I'm an introvert. While I can talk about bees all day, I am not one of those vendors who is aggressive in trying to get people to stop at my booth. (Some vendors call at people in a loud voice to try a sample of their product...that's just not me.) I normally wait until I can make eye contact with them and then say "hi there" and acknowledge them with a smile, even if they are 10 or 15 feet away.
I tell people that I am not a good salesman. I'm not an extroverted people person. I bring an observation hive to markets, and it stops kids of all ages. Once I have them at my booth and have talked about bees, I offer them samples of different honey varieties, so they can see which variety they like best, and the honey sells itself.
(I do set my tables back inside my tent a few feet, rather than having it at the edge of the tent. This requires customers to make a commitment to enter your tent (even just to see the bees in the observation hive.) and if you can get them to make that much of a commitment, it is harder for them not to make a purchase.
A week or so ago, I was at an afternoon farmers market. I had done some bee work in the morning, and tossed my bee jacket in the truck. I must have had a couple drones on my jacket, because when I got to the market, I had a couple drones crawling around the cab of my truck. So I stuck them in my shirt pocket, and put a piece of tape over my pocket to keep them from escaping. It was a little cool, so the drones were more interested in crawling around, rather than flying away.
When people seemed really intrigued by the bees in the observation hive, I would ask them if they would like to hold a friendly bee. They would look at me like I was half nuts, and ask what a friendly bee was. Once I explained that drones can't sting, they were eager to let a drone crawl around on their hand. By the end of the evening, I had people coming up to me asking me if it was true that I had a bee in my pocket. That tells me people were talking about it to other people at the market.
So this week I bought a queen muff. This morning before I left for a market, I put about a dozen drones in the queen muff. I used a couple binder clips (the black paper clip things) to close the ends of the queen muff so the drones couldn't get out. I put a couple drops of honey in a milk jug cap and put it in the queen muff for the drones to eat.
The "friendly bees" were a HUGE hit at the farmers market today. People seemed more fascinated by getting to play with the drones than the observation hive, and the observation hive is always popular.
This is just a little gimmick for folks to keep in mind if they are doing farmers markets. In my opinion, many people come to farmers markets for the experience as much as to buy your products. People want to develop a relationship with the farmer, and not just doing grocery shopping. If they like you, they will buy your product.
I have heard that the child parents love most, is the child who caused them the most problems. This is because anger is an emotional response, and the stronger an emotional response you can cause, the stronger the bond you create. It's sometimes said that there is a fine line between love and hate. From a psychology perspective, the drones are an excellent way to create an emotional connection with people. Their initial reaction to holding a bee is fear, because people are conditioned to expect to be stung by bees. At the same time, when you are explaining to people about the differences between a drone and a worker, and drones not being able to sting, you are building trust. Fear is a strong emotional response, and is closely related to pleasure. (The same part of the nervous system processes fear and pain as pleasure, which is why people can become sexually aroused or even orgasm from stressful/scary situations. Their brain gets overloaded and starts confusing the proper response. Look how many people enjoy scary movies, or going to Halloween haunted houses. They have feelings of enjoyment, even if the situation should not be enjoyable. Some women have an orgasm while being raped, even though they are in extreme fear and pain and are not enjoying themselves. Or look at all the women who get excited by the 50 Shades of Gray stuff.)
In my opinion, the drones are an excellent way to capitalize on that fear/pleasure response to build an emotional connection between the vendor and customer. They are scared, but it is in a safe environment.
Another way I provoke an emotional response with customers is that I explain that the beehive is how God intended society. The girls do all the work. The males are just there for free meals and reproduction. The only time the boy bees will even feed themselves is if they can't get a girl to feed them. The girls are supposed to wait on guys hand and foot. I tell folks that I am not saying that it is wrong or right, I'm just saying that is the way God made things, and who am I to argue with God's plan for society. (This is mildly offensive to most women (and women are 90% of your farmers market customers) but at the same time it is presented in a humorous fashion. I think George Carlin said that every joke needed an exaggeration to really make it good. Most people find this presentation to be hilarious, which helps you build an emotional connection to the customers.
I then tell people that there is a little justice in the bee world. I tell people that if a boy bee mates with a queen, it only lasts 2 seconds for him, and the poor thing rips his guts out and dies in the act. And if he is not lucky enough to mate, when wintertime is approaching, since the boys are just lazy, deadbeat bums, the girls kick them all out of the hive to die. (And a lot of women laugh and say that is how it should be.)
I will also point out to people that only the girl bees will sting you...kind of like life. Guys/husbands/boyfriends usually get a kick out of this.
When I am explaining to women about the boy bees not having a stinger, I tell them just to remember that it is ok to play with the boys.
Beekeepers will tell you that if you hire a pretty girl to sell honey for you at markets, she will sell 3 times as much as the beekeeper can, even though the beekeeper is more knowledgeable about bees and the product. A pretty girl causes an emotional response with people.
The guy beside me at the farmers market raises saltwater shrimp in tanks. He nets them before the market, and puts them on ice in his cooler. On his table, he puts an aquarium with a live shrimp in it for people to look at. I bought him a Spongebob aquarium toy to put in his aquarium...just one more way to build an emotional connection with little kids who like Spongebob. (And if you can build a connection with the kids, and engage with the kids somehow, at the same time you are building a connection with the parents through their kids. Parents have commented to me that our end of the farmers market is so educational with my bees and Ashtyn talking about his shrimp...I tell them that we're trying to make it a fun science section.
The farmers market starts in a parking lot, down the sidewalk in front of stores, and the market ends in another parking lot. The main drag of the market is on the sidewalk in front of stores. I'm in a parking lot, so I want us to have fun, education stuff to help pull people into the parking lot.
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