The Chicago Comic Con Guide to Attracting and Retaining Customers

This year I attended the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con for the first time. I donned a costume and joined the legions of fellow geeks for a weekend full of celebrities, comics, and cosplay. I loved every single second of it.

Wizard World Chicago draws thousands of people every year, many of them longtime attendees. There are dozens of conventions in the Midwest throughout the year, so how is it that Wizard Entertainment manages to fill half of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for a weekend in August?

Identify a Niche Market

Scott Skoney, a 10 year Chicago Comic Con veteran, said that he first heard of the convention from his local comic book shop. Besides a poster advertising the event, you could also purchase tickets at the register. Cristie Peralta, a first year attendee, found out about the convention from Skoney.

The convention identified its niche market and honed in on advertising where potential customers would notice. Those attendees sought out friends and family members. With their clients’ word of mouth advertising, Wizard World Chicago continues to expand their market.

Offer a Huge Selection

Comic book geeks like choices, too!

Comic book geeks like choices, too!

Skoney keeps coming back because of the selection of vendors and artists in Artist Alley. Peralta said that she was also impressed by the large number of vendors and liked discovering great deals on hard to find merchandise.

Wizard World Chicago features a few hundred vendors and artists, making it possible for every attendee to find something that interests them. Even operating in a niche market of “geeks,” there are still many different franchises within the geeky market. Providing a huge selection of products and services is a surefire way to attract and retain customers.

Add a Personal Touch

As a first timer, the extent of the convention was daunting. I spent the first hour gaping at the celebrity guests, massive t-shirt displays, and artist portfolios.  It wasn’t until RJ Casey of Yeti Press made eye contact with me and said “Hi” that I really focused in on individual booths; specifically, his booth.

After a minute of convention chit chat, Casey told me about Yeti’s latest endeavor Pecos. I was so pleased that he took the time to talk to me and establish my interest that I quickly bought a copy. After talking with Casey one-on-one and because of the quality of Yeti’s comic, I’m sure that I’ll be keeping tabs on their products and buying from them again.

Sweeten the Deal

Extra content provides the "ultimate deal."

Extra content provides the “ultimate deal.”

While walking past the Unshaven Comics booth, one of the creators shouted out, “Hey, can I tell you about our comics?” I shrugged, walked over, and he launched into a pitch about their new comic Disposable Razors #3.

I was sold on the plot point of “a monkey fights a dinosaur in space,” but if I bought the comic at the convention, all three of the creators would sign it. So for $5, how could I resist? And if that wasn’t enough, I got a sticker, too.  It’s simple, but the additional content really made me feel like I got the ultimate deal.  Vendors and artists all over the convention added additional products or content to their transactions, creating lots of happy, and potentially, repeat customers.

Needless to say, I’m going to Wizard World Chicago Comic Con next year. The inherently geeky atmosphere instantly made me feel welcome, and the artists and vendors present made the experience seriously unforgettable. I’ve not only developed brand loyalty to the convention, but to individual shops and artists as well.

Have you had an interaction with a brand that earned your customer loyalty? Would you go to a convention, concert, or event based on a suggestion from a friend?


Logo credit to Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con’s Facebook page.

Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. Bret B.

    Where are the people in their costumes! 🙂

  2. Rachel

    Yay Comic Con! I had a blast attending for the first time as well. I agree with you: the place is so overwhelming, especially when you first arrive, and I would never have stopped at some of the tables, particularly in Artist Alley, without having someone call out and ask me to look at their products. You’ve got to do a lot to get my attention when there’s such a sensory overload of STUFF, and you give some nice examples of attention-grabbing experiences that we both had. Great post, Mandy! 🙂

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      It’s so true! I’m not usually a fan of people hollering at me, but I actually appreciated it at Comic Con to snap me out of my surreal experience.

      Besides, most of the vendors that took the time to tell me about their products and discover my interests eventually got my business. 🙂

      • Ness

        Have you ever been to ACen? The artists are ridiculously obnoxious trying to get you to buy their shit, haha. 🙂

        • Mandy Kilinskis

          I haven’t, no. But it sounds like the artists there took “pique customer’s interest” and changed it to “BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY.” Haha, that’s definitely too much.

          • Ness

            The artists at ACen are sometimes like, “Hey! Do you like [something]? Then you’ll want this! Buy it!”. Sometimes they are less subtle, too (i.e., “BUY MY BOOK!” or “Here! Take this!” while they hand me something from their booth).

  3. Marc Alan Fishman

    Thanks Mandy! We hope you enjoyed the book!

  4. Jonathan Drewes

    This was an aexcellent article. It was interesting, informative and well written. I would love to go to comicon myself one day. Excellent blog article as always

    Jonathan Drewes
    Achieve Beyond Pediatric Therapy & Autism Services
    NY, NJ, TX, IL, CA, VA, MD & CT

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thank you, Jonathan! And thanks so much for commenting!

      I still want to go to the San Diego Comic Con one year, but this was definitely a stepping stone. A convention is a hands-down must for anyone who is even just a little bit nerdy about something.

  5. Ness

    I had a lot of fun at this nerd convention (like I usually do), but the staff and volunteers at this particular con REALLY need to communicate and offer clear paths to the celebrities/guests and the panels! The content of the con was awesome, but the organization was a CLUSTERF*CK!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I honestly had no idea that wasn’t normal until I got to work on Monday and talked to Jill about it. But I totally agree! A way to make the convention better is to step up on their organization, increase communication, and maybe consider a different way of facilitating panels.

  6. Jen

    Great post Mandy!

    I went to Chicago Comic-Con a couple years ago and had a great time. It was my first convention, and I too felt really overwhelmed by everything going on.

    I just wanted to mention that I’m not a big comic book reader, but it was still fun. There is something for everyone at the convention. I particularly like Artist’s Alley because there are so many great hand made crafts, drawings, paintings, comics, etc.

    I cannot wait for more posts about the Con! Thanks Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Jen!

      There really was something for everyone, which is what I enjoyed. I loved being able to experience/buy things from all of my nerdy walks of life.

      When I head back next year I’m really going to have to spend more time in Artist Alley…even though my wallet might protest.

    • Amanda

      Thanks for mentioning that Jen–I’ve never read a comic book, only the beginning of one (Thanks Jana!) and I’m glad to hear that it might still be a fun convention to attend for me.

      • Mandy Kilinskis

        Just google “Stormtrooper” again before you go. There were a ton of those there. 🙂

  7. amy

    Comic Con looks like it was blast, I can imagine you left exhausted though between walking and looking everywhere, sheesh! I’ve never been before but maybe next year I’ll make the trek up to/over to Rosemont for one of the days, y’know ease in to it 😉

    After reading your blog though I checked out Yeti Press and their website. Those two guys sound like they’d be a lot of fun to talk to (and find out how to get a masters in badassery from the University of Life… or at least an associate’s degree). Great post Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      YOU MUST. It was so must fun. There were a couple Groupon and Yelp deals, so you might even be able to get in for a lower price. Bless that Yelp deal, seriously.

      The guys from Yeti Press were super cool and really nice. I really appreciated how much time they spent talking to me, which definitely factored into my decision to buy Pecos.

      And yes, I must figure out how to get my Masters in Badassery… I wonder if they give scholarships.

      • amy

        Or at least some sweet street cred 😉

  8. Amanda

    Great blog Mandy! I love your tips–especially “offer a huge selection”. That almost guarantees everyone will find something they love to geek out on! I even saw a Scooby Doo van–sweet! I loved looking at the pictures too and seeing the Batman Joker especially, the Heath Ledger’s Dark Knight Joker is the best!!!! =) I love that movie!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      There were tons of costumes from the Batman universe – I saw at least six different Jokers, and I’m sure that there were more.

      I’m telling you, anything that you might geek out about? Probably was there.

  9. Joseph Giorgi

    I’ve gone to conventions like this (specifically, Anime Central) on the recommendation of friends before, and I’ve always had a great time! I’ve never been to Comic Con, but I’ve been told it’s a great time.

    Excellent points here, Mandy! “Adding a Personal Touch” is solid advice for any marketer or salesperson. My favorite though is when vendors “Sweeten the Deal.” Providing an autographed copy of anything definitely goes a long way in making a memorable first impression.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Definitely gotta go next year, Joe. They had the car from Ghostbusters there!

      The autographs really did “sweeten the deal” for me. I hadn’t heard of the Unshaven Comics guys before the convention, but I am really excited to have all of their autographs. It just adds another dimension to memorabilia.

  10. Kyle Gnepper

    As the person who shouted “Can I tell you about our comic” I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s always weird to me how many people just sit at their tables and don’t engage. It’s great you’ll be back next year.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hey, Kyle! It was weird, honestly. In such a mass of tables and people, a single engaging question can create new sales and fans.

      I had such an excellent time this year that I can’t wait to go back. I’m probably going to expand to C2E2 next year, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  11. No Prisoners, No Mercy

    Hey! We have a podcast, and we would LOVE to interview you!! We were also at the con, it was VERY crowded, we both felt a little like sardines! But, we LOVE gaming, and movies (especially action/superhero/vampire/fantasy, etc…) the interview is just a phone call via Skype and we record it, edit it, and put about 50 to 75% of it in a show format. We usually put out a show every other week. We would just love to pick your brain, get your opinions on games, comics, anything that interests you really. Please…let us know!! BTW, we BOTH LOVE COFFEE!!! My kitchen is styled like a Tuscan Cafe!
    Frances & Julie

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