Word Mines had our first major holiday season in 2018 and as we gear up for another big holiday season, we'd like to share 5 tips / lessons learned.
1. Leverage Facebook for searching for nearby Holiday markets. That seems obvious, so maybe we'll offer a not-so-obvious tip... START SEARCHING EARLIER THAN YOU THINK. We started to browse Facebook in early November and found that some markets had already CLOSED their sign-up period. Start in October and keep searching for the next couple months. Facebook makes it really easy to find markets... just type in "Holiday Markets" in the search bar and quality, local results should pop up.
2. Once you've found Holiday Markets that seem to fit your vibe and target audience, you have to convince the event coordinator that you're worth having at the market. EXPLAIN WHY YOU'RE UNIQUE. I don't know why I'm using so many CAPS today... I'm usually not that guy, but this shit is important and I'm jazzed up about this Holiday season. So, highlight why you're special in your application. Holiday Markets can't have 6 different vendors selling Minnesota-shaped cutting boards... I'm sorry but there's just not that many hot dish veggies to chop... plus hot dish veggies are usually canned and chopped up already. Explain how you're different from the rest by showcasing a niche product or highlight a customer review or customer experience that will make you stand out.
3. Once you have you've been accepted in a few Holiday markets... now starts the fun. Tip number 3 is to BRING MORE PRODUCT THAN YOU THINK. You never know how popular your product could be. We were at a holiday market and we sold out within two hours and it was a four hour event. At the very least, bring more product and leave it in your car/truck so you have the option of re-stocking your booth. For the last two hours of the event, we ended up selling product through our e-commerce site and customers had to enter in addresses and email addresses (required fields) on our iPad and wait a few days to receive the games from our out-of-state warehouse rather than enjoy the instant gratification of purchasing and taking the game home that same day. It was such a bummer and really slowed down our operations. On top of all that, we lost significant margin on the sale because we had to pay fulfillment/shipping fees on those units.
4. If there's any downtime during the market, get to know the other vendors at the event... they're well-connected and can inform you of other similar Holiday markets. You may be competing for shoppers sweet, sweet dough, but don't be a jerk. Walk around, be friendly, sample product and joke around. Ask questions about their product and you'll be surprised at how much you can learn about the entrepreneur lifestyle and the holiday season grind.
5. Last but not least, and I usually hold my cards close to my chest so this one almost hurts to say... but make your booth interactive, if you can. For Word Mines, we created a minute-long challenge where friends could pair up and compete to be on the top of the leaderboard (we set up a PC monitor and typed in customers names and their scores). At the end of the market, we gave away a game to the pair that finished in first place. This was a great way to stand-out from the other booths. Another advantage was the energy it brought to our booth. Word Mines is a rapid-paced game and can get emotionally intense. Players would blurt (dare I say SHOUT) clues and guesses towards the end of the minute to try and sneak in one more guess... and that caught the attention of others at the market, which piqued their interest to check out the booth as well. It was a nice chain lightning effect.
We hope your small business has a successful Holiday season and that these tips and tricks will bring you endless wealth. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section below. Party on Wayne!