GenCon 2016 has come and gone. We had an exhibitor booth there and had a really great show. Here are some random notes, mainly from the perspective of an exhibitor, but may be helpful for general attendees, too.
GenCon is the busiest show we’ve done so far. Looking back on our sales records, the longest time between sales was 20 minutes. There was at least a steady stream of attendees past the booth all the time, and many times the aisle was shoulder-to-shoulder. This was great for us, since we actively accost people walking by our booth with our pitch. If you’re an introvert, or hate crowds, you’ll probably want to limit your time in the exhibit hall.
But, even though there was lots of traffic, it’s still good to have people come specifically to your booth. We signed up for the Cheese Weasel promotion, and that was a good investment. Attendees get cards with your booth number and company logo (and other companies) and have to visit each one to get a punch – if they get all the punches on their card, they are entered for a prize drawing (made up of stock donated from participating companies). So, every person doing the Cheese Weasel was a fairly captive audience until they got their card punched. We didn’t track how many of them bought a Card Caddy after the pitch, but the promotion definitely paid for itself – and it was probably the least expensive advertising option at GenCon.
How much stuff to bring? We gave a flier or business card to everyone who would take one and handed out over 700 fliers (didn’t keep track of the business cards). We made over 400 unique sales and could have likely doubled that if we had our Double Deckers and accessories available for sale. Your mileage will definitely vary – ours is an under $10 product – most of the games we saw took some investment in demonstrating to customers and had a larger price tag.
Who to bring? It was just my stepson Alex and I manning the booth.It worked fine – we were able to cover each other for bathroom breaks and to walk around the show floor a bit. I was cheap and packed our lunches for all of the days, so we mainly just wolfed down a sandwich here and an apple there as time allowed. In a perfect world, we would have had a few more people in the booth, so I could walk the floor and do some networking. But all of the other booths were just as busy as we were and it was tough to talk to the other stores and game-makers in any detail, plus you’re taking time away from them making sales. If you do want to do some B2B networking, the best time is probably in the morning or in the hour after the show ends for the general public.
I did want to go to some of the “learn-to-play” sessions, especially for Malifaux since many of its players really like the Card Caddy. Another person at the booth would have made that possible.
What did we learn about our product? Far and away was the request for some way to deal with mini cards. This was also a request from the last Kickstarter, so at least I knew what people were talking about, and had already thought out a possible solution to communicate to people. Hopefully, I’ll be able to actually make it happen. Probably the next most often request was for purple Card Caddies, and that’s in the works, too. And, of course, everyone wanted all of the stuff that wasn’t available yet. Overall, the response was great, but I want to make sure we always stay open to criticism and advice.
All in all, we had a great time and GenCon was very successful for us. It was a very well-run show – Megan Culver (who was the “face” of the show for me since all of the emails came from her) was walking the floor everyday and checking to make sure that we had everything we needed. The facilities were good, and of course, there were lots of potential customers in attendance – what more could you ask for!
Until next year – Happy Gaming!