Paul and I learned a lot running our first table at ECCC this past weekend. If we’re anywhere near smart we’ll apply those lessons at our next convention and show some improvement. Of course, if we had just done everything Daniel Davis recommended in his excellent articles on webcomic marketing, then we wouldn’t have to go through this exercise. But, sometimes you just have to do it wrong yourself to understand how to do it right.
Below are the three most important lessons I learned. None of the information is new, but since they made such an impression on me I thought I’d share them.
Variety is the spice of life – We had a mini-comic and three prints for our first convention. That’s not bad, but next time we need a larger variety of stuff. Most of the other tables had between five and ten items for people to look at and think about purchasing. I’m talking buttons, t-shirts, containers, toys, stuffed animals, figurines, small prints, large prints, sketches, etc. Their tables were really impressive. Ours not so much.
Go vertical or go home – We displayed our mini-comics and prints horizontally on our table. We didn’t have any kind of banner. Everyone else displayed their merchandise vertically, and they had really nice banners. Guess who attracted more eyeballs? No, not us, them. Pay attention! Once you figure out what you want to sell, bring whatever you need to display it vertically.
Always be closing – If you’re a nobody in the webcomic world (and let’s face it, most of us are), and you want to inform people about your comic and sell them stuff, you need to be constantly communicating. This means you should be at your booth, standing up, making eye contact, handing out fliers, and talking to people at all times. It’s hard and it takes a lot of energy. Be prepared.
In conclusion, conventions are cool, but they are also a lot of work. Research, prepare and have fun.