Ok, so I know it’s been a while since my last post but in my defense we’ve been doing a convention every weekend and crafting my hands off in between. But I’m back with some more tips and tricks for selling products at conventions. These are mostly for people who sell in Artist Alley or are trying to transition from Artist Alley to the Dealers room but hey if you’re already a dealer and want to try some of these feel free!
Now since these newest tips are expansions on my other piece about selling at conventions they are going to be a bit longer so I’m breaking them into separate posts so you don’t feel overwhelmed with all the information.
Tip 1: Location Location Location!!!
Never under estimate the power of a small table in the Right Spot. Seriously, pay attention to where you’re going to be in relation to things like the Door, the Window, The Concession Stand, the Stage and most especially other Vendors.
Most of the time you don’t get to choose where they put you. You can make a request when you fill out the application for simple things like ‘I would like to have an end table.’ or ‘Please don’t put me across from the restrooms or the concession stand.’ But ultimately its the prerogative of the person in charge of organizing the dealer space how they arrange everyone. Most Organizers try to set things up so there’s an even distribution of product types so they don’t end up with clusters of jewelry stands bunched together.
Now sometimes you end up with the shows that have a lottery system for selecting Vendors and in some cases for assigning spaces. These cons are out of their minds in my opinion. (Which is just my opinion so don’t take it as gospel ok? Do your own research.) Lottery systems seem like the most fair way to approve vendors but they don’t take into account that there are probably about 40 Artists selling prints, 20 selling figurines and 12 selling comic books. It ends up setting up a lack of diversity in product and the Attendee suffers for it just as much as the other Vendors.
There are other conventions that allow Artists and Vendors choose their own spaces and I love those. Especially if they also come with the double whammy of First Come First Served and I can get in early enough to nab a good space before they all get taken which is hard. More about that later. If you are lucky enough to get to choose your space take a few minutes to contemplate your Dealer Room Layout and think about the kinds of things you’re selling. Also I strongly urge you to do some research of Marketing techniques. Yes it is a lot of reading but I’m going to simplify things for you a bit and include some of my favorite links at the bottom for your reading pleasure. One of my favorite techniques for choosing a table at a con that lets me pick is Crowd Flow Prediction. If you look at the map you’ll see the entrance as well as Concessions and the Bathrooms. Try to guess where people are going to go.
Science says that people will most often turn to their dominant side when they first enter a room. For most of us that’s the right, the rest of us it’s the left. Rarely will you see people just plow right down the center unless something catches their eye. So if you can try to pick a table to the right. People also like to browse. Think of all the times you’ve heard someone say “I want to see the rest before I buy anything.” Or “I’m going to look around first.” Plan ahead for that, if you can pick choose something a little further in, not right in front but not all the way at the back unless that’s all you have to choose from. Most people forget their good intentions to wait and see everything before they purchase about halfway in, especially if what they’re seeing is something ‘Limited’, ‘Unique’, or ‘One of a Kind’. (More on that later). My ideal position in any Dealers room is to the right of the entrance abut two rows in and because of our set up I prefer an end table but if I can’t get one I want to be about two or three tables into the row. But depending on your set up you may need something a little different so keep track of which areas work best for you at every convention you vend at.
Now just as important to your success as a Con Vendor is the Dealer Room/Artist Alley location in the building where the con is being held.Just go back and look up my reviews of Fan Lexicon and Space Coast Comic Con if you’re not sure why it matters. Is the Dealers Hall/ Artist Alley in an area where it will get good traffic? Or did they stick it off in the back of beyond with no signage. If you’re not sure email the organizer and ask before you apply. If you aren’t happy with the answer you might need to opt out of that convention, even if it has great guests and awesome panels if no one knows you’re there you’re not going to have a good time as a vendor. The same goes for the Convention itself. Look into where it’s located, how long have they been at that location? Is this their first year as a Convention?
That last question can be a deal breaker for my business because while we’ve had a great time at first year con’s like SpaCon in Arkansas we’ve also had cons like MagmaCon in Pigeon Forge TN (Before I started this blog) That need a few years to mature before we can afford to go back. They were great baby cons but for our financial goals they didn’t work out so well. Additionally if a con has moved from one location to another it can affect the number of attendees. The number usually drops about 20% the first year after the move then bounces back so it’s a bit of a gamble. We have had two wildly different experiences with cons moving locations. Fan Lexicon had moved to its new location and it was dismal for the vendors but Dodeca Con in Missouri had moved as well and it was a major hit for a second or third year convention so if you feel comfy taking the gamble it could be worth it.
In the end you’re taking a gamble. Being a vendor of any flavor, whether in the Dealers Hall or Artist Alley, is a risky business but there are few things more rewarding than taking the risk and coming out on top. Hopefully this information about table location can help you take better risks. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks and please check out the links below. Yes I know these are from Cracked.com which is a humor site but I’ve tried a lot of these and they work.