I love the farmers’ market.
My friends and family find it funny how geeked up I get about bicolor corn, zucchini, and mesclun greens. I just find it so enjoyable. (This is 31, I suppose.)
Nearly every Saturday, from May to November, I get up, walk the dog, and then head over to see my farmer friends.
To my benefit, the one in my hometown has been voted as being the best market in the county. There are vendors who come from all across Southeastern Pennsylvania to be at the Lansdale Farmers’ Market.
Though I have my staples, most times I go just to take in the experience. I like being surprised by new vendors, new foods, old friends, and good conversation.
But beyond the food, it’s the story behind the food that we all love and keep coming back for.
This Little Piggy Went to Market
The first time I went to a farmers’ market was a few months after my wife and I moved into our home. I was running to the hardware store decided to check it out.
I took a peek at every vendor’s table, loving all of the different options there were for vegetables, meats, and — wait, was that guacamole?
Most of the vendors were cash only, and I, of course, had nothing on me.
There were so many things I wanted to buy and try. “Next week,” I said to so many of the farmers and managers who I spoke with. I’ve kept that promise for the most part.
Even without the possibility of a sale, the farmers I spoke with knew the importance of sharing their why and their how (when I asked for it).
They educated me, they engaged with me, and they empathized with me. Everyone has been in a shop where they want to buy and simply can’t at that moment. It’s not a no forever, it was merely a no for now.
By investing in me, I knew I wanted to invest in them.
Setting the Table
Food has always had a big role in my life.
As both a teenager and a 20-something, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. By the time I was 22, I was 287 pounds, destined to a life of high blood pressure and an array of other self-inflicted ailments. Thankfully, with support and help from family, friends, and a group of health professionals, I was able to lose a significant amount of weight.
Despite the fact that my weight hasn’t always stayed at the number where I’d like it to be (like today), the way I approach food has.
It was during this time that I learned how and what to eat. I learned the benefits of organic farming, the importance of healthy, diverse soil, and why eliminating certain foods in my diet was often better than adding others.
I changed the way I shopped, eagerly beginning each trip to the supermarket with a long tour of the produce section, especially with the leafy greens. I chose to shop at Wegman’s since they offered a large selection of organic foods with prices I could afford. They’d often have a little blurb and a few pictures about the people who cared for and grew the produce.
Shopping and eating this way had completely changed my palette. But even though I was feeling and looking better, I realized that I was hooked on more than just the fruits of the farmer’s labor.
I had fallen in love with their stories.
Harvest Your Own Story
In his fantastic book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, Mark Schaefer wrote that people want to do business with people they know and trust. Reaching this level of trust means that customers not only want to buy what you make, they want — and choose — to buy you and your story.
For me, the farmers’ market is the place I find the best stories in food. It’s an opportunity to fall in love with the hands that are closest to things I place a premium on in my life.
Understanding the importance of this connection and these choices can help you recognize the vital role it plays for your customers. Whether you’re selling homemade pasta, easy-sipping kombucha, or custom-made machine parts, you have purpose and principle behind it.
Finding a connection to a business you love or changing how your business markets doesn’t need to come from the thing you’re most passionate about. Sure, it does require a level of care and attention, but the point is that anyone can do it.
Aside from reading Marketing Rebellion, which I certainly recommend, ask yourself these questions:
- How do I currently empathize with my customer?
- What role does my business play in my customer’s life? How do I serve them?
- Which part of my story resonates with them? Why? How can I strengthen this connection?
- What can I learn from my favorite company to transform and better my own?
You can buy anything from just about anywhere.
Why someone chooses to buy from you, or why you choose to buy from them, comes down to philosophy, trust, and a darn good story.
This blog was originally published on jonsteiert.com.