Markets are a powerful tool for the small business owner. Markets come in all shapes and sizes from niche mini markets to massive festivals and tradeshows each presenting unique opportunities. Markets allow you to circumnavigate the high costs associated with operating a traditional brick and mortar shop. But beyond the potential sales opportunity lies incredible insight just waiting to be capitalized on. Successful business owners use these opportunities and insights to refine their product and evolve their business strategy. *Your business strategy is your roadmap. It’s your guiding light, it’s where you set clear goals, guiding rules and priorities, and steps to achieve your goals.
- Direct customer feedback. In a world of online sales direct customer feedback is rare. Watch how customers interact with your product. What are they drawn to first? It might be the product or how you’ve displayed it. What questions are they asking and what’s important to them? All of these seemingly small interactions give you insight into something bigger. Record your observations and look for patterns. If more than one customer is doing it or saying it you’ve got a pattern and an opportunity to optimize it.
- Discover market trends. What are other businesses creating? What’s working and what isn’t? You may have direct competitors at market and although frustrating, you get to observe them and their product first hand. Don’t copy them but learn from them. What seems to be popular and what are they doing really well? Even businesses that seemingly have nothing to do with you have insight into the trends at large.
- Develop your ideal customer profile. To piggyback off of your direct customer feedback, you can now begin to develop your ideal customer profile. The ideal customer profile is a fictitious ever evolving character made up of research and observation. What is their age, location, occupation, income, purchasing habits, goals and motivations and very importantly their pain points or challenges. The goal is to target your marketing to your ideal customer and not waste time and resources marketing to a non descript audience. So who is buying from you at the market and why? What problem are you and your product solving? The importance of your ideal customer profile cannot be understated and it’s never too late to start one.
- Increase your visibility in the community. Grow your brand from your local community on up. Markets get you in front of your community! It’s a movement, people want to support their local economy first. Markets allow your community to engage with you, discover your product and hear your story. Additionally you’ll be more easily recognized online. Even if you’ve had a dud of a market your business was seen, interacted with and associated with the other brands at the market. On an unrelated note that is also why you want to be selective with the markets you participate in. Are you okay with your brand being associated with every other single business that was at that market? If not, reconsider your participation.
- Network with other business owners. Pier to pier networking is invaluable. Markets give you the opportunity to meet like minded business owners. You can share information and learn from each other’s experiences. I challenge you to develop your squad from this network, meet regularly, encourage each other, seek opportunity, and refer business to each other! Entrepreneurship can be lonely and remaining alone may be keeping your business from growing.
So there you have it! 5 opportunities successful business owners look for at every market! Looking for opportunities is what successful entrepreneurs do and if it doesn’t come naturally don’t sweat it, habits can be learned, start being intentional and get in the habit of recording your observations. Seeking opportunity puts a positive spin on a bad sales day. The underlying habit here is recording your observations. Small business owners wear many hats and I think it is safe to say that we don’t have the bandwidth to record observations in our heads with the assumption that we will dissect it later. So record it and start taking a serious look into your research for the benefit and profitability of your business.