With Christmas right around the corner, we’re already getting excited to see what some of the awesome small businesses across the UK have got planned for Christmas markets.
Starting with Manchester opening the first German-style Christmas market in the UK in 1999, the nation has been swept up by the crafts, glühwein and bratwursts, and there are now over 100 of these markets operating across the country at this time of year. This huge increase sees highstreets having a 7.9% rise in footfall compared to the rest of the year, making it a fantastically festive opportunity to boost business before the new year.
But, with an increase in popularity comes an increase in competition. Just how can you make sure your stall stands out at a Christmas market? We’ve gathered our top marketing tips to help you.
Choose Your Product Range WiselyThink about the last time you went shopping at a Christmas market. What goodies tempted you? Although foodie stalls always do well (especially if you’re offering something warm on a cold winter afternoon!), we tend to go for products that make good gifts or festive decorations.
Small trinkets, crafts, jewellery, Christmas cards, gourmet chocolates and fudge, scarves, baubles, handmade wreathes – the list goes on and on.
What are the most festive products your business offers? Can you add a Christmassy twist to your range? For example, if you’re a brownie company, could you make a mince pie version or a brownie? Christmas market shoppers are already in a jolly, festive mood, so those are the kinds of products they’ll be craving.
Stay on Top of Your StockAlways take a little more of your products than you think you need – you don’t need to have all of it on display, but this ensures that your stall won’t look depleted by the afternoon. You can keep extra supplies in a plug-in fridge or box (obviously depending on your product type) and refresh your stall as and when you need to!
Create Engaging VisualsIn a sea of stalls, one of your first aims is to attract attention to yours. This is easily done with a few vibrant signs or banners. Use a main banner with your company name or logo on to help customers remember your brand and get an idea of what your products are. Use smaller signs to promote any special offers or your most popular products.
(The Farm Chicks)
Keep the colours consistent with your brand for a clean, professional finish. If you can add a wintery vibe to this, go for it!
Prepare the EssentialsThere are certain essential bits of equipment you’ll need on the day, so it’s important you’ve got everything you need prepared in advance. We recommend making sure you have the following pieces of equipment for your Christmas market stand:
• Card machine
• Money belt (+ change)
• Post-it notes
• Water and food for the day
• Layers – warm scarf, gloves, hat, etc.
• Paper bags to give to customers with their purchases
• Mini first aid kit
• Table/clothes rack (or exhibition stand if you’re indoors)
• Price tags
This list just scratches the surface but gives you an idea of what kinds of things will come in useful on the day of the market.
Promote on Social MediaWe’re not suggesting you sit using your phone while you’re running your stall (in fact, we’d suggest against that!), but posting about the event beforehand can build the hype and encourage already loyal customers to come and visit your stall. And the busier you look, the more other shoppers will be intrigued!
If you have the means to do so, you could schedule some social media posts to go out on the day too. Use relevant hashtags for the Christmas fair, tag your location and generally make your posts as easy to find as possible.
Have Your Marketing Materials at the ReadySo, you’ve got your stall essentials for marketing on the day, but what about following up after the event? Printed marketing materials, like flyers and business cards, give customers a way to find your business online or on social media when they get home – which could lead to repeat business!
Or, you could have a newsletter sign up sheet to help build your email marketing list. Invite customers to sign up to receive news, updates and offers from your business.
Pay Attention to PresentationAs groggy as you might feel setting up a stall early on a winter morning, it’s important to take care with how you present your products. Make use of shelves, tables, stands, racks and hooks to add variety to your market stand’s presentation. Arrange things in height order, organise products by category, and add price tags to make the shopping process as easy as possible for shoppers.
Exclusive Offers & PromotionsChristmas markets are the natural habitat for a certain type of shopper… the bargain hunter! Offers and promotions are a great way to attract attention to your market stall, and you can get extra creative with this at Christmas.
Free gifts, BOGOF deals, sale prices are all things that can help make customers feel like they’re bagging a real bargain at your stall. Advertise these deals using your signs, like we mentioned before, to make sure you’re fully reaping the full benefits (namely, the total demand of attention).
Interact with Market-GoersSome people like to browse in peace, whereas others like to ask questions and discuss their purchasing decisions. You can gauge what type of customer is browsing your stall by simply stating ‘Let me know if you have any questions’ or asking if they need help.
Chances are, they won’t be looking for something in particular, as that’s not necessarily how Christmas markets work – people go to see what’s there, rather than taking a set shopping list with them – so there’s not much point asking if they’re looking for something in particular.
Let There Be LightIn winter, it can go dark pretty early. Don’t let your stall get left behind in the shadows of the day – use Christmas lights to brighten up your space and attract attention! Fairy lights and other cosy lighting options are ideal for outdoor markets, but if your stall is inside, you might be better investing in a professional exhibition stand that already has halogen lights included.
Create the Right VibeDepending on the type of Christmas market you attend, your brand and your target customer, you’ll want to create a specific vibe or theme for your stall. Markets in city centres tend to be filled with warm, cosy lights, produce markets and stalls can be a little flashier and more colourful to compete with similar stalls.
If you’re selling Victorian-style Christmas ornaments, you might want to create a vintage vibe, if you’re selling festive sweets and other treats, bright candy-cane colours would work great!
Add a Festive TouchWhether you dread Christmas or you’re basically a happy elf all year round, it’s important to get into the festive spirit to help build the experience up for your customers. It’s really easy to add a festive touch to your stall, and even yourself!
Add a little tinsel, wear a Santa hat, wear some beard baubles or Christmas tree earring, even use a little fake snow! We’re not saying you need to make your stall into a full-on grotto, but adding a few Christmassy elements can help you stand out and be more approachable.
Offer Free SamplesWe’re a sucker for a free sample! Not only is it a great conversation starter, but it can help you show potential customers how awesome your product is. It can also lead to a high conversation rate of 25-30%!
This is especially effective for food and drink stalls. Leave a little plate near the front of the stall – if you’re selling food, have little bits of food on cocktail sticks for people to pick up, if you’re selling drinks, little shot glasses with a taste of your product will do the trick. When someone approaches for a sample, engage them in conversation and build rapport! Your sales skills + samples = the perfect recipe for success!
Demo Your ProductsIf samples aren’t possible, how about a demonstration? Soaps and cosmetics work particularly well as demos, as do toys, and they give customers a chance to try before they buy without having to wait until they get home!
Let Customers Take Your Contact Info with ThemWhatever you do, don’t let a customer leave without your details on a business card or postcard. Include your website URL, social media profiles, contact information, and maybe a discount code or special offer to increase a repeat purchase. Just pop it in the bag with their purchase and they’ll come across it later at home and be instantly reminded of your brand.
Finding the Right Christmas Market for Your Business
Now you’ve got an idea of how to stand out at a Christmas Market, it’s time to find the best one to attend! As we mentioned earlier, there are over 100 that currently operate in the UK, so there’s plenty of choice when it comes to applying to be a market trader. Find a Christmas market in your area here.
Measuring Your Christmas Market Success
Like any kind of marketing, it’s important to measure the results you’ve seen to see if your efforts have been worth it. If you haven’t sold as much as you’d hoped, ask yourself:
- Was the market in the right location? Was it easy to find (i.e. clearly signposted)?
- Was the footfall low? Is this weather-related or maybe the organisers didn’t market the event effectively?
- Was the customer base right for you?
- Was the fair well curated? If there were too many of the same kinds of businesses, it might have been hard to compete
- Did you tell people about the fair?
- Were you friendly and approachable?
- Did you have a wide range of products to offer to customers?
- Could sales have been affected because you only accepted cash?
- Are your products hard to transport home?
Think about ways you could improve your stall for the next time you try attending a market, and see if you can improve on your sales next time.
And remember – Christmas markets aren’t just about sales. Networking is just as important and can have just as big of an impact on your business. Talk to fellow stallholders – they’re also potential customers! Getting your brand out there might lead to a bigger spike after a market.
Ready to get started on your Christmas market preparation? Order your outdoor event print now, or get in touch with our team if you’d like more help deciding what print marketing materials you’ll need for Christmas market success!