How to Create an Inspirational Exhibition Stand

How to Create an Inspirational Exhibition Stand

Last month we made the journey to the US to work at the International Surfaces Event (TISE) in Las Vegas. This exhibition is the largest North American floor covering, stone, and tile industry event and is the premier, global marketplace for buyers, specifiers, and influencers to purchase products, gain design and trend information, and develop their business strategies.

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How to Grow Sales … Using Design, Color & Texture

It’s a little known fact that Texture is crucial to the well-being of a human being. You may be one of the few who know this to be true; you may be a person who is suffering, without realising it, from anxiety due to not coming into contact with texture often enough for your subconscious to allow you to feel satisfied, comfortable and natural.

One of today’s major contributory factors to this lack of texture in our lives is that there are so many technology companies achieving great things to make our lives more interesting, easy and convenient; but in doing so are making our interface with their products smooth. Literally smooth. Smartphones, tablets, touchscreens, contactless payment etc, etc are all developments that have removed Texture from so many everyday activities that it is now possible to ‘feel’ texture getting dressed in the morning and then not again until …..

So if you’re a product designer think hard about how and why you might put texture back into the lives of your clients – they will be so grateful. And perhaps without knowing why, they’ll love the work you do for them!

If you’re in hospitality, a restaurant, hotel or bar, have tables (in natural woods), bar tops chair arms (with fabric) that are textured in some way. Use cutlery that isn’t completely smooth handled, provide glasses that are cut-glass for example. Then stand back and watch your customers, running their hands and fingers over these things and look at the delight they take from it. All of these things, however, few you can provide, will enhance the Customer Experience your business provides to your consumers and add to your efforts to build customer loyalty.

If you keep an eye on current color palettes (watch the fashion shops, our blog!, TV sets) then you’ll have a good idea of what colors are at the front of people’s minds. Which colors are contemporary, on-trend and will add to the appeal of your product, service, hotel, shop. We see that many retailers dress their windows in scarlet for Valentines, or yellow for Easter, but with the exception of Fashion retailers, don’t seem to put as much thought into the colours in which they merchandise windows when there isn’t a ‘special occasion’ to inspire them. Perhaps, even dress windows, displays and products in colors that reflect the times not simply ‘Easter’ – is there a law saying it has to be done in Yellow?

The Opus team has lots of ideas so feel free to get in touch; but in the meantime we thought we’d share a key consumer color and a very important texture in 2015/16 for you to consider alongside your Brand, product, service development.

The Week

Have fun and don’t be shy get in touch we’d love to hear from you / / or call us on +44 1482 870 360



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Top 5 Garden Design Trend Tips

Top 5 Garden Design Trend Tips

It’s August, the weather is glorious (mostly) and right now life is all about being outdoors as much as possible.  And that means that magazine pages are crammed full of this season’s ‘must have’ outdoor products and warn of your total humiliation if you don’t have a huge water feature in your garden by the end of the week!  Thankfully, I’m here with 5 top tips to cut through the codswallop and ensure you make sensible and sensational al fresco decisions this summer. Continue reading “Top 5 Garden Design Trend Tips”

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How to Strengthen a Small Business with Kindness



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I’ve been thinking about how we behave toward each other a lot over the past few months. And I realised that we are ‘different’ when in the ‘formal confines’ of our business & workplace to how we are outside that arena – or dare I say ‘in general life’. Why? There is no reason to be. Work isn’t some alien planet, there’s no law against being ‘you’ in work, it won’t make you a bad person. The stark reality is that in our ‘Business Body’ we are less kind to others than we have a natural tendency to be. We show less emotion in this place.

Ricky Gervais recently had aired his new TV show Derek, a show that drew mixed reaction; but in an interview Ricky explained that Derek was what you had when everything is stripped away from a person except Kindness. I was taken by the character from the first word and it was then I realised I had to begin my campaign/crusade/mission to encourage everyone who worked to be considerate and to BE KIND AT WORK. Kind to colleagues, customers, suppliers who are after all, just people. Derek said “Kindness is Magic” and you know what; he’s right. It has a magical effect on the people receiving a kindness and a magical effect on the person performing the kindness. Go On, give it a go.

There is no distinction between ‘in business’ and ‘in life’, if you are kind to others then eventually someone is kind to you.

Being kind however, means that you have no expectation of a return. Being kind to customers, colleagues, associates, and other business contacts is no different to being kind to your mother. If it is, you have misunderstood what being kind is.

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We are talking about a ‘feeling’. I am kind to others (I hope) not because I want something in return, but because it makes me feel good afterwards and it is enough just for me to know that. I don’t need, or want to tell the world about it.

The level of cynicism in some business is disheartening and indicates that genuine kindness and sharing is n’t really happening in lots of people’s lives.

The young people of today (millennials as they are known) share as a natural act. They don’t have the same need to ‘own’ things as previous generations. It is they who have begun the ‘sharing for free’ rave, only they did n’t feel a need to label it (perhaps they knew that we old gits in business would eventually do that for them).

I urge everyone to be kind to every person they meet for a day.

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If at the end of it you don’t feel good, indeed better than you ever did, then clearly there will never be a need to read anything I write ever again so you benefit anyway!

But I fully expect lots of you lovely readers to email me ( with great stories of how you felt, what happened, and that you have indeed been more successful in business as a direct result of actively seeking opportunities for you to be kind to suppliers, colleagues, employees, collaboratives, customers, and anyone coming into contact with you and your work.

To reassure the cynics, I am not a person of any religion, cult, or ‘do-gooding’ group. My work at Scarlet Opus gives me an awareness of many global issues, innovations, creativity, and learning to a level and degree that I’ve never enjoyed before. In this business I ‘found’ sharing content in my work. I liked what I read, so I tried sharing what I knew. I liked it even more, and the accompanying feeling, and so endeavoured to keep it going.

And you know what? I’ve given a lot of time to networking over the past 2 years – a lot. I’ve helped lots of people find and gain new business by giving advice that aided them, or making an introduction. BUT, I have NEVER in those 2 years of networking efficiently and according to all of the teachings, ever gained one order or new client as a result of it. But I would n’t change a thing.

So share for free and without expectation, it is the way forward in life.

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Be kind in business especially and see what that does to your own popularity, career progression, and standing in the company community. You won’t intend for anything to happen because you’ll simply be enjoying sharing and getting ‘that feeling’ (you’ll know what it is when you get it) after you’ve been kind to someone and the impact on that person is visible to you. That statement above said ‘life’, which includes business and is not separate from it.

If you’d like some help exploring how Kindness can be introduced into your workplace (no matter how large or small it is) please call or text me (+44 7896 088 996), email me (, tweet me whichever you like… Speak to you soon, don’t leave it too long I’m looking forward to it!


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How to Sell Interior Products to Men or Women

In our final posting of the week in celebration of International Womens Day we have a posting for men by our Dreamweaver – Phil – on Selling To Women:

Men like Stop Lights & Women prefer Roundabouts!


Trends, consumers, business, sales, marketing, interiors
Get a Big Cat she said!

“The 1st thing perhaps to state is that what you are about to read is the humble opinion & experience of 1 man only and is not intended to offend anyone, or to be anything more than something for you to consider.  Some of the opinion and ideas offered are derived from generalisations of specific experiences – now is that clear boys!?  After all, how can you take seriously a guy whose job title is ‘Dreamweaver’!  They are opinions from a man’s viewpoint about how to successfully engage with women in business and maybe a little in life.  During International Womens Day celebrations, an event we don’t have, we (men) need all the help we can get at a time when the smarter anyway sex, feel at their strongest because they really know how to use ‘group power’ in a way we don’t even realise exists!

In general (as I said) when it comes to any sort of work environment, men & women see themselves in some sort of competition.  Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, men of all ages will allow their reactions toward women in business to be influenced on some level and to some degree; by the ideas placed into our heads as a result of the evolutionary process.  And not to be completely exonerated, women (in general) will be ‘on guard’ for the same reason.  In today’s world we all (I know I do) like to think that we have gone beyond this and to a very large and positive degree we have.  But here’s the thing that I have learned – women have learned how to cope with the situation and then use it much more than men have, or probably ever will.  Particularly when it comes to a sales/purchasing activity.  In fact, when you think about it, almost every business activity we conduct uses the skills necessary in these 2 roles.  Managing a person requires influencing their behaviour and actions and in doing so selling ideas and solutions to them.  We need in business to negotiate something with someone every day.  It is not only when with suppliers or clients that this is done.  So in most respects women are very good in these areas because we men have over decades forced them to negotiate/sell/contract in almost every aspect of their lives.  Our (men’s) only advantage left (not a great word but for now the best I could think of) is that not all of them have realised this yet!

I have spent all of my adult working life (being very young that’s not so long!) learning about people in order that I can improve my abilities to sell, manage & develop them in business.  At the age of 18 a great guy and mentor to me – Graham Petty – gave me a gift one Christmas; a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends & Influence People and being a man I read the 6 principles in it and then took the next couple of decades to accept that Dale was right!  The most important skill required in business, if not in life, is found in this book.  In general men, and oddly in particular salesmen, are not very good at this skill even though they think that they are.  Women however, seem to have a natural flair and ability for it even when they are talking!  What is it I hear you ask – it is LISTENING.  So if you want to be good at selling to women then you have to get on board double quick with the idea that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth and at the very least should use them in that proportion.

In dealing with the modern woman in business you must have a high degree of confidence, excellent knowledge of your subject, a good memory and flexibility.  Now I will tell you why this is my opinion. 


In general women spot weaknesses readily and seem to then place them to one side without feeling the need to exploit them.  But they have this knack of letting you know (when they are ready) that they have spotted this but will not exploit it.  Have a guess what that does to the weakness?  Men also spot weaknesses, but we are a little blunt, quick and basic in our attempts to then highlight the weakness as we see it as a competition (irrelevant of whether we are speaking to a man or a woman).  Guess what this induces in our opponent – the same weakening of the weakness that a woman can induce?  Nope!  An aggressive gladiatorial defence mechanism – well done guys, way to go!

Some guys (well most actually) when engaging with women in business suddenly experience/develop an infant like understanding of our language.  Confidence is quickly confused with arrogance, know–it-all and condescension in the misguided belief this will impress a woman or ‘show her how it’s done’ – oops!

So development a quiet and reassuring confidence about yourself, your business and your role before engaging with a woman.

Excellent Knowledge:

Men like to be sold to, or to believe that they have made a buying decision – you see to us it is all a competition no matter who we are dealing with.  It is a challenge, a game however the process is described we see it as something to win.  A woman simply doesn’t.  She wants a fair and equitable deal where she feels comfortable that the process was beneficial to both parties.  In fact, in general, women are prepared to come out of the ‘deal’ slightly worse off than those she engages with as long as it feels good for all and she in essence achieves her goal.  How dangerous is that?  What this all means is that to conduct business successfully with a woman, you must simply provide information of a high quality in a truthful way and then wait and listen for the questions.  A woman will lead you to the sales you seek without the ‘combat zone’ that as men we believe is an essential part of the process.  Remember 2 key facts: Women will inherently distrust a man until he demonstrates he is trustworthy.  Men generally give men the benefit of the doubt and so we are not expecting the reverse and so may not take the right opening shots.  Women will inherently not believe marketing messages but will look for confirmation.  Men?  Well how many of us challenge a Ferrari advert before we have decided that we just want to drive it?

So develop a thorough knowledge of your subject in order to be able to supply any information requested about it – if you do not know never try to ‘flannel’ a woman – they have built-in radar for that, thanks to our actions over 100’s of years!

Good Memory:

A simple short subject (especially as you get older!).  In a group women discuss things but not with any particular structure or in any particular order.  Men like order, straight lines, agenda’s and time blocks.  Women don’t need these things I have found.  If you let their conversation flow and listen very carefully, they cover enormous ground and everything they need to and in the end spit out a conclusion that is as good as any group of guys – and this has often left me thinking “where the heck did that come from it could n’t have been this conversation?”  And is it just to annoy us or confuse us, but more than 1 woman will speak at once and ‘they’ all hear all whilst we hear the loudest – it’s really weird.  So don’t stop this seemingly disjointed methodology, let it flow and listen well and develop the ability to remember key points.  They will.       


This is the best saved until the last…all men in business need to know this one.  It will save so much time and provide so much more enjoyment and success.  It links everything said above and is the point of my title.

Men love straight lines, turning left and turning right, having a destination and getting there, knowing when to stop and when to start and enjoy having the rules.  Men sit revving their engines for the unspoken competition, guidance and structure that stop lights at road junctions the world over                                 provide.

Women meander, dream, flow, don’t need rigid structure and rules to avoid crashes and fights, get to their destination after they have had time to drink in things that they see en route.  Women prefer roundabouts where a general set of rules apply with courtesy, forgiveness and if you make a mistake no matter just go round again you’ll get to the intended                                 route again in the end.

We happen to be in Interiors where it is said that women make more than 85% of the buying decisions.  Personally, I have concluded that a woman somewhere makes the larger portion of decisions in all walks of life – they just don’t shout about it so much because they are used to (thanks to us yada yada…) not getting the credit publicly and can live with that happily.  

So take a look at your retail outlet /design plans / design schemes / products and see if they reflect the fact that most of your sales and potential business will come from a decision made by a woman; and do the processes that you have in place reflect and accommodate the way a woman thinks and behaves?”

What advice do you have on this subject? Leave your comment let me know…..

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How to be Successful at Exhibitions for Small Business

Exhibitions are an Investment in Your Future – How’s Your’s Turning Out?

Following on from our visit to Grand Designs Live last week, todays post – from our Business Development Director Phil – offers guidance for companies and sole traders exhibiting at shows.  This is timely advice if you are exhibiting at ICFF this month and well worth taking onboard if you are exhibiting at other shows during 2010 and beyond:

For any sized business attending an exhibition as an exhibitor is a big investment and if you took account of the time and cost of the people to pull it all together, as well as the actual cash spent on getting the stand made, hotels to stay in and food eaten – it would give you a heart attack!

Strange then that most companies put little into the control and effectiveness of the time spent with prospects on their stands. It never ceases to amaze us how many stands are occupied by people who look bored, intimidating, disinterested and even scruffy. Many a conversation we have had with people manning a stand who told us how poorly attended the show is, how badly organised after all the money they have spent!

If the visitor numbers are down on expectations it is crucial to make the most of every prospect that walks onto your exhibition stand. Research shows that just over 30% of visitors to shows do make their eventual buying decision as a result of their visit. Over 76% of show visitors have a pre-determined agenda for their visit.

So how do you make the most of going to exhibitions no matter what size company you are?

Before you sign up as an exhibitor at any show go through some simple checks all of which will help you ensure that you are at the correct show i.e. a show that will have visitors relevant to your product, or service. How successful a show is for you will depend entirely upon that simple fact and you would be surprised how often a mis-match occurs.

So, the checks:

  • If possible visit the show before exhibiting.
  • At least talk to several previous exhibitors.
  • Ask to see a profile of the previous year’s visitors.
  • Ask for visitor numbers – assume an element of ‘double counting’ it happens at all shows.
  • Ask some of your existing customers if they have been/would go?
  • Decide your reason for exhibiting, is it to increase awareness? Is it to sell your products/services?
  • When you know why you are exhibiting, decide how you will measure success.
  • If you are selling, work out how many sales you would need to make to recoup the cost of the show to your business – a fully inclusive cost.
  • If you are not selling consider how else you could achieve the same result and compare the cost to that of attending the show.

This is not an exhaustive list of considerations to be made but a very good start and should avoid you being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Making the most of the show is now a key task for you and will only be achieved if you are at the very least two things:

  • Enthusiastic about your product/service.
  • A person with only positive things to say to your stand visitors.

Remember that when people come to your stand you have 2 ears and 1 mouth and most success will be achieved if you use them in those proportions.  You must learn about the person visiting you by asking lots of open questions and listening to the answers:

  • Why are they at the show?
  • What caught their eye and made them pause at your stand?
  • How and where might they use your product/service?
  • Have they seen other things of interest to them at the show?
  • What is their business? (Unless you are at a consumer show)

The important thing is to get a conversation going with the stand visitor and not a sale, which if approached too soon will scare them away. Do not interrupt people let them finish. The conversation questions to begin with must not be closed questions – these are questions that will encourage a yes/no answer. This only induces a ‘closed’ atmosphere between you. It makes me smile when I hear from an exhibitor “Can I help you”? “Are you alright there?” – giving me the opportunity to immediately close down their approach to me.

Do not walk up and down the edge of your stand as if patrolling your border daring people to cross it. Try your best not to eat on your stand which is of course difficult if you‘re alone; people would not interrupt you in a restaurant to ask about your product and they won’t come onto your stand if you are eating – it’s not the done thing. Make sure you welcome stand visitors as if they are visiting you at home and you really want to see them. Signs not to touch, not to sit, not to….. are not attractive so find other ways to achieve this desire. Do not leave stand visitors alone for too long but don’t jump on them as soon as they arrive. Look at them, smile and acknowledge they are there and move to them when you ‘feel’ it is right.

Try to shake hands with people – contact is important to human beings it breaks barriers, but don’t force people into doing it. Make sure you give them a business card and try to get one in return. Invite people to come back if they have any other questions at all and wish them enjoyment/success for the rest of their visit.

A smile and a laugh coated with lots of enthusiasm will get you the rewards you are looking for from any exhibition.

It is not attendance that is ever poor – it is the manner in which any number of visitors are viewed and treated.

If you would like any other advice or, even just a second opinion about any aspect of exhibition attendance why not drop me an email with your question I would be delighted to help if I can:


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