The Internet Revived the Carnival Barker
As a part of winning Best Series at GenCon last year, we won a free booth in the convention hall. Having walked through the convention hall for hours last year, I know what an amazing value that is, and it presents us with the potential to connect with tens of thousands of attendees, face to face. So, for the past few months, we’ve been trying to come up with a decent booth concept. Mine was VERY low impact. Walking around the convention center, playing games, watching cosplayers was absolutely exhausting. I was thinking about just giving people a place to sit for a little bit as long as they watched our trailer, but the real draw of that booth only arrives pretty late in the day. Many people and organizations have booths there to sell their wares. We initially thought of having some t-shirts to sell, by our merch is very PoPS brand-based and only of interest to people who already love our show; most of the folks we’ll be interacting with will be hearing about us for the first time, so the incentive to buy anything will be nil.
This is the problem with internet content. The people who make content tend to have a specific skill set. Be it making sketches, vlogs, shorts, or a web series, just because a person knows how to make a thing, doesn’t mean they know how to sell a thing. Marketing and producing are two very different ideas, but on the internet, if you want to get yourself out there, you have to do both. You have to constantly be throwing your product in front of people and forcing them to engage with you. No one else is going to do it. This booth is a very literal representation of that. We’ll have to be out there trying to flag people down, carnival barking at them.
Thankfully, my sister Emi has a better mind for this type of thing and she came up with a really fun interactive possibility for our booth. It’s a work heavy idea with the potential to keep me busy at the computer the whole day, but it could be a lot of fun for people, give them something tangible, and introduce them to our show. Basically, setting up a green screen on the back wall of the booth, and having them get electrocuted by our Donald character after a quick interaction. We just need a five second clip with Craig who plays Donald, I can pre-render the effects and layer them on tracks, we can plug in attendee after attendee, and email them a link of their video clip from a YouTube page we set up for the event. Easy as that. Have a clip of our super hero electrocuting you. We just need to figure out the layout of everything and make sure they stand on the X.
Despite the booth being free—which is a $1500 value—we’ll have to put ourselves up for three nights, buy convention insurance, pay for electricity and wi-fi hookups, feed ourselves, and maintain our sanity for four full days of trying to get people to pay attention to us. I predict that we’ll be flat out exhausted. But I think it could also be a lot of fun.
It’s just an aspect of making a show that I never thought I’d be spending so much time and money on. I guess the alternative is pouring a lot of time and energy into a series you love and then not caring if anyone ever sees it. That seems even less satisfying.
Thanks for reading, you guys.