While the day was beyond energizing, our experience at the con was not without its lessons learned. We were slapped in the face with a significant example of the age old adage, "know your audience!" The problem was that the con was split into two main sections: the digital floor and the tabletop gaming loft. The digital floor, where our booth was placed smack in the middle of, contained a gajillion vendors selling old 8bit consoles and games, Nintendo themed merchandise, old arcade consoles, and other odds and ends. We were, in fact, the ONLY tabletop vendor on the floor. Additionally, there was a DJ playing very loud (but way cool) 8-bit game-style music all day long. Needless to say, the audience that was cycling through the area was focused on a very different type of product than we had to offer. Our booth was intentionally set up to invite guests to sit and play our games, but with the noise and digital eye-candy distractions at all the other booths, the audience in that area just wasn't aligned with what we represented. Until...
The good news is we discovered this problem very early on and worked with the organizers to correct the issue. Huge props to the organizers of the event, who were more than willing to work with us to swiftly move our booth mid-event to the entrance-way of the tabletop gaming loft. In other words, we went from this odd-ball vendor in the middle of exactly where we should not have been, to becoming the very gateway to the entire tabletop area! As you can imagine, the audience passing through that area was EXACTLY who we intended to capture, and not 60 seconds after setting up we had groups of people sitting at our table playing (and buying) Mars vs. Earth!
Our rediscovered wisdom to impart: "Know your audience," and probably a little bit of "location, location, location!" If you're going to spend money for booths at cons, you absolutely CAN make it a very successful day. You can network with the press, engage with your community, and sell copies of your games. The trick is to find the RIGHT cons, and assure you are situated in the right area at the event.
We count the day a huge success, keeping our faith in the value of exhibiting at these cons. We ran the risk of losing out on critical face time with our intended community, but thanks to our experience with prior cons (knowing what we *should* expect our success criteria to be) and the cooperation of the folks at RetroWorld, things worked out great. We intend to discuss with the RetroWorldExpo coordinators the possibility of reserving the entire loft entrance area for next year's event, essentially placing us in the most valuable location possible!