Picture this…

At one point in my business life I attended a lot of exhibitions and photo shoots and quickly realised that putting on a show is quite a skill.

Whether you’re displaying at a market, in a shop, at a fair or setting up a photo shoot – you can do more than put on a show. Be glam like Fred & Ginger and Put on the Ritz.

Old Hollywood movies sure knew how to maximise glitz and sparkle; stars walking down central stairs with a supporting cast of hundreds flanking every step. Not to mention Walt Disney’s magic; wouldn’t we all like to be in that wonderland at sometime or other?

Now it’s your turn to create a vision of glamour or a wonderland of magic with your display, all depending on what you want your customers to see. So let’s get practical:

You know your allocated space, so practise setting up your display – test different groupings and decide which one you like best.

  • Are you using accessories to enhance your display? Baubles, ribbons, petals…or mirrors; to lighten up and create illusions of extra splendour.
  • Are you building upward? Cake stands and shoe boxes are great for this. Build up in steps – think Hollywood stairs – and remember the star takes centre stage.
  • What are you covering the table with? Cloth? Paper? Does the colour complement the products? Or are they hidden somewhere in a Liberty print?
  • Make sure your cover hides all the boxes you store under the table. I’ve seen lovely displays completely ruined by a chaotic mass of cardboard piled high and left for all to see. Behind the scenes are for your eyes only.
  • Lights can make all the difference, so learn to highlight spots, use backlighting or drape fairy lights. Thankfully there are so many solar or battery operated choices you don’t even have to rely on an electric supply. Remember light can be soft, directional and coloured, so you have a lot of options.

Before you take a final step back to admire your creation, do it one more time. Only now, take note of this:

  • Time yourself. How long does it take to arrange your display? I mean all of it – cover, building blocks, accessories and products. Now you know how long you need on the day, without stress and mishaps or mistakes.

The tip I’m about to give you will put you at least two steps ahead of everyone else:

Take a photo of your display and view it upside down. Does it look even, well balanced? If not make final adjustments and take another photo. Sometimes it’s hard to see the overall picture when you look at individual items. When you turn the picture upside down, the brain interprets the whole, not the pieces, and you see harmony or disharmony. When you’re absolutely satisfied with your work:

  • Draw a diagram – and then number the order in which to set it all up. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get the sequence wrong. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to assemble furniture from Ikea.
  • Bring the photograph with you as well, preferrably an enlarged version, so you can see exactly how it’s supposed to look.

Your display will be the belle of the ball – stallholders will wonder how you did it, customers will be drawn to its magical allure and perhaps others will take photos as well.

Need some inspiration? Take a different look at adverts – composition, colours, light, accessories – and then look at it upside down.

At the event, you are of course the true professional – unruffled (because you knew what to do) confident (because you have created the perfect display) and smiling (because you sell more than the rest).

A picture does tell a thousand words. Make yours a story to remember!


Today’s blog is a guest post by Eva Suzannah, an experienced soapmaker, copywriter, marketing consultant and author. Eva knows exactly what it’s like to run your own skincare business and kindly shares her words of wisdom with us in this article. Follow Eva on Facebook at the Hastings Soap Company.