Watch: Practically on Purpose - Growing a Thriving, Purpose-driven Business, The Finders Keepers 2023

Design markets are a unique opportunity that creative business owners can leverage to network, learn, engage a new customer base, grow revenue and even inform future product range development. While online may be your primary sales channel, there is nothing as insightful as the face-to-face interactions that come from being in a physical marketplace. Let’s take a look at how attending design markets and summit events like The Finders Keepers market can be a strategic part of your business strategy and maybe one of your favourite annual business events.

Grow your audience base

Markets and events offer businesses an opportunity to showcase their brands to an audience of engaged potential customers. Your market stall sits beside dozens of designers that draw their own audiences, as well as the strength of the market’s brand itself. In that way, you’re increasing your brand awareness and attracting new customers by way of association.

Tip: Collectively promoting the market or event in the lead up by tagging other businesses and the market organisers in your social posts and reposting each others’ content is a great way to build excitement and visitor numbers.

Amplify your sales opportunities

Markets and some events offer businesses a chance to make direct sales to customers. It’s important to price your products in a way that makes sense for market goers or event attendees and you could also think about offering an exclusive promotion for the event.

Having a reliable payment option is essential to converting sales at both markets and events. Square Reader allows shoppers to tap and go, and to get thor receipts sent via text or email. But if you’re looking for a device that allows the customer to interact and see their translation on screen, check out Square Terminal, which also allows you to print receipts for your customers in person.

Attendees of design markets and events want to touch and feel things before they buy. Even if they don’t buy on the day, you are providing a rich touchpoint on the customer journey and building their propensity to buy in the future. This is why it’s important to capture customer data. Consider having an email newsletter list that is easily accessible with a reason to sign up, like valuable information or a discount on their first purchase. Engage a post-event strategy, following up those you’ve interacted with a special offer to convert the sale or ongoing communications with relevant content.

Get to know your customer’s needs

Market goers and event attendees love to meet the makers of the products they admire, whether they’ve already heard of them online or are meeting them for the first time. Be ready to tell your story and have conversations about how your products are designed and made.

Tip: While you have the chance, be curious and learn as much as you can about your customer. As well as ‘how did you hear about us’, ask open-ended questions like ‘how do you use products like this at home?’ and ‘what designs are you liking right now?’. Besides learning about what’s important to potential customers, you’re making the people visiting your stall feel like an important part of your business.

Iterate your product range using feedback

Design markets and events provide an opportunity for creative businesses to learn about how they can refine and improve the products they’re making. From handcrafted food products and candles to toys and technology, feedback about flavours or ease of use is far more accurate in person. Watch for facial expressions, hesitations and all the very telling non-verbal communication cues.

Market testing products in real time before investing in larger scale production in particular is a unique opportunity to consider. Gather data on customer interest and demand by asking a set of standardised questions and recording responses, and analyse the results before committing significant resources to a new offering.

Keep your finger on the pulse

Markets and events can be a great source of inspiration for creatives. By seeing what others are creating you can identify trends and get new ideas for your own products. Make time to explore other stalls, and to take notes about what you discover. Consider how you might be inspiring and attractive to others. Are there ways you can exemplify the making process in your stall design, for instance?

Markets and events are also a place for creative businesses to network with other industry professionals and potential collaborators. Check out who’s going to be at the market ahead of time and plan to visit their stall. If there’s a program of events, consider attending and meeting others there. Be ready to exchange information for follow up conversations and support each other to grow the design industry together.

Square x The Finders Keepers Creative Business Summit 2023

The Finders Keepers Market has a well-established reputation for nurturing emerging designers and makers through its nation-wide program of markets and events.

The Finders Keepers held their second Creative Business Summit in Melbourne’s Federation Square on 17 March 2023. The theme of the summit was Courageously Creative Through Mindful Business. And Square was the presenting partner and major sponsor!

Square Panel

As part of the summit, we programmed a panel titled Practically on purpose: growing a thriving, purpose-driven business. Hosted by Fiona Killackey of My Daily Business Coach and featured,

  • Becca Stern, Co-founder of Mustard Made
  • Cat Bloxsom and Morgan Collins, Co-founders of Cardigang Knits
  • Colin Birney, Head Of Business Development, Australia at Square

You can watch the panel discussion at the top of this article!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.