How San Diego Comic Con Can Take All My Money (Part 2)

Welcome back, fellow geeks! I hope you enjoyed the last installment of how San Diego Comic Con (and any others) can take my money. For those who have found their way here through a different path, this is my personal letter to vendors at SDCC (and other comic book conventions) and how they can get my money. Exhibitors in other industries will also be able to find valuable takeaways for their own area of expertise.

waitinginlineSave me the hassle of waiting in line.

All the money in the world can’t buy time… well, not really. While chatting with fellow fans and getting the occasional celebrity signature while waiting in a 12-hour line can break up the monotony, people would much rather be actually sitting in on panels or browsing the convention floor. Want to take my money? Don’t let me waste time waiting to have fun.

Nerd HQ, an event put on by the Nerd Machine held at the same time as SDCC and at a nearby location, guarantees spots (and assigned seating!) to the panels. Although you need to pay for each panel, you don’t lose a ton of time waiting in line to get into the panel let alone to get a good seat. Plus, the venue is smaller and more intimate, making me feel like it’s a truly unforgettable experience.

I have two words for San Diego Comic Con:


Even if you don’t want to go the pay-per-panel route, you can give me a numbered wristband that not only assures me a seat somewhere in the panel but also prevents a crew of 8 line jumpers to hop in with their one friend ten minutes before the line for the panel starts moving.

waitinginline2There is a special place in hell for line jumpers.

Guess what I’m doing instead of waiting in line for a panel I may never get into, becoming increasingly bitter at the event’s organization.

Buying things.

If you don’t have my wallet under my head while I nap between hourly line scoots, I have it open in front of the vendor booths. You can have my money, SDCC, but you’re not getting it while I wait in line.

Having high demand at your vendor booth is fantastic, and it’s sure to spark interest in passersby. However, after a long wait (that appears to be avoidable with better organization/more staffing), the payoff expectation becomes greater. Save my time and take my money by offering me the ability to pick up preordered items or giving me a numbered wristband to ensure I’ll get the product (thereby thwarting line jumpers and assuring me that my time won’t be wasted).

Reel me in with a package deal.

Just like Terry Huddleston sold me about $70 worth of art when I’m pretty sure I just went up to ask for the time, you can take my cash from me by offering a package deal. People that make trips to conventions are hardcore fans, but traveling to another city, paying for the badges, ponying up for the hotel, and eating out every night for several days is not a cheap endeavor.

Huddleston’s art collection offers a ton of different heroes and villains in the same style. The pieces work individually, sure, but they are even more stellar in a group.

discountOne thing about nerds is that we like to have complete sets of things. Much of the merchandise available at comic book conventions includes action figures, art, and replica props. Complete sets from a fandom, fictional work, or character are highly prized, especially if they provide unified look and can be bought at a discount (as opposed to being bought individually).

Make a bulk purchase coupon available or offer a discount on complete sets. When I’m on the fence about buying something in total or piecing it together over time, the low price tag and convenience of having it all together (not to mention the indulgence of my impulse buying) will be more than enough to tempt me into a larger purchase than I may otherwise have considered.

Wrap Up:

  • Connect with me early, so I’ll seek you out at the convention.

  • Offer me experiences that will create you-had-to-be-there stories I can tell for years.

  • Save me the hassle and uncertainty of waiting in line (and possible bitterness at being left out) by having preorder pick-ups or numbered wristbands.

  • Reel me in with a package deal, providing me savings and convenience in my most impulsive moments.

Any other tips that comic book convention attendees have to share with vendors and exhibitors at these large events? What does it take to separate you from your money? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!

Expand Your Brand!

Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.


  1. Wash

    I also dislike lines. I think one improvement for celebrity signatures is possibly creating an “appointment” window for when you should show up to the booth. Celebrities/artists frequently take breaks from autographing anyway, so why not schedule those breaks ahead of time and have a certain number of people show up for certain times? This would eliminate large groups of people waiting for them to come back, which wastes A LOT of time for them. (I’ve noticed this every single time Bruce Campbell comes to Chicago Comic Con/Wizard World.)

    • Jana Quinn

      I think an appointment window could definitely be a good idea. It would be better for the morning folks than the afternoon folks since things will definitely be delayed, but with generous buffers and live updates via Twitter, these appointment windows could definitely contribute toward reducing the line length and floor clutter.

  2. Keith

    Numbered wristbands with assigned seating is the best way to go. That is exactly what steers we clear on panels. I don’t want to get up so early just to wait in line for hours and I am still not guaranteed to get in. That would be such a disappointment that I just avoid it. Great idea!

    • Jana Quinn

      I think that the numbered wristband approach is a solid idea (with rejection of anyone whose wristband has been obviously taken off and put back on – you don’t want to create a black market here). The numbered wristbands could be put onto attendees the night before and guarantee access for the first X number of folks into the first panel. They just need to be in line by an hour or so before the first panel begins. After the initial group enters, the organization would have to go back to a traditional line organization, but at least it would reduce the camping out (which is good for safety and sanity) and allow the people who would have spent the night on the street and the whole day in a stuffy room to take a shower (much appreciated) and get sleep.

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