Farm Shops: Catch New Passing Trade – 5 Steps

Flick through a magazine or scroll through a social media feed and you will quickly become aware of the things that make your eyes stop their scanning and focus on something – bright colours, pictures, bold text, movement.

Photo by 童 彤 on Unsplash

‘A picture tells a thousand words’ is a well-worn phrase, and when marketing any product or service, the ability to convey information fast is paramount to success. Therefore using the visual to get your message across can save you time and money.

Posters, adverts and signage help to attract people to your store or cafe. Where you place these will determine their level of success. Consider who will see them, from what direction, in what light? How long will they have to assess your message?

Passers-by on a High Street will typically approach shop windows from one side or the other, so it’s important to catch the eye from both sides. Same for roadside eye-catchers. Consider the direction of travel and road layout – will the driver have time to read and react as you want them to if the signage is too close to a bend or other distraction. Also consider the speed of traffic past your entrance. How can you attract drivers’ and their passengers’ attention and get your message understood in the time it takes to pass (without causing an accident, of course!)?

Photo by Roxanne Boudrot on Unsplash

This is where using displays and pictures beside the road to ‘speak’ to your public works best. You can convey the changing seasons and stock, your local provenance, your opening hours. The scale and format will be determined by the distance the potential customer is from it. Check that your message can be seen effectively while driving. No fiddly fonts or complex messaging here. Just clear strong headlines, with colour or pictures to get your message through. Consider large cut-outs of farm animals to help shout about your inhouse butchery, and oversized strawberries for the PYO time of the year, for instance.

Right now, the roadside would be perfect to advertise your online service, whether click-&-collect or delivered. Those passing customers might be on their way to the supermarket, so distracting them with a viable alternative is well-timed!

The side or front of your building may not have windows that you can dress to add the next layer of enticement, once the customer has pulled in to the carpark, but there is plenty you can do to grab attention further.

  1. Make sure the outside space is tidy and uncluttered. Be honest with yourself and maybe get an friend or family member to check this with you as you’ve probably stopped seeing that split bag of compost, the pile of wellies by the shed door and the fallen-down ‘R’ in your FARMSHOP signage! If your space looks cared for, you will keep the interest level of the impulse customer. If not, they might well decide to judge your whole offer on your lack of care of the outside, turn tail and continue on their way.
  2. Use the outside of your building effectively. You may not have glazed areas to showcase products, but clear signage attached to the outside of the building can illustrate in more detail what the customer can expect to find inside. Make this of a size that can be read from the carpark, and read over the top of the average cars that might be parked in front of it. Large format pictures of the interior displays can also start to convey a message of what the customer can expect to find, helping them to relax and feel they will be happy shopping here.
  3. Use A-boards or pavement boards to highlight special features or USP’s. As the customer approaches the entrance, apart from making sure they are aware of how to support your covid-secure measures, make sure you are also whetting their appetite with more information. Perhaps you have ready-to-go pizzas on offer, or a brand new cheesemaker to showcase? A seasonal food order process or even a regular Sunday Roast ordering deal – something to catch their eye and add interest to their visit. Keep the message simple. Minimal words so it is quickly assimilated as the customer approaches. Check this with colleagues to assess the effectiveness of this while walking towards it. Don’t confuse the customer with more than 1 or 2 key messages here. Change these throughout the day / week to make sure they stay pertinent and timely.
  4. So you’ve got the customer inside. Good work! Now you have 7 seconds to make them feel at home and stay. Not long? Absolutely right. It is a tiny amount of time but humans have evolved to make snap decisions about new places and people. First impressions, and all that. If you can allow the customer to get a positive feel for the space within that time, you’re more likely to get a sale from that person. As we relax, feel welcome and that we understand the layout and way to use the space, we slow down and take more information in. It’s important to show new customers where everything is and how to get there. They will have a product in mind that pulled them into your space. Maybe it was the message on the verge as they drove up? So make sure whatever that was, is repeated now they are inside. Can they find the butchery dept easily for instance? Is the cheese display obvious? If they were hooked by the message you have given them, don’t waste it by confusing them once they are inside. Overhead signage or vinyl stickers on the floor, for instance, will help to guide people around your space. Pull them in, away from the congestion at the doorway.
  5. Add some human interaction fast! A welcoming face and verbal guidance to where they want to go or to something you want them to see, can work wonders. This is where you can steal a march on the big boys. It’s easy to spot a new customer as they enter, so add a dash of personalised magic and you’ll create loyalty instantly. All your team should be customer meeter-greeters first and not just shelf-fillers. Anyone replenishing shelves or tidying displays near the front door MUST also have their eyes on the door and provide an instant acknowledgement of, ideally, all customers, but especially those coming in obviously for the first time. Eye-contact and a hello is simple human interaction and will allow you to assess whether they need further help to find their way around. With facemasks now the norm, we all need to work harder to convey a smile but body language is still a great way to illustrate your focus on them and their requirements – facing them, meeting their eyes, speaking clearly, paying attention to what they say and then directing them will all pay dividends. It’s not a case of that irritating ‘hello, can I help you’ opening gambit of some fashion retailers that never reaches the eyes, but a warm and genuine ‘Welcome to our place. You’re going to love it here’ should be simple to engender from an engaged team-member.

All of these aspects take consideration and a bit of thought to make them work best for you and your place. But the investment of time will reap rewards with a whole new wave of customers who will become loyal fans of what you are doing.

If you want to discuss your ideas with someone or need more encouragement, get in touch and I will be happy to chat things over with you.

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