After we exhibited at MakerFaire in SF last month we have a much greater appreciation for what it takes to have an innovative booth to attract visitors.
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Whether you are a veteran at attending this show or a novice (like we were) we hope our experience below will provide you with tips and insights to make your booth a success.

We were doing this exhibition on a shoestring budget and didn’t start planning for the show until a few weeks prior to the event. Big mistake! When we arrived at MakerFaire to set up our booth we had a “Dorothy, we aren’t in Kansas anymore,” moment.

We were in amazement at the booths and interactive displays of the big sponsors like Google, Microsoft, Intel and Tech-Shop who had permission to set up their elaborate booths a day before small vendors like ours.

OMG I said to myself.  “How is a little company like ours gonna get folks to come to our booth when we are surrounded by brand name companies with DEEP POCKETS for this displays?”  And some of the companies, like Google, also had free novelty products to give away. Or hands on workshops and custom QR codes.

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Well, ahem, as with some other things in life – size does NOT matter. But creativity does. What our booth lacked in size and bells and whistles we made up for in other ways.

It is just not feats of engineering that stimulates people’s imaginations. We created  “AHA” or “AWE” moments by showcasing various maker projects our staff created from recycled mannequins and mannequin parts.

Since our booth was too small for us to display ALL the projects we wanted to, I turned my iPad into a rotating photo gallery to showcase additional maker mannequin projects culled from our various Pinterest boards.

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Unfortunately it wasn’t until the last day of MakerFaire that I remembered to put signage above my iPad to direct visitors to my Pinterest board so they could follow me.  DUH!

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As a result there was a surge in our Pinterest followers the week after the trade show.

I created a a MakerFaire Pinterest Board to centralize all the projects we featured.

Seemingly everyone at the #MakerFaire has a smart phone (even young kids). As a result a lot of people take in the show by whipping out their camera to snap a photo of what they see.

Only a small number of people asked us questions about our projects. Instead they took photo so they could go back home and re-create the project themselves.

Well given that this is a trade show for “makers” I guess that is to be expected.

But since I want them to buy their raw materials (mannequins) from me when they create these projects, I had to do something to make them remember us.

So I created signage with our logo and a description of the project positioned on or near the item so that this would get captured in their photographs.

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If I had a nickel for every photograph people took of this wire dress form mannequin as a planter for succulents I would be writing this blog post from Maui instead of my warehouse in Oakland.

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Maybe once enough people purchase our upcoming  tutorial on how make this, I will indeed be in Maui.

Check out our blog post tomorrow for other lessons learned at #MakerFaire. One of our big surprises was how well received our low tech items were at a trade show focused on technology.

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