I’m literally watching paint dry today. I’m finishing up the last of my teeny tiny wall hangings, a special series I’m doing for this year’s annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair.
For some reason, booths and booth design is on my mind today. A friend asked me to critique her new booth, which got me thinking about it. I also came across a blog of a new artist who did a major trade show for the first time. A picture of the booth was featured.
It was quickly obvious to me that several things were wrong with both booth layouts. They just didn’t look right. With my friend’s booth, I didn’t want to walk in. It didn’t feel right.
The more I thought about it, these two booth issues–not looking right and not feeling right–are the essence of bad booth design.
So over the next few days, in between my panic attacks and preparations for the Fair, I’ll share insights about what makes a bad booth.
Now, if you want a wonderful treatise on booths and booth design, run don’t walk to Bruce Baker’s website and order his CD on booth design. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee any CD you purchase from Bruce will help you tremendously, whether it’s his booth design CD, his one on selling your artwork, or the one on jury slides. Better yet, get yourself over to one of his seminars at the first opportunity. You will not regret it.
Bruce Baker, Guru of booth design
Another good book to read is Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy
Underhill’s consulting team actually watched people shopping, and discovered what makes them stop shopping.
I’ve learned a lot from Bruce and from Paco. (I’m not really on a first-name basis with Mr. Underhill, just striving for a friendly note here.) I do not intend to channel either of them. I encourage you strongly to invest in their products. Bruce’s CDs are a steal at less than $15 each when you buy all three, and Mr. Underhill’s book is not expensive, either.
My point is that you can start thinking differently about your booth set-up, using what you already know about shopping.
In fact, your first assignment is to go shopping. Yes! Right now! Stop everything and go out and buy something.
Just kidding. I mean the next time you have to go shopping, pay attention to what’s going on.
Hey, where did everybody go?! Get back here!
Pay attention to what compels you to pick something up and think about buying it, and what makes you put it down (besides that whopping price sticker, that is.)
Pay attention to what parts of the store and display you are drawn to, and what drives you away.
Pay attention to how you feel about the salespeople–what they say and do that keeps you shopping, and what makes you want to run out the door.
One thing leaped out at me in the new exhibitor’s comments. The artist said, “Hey, it’s about the work, right? If the work is GREAT, then nobody really cares about your display!”
That’s true….and not true.
It’s true that great work overcomes a lot.
And it’s true we are born to shop.
I think it’s part of our hunter-gatherer heritage. We love to look for the best little tidbits, the juiciest grub, the prettiest pebble, the biggest mammoth. Just substitute “perfectly marbled sirloin steak”, “coolest little pair of earrings” and “sexiest strap-back shoes” and you’ll find we have not come very far from our ancestral roots at all. (“Are you gonna eat that?”)
But I also I think when a buyer has hundreds, if not thousands of artists to choose from, then as they walk the aisles they are automatically looking for reasons to eliminate you from consideration.
They have to. They can’t look at 1,000 different things and choose the best. They have to cull out the things that are obviously not of interest, and only focus on the things that might be.
And somewhere in the middle is a whole bunch of stuff that might be worth considering…maybe…but maybe not….? Anything you do that gets you eliminated in that first few seconds means your wonderful work never made it into the final running.
I do this when I shop. For awhile, I was bored with most jewelry. It all looked alike to me. I’ve only got an hour or so to scout out an entire store. So to save time, I would skip past the entire jewelry section. Hard to believe, but there you are.
If you were a jewelry designer, how would you encourage me to stop?
We all do this as a way to organize the time we have to shop, or to stay in a budget (if only for a few hours!) “I have enough short-sleeved shirts, I’m only looking at dresses today.” Or, “I already have too many dishes, I don’t have room in my cupboards for more.” “I don’t really need any tomatoes today, I don’t care if they’re on sale.”
Our buyers do the same thing. They is us.
Stay tuned as I share some simple, common mistakes people make with their booths. You do it, I do it, we all do it. But we can turn it around.
No bad booth. Just booths that have temporarily lost their way….