One of the single most asked questions I get in terms of selling or marketing comic books is: “Okay, Mat, I’ve got my comic book done, how do I get people to buy it?” Being the incredibly rude person I am, I generally answer that question with a question of my own. That question is one of the single most important questions for a comic book publisher (or anyone with a product or service to sell) to ask:
“What can you tell me about your market?” Or, “Tell me about the market analysis/research you’ve done.”
Unfortunately, instead of well-thought out answers to one of the most basic of business questions, I’m usually met with blank stares. Worse than those whose looks of confusion give me my answer are those who smile smugly and say, “Comic book fans.”
Those individuals in the latter group, which does include most of the mid and larger tier comic book publishers, are the ones I want to punch right in the Gooch.
One of the most important things a comic book publisher must do — heck, anyone looking to invest time and/or money into a business — is to know their product and know their market. If they have an idea for a product (be in a new comic book, new computer or new feminine hygiene product) then the following questions must be asked as early in to the product development cycle (in this case, the creation of the comic book) as possible:
1. Who has a need for my product and how many potential customers are there?
2. How much are they willing to spend to fill that need?
3. Does my product fill that need? If so, does my product fill that need in a new or unique way? In other words, what is it about this product that appeals to a customer enough to make them open their wallets?
4. Where are those potential customers found?
Answering these questions is essential for any product to succeed in business — even within the comic book industry. You should be trying to answer these questions at the very beginning of creating your comic — even as early as in the idea/concept stage. Yes, that’s right, I’m telling you that business and marketing needs to come in to play as soon as you start thinking about creating a new comic book. This may sound counter-intuitive to a creative person, but it will save you money, time and frustration in the long run. I’m not saying you have to BEGIN the creation process from a marketing stand point, although it can be a successful path to development if the creative power is there, but I am saying that all ideas should be checked with those four questions from the very beginning.
Have an idea for a new comic based on basket weaving? Jump online and analyze the market a bit. Find out who buys basket weaving paraphernalia. Figure out where they congregate. Find out the size of the industry, how much money is spend within it each year and so on. Try talking to actual members of that niche market to get some baseline reactions to your new comic.
As you answer these questions, you will begin to put together a better understanding of the “big picture” of your market. From there you will continue to drill down in to the specific that will affect your product.
In other words, discover the market and then gain intimate knowledge of your potential customers. Find out exactly what they are thinking and feeling, and why they do so.
As you drill down in to your research on your market, you’re going to be looking to find out the following information. This information should help you determine whether or not you’ve found a market that can support your new product (your new comic book — I know some people are uncomfortable calling their comics “products,” but that is what they are). The specific information you’re going to be interested in finding out is:
Read the rest in my new book, “Comic Book Marketing 101,” now available as an eBook for only $4.99!
- Doing marketing analysis and research to maximize your comic’s potential for success
- Developing a marketing plan
- How to do a proper Product Launch
- Hands-On case studies using the work of publishers IDW Publishing, Boom Studios and Moonstone Books! Learn from their mistakes!
- And more!
For the Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Comic-Book-Marketing-101-ebook/dp/B005PPPRIU/
In multiple formats: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91945
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius