The New Year is a great time to review many things, including your marketing efforts; evaluating not only how well your story is being told, but how well it’s being received across all our marketing channels. For many event professionals, showroom design is a huge component of that story. So when Matt and Amanda Allen, owners of MMD Events in Tampa, Florida, redesigned their showroom at the end of 2015 getting ready for 2016, they applied both great design and marketing techniques to make the space an effective sales tool for the latest chapter in their ongoing event design story.
“We used to have a large vintage furniture company and last year we sold it off,” Amanda Allen said. “It started to feel played out and not our brand any longer. We still have a large furniture rental, but it’s changed style to be more of a Hollywood Regency style and based more on what is happening in home and hotel design.”
10 Way to Optimize Showroom Design for Impact and Sales
1. Resist the temptation to line the walls with photos of your own work. Keep the focus on the visual marketing story you are telling to the client. Photos of past work may bias a client one way or another if they don’t relate the that particular design.
2. Instead of asking clients for their budget (which they rarely divulge) give them a range of your last several projects so they get a feeling for what you charge.
3. MMD Events has their salespeople pre-qualify clients further by directing them to the web site and also sending a design “look book” before setting up a meeting.
4. Once they are in the showroom, find ways to further the visual marketing story with words. MMD has pithy sayings that underline the company’s philosophy of business and design on the walls.
5. Be generous with information. “I don’t like it when I ask a vendor for something and they will only give it to me if I hire them,” Allen said. “So we try not to do that. It goes a long way in showing them how we handle things.”
6. Create flex space within the design of the showroom that can change out.
7. Have a bar for the grooms arriving from work. “The bride doesn’t need alcohol to boost her excitement level,” Allen said. “The groom generally does!”
8. Rather than trying to please all people (which is impossible) create a space that YOU love. “I’ve found clients don’t want us to repeat this look for them,” Allen said. “They are just excited to be in the space and they know we can do what they want.”
9. Ask clients not to bring anything in such as photos or samples. “It throws the energy of the sale off and can sabotage your efforts.”
10. Keep the words of Amanda Allen in mind when you are designing your showroom — “We want the client to focus on what they want and how we can give it to them.”
Taking a cue from the interior design profession, the Allens created an environment that envelops the visitor in MMD’s new design story. The look began with white walls. “I’m not a minimalist, but I adore white walls,” Amanda Allen said. She also really adores leopard prints, so one wall was upholstered with a velvet leopard print that took dozens of swatches to find. “Leopard is a neutral in our world and we are snobby about our leopard patterns.” Personal sayings that define MMD were framed and hung. “We had them reproduced and framed by A & P Designs.” On the floor, Persian rugs were artfully placed. “I’m obsessed with them.” Finally, two flex spaces were created. “One is the main lounge area with a pinup from 666 Photography that we change all the time. The other is opposite that and right now is set with the French ballroom chairs. We use this space in the more traditional showroom manner – creating a microcosm of the event look with drape, lighting, linen, flowers, after we are hired.”
What clients won’t see is any of MMD’s past work. “Nothing is lovely to you unless it’s your style,” Allen says. “You can’t put up enough work to please everyone so we try to make sure they know what we are about before they walk in the door.” A potential client who calls in for an appointment for total event design is sent a look book. And if they can’t, or won’t give a budget, they are always told an average of what MMD’s last few clients spent.
“Budget is the hardest thing to get from a client, so this helps give that person on the line an idea without having to feel they are “giving away” anything. And we also let them know that we have other services too such as rental and lighting. There is no such thing as a minimum.”
In terms of Allen’s own design, there is no such thing as too much. “I love a look of complicated layers of details and patterns,” Allen says. And with no photos of work on the walls, or marketing collateral from anyone else set out, the message is clear — this is a showroom that is all about MMD and business. “We want them to focus on what they want and how we can give it to them.”
Photos: Kismis Ink