It’s show season! I love doing shows. Part party, part networking- they are a fantastic way to meet new friends, get in front of new customers, and connect with store owners. What is the best way to start? I am a firm believer in starting where you are. Every show you learn. Every show is different. Just get in there.
Once you are there, you are amidst a sea of other vendors. So, how do you stand out? Table and booth spots are a fantastic way to visually express your brand story without having to say a word. When people go to a show, they want to connect, however if every vendor is giving them the hard sell it would be really intense!
The more you can tell people at a glance, the more accessible your brand and product are to people. This way you can engage them in authentic ways that feel more like sharing and less like selling. How do you tell your tale? Materials, colors, props, style, patterns, and layout. You have so many tools at your disposal.
CONSIDER THE ESSENTIALS
Logo/ Company Name
Display this loud and proud! Use your logo- It is your biggest asset for brand awareness. People will connect it with you and your work. Create a display by hand with found materials, have a vinyl sign made, sew your logo, hand paint…. There are so many ways.
Highlight your product. Surround it with materials that make it pop and tell the story. Use brand colors or colors that will set your work apart.
Consider your structure. Think outside of the table or box. Stack some crates to create your shelving. Build your own stand.
Think about how materials tell about your work and set the stage. I use light wood to pair with my ceramics, distressed says something very different.
Product (of course)
Make it lovely. Show examples how it can be used. If someone can envision it on them or in their house, you’ve caught their interest. Put a plant in it. Have it on you. Let them try it. Get them engaged!
How you do this depends on your items. However have it marked for you and your customers.
Make it easy for them to browse.
Highlight show specials and sales.
Tell a bit about your work in a way that helps the customers fill in the narrative.
A lot of work speaks for itself. For my ceramics, I like to tell a bit of the story. I use little blurbs from my web copy to tell where the inspiration comes from or how it can be used.
People love take aways. Help them remember you. Have something to hand out with product photos so they can(and will!) buy from you later.
Mailing list sign up. Build your list with people who want to hear from you.
Look around. Visit the show you are interested in doing. Learn (don’t copy of course) from what is working with others. Go to retailers with great display like Anthropologie who regularly uses DIY type materials to create amazing displays. How do your products look best?
Resources. Do some digging especially if you are trying to level up to the next stage of the game. Here are a few to get you started:
Instagram is an amazing resource to view trade shows without being there: #icff , #nss , #nyigf
Pinterest search terms: booth display, booth design, store display
Ask: How are they using materials? What type of setup are people drawn to? How are others using color, layout, signage to tell their story?
HOW TO MAKE AN AMAZING BOOTH
- Choose your words. Pick 4 words that say your brand and you want to capture in your display.
- Sketch it out
- Plan the build or arrangement
- Make it!
- Do a trial run. Put your product on it. Stand back. Anything you would change?
- Set up time and take down. Efficiency will be your friend. Try for a setup in about 2 hours for the bulk of it.
- Take a picture and look at it on screen. Sometimes for me translating it into 2D is just the separation I need to see what I want to change.
- Take a picture at the show and continually improve.
- How did people respond? Did they always want to know one thing or were confused?
- How was the composition? Did your eye flow through your display? Were colors strategically placed to pop? Is it too busy? Does your work need breathing room?
Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Celebrate! Then make the change next show. Trust me, there are a ton of things I saw to change as I was doing this post!
Now go get em!
Owner and Designer Jenn Romero is a product designer by trade with a fancy for organically beautiful objects for everyday living. She is a California native in love with the pace and natural beauty of the west coast. Jenn’s calling is to design for the dreamer by bringing the spirit of the wonderluster home with her crafted ceramic objects.