Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Business Chat - Signage

It's that time of year again, craft show season. Time to dust off your booth and set up shop. Whether you are creating your first booth or dusting off last years now is the time to evaluate your booth design and make any changes. At the beginning of every season I look over my notes from last year and decide what to change.

Tip: yes I have copious notes from previous shows. I never go to a show without a notebook. I note everything from reminders that I need more duct tape to ideas about redesigning a part of the display.

There is one part of my booth that I refresh at the beginning of every season, a piece that is the most critical part of every booth display - signage. Signage is so much more than a banner with your company name on it. Signage is all non-verbal communication between your work and your customer. It is the silent salesperson, communicating concisely what you have to offer to the customers. Your signage says who you are and what you do, it should tell your story.

As a jeweller one of my biggest problems is that my product is small. A customer cannot see a pair of earrings at 50 meters. When I am just one in a line of 100 booths how do I attract the customers attention? Signs. Specifically posters. That pair of earrings when blown up on a poster can be seen from a distance. There's also my company name on a banner.

Tip: if your company name is something such as "Mary Smith Designs" make sure you have your medium on the sign somewhere. Mary Smith Designs - Jewellery inspired by nature. Or Mary Smith Designs – Beautiful Pottery. Shout out what you do.

Your work is unique to you, you know that, do your customers know it? As hard as you try you can't talk to every person who stops by so why not have signs about your work? What makes it so unique? I'm a lampworker, I make my own glass beads. People don't always get it so I have a sign about what lampwork is as well as photos of the process. Interesting thing I’ve noticed, it’s the men who read my signs a lot, this means that the wives are able to look around while he’s occupied. You don't have to overload the signs with information, use the KISS rule (keep it simple seller) and just state the facts.

Pricing is another important aspect of signage as is what forms of payment you accept. These are topics that some people are reluctant to ask so answer them before they walk out.

One of the most effective booths I have ever seen belonged to a woman who made jewellery with semi-precious stones from around the world. Instead of printing words, she made small flags for the countries of origin. It made people stop and think. It engaged them. Involving your customer in your work is the point of good signage. The more time a customer spends with your work the more likely they are to buy. Not everyone understood what the flags were about, however there will always be those who don’t get what you do. That’s okay, you don’t have to reach everybody because not everybody is your customer. Rather than trying to convert those who really don’t get what you do, concentrate on those who do.

When creating signs it is important that they are consistent with your brand and your graphic signature. Use the same fonts and colours as on your business cards and your other marketing materials. If you are doing outdoor shows you might want to have your signs laminated (I have mine done at Staples, really cheap) so that they are waterproof. Posters can also be laminated.

Tip: to keep track of your graphic signature and remain consistent to your brand create a file listing your standard fonts, colours, sizes, anything that you use to identify your company.

Here’s my challenge to any of you who have a craft show coming up. Take a look at your booth and think, what are 5 things I can tell a customer about my work without opening my mouth? Make those 5 things into signs. Now come back here and tell all of us about your signs.

1 comment:

Shoshana Coodin Bernstein said...

Hello BeadFX,
I am a first time reader of this blog and am very excited to find awesome bead enthusiasts like myself. I particularly like this article and as someone who has participated in many craft sales I think that this is a great tip!
I am constantly trying to update my booth to get the most out of it and I think after many tries I finally did it. My husband and I made a 3 panel backboard out of plywood (much like you would see at a school science fair) and painted it entirely with black chalkboard paint. We places to mount the product and were able to create a memorable sign! Thanks for the blog, keep it up!