It’s a warm Sunday morning. My husband, daughter and I are off to the Marin County Farmer’s Market. It’s as good as a trip to Disneyland for our eleven-year-old, whom my husband and I are convinced is a descendant of Julia Child. Her palate is more refined than most adults’; she describes a good meal with all the detail and gusto as she does a carefully savored Harry Potter novel.
We park and get out of the car. In the air, the festive beat of a local jazz band playing just inside the entrance to the market.
We head immediately for the line at the Belgian Waffle truck. We devour a perfectly cooked waffle (is that a crisp waffle, a fluffy waffle?) dusted in powdered sugar, then head for the taco truck for some protein to offset the carbs. On the way, we buy Heirloom tomatoes on special. Life is good. Damn good.
We see some friends, stop to chat. Our daughter wanders over to the Stonehouse California Olive Oil stall. She smiles at the merchant who dispenses a sample of green-gold liquid. I join her while her dad goes off to look for the wild mushroom guy.
With reverence most kids reserve for ice cream, our daughter samples the Blood Orange olive oil on a square of bread. She opens her eyes. “Mom, you have to try this.”
“The product sells itself,” the merchant says with a satisfied nod.
We try the other flavors: Arbequina, Basil, Garlic, and Lisbon Lemon. The sun is warm on our backs. The jazz band has taken a break. Behind us, the easy shuffle of shoppers, and up on the grassy rise where the pony rides take place, a soft whinny.
My daughter turns to me. “Can we get a bottle of the Arbequina to go with the tomatoes? Please.”
“How much?” I ask the merchant.
I hand him $20, far more than I’m accustomed to paying for olive oil.
I am not so much persuaded by the product as by the experience. There’s a subtle difference here, which small business owners can learn from. You may not be selling gourmet food, or perfume, or some other tangible product people can taste or spray at a counter.
But how can your prospects sample your product or service? What experience can you create for them that will inspire them to buy?
My husband rejoins us and we head to the car.
“Can we go to Italy?”