When I bring up the phrase “marketing plan” to comic book publishers or creators, I generally get one of two responses, neither of which is very encouraging.
The first, and more prevalent of the responses, is one of confusion. The comic publisher really has no idea what this “marketing” thing is, doesn’t understand how it relates to comics or, even if they have heard the term before, have no clue how to do it.
The other reaction, which has been known to get a bit heated, is one of anger and usually comes from either the “marketing” person of a small to mid sized comic book publisher or from a failed comic creator/publisher. These people are convinced they’ve done “everything possible” when it comes to selling their comics and are convinced their lack of sales come solely from problems in the industry itself. They get insulted when anyone brings up new ideas (or, in my case, old, established ones that work successfully in every marketplace on the planet) and are blinded by their own short-sightedness.
To these people, comic book “marketing” is made up of sending out solicitations to Diamond, sending out press releases to Comic Book Resources or Newsarama (or any other online comic book media outlet), potentially sending out some review copies and, in the case of the mid-sized publishers, buying a lot of beer for retailers at conventions. For them, schmoozing people at conventions is the height of marketing technique. Well, that and tossing out variant covers to try and make up for shrinking sales numbers — to those small and mid-sized publishers, it’s better to bleed your current customer base dry than to try and build a larger audience…but, that’s a subject for another day!
Now, to be completely fair to these people, that is absolutely the pinnacle of sales and marketing techniques within the comic book direct market: buying beers, talking to CBR (et al) and writing up solicitations for Previews. Unfortunately, this “pinnacle” really hasn’t changed since about 1995 (and, if you replace CBR with things like “Amazing Heroes” or “Comics Interview,” they haven’t really changed since the mid 80s). Comic book publishers have very rarely ever tried “real” marketing or sales tactics because, in those times, they were a bit more difficult to enact without the Internet.
Amazingly, though, the World Wide Web has been around for more than 15 years now and those same publishers have done all they can to remain stuck in the pre-Internet business world. What’s even worse is the comic book industry’s tendency to just toss out a new comic book series and “hope for the best” when it comes to sales, with no pre-planning or market research done before a book is released.
Heck, I’ve even been told by the marketing folks at certain publishing company the only thing that affects sales numbers is how well a creative team is doing and that marketing isn’t effective in growing sales or worth doing.
Um…you know, what? I’m going to stop there before I go off on another tirade.
Anyway, I’ve talked about market research in a couple of other articles (including a “Quick Tip of the Week” on How to Do Market Research), so what I’d like to go over today is the 4 steps to creating a comic book marketing plan.
The 4 Parts of a Successful Comic Book Marketing Plan
Most comic book people make the mistake of thinking that “marketing” just means advertising, public relations (PR) or promotion. In fact, almost all comic industry marketing is made up of those things alone. What they are missing is that marketing and a marketing plan is so much more — it includes understanding your product, knowing the market and audience you’re going to be selling your product to and putting together a plan to reach that market and a lot more.
Marketing and your marketing plan is your road map to success! The four parts of a successful comic book marketing plan are as follows:
This is a brief and succinct summary of your business, your market and the major points of your marketing plan. Even though this comes at the top of the list and is the first thing read in a marketing plan, the Overview is the last thing written. In the overview, you’ll break your marketing plan down in to a one to two page description.
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