Hello introverted makers!
We know attending a market and having to talk to strangers can be a daunting task for a lot of people who work in creative industries. We tend to be introverts; we tend to be people who are used to being alone a lot of the time when we are busy creating, so it can be quite uncomfortable to talk to strangers — especially to talk about your products and what you do!
Having been there and done all that ourselves many times now, we’re very familiar with how to deal with this. There are some great tricks and body language that you can use to help invite conversation and make sure that you're more open and approachable to your customers. In this blog, we’d like to share all the tips that we’ve learnt over the years on interacting with the public during markets.
Presence and availability
Try to be as approachable as possible. Don’t know how to do this? An easy thing to remember is to simply not have RBF (look it up if you don’t know what it is; it’ll be the first search result on Google 😉)
When you’re at your stall, try to be standing up and glancing around often. Smile and say hi to people, regardless of whether they’re directly engaging with your stall or not. Try to not sit down behind a table as this makes you less approachable; not only do you have the physical barrier of a table between yourself and your customers, sitting down makes you less visible! When you aren’t visible you may find that people walking past your stall don't even know that you're there to come and have a conversation. I am so strict about this with my own staff at market events that I don’t even provide chairs for them at our Info Booths! I want them to be as visible as possible as people are walking past, and we always receive feedback from the public about how friendly and helpful our market staff are.
Additionally, if you're going to take a break to be on your phone, try not to be at your stall to do this. If you need to post something on social media (as we understand timely social media is important), have somebody else there to engage with customers whilst you do that. However, if you have no other option but really need to do something on your phone, make sure that you’re not closing yourself off to the public. Make sure that you're not sitting down behind a table where no one can see you, and that you're not buried in your phone with your face down. Stand up and be glancing from your phone up to the public as much as you can, smiling and saying hi as people are walking past so that they know if they do have questions they can come and talk to you.
Body language is super important. Unfortunately, a bad habit that a lot of people easily fall into when they’re simply standing around is to cross their arms. This is very closed-off body language and does not invite people to come and make conversation; it's a really bad habit to get into and can be a hard one to break.
However, all is not lost — an easy thing to do to ensure that you're not closing yourself off to others is to clasp your hands behind your back. If you don't know what to do with your hands, you could also make sure that you're wearing something that has pockets so you can stick your hands in a pocket (a market apron for all your bits and bobs is a great idea). Otherwise, clasp your hands behind your back if you find you don't know what to do with them. This pose naturally leads you to having more open body language, which means that more people are going to see you as approachable, and that you're somebody who can have a conversation with them.
Not sure what to talk about when people walk into your stall? That's okay — just ask them how their day is going and whether they're enjoying themselves at the market!
It’s not necessary to immediately launch into talking about your products, particularly because you might find that puts people off and makes them walk away from your stall. It is better to ease people into conversation by getting them to talk about themselves, any children they may have with them, or the day that they’re having. This will make them feel more comfortable with asking you any questions that they may have about your products. Of course, you can also simply let them know that they can feel free to ask you if they have any questions while you let them browse.
As the literal “face” of your brand, you should make it as easy as possible for customers to approach you and your products. We hope these tips on interacting with potential customers will help you feel more at ease with the public at your next market day.
If you have any questions about any of the points above, or if you feel there's something we've missed, feel free to get in touch and we will try to include it in an upcoming blog or in our YouTube series answering business questions.