Mostly Everything

Standing Out in a Sea of Shouting

One of the best ways to promote your company or brand is to showcase (or “table”) at a convention or conference. Where else will you have the opportunity to sell yourself and your company directly to thousands of people all at once–and in a venue guaranteed to be receptive to what you have to offer? For many, especially those in the indie industry, tabling at cons makes up the majority of their annual income.

The primary issue that many promoters have with cons is that the competition for attendees’ attention is fierce. “Expo Halls” and “Vendor Areas” are filled with other tablers and their goal is to sell as much of their product and to build as much brand appreciation as possible. These tablers and promoters are going to go all out to get attendees attention. So how do you make sure that you stand out in a sea of shouting?

Have a Fantastic Display
Building a great booth is key for your success at a con. Do not simply lay out a few of your products on a bare table and expect people to notice you (or to think favorably of you if they do). You don’t have to build a large or elaborate booth. For one thing, large and elaborate booths are expensive. For another, there is such a thing as trying too hard. You do, however, need to have some good signage and you need to try to decorate your vending space as much as possible. Set up some multi-leveled displays. Maybe hang a banner in front of the table and up on the wall behind you. There are lots of ways to create a great booth on a small budget.

Engage But Don’t Harass
It is bad form at a convention to actively call people over to your booth. Shouting out “you look like you could use a [insert your product or swag here]!” and motioning people over will make your convention neighbors hate you and will alienate everybody who is walking by, whether you were addressing them directly or not. It’s like being the convention version of the overly aggressive mall kiosk salespeople. You don’t want that.

You do, however, want to engage with the masses who are walking past your booth. The best way to do this is to compliment people. “I like your shirt!” or “That’s a great bag!” or something similar will get a person’s attention, make that person feel good and probably pique their interest in you all without your pressuring that person to listen to your sales pitch. Heck, simply saying “Hi there!” to people who look your way will suffice.

Offer Something Different
There are certain types of con swag and products that are widely understood and, often, even expected. T-shirts, water bottles, notepads, stickers, tote bags–everybody has these to sell and give away. You should too. But don’t stop there. You need to offer something that others aren’t. There are all sorts of things that are useful and usable that aren’t made by 3M or Gildan. One trend that we’ve noticed lately is the flash drive. A flash drive that is branded with your logo and URL is a great giveaway and more and more companies are producing them in bulk. You can get them in a bunch of different sizes and shapes (for example, the Memory Suppliers’ credit card flash drive is the same size, shape and width of a real credit card)–whatever fits in best with your brand. Some companies even order these flash drives to come pre-loaded with a freebie download like an ebook, an mp3 or a free video to help better sell their wares.
Finally, remember that actively making sales at a con is just one part of a successful tabling event. The real measure of a con’s success for your business is how many sales you bring in during the weeks following the event as well. This is why, even if all you can do is hand over a business card, it’s important to make a positive impression. Use the tips in this article to help you do that.