Thursday, March 25, 2010

Display Thoughts - Creating a Theme

Your craft show display has a number of practical elements to it -- size, cleanliness, traffic flow -- but it should also have personality!   An interesting display will attract more people and potentially more sales.  Your craft show booth shouldn't look like an afterthought -- it should be one of the tools you use to lure people in to look at your product.  Consider that large department stores have professionals to design their window dressing -- and there's a reason for that -- their goal is to attract customers.  Your craft show booth may only be 10x10, but you still need to think like a window dresser!
Create an overall theme or color scheme.  If your product is for children, use bright cheery colors.  If it’s for babies, use sweet pastels.  Consider your style too and make your color scheme fit.  I make jewelry with lots of crystals and pearls and most of it has a fairly Victorian feel to it (and these days, I’m also trying to market to brides) – so my table skirts are hunter green, my table cloths are white (although they are also interchangeable with pale green or pale pink cloths) and I decorate with a few small bouquets of pink roses.  Make sure your colors or scheme don’t overpower your product – they should enhance it.  By the way, I’ve followed through with my theme in my business cards, which are hunter green background with flourishes and a few little pink roses (if you look at the banner in my Etsy shop, it also coordinates – it’s part of my branding.  If you have a web page or Etsy shop, utilize some of the elements in your banner to create a connection in the minds of your customers.  And be creative about your theme – if you sell jewelry of semi-precious stones, consider a Caribbean or African theme; if you sell teddy bears, do a “teddy bears picnic”; if you sell aprons, add a couple touches of retro kitchen; if you make soap, try to create a “spa” atmosphere.  One online friend makes macrame plant hangers – she’d found a great deal on a rack used for apparel in department stores which was ideal for displaying her wares, but knew she needed a little something more.  I suggested that she head to her building store and get a small section of fence and place it at the end of her rack, then decorate it with flowers to create a garden feel – she loved the idea!  You don’t necessarily need a lot to set the mood, but a couple good props, strategically placed, can make your booth way more interesting – and isn’t “interest” what you want?

A word of caution however -- don’t be too busy looking.  If you look cluttered or disorderly, it can be overwhelming.  Keeping things in the right balance between full and neat will really pay off.  Make sure your display has a visual flow that’s natural for the eye.  Think of your display as a room, needing a focal point -- put a best seller in a prominent place and arrange the rest of the “room” around it to enhance it.  I have to be honest here and tell you that I haven’t actually done this as much as I’d like to yet – but as I’ve been considering how to polish my displays, I’ve realized this is an area I need to improve.  My husband and I are working on a plan to develop a stronger focal point in my display – and I'm very optimistic about the direction we’re going.

To music or not to music?  That will depend on the show and may depend on the time of year.  I think a little Christmas music helps set a great mood at holiday shows!  Music can add to the overall feel of your booth.  Just be sure you’re not too loud and not competing with someone else’s music.  Your music selections (and volume) should draw people, not repel them, and they should be appropriate to your theme.  Sweet little lullabies would be a great addition for the crafter making baby apparel.  Fun pre-school songs would be great to enhance kids toys.  Pachelbel’s Canon in D would be a great addition to my booth.  Nature instrumentals would work for spa products and a little homey bluegrass might be a good choice for the maker of fine jams and spreads.  Do keep an eye on your show information -- some shows may not allow music.

Keep in mind that your attire can reinforce your theme – wear a denim skirt and checked shirt if you make homestyle jams or wear a rich African print if you make stone jewelry.  Guys who do woodworking look great in buffalo checks or flannel plaids.  As we consider doing bridal shows, I know that my husband will wear his black suit with his silvery gray shirt and tie while I wear my silvery gray linen dress – it’s a classy combination and perfect for a wedding venue. 

Lighting can be important, especially for indoor shows.  Keep in mind that at indoor shows, most lighting is going to be flourescent, which will distort color – if you make a product (particularly with fabric or glass) where the color is important, consider the use of lights.  Place lights so they enhance your product but don’t glare into customer eyes.  We use a string of puck lights, placed behind and slightly below our earring displays – the light comes from behind the crystals, making them sparkle – and it attracts a lot of attention.  Even if you’re not concerned with color distortion, consider using lights – good lighting look professional and can be part of your scheme. 

Signage should look professional.  Use your computer and quality cardstock to make attractive signs.  Most craft stores offer individual sheets of cardstock – choose colors to compliment your theme.  I have not yet invested in a banner for my booth, but that’s on my “wish list”.  Banners and signs should be sharp and crisp and  should further enhance (not detract from) your display.  Memorable is good!

Tomorrow -- A Primer on Colors


Anonymous said...

Wow, you really have a lot of insight! You could write a book!

Sue Runyon said...

Now you've got me thinking about a focal point . . . Thanks!