The holiday show season has started and like many of you, I have a number of shows lined up between now and the middle of December. Some shows, like this one that I did last weekend, are fairly small affairs and others will have many vendors.
The question we all face, no matter the size of the venue, is how to make our booth stand out from the crowd. We want our display to be attention getting and to look inviting & enticing enough to pull people in. Then once there, we hope our potential customers will linger long enough to become enamored by our handwork.
And although I don’t pretend to be a marketing expert by any means, I did receive a number of compliments on my booth last weekend and last year I won a “Most Attractive Booth” award in a different show, so I decided to share a few of the tricks I’ve learned over the years.
There are many factors to consider when doing a show. The bottom line is that you have to be offering a product that people want. Your verbal and nonverbal interactions with people can have a powerful influence on their decision making as well. But for the purposes of today’s blog post, I’m just going to focus on the booth display itself.
First off, it helps to raise your booth table to about the height of a kitchen counter. This brings your product up closer to the customer’s eyes and allows them to look at your wares more comfortably, without having to stoop over. Some people raise the legs of the table up on PVC pipes. I use bed raisers. They are easy to put in place, and they nest inside each other when not in use.
Several of the shows I do require a black table cloth that touches the ground. But I noticed that many people layered another cloth on top of the black one. I thought about the look I wanted for my booth before I chose an over-cloth this past summer. I wanted something that would not distract from my jewelry. I didn’t want anything with lines or patterns that had to be lined up, because then the cloth would look skewed if it wasn’t aligned just right on the table. I wanted a touch of whimsy, but without frilliness, which is consistent with my jewelry style. Then I made a very unusual choice: I bought a shower curtain! Yup! It is some kind of polyester cloth material that doesn’t wrinkle! I love it! I didn’t need to hem it and it always looks clean and fresh. It grabs people’s attention without being garish. Did I mention that it doesn’t wrinkle?!
You need to select a pattern that is consistent with the style of
the items you are offering, but an over all pattern, like the ones
below, works best, as they will look good in any position. I like to
place my shower curtain on the diagonal. As I was setting up last
weekend, a fellow vendor actually gasped and said “Oh wow, that looks so
awesome”. I never let on that it was an easy-care shower curtain! 😉
Think about ways to vary the heights of your offerings. Your display will look more interesting and your customers are likely to linger longer as their eyes move across the interesting displays. You want to find a balance between having an engaging display, but not one that distracts from your product. I added height with some divided boxes that I bought at a department store and a few acrylic risers that I purchased from a store that was going out of business. The bracelet ramps and black necklace busts are lower than the boxes but still offer some elevation from the flat plane of the table top. The mannequin on a wood box is the tallest item. She serves the purpose of catching people’s attention from across the room. I always put a bold necklace on her.
Here’s a tip: Visit stores that are going out of business. I got my tall stool for $15, my mannequin torso for $10, the black necklace displays for $4 each and the bracelet ramps for $2 each at two or three different going out of business sales over the years.
Another budget friendly resource for display items is IKEA. My lighting and mirror are from IKEA. The prominent mirror subtly lets the customer know that it is OK to pick up the jewelry and try it on. To the front, right of the mirror is another budget friendly display devise. It is simply a bamboo place mat that I have rolled up and draped bracelets over. Again it relieves the monotony of flat table.
I have been looking for a satisfactory earring display for several years now. I bought the display below at – you guessed it – a going out of business sale. It was OK, but it is too small and the earring cards often hung crookedly on it.
When fellow AJE team member Kristi Bowman,
was heading to her show in NY in October, her husband made her a
wonderful folding earring display. I asked if he would make one for me
to purchase and he agreed. I love it! It holds 40 earrings that are
easy for the customer to see. It is easy to remove and replace the
earring cards and it looks very professional. And here’s the power of a
good display: I sold more than my usual share of earrings from this
What tips and ideas have helped you to create an attractive, effective booth? Do tell! We can all learn from one another.