pop up shop in downtown Memphis, but it holds true! Use these opportunities to discover what you love, and what lights you up. If you are passionate about selling in person, building displays, connecting with people and creating physical manifestations of your brand, pursue that! There may be opportunities to have lots more in-person sales much closer than you think