Whether they’ve studied painstakingly or simply learned by osmosis, beekeepers often offer a wealth of knowledge when it comes to honeybee behavior, weather patterns and local biodiversity. They often have invaluable insights to share about what we’re doing (or not doing) that greatly affects the bees and their survival. For beekeepers, the honeybee is the cornerstone of their livelihood or a passion—sometimes both. You can put these qualities to use and attract customers.
If you keep a booth or table at a local market such as a farmers market or tailgate market, you know you have mere moments to connect with people and share your wealth of information before they cruise on by. Here are a few tips on how to attract customers by making your table stand out, your booth a wellspring of information and your products fun.
1. Use Real-Life Examples: Observation Hives
These clear plexiglass or glass hives offer a window into the depths of the mysterious honeybee hive. Nothing draws a crowd like the hunt for the queen. With a frame or two of busy nurse bees tending to brood comb (safely behind glass), passersby can approach your table and feel safe in the presence of honeybees (maybe for the first time in their lives) while getting a chance to talk with you about your apiary, your products and your experience.
2. Sell Authentic Products
If you can stand by each one of your products individually, you will sell more at market. People know when they see something authentic. Clearly mark and label your bottles or other bee products, and be open and willing to answer questions about your process and what goes into your products. This will help attract customers because buyers love to know where their food comes from.
3. Have Great Visuals
Aside from beautiful labels and your business sign, consider having a chalkboard or easel to hold up informative posters. Many beekeeping companies design, make and sell bee-related posters on topics such as the various species of native pollinators, favorite honeybee flowers and plants, and specific educational diagrams such as “Why Do Insects Have Antennae?” The bold, bright and colorful visuals will attract customers by drawing the eye of people walking by.
4. Have Something Fun for Kids
Families frequent the local weekly tailgate markets where I live (my family included) and we are always grateful when there’s a safe, fun activity geared towards children. Sometimes it’s music by a local trio, and sometimes it’s a quick activity related to the booth. For example, if your theme for a week is “antennae,” you might have an educational poster for your visual, and you might include antennae-headbands that kids can decorate at your booth and take home. Remember to put your name or your business name and contact information on anything you give out at the market.
For our family, weekly market trips are a grocery trip and social experience wrapped into one. Consider that your customers come to market to connect with you face to face and hear about how you manage your bees. Be open to their questions and honest with your answers; everyone will appreciate the exchange and walk away having learned something new.