How good is your visual merchandising?

We’re often told about the importance of non verbal communication and I experienced firsthand just how important it is when I ran my first Photo Fairy Designs stand here in Norway.

I originally left the UK to move to Norway 5 years ago and I’m embarrassed to say I was a little naive about how difficult I would find learning a new language. My husband who is also British first came over to Norway in 1999 as an exchange student and came many summers after that to do summer jobs that paid considerably better salaries than he could have hoped to achieve in the UK. As a result he has a very good level of Norwegian now, having learnt the hard way, so he has no sympathy with me that I am still struggling!
Towards the end of last year I was asked if I wanted to have a stand for Photo Fairy Designs at a nearby Children’s Fair, the prospect filled me with excitement but also a huge amount of fear over what kind of impression I was going to give to people with my poor level of Norwegian.

With a background in Human Resources I am no stranger at doing business stands, whether they were for general business promotion or for recruitment purposes. It was something I had always enjoyed doing as you got to wave the flag for the company you were working for, meet new and interesting people, not to mention all the fabulous freebies you often find at this type of event! I suddenly found myself in the position where something I have always been good at and enjoyed in the UK took on whole new dimensions and I felt like a first timer all over again.

I knew this was something I had to overcome if I wanted to build my business and be successful over here so I accepted the stand and began preparing for the big day. In fact because I was so nervous about being able to answer peoples questions I think I prepared more for this, relatively small show, then I had for any of the others I had ever done. When you can’t rely on your own ability to talk about and sell your product you realise how important and beneficial the ‘props’ on your stand really are. To begin with I had all of my leaflets and business cards translated into Norwegian and printed – something I had been meaning to do for a period of time! Luckily because Photo Fairy Designs offer photo editing, fairy / fantasy photos etc my products are very visual so I picked a selection of images and had them printed large so I could use them as a backdrop to my stand. I also had a selection of my photos printed in different ways to demonstrate what they could be used for, and of course I had some sweets to give away too. As a fairly last minute addition I decided to update my YouTube promotional video and I took my laptop with me so I could have this playing in the background for customers to watch.

On the day I was lucky to get a good place for my stand and I even managed to speak to customers fairly well with the Norwegian that I have that was a great confidence boost. The factor that gave my stand a real boost though was the promotional video playing in the background, the cheerful friendly music proved to be a great way to draw people’s attention and make them stop and look as they walked past.

The things I over looked were to have my business logo printed on a large sign so I could display that alongside the poster images behind the stand. Also a line that gave a little more explanation about what we offer such as our catch line “Magical images created with love from your own photographs” would have been beneficial. After all when you are a small business like we are your business name and logo doesn’t mean a huge amount to most people and it is important people can see from a distance what you are offering them so you can draw their interest and bring them over for a closer look.

So next time you are preparing for a stand imagine that you are going to be unable to speak to your potential customers, what impression is your stall going to make? Will it grab their attention and instantly inform them of who you are and what you are trying to sell them?

Liz Beavan

For more tips on developing your visual merchandising check out Joanne’s book “Crafting a Successful Small Business” 

1 Comment

  1. January 15, 2012 / 9:35 am

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

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