Posted: 11th May 2015

Lights, camera, action!

Sarah Franklin offers some advice on how to obtain maximum visual impact from your craft displays.

Sarah covers a number of factors, including the importance of research and planning and the need to make your display attractive, whilst at the same time making it attractive and inviting to prospective buyers.

Main Story

Planning ahead is crucial. Take notes of stands elsewhere, what works and what doesn’t. Then find out as much as possible about the venue, your space and position as well as all the available amenities.

Rig-up the display at home as if you are on site. This way you can sort out any teething troubles and experiment with your layout. Then take a photo. It’s amazing how much time this will save when you set-up for real. Keep your camera with you and record each display, making a note of the ones that drew more customers. Eventually you’ll hit on the most effective formula.

Functional and fun

If your aim is to sell, make it easy for the visitor to buy. Purchasers of clothing, hats, scarves and jewellery will probably want to try things on. Providing a full-length mirror or, better still, a changing booth will significantly impact sales, making items accessible and easy to handle.

Decide where your packing and payments area needs to be, preferably at the back of your stand for security reasons, and where you will stand or sit. Space will be tight and you won’t want to block anyone’s view.

Introduce an element of fun to your display design – an antique item of furniture, say,

and use of appropriate props. These will get people talking and even excite them to buy.

Visual tricks

Whatever your wares, crafts or even foods, the following rules apply:

The best background colour to display most craft items is ivory or pale cream – not white as this is too stark. Introduce a strong backdrop colour to show light coloured pottery, pictures or clothing.

Use as many layers or tiers as possible to display items at different heights. Flat on the table top is a definite no-no. The three options for height variation across a flat surface are: raised at either end and dipping in the middle; a triangle with height in the middle; or sloping from left to right. Pyramids of ceramic mugs, at a safe heightand pottery stacked in matching groups, look very inviting.

Group items by colour, especially clothing or in similar groups as if in little families. Put taller ‘family’ members at the back and low or wide ones in the front. Multiple items displayed in family groups will often sell to the same person. But don’t display too many items – less is more: simply replenish items which sell.

Lighting is crucial, especially if you’re in a marquee, and the best lighting to use is halogen spots. These create pools of light which allow silverware or jewellery to glint and shine.

It’s personal

Your appearance and attitude play a key part in the visual merchandising mix. Wear what you make; confidently demonstrate your craft; greet everyone who comes near and smile. Don’t fold your arms, chew, read or spend the day on your mobile (yes, it happens!). Exhibiting at shows can be tiring and occasionally frustrating, but your body language must always say, “I love what I do and I think you will too”.