This is a continuation of the blog post we started yesterday about what we learned about being an exhibitor at MakerFaire in SF.
There are lots of vendors at this show – many with huge marketing budgets. So if you are a small company like we are, you really have to “think different” to attract visitors to your booth.
One thing that surprised us this was our first time attending, so perhaps this is not a surprise to other) was the number of women attending #MakerFaire.
I thought #MakerFaire was going to be like an Etsy fair (on steroids) for men because of the emphasis on projects incorporating technology or engineering
True most of the women we saw were with their family or their male partner as opposed to single women or groups of women, like one might find at other craft shows. But still, women were well represented.
The reason I mention this is because I am glad we had projects on display at our booth that appealed to both genders. It doubled our exposure. We had some items that appealed to BOTH men and women like our mannequin lamps and especially our mohawk head planter.
We think it is because everyone appreciates something that is tactile and something that makes them laugh. This mohawk man covers all those bases.
But we also had things that were definitely gender specific like our rotating man-cave beverage holder made from female mannequin legs.
And women loved the floral arrangements made from mannequins with damage heads. We call them rehabilitated crack heads.
But the biggest crowd pleaser for both men and women and children (of all ages even those 50+) was our mannequin covered in chalkboard paint.
In the midst of all the futuristic technology at the show, people still enjoy a blast from the past. And in this era of electronic messaging, writing by hand is not something many people do anymore.
Our chalkboard mannequin was so popular we had to completely erase him multiple times over the course of show.
Who knew that something this low-tech would be so popular at a tech focused event?
It is just a few weeks after the show so it is difficult for us to determine the exact impact of our participation at #MakerFaire.
We were restricted from doing direct selling at our booth (there is a section at #MakerFaire where selling is allowed). So we can’t say “we sold # number of mannequin legs at #MakerFaire.
A lot of the people who attend #MakerFaire are also Burning Man attendees and they don’t like crass commercialization. So collecting emails and marketing to them afterwards didn’t seem the appropriate thing to do here.
But we ran out of business cards and had so many photographs taken of our merchandise you would have thought we had Kim Kardashian at our booth.
But in closing here is my experience “from the trenches” for any other small vendor who wants to exhibit at #MakerFaire
1 have products/projects that appeal to all genders and have both high/tech and low tech projects at your booth.
2 don’t be intimidated by the booths of the big sponsors. There is a place for everyone. On a football team, everyone can’t be the star quarterback or wide receiver. You need an entire team plus the water boy, the referee etc. Do what you do best.
3 make it easy for people to connect with you AFTER the show is over by having your social media info displayed
4 be open to making changes at your booth during the faire. We noticed some things that weren’t working the second day (we needed signage with our logo beside our projects) and I got up at 5am the next morning to design and print these signs. It was SO worth the effort.
We will be at #MakerFaire next year – hope to see you there. Stop by and say hello!