Marketing Geek Goes to Comic-Con

I’ve been a self-proclaimed “geek” for most of my life. While others shied away from their geekier side, I embraced mine. I worked with what I had. A few weeks ago, I fully embraced it and let my geek flag fly at San Diego Comic-Con for the first time. And while I was there, another side of me emerged – the marketing geek.

Coming from a journalism background, I’m surprised all the marketing talk of the last year seeped in as much as it did. Just as our company’s name changed, so has the way the world communicates (see what I did there?). Communication is marketing and vice versa.

From signings to guest panels and discussions, Comic-Con had the schedule pretty much available to the masses. There were mini-events and news, however, communicated solely by old fashioned word of mouth – helped by text messaging, Twitter and Facebook. The news of Amy Winehouse’s death spread like wildfire. And “secret” meet-ups and signings turned into lines with three-hour waits.

Another nod to old fashioned marketing was seen at the Lego booth where a pile of bright yellow Legos provided instant product acknowledgement and connection (look at me talking like a marketing professional!). I’m sure every kid and adult who made a castle or Star Wars logo with those plastic, riveted blocks went home wanting some of their own. Any booth with “Comic-Con Exclusive” with their merchandise instantly sold out – one straight out of the marketing handbook.

Smaller publishing companies, comic book stores and artists used Comic-Con as a strategic business move. They provided quick read codes (those pixilated boxes), which automatically gathered information from attendees. Just to get a Voltron button of the blue lion, I had to enter my email address. Instant, engaged post-show audience gained.

Aside from the swag ‑ I’m also the proud owner of lanyards with mini-Sharpies, a coin purse with a new CBS show’s logo and a “Glee” Comic-Con exclusive poster, among other things – booths ran contests via Twitter. One attendee approached a booth and showed her official tweet to get a prize.

The schedule of events was the Bible of the convention, but at the same time, Twitter and Facebook broadcasted important information not available in print. What social networking had going for it – with the exception of being easily accessible by the smart phones in everyone’s Yoda backpacks – was the ability to change on a dime. Had I checked my Twitter 15 minutes earlier, I would have been able to get one of the 40 extra tickets released to a panel discussion I thought was sold out. I checked my Twitter account more that weekend than I have since I got it because the environment dictated it. Note to self for next year: Enable push notifications.

I’m slightly embarrassed to say I wasn’t prepared for the massive social media influence and usage at Comic-Con. More and more conventions and events where people gather en masse are moving in this direction, and with all the geek flags flying, I should have known. Oh well, there’s always next year. I’ve already downloaded my app.

Tiffannie Bond is a media relations specialist at Imagine Communications. Contact Tiffannie at tbond@weareimagine.com

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