Promotion at Conventions: How to Stand Out in a Crowd of Thousands
The second I stepped into the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, it was sensory overload. With hundreds of booths sporting thousands of items, there were – quite literally – millions of things to look at. It was easy to pass my eyes over the different vendors and not remember anything. Luckily, there were a bunch of creative people that found ways to draw attention to their products.
I’m sure that vendors at Chicago Comic Con make a decent amount of money during the weekend, but the biggest challenge they face is bringing clients to their booths. Sure, thousands of attendees pass by every hour, but if you can find a way to specifically draw them to your booth, you’re practically guaranteed a higher conversion rate.
Some vendors opted for employees walking around in sandwich boards, holding giant signs, or passing out flyers: attention-grabbing, but not enough to make me seek out their booth.
However, one comic book vendor, Tales of Wonder, actually included a coupon on their flyer. If you purchased merchandise before noon and presented the coupon, you received $5 off your purchase. Not only did Tales of Wonder draw clients to their booth, but they gave an incentive to do so. And with their giant selection, I’m sure that most customers purchased more than the $8 minimum to use the coupon. I know I did.
This isn’t to say that you’ll never make money from attendees that just wander past your booth. The problem is that one booth of comic books looks just like the booth of comic books next door. To entice customers to stay and browse your selection of products, you have to offer something that catches their eyes.
While wandering around the vendors or Artist Alley, there were two kinds of displays that caught my attention: a booth with products on tables and on large backdrops, or a booth with practically nothing. Every stand had something, so the contrast of LOTS to little to average really drew my attention. One artist only had three small piles of prints on his table. The minimalism caught my eye and I bought a print. A comic book vendor had a huge backdrop featuring prints of hand-drawn DC and Marvel superheroes. He purchased them from an artist in Artist Alley, and would tell his clients exactly how to get there – talk about cross-brand promotion!
Yet, even with coupons and flashy displays, promotional products are the best way to attract clients to your booth. Besides drawing people in with a sign that says “Free [fill in promotional product here]! Take one!” your clients will take a memento of your brand home with them.
Norton Symantec passed out hand fans which were perfect to battle the convention heat. Top Cow Productions gave me a bookmark – one of the few vendors and artists to do so – which seems like a no brainer for a convention started by and for comic book fans.
Right before their panel, the producer of the indie film Rock Jocks handed out custom buttons that featured actress Felicia Day. For a low budget film, they were smart to hone in on the biggest selling point and use that for their promotion. I saw dozens of them the next day and heard lots of people asking about them.
And just in case I can’t say enough good things about Yeti Press, they handed out handmade, paper mustaches with their contact information written on the back. When I asked the writer, RJ Casey, about them he said that they handed out 250 in 7 hours and that they prompted lots of conversions and return business. According to their blog, over the course of the weekend they handed out over 750 mustaches and sold almost every copy of their comic, Pecos.
For all of you future tradeshow or convention vendors, I suggest these tips:
- Offer an incentive to come visit your table. Have your employees pass out flyers with coupons or hand out a free sample.
- Make your booth/table stand out. You’ll be sitting among some of your fiercest competitors, so highlight what makes you unique.
- Promotional products are your friends! It might seem like a big investment now, but when attendees take them home and find your information later, you’ll see your sales soar.
If all else fails, just have a dancing storm trooper:
Ever have a creative promotion attract your attention at a tradeshow or convention? If not, what would? Isn’t that dancing storm trooper video impossible to stop watching?
Image credit to Maiden of Mischief.
Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on Google+