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      CommentAuthorNewt Newport
    • CommentTimeAug 25th 2010 edited
     
    So Furnace is coming up and its time to organise the D101 stall for the con, or not as the case may turn out.

    This year I've popped my cheery well and truly on the selling front, from two cons.

    Con-Quest (Derby May)
    On the surface this looks like Dragonmeet in the Midlands, in fact it was originally going to be DM-Midlands. A one day con. There's a mini-trade area where Mongoose and House Attitides were set up and then the main hall where trade stalls of various types not all rpg (we were in-between a CCG stall and a stall selling Pagan items) where there was also Leisure Games and a bring and buy stall.

    Here's me Steve (behind the stall) and Gary "Evil Gaz" Bowerbank one of the organisers in a picture taken by Darran Sims (another of the organisers) from the balcony behind the stall.



    Short story here is that the gamers, despite the abundance of trade stalls, were there to game. Even Mongoose left early. I felt like a total lemon, while the D101 Demo team ran full games and had a grand time, I made two sales (fortunately enough to cover the cost of the stall) all day and went home will practically all the stock as a result.

    Despite all our attempts to trap what little passing trade there was, interest in the stall was virtually zero :(

    It should be noted none of this is down to the very fine efforts of the organisers, who put on a very well attended excellent first con, but more from the fact that I was physically distanced from the customers who were busy gaming in the centre of room. I realised I would have been better off running games and having a selection of them in my bag with a cash tin if people wanted to buy...which lead

    Continuum (Leicester July)
    Very different set up here. Although Continuum has a similar foot fall (about 200), its a 2 day residential con. Learning from the mistakes made at ConQuest, I put the stall firmly in the room that we had for gaming, we had 2-3 tables on the go in all slots. I called the stall the 'Magic Stall' because it magically appeared in-between slots, and was 'closed' while I was running games. Initially the stock was packed up when it was closed, but by the end I left stuff out for people to browse. As you can see from the photo, the Magic stall is less of a barrier but more of an open feature.

    Here's the Magic stall front on:


    and here's it side on with customers browsing it


    This worked great guns, contact with the customer was easily made. The only change I would make for next time would also to have a 'breakfast' Magic Stall that appeared at the edge of the Dining hall, after I had my breakfast (I'm an early riser). This is what Leisure games did on Saturday and they where doing great trade at 8:30-9 as people had just finished breakfast.

    Another thing I did was try out the man with games in his bag approach - Monkey you see fits in my man bag along with the cash box - and this worked very well since people know me well enough at Continuum to wander up and ask for a copy. This ease of access also led to sales of books that were upstairs on the Magic Stall in the Games Room as well. Because I had copies with me at all times as soon as someone asked me about the game I had something to show and sell. As a result I literally was selling Monkey up until the moment I left the con!

    So for Furnace I'll definitely be repeating the Continuum set up of the Magic Stall and Man-with-a-game-in-his-bag , with some tweaks.
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      CommentAuthorNeil Gow
    • CommentTimeAug 25th 2010
     
    Oooh pictures! I like pictures.

    Your Continuum set-up sounds very similar to the way that we do Furnace. A small stall - more of a display - and then CE folk around and about running games, talking shite and generally scaring people into parting with their money. It works really well, especially as it affords a more relaxed area for the punters. The Furnace lot are a civilised bunch, unlikely to nick anything so its all cool.

    The stuff about ConQuest sounds curious. We have 'sales cons' where its all about the shopping (Games Expo is the master of this.) and we have 'play cons' where its all about the games. (Furnace). ConQuest looked like a balanced version of the two but may have tilted towards play? Its a learning experience anyway.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and good luck at Furnace!! We will wave across a crowded sign-up area!

    Neil
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      CommentAuthorTim Gray
    • CommentTimeAug 25th 2010
     
    Neil, Con-Quest was certainly aiming to be a sales con, but I don't know whether it quite was. I've a vague suspicion that it's less that there were loads and loads of people playing and more that there were fewer people shopping than expected, if that makes sense. (I was on the stall with Newt. Hiding under table in photo.)
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    I'm a firm believer that running / playing games is the best way to get them sold. I've "sold" tons of games by running it at a con - notably Furnace, where the RPG store does the wise thing and stocks all the games that are going to be run at the convention.

    Newt - At Con-Quest I reckon you could have run some more demo games to the "wanderers", maybe trying the CE approach of 15 minute demos? Although for me they're a little <em>too</em> short, but a swift, punchy intro could be just the ticket. (One of my after thoughts from the con was having a dedicated demo area where folk can rock up and play something without having to commit to a full game.)

    Tim, you're perfectly entitled to your opinion, however I can speak with authority when I say that Con-Quest certainly <em>was not</em> <strong>aiming</strong> to be a sales con. It was aiming to be a (Good) well-rounded convention, with lots of everything gamers could want (within reason) - including lots of diverse traders.

    Some of our traders were elated and couldn't wait to try and book for next year. Also I was pleasantly surprised that, for example, the nice man selling Shurro with his little demo table sold well and ran lots - when it wasn't really related to most of the gaming at the con. Which takes me back to run more games, sell more games.

    Good luck with the Furnace Newt, as you've surmised from Continuum and as Neil says from his experience, for the small press hit-and-run Indie gamer, a focussed, informal set up works really well.
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    Newt - At Con-Quest I reckon you could have run some more demo games to the "wanderers", maybe trying the CE approach of 15 minute demos? Although for me they're a little <em>too</em> short, but a swift, punchy intro could be just the ticket. (One of my after thoughts from the con was having a dedicated demo area where folk can rock up and play something without having to commit to a full game.)


    Yeah we briefly talked about this at Continuum, before I wandered off in a distracted drunken haze (my apologies on that one). I'd certainly be up for doing some form of 'Games on Demand'. Monkey and Wordplay certainly lend themselves to short and easy to get into games. I'll start a seperate thread about 'Games on Demand' because its not something that I have experience in. Have the D101 stall (and any other participants) nearby and you've you've got the ideal mosh pit to play and sell games :)
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      CommentAuthorTim Gray
    • CommentTimeAug 29th 2010
     
    Hi Gaz. OK, I thought I'd picked up a sales emphasis from some of the promo material, but as one of the organisers you should know!