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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Planning For Your Exhibitions

Hi Everyone,

This is Saumya here, and though I am not new to the crafting world and its members, I am surely a bird most of the time in migration. There have been many new entrants to this creative world and to all those who may not know me. A small introduction to me.

I am a Creative Director in the television world but surely my heart belongs to Crafting! Along with my tough job at television I have managed to pursue my passion in crafting and own a brand by the name "Scrap Your Idea". I have participated through this brand in a few exhibitions organised in different cities. My first exhibition was at Cuttack, Odisha, second one at Bangalore, Karnataka, third at Mumbai, Maharashtra and fourth one was a charity one at Pune. When Priya approached me to share my experiences with all of you, I was overwhelmed and the below post is a close encounter of my experiences in all these four varied places with different cultures and tastes. However, two basic things do not change-the effort and planning needed and learning after each event. 

I had a tough time doing all the planning alone with my first exhibition and believe me I faltered at every stage till I made some changes in how I went about doing and planning things. 

Also remember, these are from my own experience and things may vary a bit in your case, however, my discussions with other crafters who have been doing exhibitions on and off do tell me that most of points mentioned below hold true!


Planning an exhibition is one of the toughest things a crafter can do. Doing a single project or a bulk order is way easier than planning multiple bulk projects!

In a single or bulk order from a particular client/customer, you have got a brief of how to go about or what is needed in terms of the end product. There is brief on colour schemes, type of sentiments etc. But when you are creating for an exhibition it involves random clients/customers who may or may not agree/connect with your products, colour schemes and sentiments etc hence the task at hand is definitely way tougher.

1. Clean up your head, grab a cup of coffee and seat yourself on a proper study table with a diary and a couple of coloured pens, markers, pencil, eraser, post it notes, highlighters.

2. Write down what all you think you WANT to put up on the display. Example-Cards,Scrapbooks, Mixed Media.....

3. Detail out your own list with sub categories and more detailing.  Example- Under Cards write down CAS, Multifolds etc. Under Scrapbooks write down chipboard, CD Minis etc. After sub category has been written down either tick the ones you think you can do or eliminate the ones you think you don't want to do. Weigh the pros and cons of each product very carefully. Go more specific in detailing. Example-card sizes, scrapbook sizes, under Multifolds write the types/varieties that you can do or want to do etc

4. Categorising could also depend on client base. If you know the area well and understand the client base and their lifestyle one can always plan the display accordingly. Sometimes the exhibition category is also a guideline to what type of products will work. Like some are kid specific exhibitions and hence products that will excite kids should be your focus and vibrant colours a specific detail that you should follow.

5. After finalizing the type of products that you plan to display, its time to plan the quantity for each of them. Decide on an approximate number of items of each that you want to put up for display. Example- CAS (20), joy fold (10), gatefold (10) etc

6. As per your detailed list, make a short list of items you may need to buy to put up the entire line of products. Example- cardstock, flowers to embellish etc. Also remember to buy in bulk, they reduce costs for you and do not forget to stock up Glues, double tapes, cellotapes, masking tapes. You sure do not want to suddenly realise in the middle of the night that you have run out of glue !!!!

7. Exhibition is about a balance between quantity and quality and neither can suffer and to do so one needs to plan it out. Every project CANNOT be exclusively creative! By that I mean, choose 5-6 designs for each product category and stick to that till the end no matter how much the creative crafter itches your brains to try and do different designs. The more variety you try in designing, your brains will exhaust faster and that's not what you should plan for when you have a lot to do.

8. Have a good mix of colours and themes so as to provide for all.Keep it general as far as sentiments etc are concerned so that you have a broad range to provide for all types of age groups and for wide range of relationships.

9. Now it's time for the real action! Make your card bases, boxes etc with all pattern paper or cardstock stuck up. This reduces your last minute rush and anxiety to finish up things. A ready base, which is the most time taking considering the measurements, cutting, gluing of pattern papers etc reduces your time barrier during the last few days when you need to concentrate on lot of other elements involved in an exhibition. You can always embellish faster if the bases are ready. And if you are caught up in the last minute you can decide to go light on embellishments and yet manage to put it up for sale as compared to you suddenly realising you need more in number and no time to sit and measure, cut etc and make the entire base.

10. After you have prepared your list and finally set your foot on making the products, what you need to realise is that branding yourself is the next big thing. I understand that most of us are crafters and not marketing/branding/salesperson but if you have made crafting your business you better learn the rules too on how to do the business. So plan your visiting cards, banners, standees, placards, pricing labels, seal kings to pack, paper bags to give to your customer for every sale, and any other goodies you plan to include as a freebie.

11. Make a stamp or sticker with your details involving phone number, website, email etc along. Stick it on your finished project at the back. So that , if your work is liked by someone, they can contact you.

12. Make a list of your inventory with your prices in your diary.

13. Carry a few sentiment stamps and cards without sentiments, so that you can make a few on the spot customised cards.

14. Be prepared for the worst! A crooked up embellishment, a loose flower etc. Carry your crafty kit with you comprising of pens, pencils, rulers, erasers, markers, glues, scissors, cellotapes, double tapes, glue gun with glue sticks etc.

15. Always carry enough change with you. Preparing to give balance amount to your customer without hassle.

16.You are now all through on making your products, getting ready with your branding stuff and now it's the final day. Displaying your products now plays the most important and significant role in driving your sales. Remember, something that looks attractive from a distant will surely draw the attention for a closer look! So plan how you intend to do up your little space at the exhibition. Ask the organisers to give you the ground layout of stalls to understand where the entry and exit points are and the facing of the stall. Further, ask them to hand over types of the display racks that they are providing. Choose wisely on the types of racks you need and also plan out some home made display racks or ideas on cheap but effective displays.

17. The customer found your products attractive and now has come up to you to either choose or understand more about your brand and line of products. Now it's actually time to turn out to be a good salesperson. You don't need to read up for this, just understand your own product very well and it's utility to the end users and explain it to the fullest with a smile on the face. Always remember, the customer is not always there to appreciate your work of art, he/she needs to understand the utility of your work of art so be prepared for some tough question and answer sessions as they will want to be well informed before they shell out their hard earned money on your hard worked out product.

18. Exhibition is not just about selling your products but a platform to understand your end users better. So multitask between your sales to take notes. Who is buying what, who has issues with prices, who wanted an add on to a certain product and what type of add on etc.

19. Take time to analyse your notes and inventory so that your next exhibition consists of more products that have more saleable value, include new products based on queries and are better priced.

Well, do not forget to let your hair down and relax well once the exhibition is over and give yourself a pat on the back that you pulled it off well even though there might have been some mistakes...learning from them is what makes you better.


BY

Saumya Mohanty

9 comments:

  1. This is awesome , informative and nicely put ! thanks for sharing

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  2. Thank u Saumya & Priya Shivraj for this wonderful informative blog for boosting all the crafters out there..👍🏻👌🏻😊

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  3. Wow...loved reading your detail post..its very informative...n thank you saumya for sharing your experiences.. It will be a great help for novice like me...not planned any exhibition for now but kept your post saved so in future I can get idea from it...love n hugs
    Daksha

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  4. AWESOME post!!! Thanks so much for the great post! This is so so helpful!

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  5. Wow .... Thank u saumya and priya for the wonderful info.....

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  6. Very informative ..Thank you Saumya and Priya :)

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  7. Thank you so much for such an informative post Soumya and priya.soumya,I must say you are a wonderful writer . Keep it up ! Waiting for more such posts .

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  8. Thank you so much for such an informative post Soumya and priya.soumya,I must say you are a wonderful writer . Keep it up ! Waiting for more such posts .

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  9. Wao.. Saumya, that is one of the best post I have ever read.... And trust me every newbie Crafter like me, who is still trying to understand how it works.. is going to thank you with all heart and soul.. Gosh I am so thankful!!!!!!
    www.brewingmemoirs.wordpress.com

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Please leave a comment. I shall get back to you!