For the Professional Maker: Make your product a Maker Faire success

July 14, 2016 OpenSystems Media

As a MakerPro, if you have a product or service to offer, Maker Faires can be a natural fit for promotion. Though they vary greatly in size and audience, people are there to see new inventions, and getting a booth is usually as easy as applying and showing up with your creation. Sometimes a fee is involved, but this is generally minimal if it exists at all.

I’ve displayed at three of these events personally, and attended one as a reporter. Additionally, I will be showing off my own StrandMaus at the Maker Faire in Orlando in October. One thing that I’ve personally observed is that people really get interested in things that move. I brought my CNC router one year and had it running, which attracted huge amount of attention, and I was able to make things to give away to people to take home. Even though I wasn’t there to sell anything, I had a great time, and hopefully exposed my work to many more people.

Gigantic Raspberry Pi model[A Giant Raspberry Pi Infinity served as an eye-catching display at this Maker Faire]

At another event, I set up my MountainBeest (an ancestor to the StrandMaus mentioned previously) hanging about 15 feet above the crowd, remote controlled at my booth. To my dismay, people didn’t look up as much as I wanted and didn’t really make the connection between me and the ‘Beest. Perhaps a better approach would be something like the gigantic Raspberry Pi model shown above. Though still elevated, it’s quite eye-catching and connected very obviously to the booth in question.

Maker Pipe cannonball run[A young Maker Faire attendee enjoys an interactive display made from Maker Pipe]

According to David Schlitter, creator of a system for creatively attaching electrical conduit together called Maker Pipe, “Maker Faire attendees expect interaction and fun at every turn. They want to touch and learn about your product.” Schlitter has shown off Maker Pipe at two Faires this year, with plans for four more. To catch people’s attention, he made a “cannonball run” game where players raced plastic balls on rails made with the product.

Maker Pipe wins Editor's Choice[David Schlitter, creator of Maker Pipe, shows off his Editor's Choice award at National Maker Faire 2016]

Traditional “trade show” methods shouldn’t be neglected at these events either. Stickers or other giveaways advertising your product are quite popular, and hopefully will help people at least remember who you are or what you’re selling. A wide age range go to these events, so be sure to consider that in your giveaway selection. A T-shirt with your logo on it can’t hurt either, and be ready to talk about your product–a lot. If you’re promoting something you made, you’re likely very passionate and knowledgeable about it, hopefully making this fun.

Schlitter adds that “After every Maker Faire we are energized and excited about how the event went for us,” and that the product feedback can be quite valuable. In true MakerPro fashion, perhaps the best way to learn how to do a good Faire and perfect your product for that audience is to simply apply and display!

Jeremy S. Cook is a freelance tech journalist and engineering consultant with over 10 years of factory automation experience. An avid maker and experimenter, you can follow his exploits on Twitter, @JeremySCook.

Jeremy Cook
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