Convention Setup 2.0

Convention Setup 2.0

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UPDATE: Now that the convention is over I added some notes and detailed more lessons learned.

Upcoming Convention

Continuing my convention adventures I’ll be attending the upcoming Captain’s Comics Expo Feb 22nd and 23rd. Come say hi!

I tried to upgrade my setup a little. Maybe you’lld find these notes helpful for your own booth ideas. Some of the feedback I got from the last convention:

convention_floor.jpg My old Setup from last October

  • More Variety. It needs something. a new level or something eye-catching. I didn’t get many complaints, but several people agreed it was missing something. PIZZAZ!
  • “Do you play D&D?” Include some kind of indicator to draw people who already know about RPGs, since they’re my target audience.
  • Clarify my pitch. By the end of the day I had it down pat, but the first few hours I stumbled over my words and said something different every time. Next time I’ll have something memorized.
  • Less words on the table. I saw a lot of people’s eyes glaze over. The intention was to have the book pitches written down, but maybe I should have the books on the stands, and the descriptions underneath or something.
  • Change wording of the freebies. “5 games for $5” instead of “Buy the $5 pamphlet and get the 4 freebies with it.” Or something…
  • I brought WAY too many books with me. I brought my whole stock, which was like 3 heavy boxes. But I only sold about 5 copies of each book. Going to seriously tone it down next time.

With those things in mind, let’s review what I changed.

The New Setup

convention2_booth.jpg The new hotness

Let’s cover it point by point.

  • I added a box. Not only does it add some height and give me more display space, but it gives the eye more things to look at. PIZZAZ! Hopefully.
  • Scattered Dice. Hopefully that will be enough of an indicator to draw the nerds I’m looking for. It also adds a little spice to the setup, hopefully without being overwhelming.
  • Pitch and Prices Posted. I didn’t want to put the prices on the books, and I also didn’t want to add MORE text to my setup. So I tried to compress all the text into one place, very clearly posted.

convention2_left.jpg

  • Change the Freebies. I’m no longer going to try and sell them; the pricing was too complex. Now I’m just going to give them away, one per person. Also found a nice plastic holder to display them more cleanly.

  • MTG Tokens. I stole the idea from Ben Milton of Questing Beast. I made a few dozen for my own personal use, and they were so popular with my friends that I decided to see if I can sell them. They’re more to draw people to the booth than to make any real profit; but still. I hope this adds a little more variety to my table.

convention2_right.jpg

convention2_tokens.jpg They feel so good to just root around in. Don’t look at me like that!

I hope the new setup is a little simpler while also offering more variety and eye-catching layout. I’ll update this post after the convention is over.

We’ll see how it goes!

Lessons Learned

Whew! That was a blast. 2 days, probably 500+ people? Maybe close to 1000. It was packed.

As I said before this was by 3rd convention as a vendor, and my 5th convention total. I think I’m hooked; I really liked seeing people get excited about my books and engage with them directly to talk about RPGs.

convention2_floor.jpg

It’s a lot more satisfying than selling online.

The setup was a huge success! At the same time I notced a few areas to improve upon. Let’s break it down:

  • Higher Engagement. The new presentation of information was very successful. Many people came by and picked up books without being prompted to, and it resulted in more than a few sales. Having all the prices and pitches in one place really helped.

  • The Dice. I had more than a few people come by to take a closer look when they saw the dice, which was a win-win. I also had a few people ask if I was selling dice, which is an interesting idea…

  • MTG Tokens. Several people came by to paw through the tokens, but they weren’t as big of a draw as I expected. More than a few were confused about what they were for, and MTG fans were a little disappointed I wasn’t selling cards. Still though, they were fun to make, and I don’t think they did any harm to the booth. They just weren’t as popular as I expected.

  • Freebies Were Huge. Just like the last 2 conventions I had a few people take a freebie, read through it, and either ask questions about RPGs or come back later to buy a book. I think giving away small games has been HUGE in explaining what RPGs are and igniting interest.

I think next time I’ll include Kintsugi in the freebie section; the MTG tokens are cheap things on offer, and Kintsugi pamphlets have NOT sold well at all.

I also tried an experiment this time:

On Saturday I was very outgoing and engaging. I talked to people as soon as they took more than a passing interest in my booth, asked questions, etc.

On Sunday I brought a book with me and read it the entire time; only stopping to answer direct questions or when people were trying to get my attention.

I was shocked to see that I sold just as many using both strategies. The people who responded best on Sunday were quiet and shy. They saw me reading my book, slowly approached the booth, flipped through my books, and then decided to purchase; no questions, no small talk, etc.

I think giving them the space to explore my books without feeling pressured was important. But I wonder how many people I missed out on Sunday (and vice versa with Saturday).

I’d love to hear the experiences of other vendors with this.

All in all I sold:

  • 5 copies of Clink
  • 4 copies of Mythic Mortals
  • 4 copies of Bone Marshes
  • 8 copies of Lowcountry Crawl
  • 2 copies of Kintsugi
  • I sold ALL my MTG tokens, but that’s because one of the convention staff came by right at the end of the convention and said “I want all your tokens. How much?” Aside from that guy I probably sold 20ish tokens.

I probably gave away 100ish freebies. No idea how many business cards.

Future Improvements

Professional Signage. I’ve put off investing more money into my booth until I turn a profit. Well, that time as come. I’ve officially broken even on my convention investment and I feel better about upgrading to some professional signage.

More Freebies. I’m getting low on some of the freebies, and a few are WAY more popular than others (Vikings Having Feelings is HUGE). I can print out another run, and add Kintsugi to the give-aways.

More Tokens. They’re fun to make, and seemed to help a little, if nothing else. Gonna leave out the logos though; just put MTG art on both sides.

Dice? Should we sell dice? That would draw people here, and give a little extra income. But it might also distract from the games. It could be cool to have “bundles” though. “Everything you need to play for $30” or something.

Attitude. Should I be more laid back, now that my display is really engaging? Or should I keep mixing it up; alternating between laid back and more engaged. It’s an interesting thing to think about.

Either way, I’m very excited for the next convention. Since you made it this far, you obviously enjoy my stuff, so why not support our kickstarter!