Probably should have posted this one last week (the week before Free Comic Book Day). That’s OK though, we get it done now and it can serve as the rallying cry for all FCBDs to come.
Comic shops put a lot of thought into planning into Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). A lot of money resources are thrown at making the day a promotional success. For the shops the short term success is measured by the number of new faces they see come into the shop that day. The long term success is getting these new faces to become regular customers.
If you are reading this then you are most likely not a new face to your local comic book shop. But you may very well be the best advertisement your local comic shop may have. My shop in Hamilton, Ontario had a very, very busy FCBD. We had close to 1000 people walk through the front doors on May 1st. We had a lot of promo for the event going on, cinema lobby promo at Kick Ass, interviews on local radio stations, a nice article in the community paper, radio ads and even local library help. I made a questionnaire for people to fill out (while they were waiting in too big a line). One of the questions I asked was “how did you find out about the event”? We had other options to pick as well like, ‘regular at the store’ our ‘pylon sign on the street’ and ‘from a friend’. Next to ‘existing customer’ the most checked off option was ‘from a friend’. The first thing I said was “Wow”!
We had excellent response to the ads and the interviews and the articles but none of these drew in as may new customers as word of mouth.
After digesting this information for a bit I started thinking. Existing customers were the largest single block of visitors that day. People who heard about the event from a friend were the second largest. The thing is I didn’t really rally all our existing customers to corral a friend or two into coming. Imagine if I had tapped into these willing participants. I could have had a “get an extra “blank” for every friend you bring in” or something along those lines (basically reward them for recruiting for you). Who better to spread the word than existing comic book fans?
You, the comic book fan, have a vested interest in seeing your local comic shop thrive. We’ve championed the merits of local comic shops countless times on the pages of CBD. We’ve mentioned how they’re great places to meet like minded people and how trips to the shop can brighten people’s days so we won’t repeat all that stuff. We will stress the fact that you can make a difference when big promotional events like FCBD role around. You know who may enjoy a trip to the local comic shop; all you have to do is convince them to tag along. We’ll offer free comics, free food and good times to help your sales pitch.
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada