Con Prep: Worth all the Trouble?

Last time I discussed the preparations I’d made for my very first Comic Convention — but did they pay off? Let’s find out!

1. Panels: Rapport better than Props

We were almost TOO prepared! We had a slideshow in addition to the booklet. As I opened up the first few slides, I realized we’d written it to be given by just one person — NOT a panel of eight! I had to improvise discussion questions based on the slides! Fortunately, this is where other kinds of preparation paid off! We’d been meeting to discuss this panel on a monthly basis since November, both in person and through Skype. As a result, we all had a good rapport, and I knew what perspective each person could provide. If we hadn’t known each other so well, it could have been a disaster!

The booklets also had long-term pay-off, since many young artists came by my booth saying “I really want to start my own webcomic, but I don’t know how!!” Having extras from the panel meant I could hand them a valuable, free resource without skipping a beat.

TAKE-AWAY:

  • The most important aspect in a group presentation is rapport. Start a friendship with someone before you’re next to them on stage!
  • Visual aids help, but they can’t make up for quick thinking. They’re props, not crutches.

2. Local Networking – Nothing Better!

Kristy of Girls of Geek was my very first convention customer EVER!

The friends I’d made in the months prior to the convention went above and beyond the call of duty to help us out! In my mind, they became Moko Press Ambassadors! Not only did they buy our books, but they made repeat visits, included us in their daily blogs, tweeted about our work, attended our panels, and directed traffic to our booth. Absolutely incredible!! Even after the convention is over, they’ve continued to support us in their post-con wrap-ups! We had several people stop by specifically because they’d heard about us on at least one of these blogger websites!!

The Denver Comic Con itself was also incredibly generous. I’d been promoting DCC frequently, but never thought  anyone in a big convention staff would notice me. Turns out, I should never underestimate the awesomeness of DCC staff. Not only did they notice, but they promoted my first book in the convention program, tweeted about my booth and website, AND had features on their convention website! I will never doubt the awesomeness of DCC ever again, this I swear!

TAKE-AWAY:

  • It turns out the Bronies had it right all along. Friendship really IS Magic.

3. Booth Fabrication – Pretty pays off

The banner was angled towards the highest traffic flow, and all of the merchandise could be seen from almost any angle. Of course, the real attraction may have been the handsome gentlemen helping me. Rrrowr! Forget booth Babes. I’ll take Beaus any day. 😉


We had a lot of compliments on our booth, banner, and set-up. The way we laid out merchandise did a great job of catching the eye and pulling people in, just as our “mock-up” tests indicated they would. We were also fortunate to have a great spot, and did everything to maximize the space. It took forever to set-up, but it was totally worth the time.

TAKE-AWAY

  • First impressions count! Take the time and effort to make yours a good one.

4. Making Sales – Adapt and Record

These are just the sales from DCC, which is a relatively small pool of people to develop any meaningful statistics. I’m excited to collect more data in the future and — what’s that? My Numbers Freak is showing? Oh my!!

The most valuable bit of prep work was the sales booklet. Data is superior to perception! For example, by the end of the convention, I was wondering if I should skip printing paperbacks in the future. In my perception, we hadn’t sold any paperbacks. However, once I got home and made my spreadsheets, I realized that we sold an equal number of soft-covers and hard-covers. The reason I remembered the hardbacks is because most of the people who bought one paid extra for an Artist Edition, so I had personally sketched in nearly every copy. Compare that to the paperbacks, most of which were bought without a sketch by college students that had to watch their expenses. If the paperbacks weren’t available, it would be very difficult for that subset of customers to support me!

The booklet made it easy to record sales, so we always knew exactly what we had sold at the end of the day, but it didn’t slow down the process of making a sale during the day.

TAKE-AWAY

  • When it comes to tracking sales, accurate data is king. Make collecting data easy!

5. The Rule of Threes – More of a Guideline, really

Each of these was printed on the back with a thank you, and an invitation to visit my website. In the future, I may put a code for a discount on the online store, or an offer for a discount if they return to the booth on a certain day.

The star of the convention was, without a doubt, the free sketches. I probably gave out somewhere between 150 – 200 of them over the course of three days. Many of them turned into sales. Sometimes of a small item, such as a button that caught their eye, but just as often they’d choose to take a chance on a book or poster. Without those sketch cards, I doubt we would have sold even half of what we did.

Conversely, the other incentives had almost no impact.  People either had the money and desire to buy high, in which case they got a free pin and button for their troubles, or they didn’t have the resources in the first place, and a free pin couldn’t make a difference.

TAKE-AWAY

  • Anything that can get and keep people at your booth for one or two minutes gives you the chance to build a relationship and make a sale.
  • When all your products are already a little exclusive and unique, offering other exclusive and unique items is less of a draw, even if they’re free.

FINAL TALLY

Over-all, DCC was an incredible and unexpected success for me! We paid off the table twice over by the end of the first day, and even if we’d purchased tickets and paid for a hotel to go to this show, we STILL would have made money. I will definitely go again next year and hope to do even better! The crowds were crazy this year, but I imagine with Stan Lee as their first signed guest for 2013, Denver Comic Con will be here to stay!

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Posted in Conventions, Featured News, Helpful Hints and tagged , , , , .

6 Comments

  1. The Sketch-Card idea is a really good one, provided you don’t labor too long over it. If they like a small sample of your work you’re likely to get a commission out of them!

  2. Oooohhhh… putting your commission price list on the back of some printed pieces. That’s a good idea. Don’t know where I could put that though. All of my stuff already has something on the back… postcards have a sample strip on the back but postcards are so cheap, maybe designing a special “Commissions” postcard is definitely an idea!

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