We spoke to Deb at Fabulous Places about running markets, how to do great product photography, getting your Instagram grid looking good, online market selling and much more.
Tell us about Fabulous Places…
Fabulous Places began back in 2008 as a website showcasing favourite shops, coffee shops and makers in Derbyshire. It’s changed and grown from what I ever thought it would be back then.
Over the years the events side kept me incredibly busy and my online directory took a back seat. I’ve never had a business plan, and going from the thought of an online directory to running huge events was a big change.
As Fabulous Places has been running for nearly 13 years now, I’m working on a new version of the directory… my favourite places to visit across the UK.
Fabulous Places‘ in-person markets can attract thousands of visitors in a weekend, so now we’ve gone online we’ll still pack in lots of treats. We have a few online markets coming up soon. The next are on the 7th and 8th of November, so see you there!
What are your best tips for selling at an online market?
I’ve always wanted our markets to be a great event and something for people to plan a day out around. It’s exciting having something to look forward to, setting a budget aside to treat yourself, planning which makers you’ll see, who you’ll travel with and so on.
Once lockdown ensued and online markets became popular, I wanted to keep this level of interaction and a buzz about the day, so that people will still get excited and look forward to attending.
It’s important to create some hype about the event on social media. Don’t just create a post saying that you’re selling at a certain market, think about how to make sure people buy from you on the day.
- Set a sales target that you’re comfortable with – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to sell. There’s always a chance you may sell nothing at all – see an online market as primarily an advertising opportunity and if you sell, it’s a bonus.
- Record the time of day that you make sales, and when works best for you. This will also help you schedule posts and plan future content, if you can assess the time of day that your customers tend to buy.
- Don’t overstock – as with in-person markets, don’t plough all of your money into stock that you may not sell. Take pre-orders, or if something sells out let people order it then and there, take their money for it and say you’ll post it out when you re-stock, so that you don’t miss out on the sale. Everything is less predictable this year than it has been in the past, so don’t invest in crazy amounts of Christmas stock as we don’t know what’ll happen – don’t be too pessimistic, but equally remain sensible.
- Market exclusives – Incentivise people to buy on that day. Highlight something that’s available this month that wasn’t the month before, or run a special offer for one day only. Think about offering discounts, limited edition products, free postage, free postage with a £X spend, or ‘buy X and get one free’ deals for the day, which you can advertise on social media in the run-up to the market to draw in customers, and publicise on the day to clinch sales.
- Presence is key – be available for your customers. Comment, like and share posts on the day, publicise IGTVs and run Instagram Lives.
- Give social proof – show feedback from previous customers and evidence why new customers should buy from you. Put reviews on your Instagram Stories or grid, show how you wrap gifts for posting.
What are your best tips for social media success?
One of the things that Fabulous Places do in preparation for in-person events is hosting a stallholder evening to talk through stall preparation, set up and suchlike. These events were highly successful and ensured the markets flowed well. In the absence of events, it’s vital to up your social media game to sell well.
Tap into desire – you need to make a customer want to buy the product. Show it looking good in your home. Make the process between a person seeing an image and clicking to buy it as simple as possible.
Make sure your Insta bio is simple and links to where people can buy your products, and product photos are key.
- Get great visuals. Visuals are so important – you need to sell based on a photo or video. Customers can’t see, touch or hear about a product, you can’t link sell and tell people about other stuff you have to sell – a photo has to say everything.
- Take lifestyle shots. Lifestyle photos are the way forward – you can show where a product would go, show you holding it or a product in situ. This makes people visualise it in their own home, and helps you sell.
- Say no to plain backgrounds! Plain backgrounds are good for a product photo which you can use on your website but on your social media grid it’s best to set the scene. Create an atmosphere and evoke emotion, connect the dots so people can visualise the product in their home, see what they need to get the same atmosphere and how to re-create the shot themselves. Home is everything, especially this year, and you want to create a feel and ambience that people want to emulate buy buying your products.
- Lighting is everything – Set an atmosphere. Natural lighting is vital to show off a true colour. Find an area of your house (or studio) where you get good natural light. Many people use their kitchen, as it tends to have both windows and doors where lots of natural light can flood in. However, you can still set the mood of a photo by using candles and suchlike. Try not to have lights on in your house or play around with filters, as you want to make the product true to life and create a lifestyle feel without it being forced and artificial.
- Video content – show you dressing the scene, try a time lapse, make people feel they need a product and can see it in situ in a home or on a shelf. You need a good camera (a good phone camera is fine) and a stand of some kind, and just go and place it – you don’t need to show your face in the video if you don’t want to, but it shows the customer either how to use your products or how they can look good in their home. Instagram Reels are also good.
How can I get more social media followers?
There are various things you can do to grow your following, both free and paid. Here are some ideas:
- Run a giveaway – this is a popular way of getting new followers, especially for Instagram. Get people to like and save a post, follow your page or share a post in their Stories to get more followers and be seen by a whole new audience.
- Try Online Ads – online adverts work for many people, especially with events. Try Facebook Ads (do you research before ploughing your money in though!) or Instagram Ads are great (but often have more success with post ‘likes’ than new followers). If you know your audience and the type of customer that buys your products, you can target people with similar likes and interests to hone in on your customer conversion rate.
- Collaborations – team up with other product sellers to create photos that you can both use and promote one another’s products. You could also team up with others for a giveaway, to give away more products. You’re then showcasing other small businesses and reaching all of their audience as well as your own.
How can I get a better Instagram aesthetic?
Fabulous Places have a lovely, fresh Instagram aesthetic. Fabulous Places is a lifestyle brand and is about authenticity – we make sure every image is available to you to dive in, so it’s beautiful and lovely to look at but you can also buy everything within that shot to make your home look just like that too.
Make every photo appeal to your customer. Make people want to connect with your brand instantly and follow it. Instagram is often the first thing a buyer will see – it’s a snapshot of your every day, the ‘true you’, rather than a faceless website.
Christmas is coming! How far in advance of the seasons should you promote products?
Don’t push seasons on people before they’re ready. We all get sick of hearing about Christmas in July!
However, you can advertise teasers of things you’re planning. Give snippets in your email newsletters and social media, and let people know what’s coming up around 2 months prior to an event (such as Christmas) as a rough marker.
Start planning far in advance though, for example, for Mother’s Day, start planning straight after Christmas – always be a good season or two ahead with your planning and making. Announce your Christmas plans in September, do a sneak peek or introduce the idea, so that people are warmed up and are ready for the product when it’s released, without having the season pushed in their face.
What is the School of Christmas?
The School of Christmas is the perfect way to see in the festive season. It’s an online workshop which will surround you with all things festive, providing endless decorative winter inspiration for your home.
A few years ago I saw an advert for something like this and it was really expensive, so I teamed up with Carla for a workshop which covers everything from the run up to Christmas to interior styling and more, as an affordable way to get into the festive spirit.
Last year we used a lovely wood cabin but this year we’ve gone online instead. You can grab a G&T on the sofa, and watch our series of videos, tutorials and more on product styling, gift wrap, food and drink inspiration and much more. It will be even bigger and more inspiring than ever before, with lots of content.
The School of Christmas launches on 25th November, then you can watch in your own time whenever suits you. Click here for more details.
As much as the Covid situation is awful, it’s also shown us what a great place online interaction can be, and the ways in which it’s virtually brought us together this year.