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Making a better booth - Gen Con edition

So Orto Games had a booth at this year’s Gen Con, and I figured I’d type up a few thoughts I had that might be useful to other people thinking about having a booth! I think this will only be helpful to a reasonably small group of people, but even if you have no plans to have a booth, you might be interested in this little behind-the-scenes chat!

Make your booth stand out.

This is more speaking to smaller or indie publishers like myself, especially if you’re in entrepreneurs avenue like we were, that comes with it a lot of preconceived notions of unprofessionalism/cheapness/ just overall smallness, none of that is intentional on the part of Gen Con or the attendees I think that just comes with the territory when you have a lot of individuals that are often working alone or with family and maybe only have a thousand dollars max to spend on their booth compared to established companies that are spending 5 to 10 grand at a minimum. Our booth was pretty simple; I spent about $175 on the big banner and $25 on the stand, and I will say when it comes to banner stands, it is worth it to splurge a little because the one we used was frustrating to take down and put up. $60 on the tall banner and $25 on the stand, that banner and stand were fantastic. I have half a mind to only use those types of banners and stands moving forward, but I do think the large background banner does wonders to tie the booth together and also cover up the generic black curtains that I think are kind of ugly. I also spent around $70 getting custom shirts made; again, I don’t think this is essential if you’re on a super tight budget, but we had a little to spare, and we can wear them at our future conventions with ease, so I was fine splurging on that. Then finally, I spent around $250 on stickers and $150 on postcards. This leads me to my next point.

Give away something free that people will feel a little bad throwing away.

We made these super nice postcards that just had a cool piece of art from the game, and then a QR code prompting people to join our email list. These are so insanely cheap. I think we had like 3000? Of them made for that $150, and just about every person that stopped at our booth went home with one. Since the show, we’ve had an additional 200-something email sign-ups from these postcards alone. My thinking is they’re kinda cool, and you feel bad tossing it, so it sticks around, and you eventually revisit our website or social media and eventually find your way back to the email list. Then on top of that I love to send people away with something in their hands, especially something that isn’t just going to become waste when they immediately throw it away. This is a small (recyclable if they really do want to throw it away) thing that can keep Jungleball and Orto games in their minds after leaving the booth.

Then stickers, stickers to me are a no-brainer, they are a little more pricy, but these days you can get custom stickers for 30 or 40 cents, and if you have them gated behind signing up for your email list, then that 30-40 cents is your cost per email well plus booth costs and etc., but regardless that is so cheap for getting the emails of folks that were interested enough in your game to take a piece of it with you and put it semi-permanently on their water bottle or laptop or whatever. We had so much success with stickers, and people absolutely love them. I can’t recommend them enough if your game has the kind of art that makes it easy to make them!

The next thing is a bit more of a nebulous tip, more of an observation if you will. If you can have a consistent crowd around your booth, you will continue to have a consistent crowd around your booth. Now what I mean by this is if there are people crowded around your booth, everyone that walks is so much more compelled to stop and take a look at what all those other people look are looking at. Human nature or something. So this is easier said than done, and we had plenty of lull periods throughout the weekend, but whenever we managed to capture two or three people and get into a really nice discussion with them, we would be absolutely swamped for the next hour and a half until the momentum died or there was a lull in the crowd. So this is less concrete advice and more of a thing to keep in the back of your mind.

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough! Check out other booths! It’s super easy to just stay at your booth the entire weekend and if you’re alone, disregard this; you have to but if you can slip away for 10-15 minutes and talk to the other folks in your aisle, see other people’s set up and make some really great connections with people that are trying to do the same thing you are! I feel like I met so many great people in the industry and learned a ton by just walking around and talking to people. I think the board game industry is unique in the insane amount of kindness and community that can be found everywhere in it, and as people coming into that community, it’s super important that we are community members and not just people trying to advertise or sell to that community!

So that’s it, I have more thoughts, and if anyone is interested, I might do a follow-up video sometime in the future, but for now, I’m just going to thank you for reading and invite you to come back around sometime! Bye bye!

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