Tag Archives: social media

To market, to market. Part two – 7 things to do in preparation for a market.

Thanks for all the lovely feedback on my earlier post about things to think about before attending a market.   I have had some great conversations with people as a result of this!  Today I am going to focus on the things that you should be doing in preparation for attending a market.   These are all things that take a bit of time and organisation and need to be done in the weeks leading up to the market – not the day before. The stuff you are doing the day before is a whole other list!!

  1. Organise some great product shots.

What?   Why do I need good photos of my products for a market – the customers at the market will be able to see them in the flesh (so to speak!).   Hypothetical narrators questions aside, the answer is that having great product shots means that the promoters of the market are going to be able to share your images on social media, and on their advertisements, so that people are enticed to attend the market. If you have some dodgy shots taken on your old iPhone3 in dim lighting and with a cluttered background the organisers are not going to want to use your images, so you miss out on attracting a whole bunch of potential customers.   I have seen some shocking product photos provided by designers – one set was of some beautiful handmade knitwear displayed on a glass topped table that was covered in greasy hand prints and dust – which definitely did not induce me to look further at the products.

Tips for good product shots include natural lighting ( I personally love taking photos outside in spring in the middle of the day but that is not always possible or convenient!), a flattering background that doesn’t overpower the product, and if the product is an unusual one, having it presented so that it’s purpose is obvious.   For example a scarf will have more impact draped over a form than folded flat on a table.  Backgrounds don’t have to be elaborate – I have friends who have had great success with some patterned wallpaper that gave the look of wooden boards or bricks.    Once again, making sure that your photos reflect your brand is important.  You don’t have to have a professional photographer take shots for you (especially if all of your products are one of a kind) but it can be a good idea so that you have a nice set of professional images to use in your marketing.

A designer I know has a great eye for matching objects and creating stories.  She has helped out a few other designers I know by taking flat lay photos of their products paired with accessories that enhance them. Those photos really pop on social media!   (Hmmmm……maybe I need to give her a call myself!)  Remember – you don’t have to do everything yourself – you might know someone who is happy to help with making sure you have great photos.

2.  Make sure you have a way of letting people know who you are.

I get really frustrated when I attend a market and see a stall that I like, but I can’t see the name of the stall or business so I can’t make a note about ordering from them, etc.   Letting people know who you are is really important.   Getting a banner made up doesn’t cost a lot these days – a vinyl banner with your own design from Vistaprint starts at about $20.  If you want to do something different to match your brand there are lots of options for handmade signage, from painted fabric banners, to bunting, painted wooden signs, light boxes and more.   It just needs to be something that can be identified by someone who is a few metres away from your stall. Hanging it below your table may look cute but can’t be seen by someone the next row over. Hanging signage above your stall or on a stand that stretches above eye level is much more effective.

The second thing you need to have organised in this regard before you attend a market is business cards or flyers.  Customers will often take a card so that they can remember you for a custom order, or to come back to at the next market, or for them to follow you online and purchase from you in the future.   If you don’t have an easy piece of paper for them to pick up they aren’t going to remember you.   What should be on your business card or flyer?   Your business name, your tag line (you know – the bit that tells people what your business does), your email, social media addresses and website.   I used to keep mine really anonymous until a marketing expert told me that if she is given a business card that doesn’t have a name on it she throws them out.  As a result I now have my name and phone number on there too – in case someone wants to place an order that way.

3.  Be ready to take people’s money.

After all, that is the name of the game. You aren’t there to take names, you are there to take money in exchange for your wonderful products.  (Actually you might also want to take names but we will talk about that later. Right now we are focused on the moola, the cash, the big bucks. Alright – I will stop now.)    What does that mean for preparation?   You need to think about how to look after the cash that you receive in a safe manner, and you need to decide if you want to be able to offer credit card facilities.

Dealing with cash first, there are two main options that I think work for a market – a cash box or a cash apron.  A cash box is useful because you can separate the notes and coins out and therefore give change easily.   It can be locked and you can keep the key on yourself for added security during the market.    An apron has several advantages – you can have a zipped pocket to hold the money so it is on your person at all times and less easily stolen by dodgy thieves, and you can use the apron pockets to hold your phone and credit card reader.    I have previously used an apron that I made myself so it had pockets for everything, plus a copy of my old logo printed onto fabric so it marked me as the stall holder.   I am undecided about which option to go with this time, but will need to make the decision soon so that I can buy or make what I need.

With regard to taking payments from bank cards it is worth thinking about because many markets don’t have ATMs and once people run out of cash they stop buying if they can’t use their cards.  The options for taking money via card are broad these days.  Paypal offers a facility that connects to your Paypal business account, many banks offer a facility that connects to your bank accounts, and there are card readers such as Square which allow you to take payments without belonging to a certain bank.   Each of these methods will charge a fee for transactions, so you need to be aware of how this affects your prices, but with the ability to buy a unit like these starting at $60 it is a good investment to make if you are going to be attending a number of markets.

4.  Know how you are going to display your products

In Part One I talked about designing your display to enhance your product, etc.  In the lead up to a market you need to know what props, tables, screens, marquees, etc you are going to use so that you can buy parts you don’t have, repair any that have been damaged, or make what you need.  A few things to consider here are the size of your furniture and props, and how you are going to transport them to the venue of the market.   For example I have a great set of shelves that would be really attractive as part of my display in a stall, but they can only go in a trailer, not in my car.  Taking a trailer will work well for some venues but not for others, so making sure you know what you are taking and HOW you are taking it is good to work out well in advance so that changes can be made if necessary.

If you are going to use a table cloth (cannot recommend this enough) you need to make sure that you have one that fits your table/s, and check whether it needs cleaning, ironing, etc.  Again – not something you want to be doing the night before a market if you can help it.

Having a trial run of your set up a few days prior to the market is a good plan as it allows you to check that you will fit into your allocated space, that you have all the pieces you need, and that nothing needs repair or replacing.  If you are relying on the venue to provide a table, display board, or chair, make sure that you know the dimensions so that you can measure and check your equipment at home and know that it will fit.

5. Know how much product you have and what you need to make before the market.

I know I sound like Captain Obvious but you might be surprised by the number of times designers ask a few days before a big market how much stock they should bring.   If you are going to have a successful market then you need to have this worked out a few weeks in advance.   It is a good idea to make a list of all the products that you already have, and how many of each item you have, then to make a list of what your target amount to take to market is.    This then allows you to map out how much you need to make before the market.   In determining how much product to take things to think about are what sort of traffic the market is expected to get, how long it goes for, what have been your best sellers previously, etc.   One designer I know who attends a quarterly market keeps records of each market so she can predict how much stock to bring for different times of the year.  When you are starting out it is definitely a bit of trial and error so it is important to have a plan and then you can assess after the market what worked and what didn’t.

I recently read a comment in a forum I belong to by a woman who explained that in deciding whether to attend a market she looks whether she can make 10 times the cost of the stall hire. If she can’t then she doesn’t apply.   This is useful to think about when determining your stock levels.    If you are paying $20 for a stall then on this formula you need to sell $200 worth.  If you have paid $50 you need to sell $500 worth. How much do your products cost – do you have enough to sell to make that sort of money?   Do you have a good level of stock at the price point that you think will sell best? For example a school fair will probably see a high turnover at the low price point with kids spending their pocket money and parents supporting the local school.  At a design market touting itself as high quality, exclusive, etc, customers are going to be willing to spend larger amounts of money on big purchases so you would be short changing yourself if you only take a small number of high price point pieces.

6.   Tell people that you are going to be at this market

Social media promotion of an event that you are attending is a free but effective way of drawing customers to your market.   Most markets will have some graphics that you can use, or you can use your own images and set out the location, date and time of the market.   Creating a Facebook event and inviting all your friends is another great way to make sure that people know that it is on.  And don’t just tell them once – remind people in the lead up to the market that you will be attending and share some images of what you are bringing with you to the market.  Build a campaign so that they can’t avoid knowing that there is a market on next Saturday and that you will be there, and that there are lots of other great things to do in the area.

7.  Read the stallholder information

When I was working on the administrative side of a market it was incredibly frustrating to have repeated frantic phone calls from stallholders asking questions that had already been answered multiple times.   It was equally frustrating to arrive at the market to hear stallholders say things like ‘If I had known there was this event on at the same time as the market I would have brought different products’ when the details had been provided and advice given on this very issue a number of times.   So many of the designers would then say ‘Oh I don’t have time to read that material’.    Really???  This is your business and you don’t have time to read the information that will help you to have a really successful market experience, not get fined for breaking local bylaws, be promoted as a designer to watch, etc?

If you are serious about getting the most out of your market experience, do yourself a favour and read the material provided.    Know what time you can bump in and what time you have to bump out by.   Know what the rules are about whether you can set up a marquee inside a building, whether you need to have your electrical cords tagged and tested, whether you will be allowed to drive into the venue or not.    Know whether you need to provide your own tables and chairs, what size your allocated space is, whether there is free wi-fi, and what will get you banned from the market!  Because when you don’t know these things and are confronted with them during your set up, or in the middle of selling your products it causes nothing but stress!!

 

If you are on top of these 7 things in the weeks leading up to the market you are attending then you are well on your way to a successful market experience!    My next post will be the list of things that you need to take with you to a market – the checklist of what to pack the day before.   If you have any suggestions to add to the list of pre-market preparation I would love to hear from you!

The benefits of social media

Instameet |a little bird made meLate last week I received an invitation to attend an Instameet.  ‘A what?’ I hear you say.  An Instameet is when users of Instagram gather to take photos of a location, or a scene and then share them on social media.  Sometimes it is for fun, sometimes it is to promote an issue, place or occasion.   This particular Instameet was a sneak peek at the preparations for the opening night of Le Noir, the Dark Side of Cirque. It opened at the Canberra Theatre Centre last night, so our invite was for the night before, where we saw the cirque performers doing their tech run, watched a couple of strong men perform some of their act for us, and got the lay of the land.

Le Noir |a little bird made me

Jeronimo and Jessica, two of the stars, whirling around really fast on roller skates on a table top sized platform, during the ‘tech run’.

Tech run|a little bird made me

The tech run stage set up – and yes she is hanging by her feet as he twirls her around very fast on rollerskates.

Valeri and Yani, the strong men, showing us just how strong they are.

Valeri and Yani, the strong men, showing us just how strong they are.   

Yep – this is the upside to using social media. You have doors open that would never have been thought of before!  And you get to share amazing experiences with people all over the world.  (I am still a little mind-blown about how this all happens,to be honest, but am happy to keep seeing where the ride takes me!)  Of course, I take all these photos using my phone.  Some turn out well, while others just give you a ‘general impression’. (Which means fuzzy, out of focus but ‘hey I was there’ sort of shots!)

To say that it was an amazing experience is a little trite.  But the best was to follow, as we were also given tickets to the opening night show – which was a sell out.

The atmosphere was electric before the show started.

The atmosphere was electric before the show started.

It was a truly entertaining spectacular.  The costumes, the comedic timing of the clown/MC, the hair raising stunts they performed, and the breath taking moments when you thought that maybe, just maybe, something would go wrong!  It was sexy and sultry,and fast and loud, and everything in between! I didn’t dare take photos with my phone during the show , but luckily a friend of mine attended the media call and allowed me to share his shots with you.  See – this is the difference between a camera shot by a great photographer, and a shot with a phone!  (The photographer is Vishal Panday, who you will find on Facebook and Instagram as Wanderlust73.  I highly recommend checking out his work – he is amazing!)

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It appears that we are the end of the Australian tour, but there are shows on here in Canberra until Sunday, and I suspect they will perform in other countries,so if you get a chance to see them I highly recommend it.

The interesting thing was that although we were invited to the very small, intimate after party where the stars of the show joined us for a drink and a chat I was too nervous/shy/not-wanting-to-be-a-groupie to go up and talk to them! Talk about a missed opportunity!  Next time – boldness is the order of the day!

In the meantime, life returns to normal for the day.  Sewing, teaching a workshop at my son’s school on making freezer paper stencils, and buying new feed containers for the chickens. Mundane after the highs of last night, but necessary!!

Being a brochure – Part 4 – getting social

One of the things that I didn’t expect with this whole ‘being a human’ thing was getting to meet and hang out with all the other ‘humans’, and being introduced to people who are experts in their social media fields in order to learn from them.  (Okay, so I really didn’t think any of this through at all did I??)

The highlight of the experience for me so far has been meeting the other humans who are part of the Human Brochure.  It is because of their company and contributions that I have been able to enjoy the Discovery Events so much.  We are an eclectic bunch, and bring different strengths and levels of engagement to the event.  Which means that it is fun getting to know other people, but also means that I am now viewing everyday life around me in a very different way.  There are some extremely talented and dedicated photographers in the group.  As a result I look at the spectacular sunset out my back window each day and know that it will be captured, and captured beautifully, by at least 3 or 4 of my fellow humans.  Following them on Instagram is a delight!  People with a passion sharing their passion in beautiful images is a wonderful way to spend some time each day!

A brochure of humans reflected in a sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden

A brochure of humans reflected in a sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden

I am sure to leave someone out if I try to recommend photographers to follow from the group, so instead will recommend that you look at the feed on the website to see the daily amazing images these people post!

Humans collaborating on an Instawalk

Humans collaborating on an Instawalk with Lauren Bath

There are amazing food bloggers, elite athletes, mummy bloggers, people who can manage to be using social media for instant responses while still holding down their day jobs, Uni students, fashionistas, and the list goes on.  Some have a massive social media following, while others are smaller and more ‘niche’.  What we all have in common is that we use social media, and we love living in Canberra!

Some human profiles!

Some human profiles!

The organisers of the Human Brochure arranged two different sessions for we 101 to spend time with experts in the field of social media.  The first session was held with two travel writers, Kerry Heaney and Christine Pfieffer. 01951d571adf3051d665e71771bc08d752870dfae2

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It was interesting hearing their advice on using social media from the travel perspective.  Some of it doesn’t translate well to those using social media for business etc, and some of their experiences were quite different from mine, but it was certainly a privilege to hear their perspectives.  Kerry is a food and travel writer, while Christina specialises in travel video blogs.  Her list of photographic equipment certainly had a few members of the audience getting animated!

 

Floating head installation at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Floating head installation at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

 

The second was an Instawalk with Australia’s top Instagrammer, Lauren Bath.  I didn’t really know what to expect of an Instawalk, but soon realised that whether I learnt anything about using Instagram more effectively or not, it was a great way to meet more of the ‘humans’.  We had a rainy grey morning, but with the Sculpture Gardens of the National Gallery close at hand, the conditions made for some awesome pictures!  And we did get to pick Lauren’s brain about the most effective ways to use Instagram to promote Canberra (our aim in the brochure) and generally.

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Industrial remnants (my interpretation) installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

The interesting aspect of all of this, however, is that many of the ‘humans’ are in fact experts already, so learning from them has been of benefit to all of us.  The photographers have been sharing their tips, lenses and shoots with each other – professional and non-professional, and many a discussion has been had over twitter vs Instagram, how to manage a number of platforms, and various other aspects of social media.  Which means that the learning isn’t confined to the two workshops – it is ongoing and collaborative, and really quite inspiring!  I know that I am going to walk away from this experience with a whole lot more than just a deeper knowledge of the town that I live in.  New friendships and new skills are the absolute icing on the cake!

Sculptural plants and curved concrete in an installation at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Sculptural plants and curved concrete in an installation at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Being human for real

I have a  busy brain.  I am not quite sure why it is so busy at the moment, but it is.  It is busy enough to keep me awake a lot during the night, to have me wanting to write as soon as I wake up so that I can capture all the thoughts I have had during the night, and to have me hopping from one thought to another, one task to another, and forgetting some of the important thoughts and tasks that need to happen.

Used with permission from www.cartoonaday.com

Used with permission from www.cartoonaday.com

Those thoughts that were so well formed, and desperate to be shared in the waking hours have evaporated – a bit like the fog that my part of town was shrouded in yesterday – there thick and damp one minute and gone without trace the next.  One of the remnants lingering is about community and social media.

Tonight is the kick off of my human experience.  (It cracks me up every time I say or write this!)  The 101 local humans are gathering to meet, hear about the planned experiences, and put voices, faces and bodies to the disembodied social media chats that have been occurring.  Except of course that, because this is real life, there won’t be 101 humans because real humans have commitments more important than gathering – family, work, life.  I am guessing that there will be about 90 odd (pun intended) humans at the gathering tonight.  The chat on Facebook this week has been revealing.  101 have been chosen.  About 95 are pretty comfortable that they are not as cool as the other 100, have been chosen in error, and are worried about meeting people out from behind their computer, think that the other 100 are the glitterati from about town, and have no idea what to wear to meet other humans.  (Of course I fall into the 95 – you know me!)

And therein lies the beauty of this experience.  We are exactly what is required.  Humans.  We are humans who live in a great city and enjoy different aspects of it.  Some are great photographers (not me), some are really good at tweeting (also not me), some can have a snappy conversation on facebook that has everyone at ease and feeling included (sometimes me) and others like to write, and share in prose rather than 140 character messages. (Yep – that is me).  We haven’t been chosen for our looks, our body shape, our ability to confidently sit and chat at the best cocktail bars in the world with celebrities, or for our ability to dress well for every occasion.  We have been chosen for our ability to share.  To wonder, whether through pictures, words, limited characters, or more, at the places we go and the experiences we have.  The very fact that so many have been willing to admit that they are nervous, anxious, unsure what to wear, and very uncool is a sign of how good we are at sharing openly and honestly.  These are human traits to be celebrated!

This then lurches rather than segues into societies use of social media.  As some of you would know, I think about this quite often – is it good, is it bad, and how does it improve/affect/damage our lives?  Through the wonders of Freecycle I had a great conversation yesterday with a fellow freecycler.  As such conversations tend to do we covered all manner of topics, during which he confessed that he had recently committed ‘Facebook suicide’ complete with a farewell note, and had enjoyed the results.  Friends were picking up the phone, he wasn’t looking for hollow affirmation from the number of likes he was receiving, and he felt liberated.  This of course had me analysing, reflecting, and wondering about my own use of social media – again!  (Small wonder my brain is busy!)

I know that I do not have a lot of contact with my friends who don’t use Facebook.  I don’t pick up the phone, I don’t write long emails of news, and I don’t send birthday cards anymore.  I know that I am missing out on their lives and they are missing out on mine.  I know that this is sad on one level.  But I also know that they, who aren’t using Facebook, instagram, twitter, etc, are also not reaching out to me, sending long emails, or writing birthday cards.  It is not due to Facebook that we are not connecting – it is due to our lives.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t care, that we don’t hold them in our hearts.  It means that life is busy, complex, crazy, fun and happening right now, where we are.  It doesn’t always have room for more.  It certainly doesn’t (in my case) have room for me to stay in touch with every person I have had a connection with.  And that is okay.  That is why when we do see someone that we have lost touch with there is joy, and wonder and sharing, and laughter and tears.

When I see someone I haven’t seen for ages, but am friends with on Facebook, many stories gets interrupted by one of us saying – oh yes, I saw it on Facebook.  But not every story.  Not all of the parts of our lives are lived out on social media.  Often the painful bits are tucked away to only be shared with the people we see face to face, or speak to on the phone.  Some are held close and safe and not put out in the public arena.  Social media is not replacing our need for close relationships and conversations that involve speaking rather than typing.  But it is helping us to be part of the lives of so many more people than we used to be just 10 years ago.

Yesterday, with my mother’s permission, I posted on Facebook that she and I had spoken and that she was recovering well from her knee replacement surgery on Monday.  By tagging her I was able to let her brother, cousins and aunts in Pennsylvania know that she is doing well, reassure her friends in Western Australia about her progress, fill in the family who live in the same country as her but who might not be aware of her surgery (it is a BIG family), and let my friends who know and love her know that she is fine.  And that, on it’s own, is why I like social media.

Right.  Now that I have emptied two of the busy thoughts from my busy brain I must hit the sewing machine as I have projects underway that need my attention!  I can slip in casually though, that I bought an industrial compound feed sewing machine yesterday.  As you do.  (Insert me doing a gigantic happy dance here – cannot wait for it to arrive early next week!!!!!)

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Oh – and I died my hair blue.  Because I can.  I have a big personal reason behind it, that I will share in a week or so (don’t worry – it is a good reason) but my explanation, shared on Facebook, is also true:

Yesterday I exercised creativity of a different kind and did something to make my children gasp in amazement, and to let my outward appearance be an expression of my inner dreams. This is the new colour of my hair – something my children have begged me to do for years. They are blown away that I actually did it and their excitement brings a huge smile to my face just thinking about it! ( my favourite quote “We were only joking and never thought you would really do it. This so cool!)

As for me? I love my life. Today I plan to create great things – and hopefully get some sewing done!
Have a great day out there and think about how you might give people a little peek into your inner dreams – who knows where it will lead you!