Here are a few rules to follow when creating your custom booth:
1. Your vehicle size determines your booth dimensions when it is broken down. I cannot tell you how common it is that someone creates a booth that will not fit into their car or van!
2. Keep it simple—smooth, clean lines in all wall coverings and table treatments is the current look. Simplicity is key.
3. Don’t use materials for your display that will distract from your product line.
4. Keep the opening of your booth at least 6 feet wide (7 to 8 feet is even better). You need people to enter your booth before they will buy. Narrowed-down openings say, “don’t come in!” resulting in less customers entering your booth.
5. Use multiple levels in your display. The more levels you create and display your work on, the more interest you create from the aisle—prompting customers to enter your space.
6. Remember, “a picture says a thousand words." Put this adage to work for you. Show with large photos in your booth what you don’t always get a chance to say. For example, how your functional pottery will look on the Thanksgiving Day table.
7. Use lots of light. Make sure that your booth is well illuminated. If customers cannot see something easily, you will quickly lose their attention. Be creative about your lighting and think outside the box.
You can buy a commercially available system or you can do it on a very low budget by being creative. For example, I just bought several LED flashlights.These lights retailed for $4.95. I went back the next week and they were on sale for $1.99.Ten of these lights attached in the right location with Velcro would effectively illuminate a 10-foot-by-10-foot booth, though 15 would be even better.
These flashlights burn brightly for about four hours using three AAA batteries. They burn even longer with fully charged rechargeable batteries.These devices yield brilliant white light that travels a great distance before washing out.Two sets of rechargeable AAA batteries and a battery charger will cost some money, but compare that to what they charge for lights in a typical convention hall—this expenditure will prove cost-effective in time.
Many times exhibition spaces charge $50 to $75 per bulb if you rent them, and if you bring your own, you cannot hang them without paying a licensed electrician to supervise. This is very costly—by using a battery system, you negate this expenditure.You could totally illuminate your space both indoors and outdoors free of electrical needs with out generating unwanted heat.
This is just one example of how being creative in your display can yield a superior solution with very low cost. I encountered an artist who took similar low voltage LED flashlights and rewired them so he was running the entire lighting system on a battery intended for a cordless drill. In this case, he used the drill recharger and had two battery packs. While one was charging, the other was in use, and when the lights dimmed, he would swap out the batteries. So simple, so effective and yet so affordable while still delivering the quality of light that would have been commercially a $1,000-dollar system.That is being creative with display!
The next time I do a show, I am going to leave all the cords and fixtures behind and go with these marvelous lights. I have seen them popping up everywhere—I got mine at a local hardware store, but I also bought some at a tractor supply store.
8. Don’t rule out acquiring used merchandising equipment. With the barrage of stores that are going out of business, you can often find, for pennies on the dollar, excellent display pieces that can work for your product line. The main consideration here is does it work for the product you want to display and is it lightweight enough or portable enough to work for a variety of art venues.
If you see a store going out of business, go in and look over the display equipment to see if there is anything you can use.The good stuff goes quickly, so don’t delay. It is amazing how a coat of paint or another surface treatment can give new life to an old display.
9. Make your booth comfortable. If your booth is comfortable to be in, customers will hang around longer. If it is overly crowded, has hard uncomfortable flooring or is claustrophobic, customers will move on before you have a chance to connect with them.The longer someone stays in your booth, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Another benefit to retaining people in your booth is it makes other customers want to enter and check out what they are missing. Holding a customer’s attention in your space is an art. It is brought on by the physical space you have created and the energy you are projecting.
10. If you are having fun and making it fun for your customers, everyone wants to be a part of that positive energy (now more than ever). Give some thought to how you can employ low-cost merchandising techniques in your display. It is a great exercise in creativity and everyone will admire you for your accomplishments and ingenuity!
This post was taken with permission from a published article in The Crafts Report. Due to character constraints, portions of the article were removed for this post. For more great tips like these, consider subscribing to The Crafts Report.