increasing market attendance

jay gee jgj23 at
Wed Aug 15 09:47:08 EDT 2001

On Wed, 15 Aug 2001 07:42:22 -0500, mm wrote:

>Thanks for your response, Jay. Following are answers to your questions.

You are welcome.  Thank you.

>> 1.)  How many farmers are currently participating in the market?
>Approx. 85

With 85 regular participants the market should be able to
get $10 or $20 per week per vendor to be used for advertising.

>> 2.)  How often is the market held?
>> 3.)  What are the market hours on the day it is held?
>Tues,Thu, and Sat;  8:30am opening
>Wed; 4:00pm opening (new and on a trial basis as of late June 2001)

Sounds like a healthy schedule, certainly enough to justify
a radio and TV advertising campaign during the months the market
is operating, and by using reminder ads in the off season
to whet peoples' appetites for the next market.

The campaign would feature testimonials from a variety of
satisfied shoppers talking about the various reasons they
patronize the market.  Perfect for radio.  Good for TV and
air time in your town should not be prohibitively expensive.

>> 4.)  Are only local farmers eligible to participate?
>> 5.)  Are only locally grown crops allowed for sale?
>It is a growers-only market and local (about 7 surrounding counties)

These facts alone make it possible to highlight the ecological
value of not shipping goods 100's or thousands of miles in
addition to highlighting freshness.

>> 6.)  What is the size of the average crowd currently patronizing the market?
>Oh boy, I don't have the numbers. I'll try to find out.
>I would guess in the 500 range, but, I may be way off.

If the crowd averages 500, the market has achieved pretty
good penetration into the potential shopping audience.

If you are saying that 500 people patronize the market on
any given day, that is a different story.

A crowd of 500 means that each vendor would have an
average of three or four customers at their table at any
given time, in addition to the people manning the table.

BTW, it is a common problem for market operators and
vendors to not have customer counts.  It is actually worth
someone reliable to count people coming into the market.
Not knowing how many people attend makes it impossible
to calculate what percentage of the local population has
already been converted into customers.

Knowing this number allows one to adjust marketing and
advertising to focus less on new customers and focus more
on additional buying if a large percentage of the potential
market has already been converted.  Diminishing marginal
returns make attracting 100% adoption prohibitively expensive.

CONSIDER:  If the local population is 150,000, that means
there are about 50,000 (probably fewer) families to be
reached.  If the crowd is five hundred and changes once
per hour, and the market is open six hours per day, there
will be an average of 2,500 customers coming through
per day (first and last hours at half-strength), or 7,500 to
10,000 people per week.  If the turnover is twice an
hour, the number effectively doubles.

>I do notice many people get out of their car, go straight to a specific
> vendor or two, and don't really spend much time browsing. 

This means their shopping pattern is established.
Getting them to browse will be difficult, but getting them
to look around for for something they want may be less
difficult.  That means advertising the variety available
in the market, by specific crops, as part of the advertising

>In my previous market experience as a patron, which was in another
>state 3 years ago, it was more of an 'event' and people spent more
>time browsing over the goods. There seemed to be more of a crowd.

Generating a "crowd" for an "event" requires that an aura of novelty
be created for coming out to the market.  It may also require some
non-food vendors and perhaps entertainment.  With a four day a
week market, keeping a weekly four day event fresh in the eyes
of your prospective customers would be too much.  Diminishing
marginal returns again.

If you  want to make an event, do it on Saturday, or maybe on
Wednesday night, and make sure it gets publicized.  Lucy's
comments were right on when it comes to publicity.  Because
of the size of your market and ad budget potential, getting
additional publicity should not be difficult.  Those you advertise
with will do it out of courtesy.  Those who want your ad dollars
will do it in an effort to stay competitive with the other outlets.

>> 7.)  How long has the FM been in business?
>Not sure, but, at least five years.

Long enough to have developed a healthy following.

>> 8.)  Where in the town is the market held?
>At the parking lot of the only mall in town.

Good real estate is one of the reasons your market
is successful.  Sounds like the location could only
be improved a bit.

>Unfortunately not facing either of the 'main drags',
>but near a side entrance.

If you are visible from both of the main drags, that is
all that's necessary.  If your market is invisible from
both main drags, see the next item.

>We pay nearly $10,000/yr to lease this space from the mall.
>(It is located in a Midwest town of approx. 150,000.)

If another $5,000/yr would get you frontage on the bigger
of the main drags it would certainly be worth it.  The size of
the market setup would attract attention by itself and with
a four day spread, chances are everyone in town would
see it within a few weeks.

That kind of visibility makes advertising much easier.

>> How near is the next town?
>There is nothing near the size of this town for 100 miles or more.

You have a captive audience which is about as much
as you could ask for.

>> How near is the next Farmers' Market?
>There is at least one other, smaller market, in the older downtown area.

Have you shopped that market to see if the same
people are showing up there as customers?  Do they
offer the same products?  Are some of the same
farmers participating in that market?  Is it on the same
days, etc.

>Hope that provides some insight.

It did, we are getting closer to the essence so a
campaign can be formulated to take advantage
of the way the land lays and the ongoing success
of your market.

Jay Gee
not a farmer -- but interested in farming

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