The maker culture is thriving in the United States. This movement embodies the artisan spirit, and is characterized by active, hands-on learning and doing. Through this movement, independent inventors and designers have been able to put their creations front and center and embrace their ability to tinker and bring an idea to life.
According to AdWeek, “Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise.”
If you’ve come up with an idea, taken the painstaking time to find electronic parts that power it, and are confident in your ability to sell it, the Maker Faire is a great way to get it in front of the right people. Here’s what you need to know about getting involved:
Don’t Forget Giveaways
If you put things on your table to give away, chances are people will pick it up. Make it easy for people to remember your company by putting business cards, postcards, flyers, and even swag for attendees to take. It might help to have a raffle to incentivize others to drop their business cards. Don’t forget to talk up your giveaways via digital marketing, as well as promote your Maker Faire attendance across your social channels and website.
Put Together a Team
You need a solid team on your side working your event with you. Events always tend to be much busier than you think they will be, and event staff are always stretched for time and tending to multiple vendors at once. Sometimes, you might be able to turn to veteran makers at the event, but they’ll likely only be able to help you with simple questions so they can tend to their own tables.
When you have an effective team, you can work in shifts, taking turns for breaks, seeing some of the other makers, and networking. Ideally, you’ll wear a uniform that helps your team stand out. Consider purchasing branded shirts or wearing cool handmade apparel or gizmos.
Network, Network, Network
Of course, one of your biggest goals for any conference or fair is to network with other attendees. From local stores to angel investors, one of your main priorities should be showing others what you’re capable of. Don’t always wait for people to approach you; if you have a team, take your time making the rounds, too. Keep in mind that networking doesn’t always have to be about scoring a deal today. Like any company, lead nurturing is an important part of the equation. When you get connections, reach out to them later and keep in touch over time.
Bring the Right Materials
Preparation is key for setting up and managing your own booth. Of course, you know what you need to demonstrate your product and spotlight it in in the best way possible. But at the last minute, there are plenty of things you might find yourself needing small things here and there that you didn’t anticipate.
First and foremost, bring spare parts for your setup, as well as a small toolkit and and basic power supplies, like a power strip, chargers, extension cords, and cables. The venue will provide you with certain supplies, but it’s always best to be overly prepared. Tablecloths, gaffer’s tape, A-clamps, and zip ties are all additional items that tend to come in handy when you’re running a booth.
Accept Credit Card Payments
If you’re selling your craft or tech product, be sure to have your mobile payment solution on hand. Get a Square account and tablet long before the event launch. People rarely carry cash, and the last thing you want to do is isolate potential customers. To capitalize on future sales, hand out discounts or coupon codes exclusively for Maker Faire attendees.
Expect the Unexpected
As previously mentioned, with dynamic events like Maker Faire, chances are things don’t always go as planned. Last minute changes on the fair’s end can mean last minute changes for you. For example, you might show up at the event and discover that your booth has been moved, which means you’ll need to adjust to new lighting, neighbors, smaller tables, or louder section. Always be prepared for the worst.