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Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Business Chat - 'tis the season. Booth Display 101

It’s that time of year people, craft show season! I am a HUGE fan of doing craft shows, it’s where I make 75% of my income. Shows are an excellent way of building up your business. They provide instant customer feedback, give you a chance to do market research, build a network of colleagues and extra bonus, make money. 

Having a booth at a show is like opening your own store. You are responsible all aspects of running your little store and the most important one is creating your display. 

As I’ve pointed out before display is absolutely critical to your show success. A great display can sell a mediocre product and a lousy display can mean that fabulous work will languish unsold.

Like everything else about our micro business there’s no formula or guarantee about how to display your work. The key points are to have a booth that is consistent with your branding. If you make high end work, a table covered in burlap isn’t the way to go. If you make funky hemp $10 bracelets, expensive locked glass cases are wrong. You also want a display that stands out, something as eye-catching and unique as your work 

In this post I’ll discuss the basics of booth display. There are some key elements that every booth needs, make sure you have these before you even think about curtains or display busts. 

Cash/packaging area
Picture this, you have a long table with all your work beautifully displayed. You stand proudly behind it doing your happy dance as the customer stands in front of it and says “Yes, I’ll take that $500 necklace”. 

Now, she’s a big woman and she has a huge purse. 
Where is she going to put her purse as she roots around for her wallet? Not on top of your display. Not on the floor. Where is she keying in her credit card information? Not to mention, that while the customer is standing there no one else can see your display.

Once the customer has committed to buy, remove her from the display area to a small space at the end of the table. Let her put her purse on the table while others shop. Have a place to gift wrap that expensive necklace (and a place for you to store that packaging). 
TIP: NEVER leave your cash box alone or out in the open. Fanny packs, while not the most flattering fashion accessory, are a crafters best friend. 

Signage is all non-verbal communication with your customer. The point of good signage goes far beyond displaying your company name. Good signage encourages people to stay in your booth, it engages the customer with your work. If you have a special technique have a sign. Pricing is signage, every item should be priced. Here’s a challenge for you, what are 5 things you can tell your customer without opening your mouth?

You’ll be amazed how much stuff you’ll have for your booth. The jewelry is nothing, it’s one or 2 shoe boxes. It’s the duct tape, double sided tape, hammers, cable ties, extra light bulbs and extension cords, packaging that take up so much room. And customers don’t want to see this. 

While it’s tempting to stuff it all into a giant bin you’ll need to be able to access this during the show and find stuff. If you have to pull a big bin into the middle of your booth and dig down to find another sales book you’re getting in the way of your customers. Make it functional, make it tidy.

Flexible display for different layouts, be modular
You don’t know what you’re going to find until you get there. When you see the show take a look and work out where the traffic is coming from. Position yourself so that your best work is on the right. 

Marketing factoid, 90% of people who walk into a store turn right. If you are using a table top display, don’t do 1 8’ table, do 2 4’ tables. That way you can have one long table, or an L-shaped display should you be lucky enough to have a corner. 
TIP: corner booths are worth paying extra for. 

Work area
Jewelry is portable. There’s a lot of downtime. You’re paying to be at the show so be there. You’re not paying to read a book or listen to your ipod. Working on your stuff shows that you’re busy and engaged in your work. This also means that you can make adjustments as you go. 

Remember, people are shopping at craft shows because they want to buy handmade, making something in your booth shows that it really is handmade. It also involves the customer in the process and gives them a sense of belonging. 
TIP: work on your own craft. If you are a jewelry designer, make jewelry in your booth, not knitting. 

It doesn’t matter how pretty a booth is, if you can’t stuff it into a car, dolly it into your space and set it up within a reasonable amount of time then it’s not going to work. If it takes 6 hours to set up and 4 hours to break down, then you’ve just added 10 hours to a 2 day weekend show. Not a viable option. 

Speaking of pretty, display objects such as heavy glass vases make look really nice when you set them up at home, but consider that these will have to be packed, jostled around and then manhandled (by you) to their temporary location. Nothing sucks more than setting up your booth at 6 a.m. and discovering that a key piece of your display has broken in the car (been there, done that). 

And lastly, on the subject of transportable, make sure you can transport this yourself. You. You alone. Just you. Building a booth that requires a team to move just means that you’re beholden to finding help for every show. It’s nice to have help (especially if it’s free), however what if that help has something better to do on a Saturday morning at 6 a.m. than schlepping a tent into a park? 

Next week booth display 201. 

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