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Brandmade: The Psychology of Selling


As a customer, what makes a good shopping experience? The shop has to be nice and the products need to be to your taste. The prices need to be right. But it’s more than a pretty shop and nice products, don’t you think? You want good service too.

I’m guessing that you’ve been into a mall on a Saturday and become frustrated by the shop assistant that isn’t interested in helping you or engaging? You definitely don’t expect this to happen at a market where the sellers all know their products. Where their own livelihood depends on good sales. Well, sometimes it does.

We often overhear stallholder market gossip during the event, and so often it centres around how big the crowd is, whether it’s a ‘good’ market this time, how sales are up or down. We often have stallholders themselves come to us, worried that they haven’t done as well as they expected. They might not like their spot, they might think the crowds are smaller, they might think they’re too close to competitors or not like their neighbours.

Our usual response is to analyse the set up. Even if the product is beautiful, there’s lots of it and it’s displayed right, the customers might still be walking straight past. And there’s usually a reason for that. So next we look at the seller. And so often we find that it’s not the cause of these these worries, but their effects that are impacting on sales.


While you’re at the market, have a proper look at the crowds. Lots of shoppers is great. But fewer people means more space and more relaxed shoppers who can spend more time browsing and chatting. We often find that the periods in which there are smaller crowds are the most lucrative for sales. Analyse who is shopping and adapt, rather than letting your worries show.


We are very careful at Handmade to curate stalls by category. We try not to put too many jewellery sellers in at a time for example, even though it’s a popular category. This helps everyone, but in the real world, one candle seller is in competition with every other online candle seller in the world. So your own unique product, stall or selling style is something to focus on to help you stand out from the competition, whether online or at a market. Don’t worry about what they’re doing. Make your own offering as good as it can be, engage your customers and know that you are the best at what you do.


We all love our phones – they help us connect. And yes, it’s an addiction. But it’s also a crutch. It’s the thing we look at when we’re waiting for a bus or sitting on our own in a cafe. Because it make us look busy. Hopefully you’re not on your phone when you’re out with friends or family – many groups are now leaving their phones in their bags so they can engage properly. And of course, the same applies to selling at a market. Unfortunately, as creative introverts, the makers of the world don’t necessarily relish putting themselves out there. It makes you vulnerable, but if you’re going to make your living out of what you make, you have to engage with the people buying it.


Life is busy and difficult. Stressful things happen, especially when you’re trying to prepare for a big sales event. Unfortunately though, wearing your heart on your sleeve and failing to put a smile on your face is a definite no-no at a market. You might have had car trouble and arrived late to set up. You might have had a family issue, or you might just be overtired. It’s easy to blame external factors, but your own state of mind, if negative, can lead to a lack of connection with your customers. And especially at Handmade, where connection is everything, it will lead to underwhelming sales. So, here’s what you need to make your mantra at every sales opportunity. Focus on these, not the difficulties, and you might just find your market turns around.

If it’s possible, stand up
Make eye contact
Say hello
Tell them more about the product they’re looking at
Find out how their market is going
Ask them what they’ve bought so far

Here are some wonderful Handmade stallholders smiling at their customers.

We wish you the best of luck, and happy selling!


Caroline Leevers is responsible for the Handmade brand, including the website, Handmade Style, the newsletter and the online magazine. When she's not hanging out with the lovely Handmade team, she runs Callie & Co Design, a Canberra graphic design studio that crafts brands for small businesses. Her favourite things about Canberra are the seasons (especially Autumn), the big sky, the coffee and the great events.


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