In the past 8 years, I’ve been to more than a dozen comic book conventions in the Chicagoland area, but I’ve never been able to snag my white whale.
The trade show mecca of all geek kind and the holy land of the nerds, San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has always been just out of reach.
Until this year.
This year, I exploited my connection with semi-famous friends for SDCC badges, and I’ll be among my people in no time at all. I’ll have been preparing for this for over six months by time I board the plane, so I have been packing my Spider-Man bank with money out of every paycheck.
Want some of it, Comic Con?
Connect with me before the convention.
Last year, I wrote a blog post highlighting the awesome booth of Young Justice artist Christopher Jones. To my surprise (and fangirl excitement), he replied to the post with a thoughtful comment about the article and suggested a future blog topic.
After the squeeing died down, I realized this man was not only a talented artist but an outstanding business man.
Jones is successful artist in a highly competitive field, but he proactively sought out mentions of his work and engaged with a content creator. He changed himself from a byline to a person just by taking the time to communicate with a fan and show appreciation for the reference to his booth set-up.
Not only does he have a blog that’s regularly updated, but he has active Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest accounts, which keeps me posted on all of the events he’ll attend and the new merchandise I can drool over expect to see. Science tells us that people are happier when anticipating something exciting than actually engaging in the exciting thing. Associating your brand with this high point by contacting me early puts me in a positive frame of mind when I’m looking at your brand.
By seeking out and contacting those who’ve mentioned your organization or work before the event, you can set up appointments in advance, recognize the effort of the content creators to give free publicity to your business, and network with someone who is likely to promote your own content.
The clincher? He followed up on the blog post AGAIN months later, inviting me to stop by table and check out his new prints at the recent C2E2.
The butterscotch lollipops better be history, Jones. That’s all I’m saying.
Offer me experiences, not just products.
“Exclusives” at San Diego Comic Con are no longer only for those with badges; they’re for those who have enough cash and an internet connection. Resale sites have made snagging exclusives a lucrative venture for attendees and an easy purchase for the end user who may not have the time or connections to actually attend a conference.
Even the panels are often recorded (legally or not) and find their way to YouTube or share sites.
But you can’t put experiences like trying out a new PlayStation 4 (rumored for this year’s SDCC) or escaping a horde of zombies in the Walking Dead Escape up on eBay. They can’t list Course of the Force, a Star Wars-inspired relay from San Francisco to San Diego in the week preceding SDCC on Craigslist, or participate in a several-month long scavenger hunt to reveal details of The Dark Knight.
Merchandise is great, because it’s a tangible product in exchange for my money. I love to linger and debate over purchases at vendor booths. But I’ll hesitate even longer before I pass up a once in a lifetime experience, because I can’t change my mind a few weeks later and scoop it up on eBay.
Separate me from my hard-earned cash by offering me an experience like no other. So maybe you can’t have a Firefly-themed obstacle course*, but you could side coach convention attendees using your product: a level of expertise you can’t offer through simply buying the item online. You can offer personalized merchandise (various add-ons that are only available) with signatures from the artist or creator. Celebrity meet-and-greets are great for this, and photos of the experience are even better.
*But you should.
Fellow geeks, what is the best way to separate you from your money? What are some of the critical factors that change your mind from “maybe I’ll come back later” to “I must have it now”? Sound off in the comments below!
And stay tuned for the next installment!