Using Wall Samples to Increase Sales

Samples on display in your gallery can be a sore subject, especially during slow times. It’s hard to convince someone to invest in framing that’s not going to be sold. It’s looked at as an expense that never gets collected because it almost never sells. While it’s true that samples rarely sell, they are the key ingredient to selling profitable framing and creating an image for your gallery. We operate in a visual market, and providing examples of what we do is the very best way to inspire creative sales. If you don’t show great ideas, you won’t sell them. Yes, you might be very good at explaining your framing ideas, but it’s very hard to create excitement about things that cannot be seen.

Since most independent framers can not compete on volume, it is essential they sell profitable framing. It is essential that your shop be known for something unique to your market. You must stand for something. Clients come to us for ideas. They want something special and unique- a custom made product. If they can look at your walls and see your skills, they are far more likely to invest in profitable framing because they will be excited about what you can do for them.

The right design samples can build relationships with your clients and inspire them to do more and better framing

We all have clients that love what we do. Over the years we have shown them we are really creative and skilled, and they respond by allowing us to do anything we want when they visit. Why? Because over time we have been allowed to show them our ability. They know they are going to love what we do. Proper samples are a shortcut to building that kind of relationship. Creative samples show everyone why you are successful in pleasing your clients. They say right up front why they choose you. They set the image for who you want to be.

Let’s face it. Even though we are used to seeing it, rows and rows of frame corner samples don’t exactly communicate excitement about our product. Sure, to those who have framed before, it says we have a huge selection, but it really doesn’t say what we can do with it. To new framers it says confusing.

How do you create samples that lead to profitable framing? Profitable means that you make money on that particular type of framing project. If you don’t know what types of projects bring you the greatest profits, then this is difficult and an entirely different subject. But let’s assume you do know, or at least let’s assume you know what you want to be perceived to be good at doing- what makes you stand out from other places to frame?

using wall samples

This sample of framed boxing match tickets illustrates the ability of a computerized mat cutter to provide clients with many creative possibilities available when framing memorabilia.

using wall samples

This sample of a framed record album illustrates a unique method of cutting matboard into stripes with beveled edges and placing them together so they look like one mat. In this case, they were used to accent the stripes on the album cover.

using wall samples

A small mirror is used to reflect the face of the watch in this shadowbox, capturing more of its dimensionality.

using wall samples

This sample of framed Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth images illustrates the use of separate mat openings around individual items. This creates a finished look to the various items, while allowing them to be raised to different levels inside the display—concepts that would be difficult to explain without a sample.

When you have determined that, create samples that show those skills. Let’s say you determined that sports themed shadowboxes are something that you make profitably and have potential in your market. Buy memorabilia on EBay and create the most eye popping designs you have ever done. Go all out to show what you can do. Remember to create signing that explains to clients what they are looking at and what framing techniques were used to make it special.

Once you have created your samples, try integrating them into your corner samples. Hang these masterpieces with the groupings of mouldings they relate to. If you don’t have the room, keep several near the design area. Why? Because proper samples illustrate great and creative framing techniques that influence sales. Being able to point to a sample during a sale to illustrate how a design you are suggesting will actually look works because it explains clearly how something will look.

Proper samples help in other ways. They remove the uncertainty from a sale and set the correct expectations for a client so that there are no surprises when projects are picked up. If you can actually show a conservation corner or a raised mat or a floated piece of art during the sales process, the client will understand what they are purchasing before they get the final result. This can save the wrinkled brow reaction that we all hate to see when we present a completed project.

Create a list of techniques that should be sampled to help a client visualize creative concepts. This list could include stacked frame mouldings, fillets inside mats, reverse bevels, projects with glass on both sides so that it can be observed both ways- anything that can be difficult to translate in words. Some of these samples can be kept off the display walls and pulled out for illustrating specific techniques at the proper time.

Wall samples do need to be changed out at least every 2 years. After that, they just blend in and are no longer noticed. Remember, your samples occupy extremely valuable space and need to help you sell profitable framing- they must produce. Changing displays even if they illustrate the same design concept makes them noticeable again. Old samples can be donated to charities or taken down for a couple years and used again.

Another idea of an effective sample is integrating small mirror samples into the design wall with a “we make mirrors” sign. This is a great way to inform clients who are framing art that they can get custom mirrors from you also.

Purchasing samples from vendors that make them to illustrate new lines of moulding can be a great way to introduce new products. Just be sure they are not being featured elsewhere in town or your reputation for unique design could be questioned.

It’s important to use museum glass on your samples also. Sure, we all have the displays made by the manufacturers, but nothing draws attention like a custom shadowbox that appears as though you can reach in and grab the items in the box. The more you use these kinds of products, the more you sell them because they create excitement when clients see them.

Here’s the challenge. Take a good look at what your walls are saying about your abilities. Do they show your talents? Do they promote your most profitable types of framing? Do they excite clients about using techniques and products that enhance the final result and ultimately your reputation? If not, here’s an opportunity to create a new image- the image you want to portray- and to create some new excitement in your abilities. Get your whole team involved and have some fun while building your business!

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