By Mike Scigliano
I’m guessing that most of you were wondering when I would get to the marketing aspect of producing a comicon. Marketing is a very important part of the process of putting on a comicon. Much of the success you hope to have will hinge upon how you are able to reach your potential attendees.
The first step in planning your marketing is to sit down and really think about what message you are trying to convey. What is your call to action for your marketing campaign? It’s a good idea to try to figure out a theme and work from there. When you sit back and think about your comicon, you will know pretty quickly.
Now that you have the basic idea and know what message you want to convey it’s time to put together a plan of action. I’ve mentioned time and time again how important strategic planning can be. Marketing is no different. Formulating a great plan that encompasses the different aspects of your marketing campaign will be very important — sticking to it, even more so. Adapting it on the fly to make it more effective or correct something that wasn’t yielding the desired results is of the utmost importance.
When formulating your strategic marketing plan you need to look at a few different aspects. Your comicon’s advertising plan is a key to your marketing strategy. Not only does it serve as a way to reach potential attendees, but it also can put a dent into your budget. Placing ads in local newspapers, buying time on radio stations. or even going all in and looking into buying time on television can be as effective as it is costly. And sadly, as ineffective as it is costly, too. While each avenue can be a very effective marketing tool, make sure you do ample research into the demographics each option covers. Failing to do so can very well mean that you are just throwing your money away.
Now that you have decided what types of advertising you can afford to do it’s time to create the materials. A strong and clear message in conjunction with a great looking design is key. Know your limitations. Spending money on ad placement but supplying a terrible ad not only means the likelihood of your message getting across is slim, but you are presenting your comicon in a less than professional light. That alone is worth the cost of a capable designer.
The same goes for radio and television. Whoever you work with to create your ad buy can work with you to create a good and respectable ad. Again, don’t just spend the money on the ad buy. Make sure you have a solid production to air in that ad buy slot.
Next up is your website. When people see your message and look up your site what will they find? Make sure it has all the important info. Location, hours, guests, exhibitors, on site events, local hotels, how to buy tickets, a way to contact the comicon, etc. It doesn’t need to be a million dollar site. It just needs to have the information presented as cleanly and concisely as possible.
Another angle to work is considering getting out in the community. Pitch local papers on covering your show. Do interviews whenever you can. Look for any opportunity to talk about your comicon. Websites, blogs, etc. I always recommend going out into the community to meet people. Set up a street team. Go out every week with flyers or postcards to different popular locales and let people know about your event. Yep, engage in some good old fashioned guerilla marketing techniques—sometimes this can be the most effective way of getting your message out there.
You should also work with local businesses, schools, universities, libraries and any other outlet you can. The more outreach you do the better chance you stand of seeing strong attendance numbers when your comicon opens its doors.
Finally there is one more major aspect to focus on. Social marketing. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s not going to instantly get you thousands of attendees. But when utilized effectively it can be one of the best ways to interact with the people you need to connect with.
Long Beach Comic & Horror Con employs a social marketing team headed up by Gabe Fieramosco of Outbreak Marketing. He manages our Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc and interacts on a daily basis with people who are interested in what the LBCHC experience is all about.
“It’s about finding entertaining and interesting content. Interacting with the fanbase in a social and relatable manner and not just pounding them with marketing all the time.” Gabe Fieramosco, Outbreak Marketing
As Gabe points out, it’s all about extending the experience we create every year at LBCHC. We try to create a virtual LBCHC every day within our social network. It isn’t just about marketing all the time, it’s about engaging and retaining our audience so that they WANT to be a part of our nextwork.
Remember how I said social marketing wasn’t a magic bullet? Keep that in mind. Not every like, follower or circle is going to really care about your message as much as you hope. You can have 200,000 likes on your Facebook page but if only a few thousand really interact or live close enough to attend your comicon, does it matter? It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. You can say the same for your posts.
One last key element to your social marketing campaign is to remember to NEVER spam people. Don’t go overboard. It will not have the desired results. Sending out scores of posts about the same thing, hijacking other pages or threads, promoting your comicon on a competing comicon’s page, etc. It’s bad form and a rookie mistake.
Essentially, forming a well rounded marketing strategy will be very important to the development of your comicon. And like everything else, it’s not how much you spend or how many followers you have; it’s all about the quality of your execution.
Comments and questions are encouraged either below in the comments section or via twitter.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.