Thursday, April 15, 2010

Polly Post No. 2 {Guest Blogger} Merchandising!

Merchandising your booth!
For newbies and veteran crafters alike, one of the trickiest parts of the job is merchandising booths or tables effectively!  It’s easy to spend all of our time focused on making the product and before we know it our next (or first) show is upon us.   We scramble to pack up the car, get change from the bank, and find that extra stack of business cards- all without paying nearly enough attention to the connection between good merchandising and making money.
A poorly merchandised booth will blend into the general chaos of the show without encouraging customers to make a purchase and can make for a very long day!  But never fear- below you’ll find a clear guide to planning out the merchandising for your booth!  

A well merchandised booth does the following things
- It conveys the brand in a glance.
- Invites customers from across the room.
- Creates an emotional connection with the customer.
- Compels shoppers to linger, touch items, spend money, tell their friends, and come back for more!
The following are elements present in table-space rentals and booth rentals, and should be tackled one at a time, always keeping the big picture (your brand) in mind.

The table- the easiest table to use is a flat folding table, which often has a handle for easier carrying and can fit in the trunk of your car.  You can use a 5 foot, 6 foot, square, or round table, depending on your needs.  A 10 x 10 booth will require more than one table, or one table and several other pieces of furniture, such as cute shelves, plant stands, etc.

The tablecloth- Whether you use a simple bed sheet or have a custom made table cloth, you’ll want to choose fabric that fits your style and brand, but doesn’t compete with your product.  Many people use the front of the tablecloth as a place for their company name.  Make sure that your tablecloths are neat and even, and that they cover the table legs completely so that you can store extra merchandise and packaging items out of sight.

Display items- These should consist of lightweight, easy to store/travel items that will show off your merchandise at a variety of heights.  This is where you get to really use your creativity! You can use ugly plastic bins hidden underneath the table cloth to create much needed height, or use beautiful vintage trunks to create the same effect on top of the tablecloth. Don’t forget all the space above and below the tabletop!  You can string t-shirts at the back of the booth, banner-style, hang purses from S-hooks, place large baskets directly on the floor, etc.  Remember that your booth fee covers more than just your tabletop!

Merchandise- Put your most eye-catching items within 3 feet of the aisle; pulling customers into the booth is the first step to making a sale!  Even if you’ve had the same 3 ft. tall Swarovski-encrusted teddy bear sitting in inventory for a year, bring it and put it front and center!  Other items can be displayed in a variation of ways:
  • By usage- cell phone cases near cell phone charms
  • By color
  • As it would look in the home/ in use.
  • By price point- least expensive, mid-range, and most expensive, grouped near each other
  • By theme- cowboy aprons, cowboy bibs, and cowboy blankets together.
  • Or by any other aesthetic means, as long as it is well thought out!
  1. Signage- You’ll need a sign with your company name as well as signs with prices and/or item descriptions.  These should be simple and straightforward with information that illuminates the nature of the product or invites the customer to experience the item for themselves.  Make sure that they fit in with the look of your booth, because this is part of your branding!  Simple, handmade signs can do the job if necessary, as long as they’re legible and fit the brand.  Signage can also be used to sell an item that you don’t even have in stock!  For example, if you offer custom work, a sign with pricing and a few examples laid out can be an excellent way to secure a custom order.  
  1. Tent, Lights, etc.- Tents come in a variety of styles, but the most common tent for vendors is the 10ft. pop up tent.  First Up is a popular brand, which is easy enough to put together in about 10 minutes with two people.  Tent canopies come in a variety of colors, but you’ll want to make sure that the inside of the tent is lined with sun blocker (a silvery lining) so that the tent color doesn’t interfere with the color of the light inside your tent.  
For outdoor shows lighting is rarely an issue, but when working indoors the lighting can often be icky fluorescent, or just dim.  Some show coordinators will advise you to bring your own lighting, but it’s a great idea to keep some backup lighting in your show kit.  When electrical outlets are unavailable (or if you just don’t want to pay for the use of electricity) you can use battery-operated lighting.  (thanks to Elegant Sparrow for the tip!)
A last piece of advice is to keep your booth tidy throughout the show!  You can use the moments in between customers (or while you’re chatting with an especially enthusiastic, non-shopping customer) to tidy things up and refresh your table.  This is a great opportunity to keep note of which things are selling out and which items are left untouched.  

see all photo sources here, at the original post

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