My company, Hero Within, had a chance to exhibit for the first time at Chicago Comic Con last week- hosted by Wizard World in the Donald E Stephens Convention Center. The opportunity sprang on us relatively quickly and we were unsure if we could pull all the pieces together in just under two weeks. The team did a great job making arrangements, prepping materials and figuring out a game plan. Marlon and I have tons of convention experience but exhibiting is a whole new ball game for us. With our primary goal of creating awareness, here were the lessons we learned over the few days at Chicago Comic Con.
- Chicago Fans: You guys are awesome! It was great getting to meet you all and thanks for coming by the booth! We appreciate your excitement for our new product.
- Location is huge: I know this is kind of obvious, but there is such a difference between picking out a random spot on a digital map and actually being in a strategic location on the showroom floor. Like a website, traffic is the key. There were a lot of variables that contributed to traffic flow like which showroom floor (out of 3) you are located in, who are you nearby and how well did you promote before hand. We were not in highly trafficked area so it was a little challenging to get attention. Not complaining by any means since we were lucky just to get in- but being on the other side of the table brought more clarity to the importance of location.
- Booth Presentation: With a short time to prepare, we had a fairly simple booth. With just a banner, product and a couple of rented mannequins, we were ready to roll. With us traveling across the country it would have been cost prohibitive to invest a ton more into this particular show. However, the experience did emphasize the importance of a strong booth presentation. More banners, lighting, mannequins would have all helped to properly present our collection.
- Products on hand: While we had our sample collection available, we did not have stock for immediate purchase since we are in preorder phase. It goes without saying that having immediate inventory on hand is a much better proposition than having to wait a few months. We knew this going in but it just reminded us how much of a difference maker it is in purchasing. Making sells in general is hard and adding preorders adds another level of difficulty. However, that will soon be remedied later this year when we are carrying stock.
- Live Interaction: This is probably the most important lessoned learned. When people interact with our product live, they are genuinely wowed. Seeing a coat online or on an iPhone really does not do our collection justice. Seeing our integrated design in person and trying on the product really reveals the potential of Hero Within. It was really rewarding to see the reaction of fans as they scrutinized our product in detail- something that can’t be easily simulated online.
- Trust and Relationship: The most critical part of any sale is the point of contact. I was so proud of Marlon who worked the booth for the majority of the time. He was enthusiastic, attentive and personable with every guest at the booth. With a new preorder product like ours, it’s key that your faces of your company reflect a genuine passion for your product. I have a new found respect for those in sales, especially the ones that work cons.
- Simple Things: When you are manning a booth by yourself, simple things like going to the bathroom or getting lunch can be problematic. We were grateful for local volunteer, Bayana, for logging in some time in the booth.
There were a lot of things I would have done differently in hindsight but that’s part of the learning experience. Marlon plans to do a follow up post with more of his thoughts. We are so grateful for Wizard World for hosting us and they will forever be part of the early story of Hero Within. Our next convention is Comikaze Expo in LA (Oct 28-30). With it being local, more time and more experience on our side, we’ll be able to boldly and creatively present Hero Within to the LA nerds. We can’t wait and hope to see you there!