What's An Ideal Lighting and Booth Set-Up

by Donald Clark

Courtesy of Handmade Business

I've just started to hit the show circuit to market my crafts made of recycled goods. I'm completely new to show set-up. What's the ideal way to present my work? What suggestions do you have for booths and lighting? Any tips would be appreciated, as I currently feel more than a bit tentative in this arena.

Ideal Lighting and Booth Set-Up: Example 1 The smartest first steps to a better booth are to purchase Bruce Baker's CD, Booth Design and Merchandising, and check out my ideas in my book, Making a Living in Crafts, especially the chapter called "Thriving on the Show Circuit."

That said, here are some of my thoughts gathered over 25 years buying for our shop, not to mention all the personal shopping I do. Since I don't know what you make, these ideas need to be general.

When doing a wholesale show, please bear in mind the buyers are working and it's our job to make their work as easy as possible. Making a buyer comfortable in your booth will go a long way to making a sale. I suggest you set up your booth with this in mind. In this display, less is more. Buyers don't need to see multiples of the same object; they do, however, need to see all the available color-ways. Most stores use displays to tell a story that will help sell the work. It's important to show your buyers the stories they can tell with your work, so let this drive your displays.

Retail shoppers, on the other hand, are shopping for fun, whether they're buying a gift or something for themselves. They are looking for a shopping experience, and it's your job to deliver one if you want the sales. This display will benefit from

"more is more" thinking. This is where stacks of bowls, cases filled with jewelry, or racks overflowing with clothing are in order. Retail shoppers respond to bounty--seldom will they buy the last one of anything. To further sweeten the scene, show domestic items with food and flowers, for instance.

The actual design of your booth is dependent on what you're showing, so again, I can only speak in generalities. Remember, they can't buy it if they can't see it. Lighting appropriate to your product, which means it makes it pop, is essential. As a buyer, I like booths where my physical comfort has been considered. What does this mean? A thick rug after the hard floors and endless walking is greatly appreciated; after a day on your feet, you'll also appreciate this. A place where I can sit with the craftsperson to write an order is special, and I think should be a part of your booth planning. Attention to details is vital in booth design. Whatever form your booth takes, it's important that its construction be as perfect as the work you'll be showing in it. In addition, I urge you to have clear and accurate signage; I give high scores to terms and pricing information that does its job without distracting from the product.

Once you have a booth and are good to go, be sure to read the selling sections of my book and look again at the Baker CD.

Grow a Digital Presence

I'm just getting into this whole digital marketing side of things for my art. I only have a few names on my customer e-mail list currently. How do you suggest growing my list quickly and effectively?

Having an e-mail list allows you to contact your customers and introduce new products that they can buy online between shows. It is also a very effective way to promote your new products and to let your customers know what shows you'll be doing, so they can purchase your work directly from you.

The best candidates for your list are individuals who have already done business with you or expressed interest in your work.

Unfortunately, building a targeted mailing list either for snail mail or e-mail isn't something that happens quickly. The best candidates for your list are individuals who have already done business with you or expressed interest in your work. You can build your list at shows by capturing the addresses of anyone who buys or looks at your work. Ask yourself this question: Why
Ideal Lighting and Booth Set-Up: Example 2

would someone want to be on my list? Use your answers as your talking points. These could include offers that will only be available online, giving people exclusive access to special content and first dibs on new items in your line. Put a signup form in an obvious place on your website, maybe more than once. Keep it simple--all you need is a name and an e-mail address. Have a clipboard in your booth with the same easy form for signup; there, you'll want to get more information--a name and a snail mail address, as well as an e-mail address.

Another tool you'll want to use in social media sites. These won't directly result in additions to your list, but they will help you get the word out to people who may choose to join your list. You might start by putting up a Facebook page. You can then post news about your new work. You can post a link to your website where visitors can click and become customers. You'll also want to encourage your visitors to click "like," which will bring you more traffic. You can also purchase targeted ads on Facebook that will also help drive traffic your way. My son, a jeweler, has followed this route and now has thousands of friends who see each of his posts, many of whom become customers.