Wednesday, 19 November 2014
How to... create a kickass trade show stand
As this was my first ever trade show, the biggest headache for me was designing and creating a stand for my business. My aims going in to Top Drawer were to show off my products in a new and exciting way, and to give buyers a sense of what Ladybird Likes is all about from my stand. I spent a lot of time planning, looking on Pinterest, designing, and painting, but I'm really happy with what I achieved and with how my stand looked on the day.
Although I am clearly no expert on trade shows, I thought I'd share some of my top tips for creating a stand that fits your business and will (hopefully) draw buyers in! The first (and probably most important) point is to make sure your stand reflect and represents your brand as a whole. If your brand and your products have a vintage feel, and you use a lot of upcycled vintage ephemera in your work, you wouldn't have an uber modern stand would you? It wouldn't sit right, and it wouldn't tell buyer what your company is about. Ladybird Likes is very simple, and clean, but with little twists of vintage incorporated. Our colour palette uses lots of white with hints of grey and minty green, and we use specific fonts in all our branding. I incorporated all of these elements into the stand to ensure it accurately represented what Ladybird Likes is.
Along the same lines, if your business is selling handmade items like mine, be sure to get across this notion of handmade within your stand. BE CREATIVE. One of your biggest and most unique selling points is you as an artist, so be sure to show off your creativity wherever possible. Ladybird Likes has a strong DIY/craft/upcycling ethos running through it (most of the images used in my products are taken from vintage books/sewing patterns/other ephemera) so I wanted to incorporate this into my stand. I made display items - the photo displays are made from old books, the shelves are wooden crates painted white, I used a vintage typewriter for display, and all the signage was handmade and handpainted. I also put up printed versions of some of my instagram photos around the stand. Not only is this is a great way of injecting a bit of personality into what can be a very boring and plain space, but it meant buyers would stay longer in the stand, taking time to look at the photos!
Tailor your displays to fit your products - I saw lots of awesome display ideas on Pinterest, but had to reject lots of them as they wouldn't have worked with my products. Make sure you are always taking into account the size of your products - don't try to cram huge cushions into tiny shelves, and don't put tiny pieces of jewellery on huge props as they will get lost. Your displays should be made to work with the products you have, NOT the other way round! Think about the best possible way to show off your products. Hang tea towels so the whole design is visible, rather than having them folded. Put jewellery on a mannequin so buyers can see it being worn.
Display items as if they are in a store - buyers are buying for shops, so it makes sense to show them how your products would look in their shop! I grouped similar items together, and tried to tell a story through my products. I also created simple little vignettes around the stand, using my products plus extra props to add interest. Buyers will often purchase items based around how they think they could display them in their store, so it's in your best interest to give them ideas. For example several buyers purchased our typewriter key necklaces purely because we displayed them on our stand on a vintage typewriter, and they thought they could replicate this display in their store.
Have your stand name displayed clearly! Simple BUT it's easy to forget. You get a small sign provided by most trade shows, but it's not enough. You should have a large sign of some description with your company name on, so buyers don't have to try and guess who you are. My Dad made mine for me from a sheet of MDF which my Mum (my parents are where I get my creativity from) then hand lettered and painted it for me. It's super simple, and cost hardly anything.
Get lights for your stand! Again, sounds so simple, but you have to pay extra at most trade shows for your lighting, so it can be tempting to scrimp and get the bare minimum. But having a good amount of lights for your stand size is so important - if buyers can't see your stuff properly, how can they buy it?!
Think about levels - you want the majority of items to be at eye level, or as close to as possible. Don't put items up super high, or down really low, as buyers won't look at these. Don't have huge empty spaces though - even if you don't want to display your products in a certain area, why not put some sort of signage or imagery in the space instead?
Have photographs of your products being worn/being used/styled nicely. It helps buyers to imagine products in different contexts, and often seeing something being worn gives it a whole new dimension. If there isn't space on your wall for photos, why not have a photo book made using some of them (especially if you have lookbook photos, or professional photos - you've paid for them, so you might as well show them off!) and put this out on your stand to show buyers?
Highlight key items and key selling points to buyers. I created some simple heart shaped signs using grey card and white paint, to show which items were our best sellers, and which items were new in. I also highlighted our cufflinks as 'gifts for guys' as this is something buyers are always looking for, and our kitsch circle necklaces as 'stocking fillers' as they are our cheapest item, and coming up to Christmas people are often looking for small gift items.
Well, I think that's it! The main thing is to get creative and have fun - your stand should be something for you to be proud of and enjoy. For me it was like having my own tiny little shop for a few days! Remember, if you have any specific questions at all you can leave a comment below or drop me an email. I'll always try to help where I can!