foodfest: the one that got away

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

A couple of days ago I attended the North Devon Foodfest, but left with only a jar of Marmalade, despite the great produce. Here's why...

The North Devon FoodFest, held in Barnstaple, took place last weekend. Having spoken to local caterers and producers, I knew there was apprehension about likely footfall, but fortunately overall turn out was good.

It felt a fantastic celebration of the passion and talents of local producers and street food vendors, and North Devon should certainly feel proud. This week I’ll hear of the profits made, but I’m now going to stick my neck out as there were certainly sales opportunities lost – mine included.

I went ready to buy a few treats for myself, and even felt a bit smug at the idea of getting a few Christmas presents sorted early. I came away with a single jar of marmalade (@propermarmaladecompany). But why?

The food tasted great. It was (nearly) all well-presented. The sellers were some of the warmest, smiliest people I’ve met. Prices were fair. Even the weather was on their side.

It would therefore be understandable if most sellers went home feeling they’d given it their all. But here’s the thing – in many cases they’d failed to give away a bit of themselves. That crucial bit that can’t be scooped up on a testing spoon or wrapped in brown paper.

So, here are 3 reasons why local food and drink producers should get ready to truly ‘open up’…

1. sell to the emotional side as well as the logical side.

When deciding whether to buy, your potential customer is mentally attributing a value to your product. That goes beyond a cold opinion as to whether they truly need the product, whether the price is as expected etc. Often subconsciously, we also place a value on how the product makes us FEEL. We’re influenced by how much we’ve quickly formed a bond with the product, seller or brand. We allow emotional reasons to justify the purchase, or deter us from it. To increase the likelihood of purchase, you therefore really need to be addressing both the logical and emotional influences on their decision-making.

I help clients to recognise exactly what factors influences their customers’ perception of value, as it's only then that we know how to twiddle the dials on both the logical and emotional 'sides of the brain'. I went to FoodFest with my logical side already committed to spending, yet I failed to regularly get my purse out as few products simultaneously engaged my emotional side enough to make it feel worth it. Harsh, but true (and don't go wasting time thinking this is just a girl thing, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary!).

Key point #1? Through your sales strategy and marketing activities, arm yourself like a cowboy, ready to shoot me down with pistols strapped to both hips... one to hit my logical side, one to hit my emotional side. Then I’ll be doomed to buy!

(If you need help choosing your best weapons and identifying your customers' weak spots, then get in touch).

2. You and your story cannot be copieD, so use it!

You’re unique and so is the story of your business. It’s the bit of you that will always be different to your competitors, so be sure to stir plenty of yourself and your brand history into the mixture!

Selling yourself makes many people feel uncomfortable and takes confidence, but this isn’t about trying to become someone you’re not or coming across as a stereotypical salesman. I can share a few tricks to help it feel right…after all, ‘being the best version of you’ is the very point here and essential to long-lasting brand credibility.

As for your business story, it’s often hard to see the tale when it’s been your reality for years. Plus, if we're honest, sometimes the story needs some creative flair to bring it to life and make it memorable too. (There was a girl who visited her granny one day but was too daft to notice it was really a wolf, so she got eaten up. The end. See?).

Whatever your business, chances are you have a special story. A history, a set of values, special methods or something else. We can help you to find it, and develop it.

Quick tip: Don’t go thinking your story needs to be a blockbuster. Of all the alcoholic drinks at FoodFest, I remember @madrigalbrewery the most, simply because I attached myself to the story that the wife was the artist behind the quirky labels.

The fact wasn’t advertised, but had I not learnt that through asking, I admit I probably would have forgotten that brand amongst the masses. It’s a small detail, but it was a hook at the least.

Key point #2? Let potential customers buy some of you, as well as your product.

3. Give a memorable experience

I’ll keep this brief as this is a great subject with lots to it, but in short many more FoodFest sellers could have increased brand awareness and lifted sales by offering a deeper sense of experience. There are many ways this could be done, for example:

Stir up some emotions (see above), and then you'll naturally start to create a form of experience. With his own unique style, @Indiainajar is a flamboyant example, but boy did @ChefCollinPereira do it well!

@Choccychurros were able to use the highly visual nature of their churro pumps to add a theatrical element and ensure long queues throughout the day.

Even the @northdevonfoodfest organisers added a sense of experience to the day itself via the main stage. Hosted by Dez Turland and Seth Conway, the cookery demonstrations by guest chefs, Mark Dodson (@TheMasonsArms), Jamie Coleman (@NotleyArms), Thomas Carr (@TheOliveRoom) and Tom Browning (@LewtrenchardManor), made for a great atmosphere.

Key point #3? There are plenty of simple ways to add your own sense of experience, so don’t let this one seem too much like hard work. It will help you to stand out in the crowd and contributes towards establishing the aforementioned emotional engagement.

(If you're short on time though or keen to totally nail it, then BrandLanterns is here to help).

don't let them get away next time!

If you're a local street food vendor, food or drink producer with Christmas fayre’s booked into your diary, now is the time to give yourself a quick talking to. Did you let me get away without a purchase? How many others?

In the hospitality industry as well? With a twist, it all still applies. Read my blog on 'adding a sense of experience' here.

On a final, sweeter note though, WELL DONE all, there was so much to love. It felt great to see so many inspiring local producers filling the market space and the mobile caterers in Butchers Row. I believe Devon can feel very proud and excited by it's potential!

Wishing you all a highly prosperous Christmas season ahead,

SJ x.


For support developing your food or hospitality brand, marketing your next food exhibition, event styling, social media presence and more, contact Sara-Jane Williams on: 01271 372620 or email Website:



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