Create Buzz With Vignettes
We all know custom picture framing is a visual service. People add art and framing to their walls because they enjoy looking at things that make them feel good. Successful galleries understand the value in helping customers visualize cool looking additions to their homes. They create stimulating and unusual designs to get customers thinking and interested in trying something they may never have thought of doing.
Great displays don’t just happen. They are the result of creative planning. They take time to plan and implement, require lots of energy and some money, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Galleries that feature great vignettes are the ones customers love to talk about. They are the ones they revisit just for the latest ideas. They are the ones they bring their friends to see. They are the ones that magazines and cable TV shows love to feature. They are alive and interesting – they have a buzz.
Great displays demonstrate ways to use custom farming that many customers have never considered. Examples of this are shown in the first and second illustration. First is an innovative way to display family heritage photos, while also selling mural art. A “family tree” was created by having our gallery artist paint the tree on a gallery wall. The branches support a different picture of a family member. This creative display takes a total departure from the classic wall of family portraits but grabs attention- the key to stimulating interest in your gallery.
Illustration #2 shows a triptych with several innovative cross merchandising benefits. It incorporates art, traditional custom framing, innovative custom framing (the trays supporting the vases) and gallery merchandise. This display introduces customers to many different aspects of the gallery and its creative services.
Other examples of ways to stimulate customer interest are shown in illustrations 3 and 4. The baseball shadowboxes are taken a step beyond the traditional display by incorporating colorful chairs (created by our gallery artist) and a neat way of hanging a bat on a wall. By going a bit further the shadowbox display has more impact. It gets noticed by more visitors and creates more buzz in the gallery.
Example 4 shows art and furniture that coordinate to make a complete room setting. They are unique because they were all created by our gallery artist who painted the art and the furniture. We added a custom frame that grabs your attention, shows how various items can be combined to create a distinctive décor, and highlights the various gallery services.
You don’t need a gallery artist to sell merchandise that coordinates well with certain types of art and custom framing illustration #5 show a complete room setting that can be purchased as is, or in part. Don’t have furniture? Partner with a local furniture store, and place pieces of inventory and signs promoting their showroom in your gallery. You may even get to put some framed art in their showroom to advertise your gallery!
Another very important type of display is the educational vignette. Educational vignettes are designed to give customers insight into a special process or type of framing. Illustration 6 features a display built to romance and inform about the art of water gilding frames. They display even features a pictorial of the Senelar family from France, who have been producing water gilded frames for over 100 years. By illustrating the process and the steps involved, our designers can get customer excited about purchasing this expensive technique. This display builds customer knowledge and creates an informed customer that understands the value of water gilded frames.
Windows displays are also great places to demonstrate your creative talents. Illustration 7 shows a travel window used to stimulate interest in new moulding lines from France and Italy. The simple props are combined with frames to draw attention to the window and hopefully attract customers inside.
A Vignette Program
How do you start a consistent program of creative vignettes? First, you must begin generating creative ideas. The best way is to subscribe to many interior design magazines. They always feature creative ways to decorate walls. Many of these ideas can be adapted to the custom framing industry. Don’t be afraid to use someone else’s ideas, just add a twist that reflects the talents and personalities of you gallery. Encourage designers to try new ideas for custom moulding. We’ve tried serving trays, ladders, and room screens. They don’t always lead to big sales but they do create that buzz. Don’t insist that every dime invested in display be recouped by selling that particular item. Doing so only hampers the creative juices of your designers. Their objective is to have fun creating something that is noticed. It’s hard to say that a particular vignette or display contributed to certain sales, but many times it’s the atmosphere of creativity that builds sales.
When you are aware that a vignette has been responsible for a sale, track those revenues under a display category. Doing so helps you justify the costs of creating great displays. It’s easy to do if you use a POS system. Create a code that must be entered as the sale is made. The code is labeled display or vignettes. If you don’t have POS, try tracking it manually and then go buy a POS system with the money you’ve made selling creative displays.
Once you’ve gathered your ideas, don’t try to implement them all at once. Instead, create a display calendar that begins 60 days later. The calendar should tell you when to create new ideas on paper, when to implement them and when to change them. By waiting 60 days, you can have time to create several to make sure you have a consistent program that has ideas for the first several months.
Take notes about customer interest and the questions you get. Certain types of vignettes will be noticed and produce more than others. Try to determine why. Is it location in the gallery? Is it educational verses emotional displays? Do displays that incorporate gallery merchandise produce better than ones with just framing? Do certain windows get noticed more often?
Remember to use proper signage for your displays. A vignette that doesn’t tell the customer what they are looking at is incomplete. Prices and information about the services and techniques available for creating the items in the displays is very important. Don’t assume you’ll have the time to explain everything to every customer. Take for example the family tree idea- signs in the display clearly state that we have a gallery artist capable of recreating the tree to fit any décor, and that the custom frame package can be configured to accommodate any style or quantity of family photos.
Remember to take lots of digital photos of your vignettes. They are very handy for recreating similar displays for a seasonal event, or retrieving information for customers after the displays are gone. These images are also great for postcard ads and your website.
Finally, begin buying for displays at the next market. Bring your calendar, and shop for interesting additions to your upcoming themes. Buying correctly to support displays is a great way to increase their effectiveness, keep ideas fresh and build profitable sales.
So go ahead and start building the buzz. You’ll enjoy the comments as customers notice, your staff will enjoy the new creative opportunities, and soon lots of people will be coming in for new ideas.