Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Brainstorm Session: How Would You Promote A Blog at a Comic Show?

At the end of this month, my husband and I will be attending the Emerald City Comicon. We are having a booth to promote Comics Fairplay. It is my second year having a booth there, and we will have our wonderful friend Brian there to help us.

My question is this: How would you go about best promoting a blog at a comic book show? The only product I have is my blog, which at this point is not a profit center. I have bumper stickers and a lovely banner. I also have samples of my blog entries in a three ring binder.

Last year we did a raffle for H.E.R.O. Initiative. This year there is already a separate booth for just that very purpose. How do I make things interesting and avoid the inevitable "so what do you make" question?

One idea I had was to have a summit of sorts for "Bloggers Northwest" where all my fellow bloggers would feel free to come by the booth and share ideas. Another is to have some kind of round table discussion.

What kind of promotional materials would work best? I really want to have fun with this so I would really appreciate any ideas. As the only blogger "exhibiting", what can I do to increase awareness?

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

21 comments:

Mark Engblom said...

Heidi-

If you have a laptop computer, or access to one, I would recommend that you work up some kind of looping Powerpoint presentation that would translate some of your blog entries to a form casual viewers could comprehend quickly.

For example, your "Is This Gratuitous?" question you ask from time to time is a good conversation-starter...and provacative enough to grab some interest and get some conversation going. Of course, you're the best judge of what would be a good "encapsulation" of what your blog is all about. Maybe some pull quotes from some of your essays or small video clips of you talking candidly about blogging, etc.

The three-ring binder of blog posts is an okay idea, but I fear not many people will make the connection, or take the time to read them. That's why I think some sort of small-screen presentation would get the kind of attention you're looking for.

Kudos to you for "kicking the door down" on some really unexplored promotional territory. I wish you all the best and let us know how it goes! I'm really curious how the Con Crowd will respond.

Oh...and it wouldn't hurt to have some kind of free giveaway....even if it's a fun-size Snickers bar or something. Geeks love candy.

Loren said...

Wow! How fun! I wish I could go to Emerald City Comicon and stop by your booth, give you a big hug, and snag a bumper sticker. What an awesome idea! I agree with Mark that you should bring a laptop with you, even if just to highlight your blog. Other than that, I think you're headed in the right direction. Have fun and take pictures!!!!!

Elayne said...

In my opinion, personal blogs are hobbies and shouldn't be a profit center. :)

You're on the right track with the bumper stickers. You might also consider business cards and/or flyers. Something that people can take away that has the URL on it. I don't think you can ever go wrong with business cards; they're easy to carry, everyone exchanges them at cons, they even make good bookmarks!

Or hey, how about bookmarks? :)

Scott said...

Gratuitous cleavage. Cleavage is the universes most irrestible force. As witnessed by George Costanza and Albert Einstein. E=M*Cleavage squared.

Bahlactus said...

This is a solid topic, Heidi. I got down with NYCC and handed out promo cards (see the front and back) while I socially networked with people at the convention.

Then, I did a full-on re-design of Always Bet on Bahlactus to match the flavor of the card I handed out. My content has been solid and growing since August, so, I focused on the site redesign to pretty things up.

I probably wouldn't get a booth, unless my team for our podcast was there, but, even then I am about bouncing around and rappin' with people.

Would definitely love to hear how that plays out for you two at the hometown Con.

Lisa said...

Marketing a blog - that's very unusual! I do like Mark's idea of the computer and agree with elayne that you should have cards or a bookmark, cards are probably the least expensive. We get ours from vistaprint.com and they're a great price, but you could even make some on your computer and print them right there.

You might want to have a sign-in--maybe do a prize drawing for those that sign in (you could ask your LCS if he's got anything he'd like to donate) Then you can do an email newsletter to those that signed up, maybe once a month, letting them know about the cool new stuff you've got on your awesome blog.

You could make a newsletter type thing with some of your posts and the comments for people to take too. It would be easy - just cut and paste for the most part.

The round table idea is a good one. You might want to make fliers and hand them out early that day to promote it, and then have a sign at your booth too that announces the time it's taking place. If there are other bloggers you know going you should invite them to join you in the round table so that you have several "expert" bloggers guaranteed to be there - like a pannel.

The bumper stickers are a great idea! T-Shirts would be fun too, but they can get expensive. I don't remember the site name, but there's a company that can do custom fortune cookies - that would be fun. Have those in a bowl and people would take 'em and inside would be your blog address. They're not too expensive either.

Other than that - have FUN!!

RAB said...

I'd have thought that the place to promote a blog is here in the blogonetoverse. Get people to link to you, mention you in their posts, make positive comments on other people's blogs so they visit yours to find out who's saying those wonderful things about them...he said, dropping a broad hint...

Now, at NYCC, I put the name of my blog on my name tag, in lieu of a company name. This wasn't for promotional purposes as such, but rather to help in hooking up with people I know online, on the theory that someone might spot the badge and perhaps not recognize my name but see the name of my blog and say "Hey, I've read that!" and figure out who I was. And this actually happened a couple of times! But since the convention I've actually gotten a fair number of hits from people who Googled the name of my blog. Just the mere act of putting the name out there with no additional promotional effort was enough to increase my traffic.

People who spend any amount of time online are always on the lookout for something cool they might be missing. And when they search for "Comics Fairplay" this blog will be what they find. I don't think you need to do much more than that.

technogreek said...

I have two suggestions, both the same.

One - use someone like psprint.com and make postcards - 4x6 or 4x5, etc, color front, B&W back

You can hand these out at your booth as a reminder for people to check out the site when they get home.

Two - Same idea, but in addition to promoting the blog, you can print your booth number on there and tell 'em "Come see us in person at table 111" or whatnot. You don't even have to offer a prize, just the inclination that people should check out your table is enough that they will.

I'm also all about the laptop idea Mark has, way better than the 3-ring binder and people will stop and look.

If you need electricity, sign up for it soon because March 16th (I think) is the first cutoff and the price roughly doubles from Edlen for electricity after that...

My two cents, but what do I know about promotion? *g*

Heidi Meeley said...

First off, I am very overwhelmed and grateful for all the suggestions. You are all so wonderful! I feel very inspired now, and have a clear direction which way to head.

This has made me really excited about the upcoming show!

Heidi Meeley said...

Mark, I love the laptop suggestion! That is brilliant. It is a much better way to show the site then with printed pages. If I could figure out how to work it right, maybe I could even live blog and have guest bloggers.

Hmmmm...

Also, the candy idea is aces. I am going to do that for sure. Genius.
We all get low blood sugar at shows!

Heidi Meeley said...

Loren, I wish you could be there as well! We would have so much fun! I may bug you a bit later for an address to send a bumper sticker to, just for fun!

Heidi Meeley said...

Loren, I also plan to take MANY pictures, so hopefully they turn out great.

Heidi Meeley said...

Elayne, I love the idea of bookmarks. That is so clever! I also am going to do business cards for sure. I have a program that I can make them on, and they look pretty professional.

As for blogging for profit... that is pretty much not the reason to do it. I would love to be such a prolific blogger that people would throw cash my way, but I know it isn't realistic. I just do it because I love it. Crazy! :-)

Heidi Meeley said...

Scott, I could try the cleavage idea, but my husband and our friend are pretty modest, and I don't think it would be too impressive. Heh. :-)

Heidi Meeley said...

Bahlactus- I have been meaning to PM you back- I LOVE your revamp. It is gorgeous. As a visual person, I really dig the bigger pictures as well. You did an amazing job.

I definitely will do business cards. Thank you for the example!

I was a bit hesitant about having a booth at the show, but I met so many wonderful people that way, and it was a great place to hang when I wanted to chill. It is all about the fellowship and the chance to let people know about my little piece of the 'net.

Heidi Meeley said...

Lisa, last year I got a few strange looks and there were people who questioned why I thought a blog merited a booth. It kind of startled me, but it also made me that much more determined to make it work this year.

The cards and the bumper stickers are definitely in. I also like the idea of the sign up for a newsletter or "update" alert.

The round table is something I am hoping for. I am thinking of a "bloggers northwest" kind of scenario, but I need to flesh it out more. If nothing else, I would love to spend time with my fellow bloggers.

Thank you for the kind words!

Heidi Meeley said...

RAB- Thank you for the reminder! I have been meaning to link you for quite some time. :-)

I like the idea of a badge with my name and my site on it. Last year when I got to the show, they were pre-made by the people in charge, so that was fantastic. I am hoping to get more awareness, and last year it did help. I also got to meet Laura from Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog and Dr. Scott from Polite Dissent, plus their wonderful spouses. It was a great experience.

I appreciate the advice a great deal!

Heidi Meeley said...

Jim, I really like your idea. It is a simple and fast way to get a lot of awareness. That will be very effective! I like the idea of putting my booth number on there as well. That is genius!

The laptop sounds like a must have. I also better get on the double for a little power!!

Your ideas are greatly appreciated, Kind Sir. I am honored that you stopped by to give them to me. Thank you!!

Brandolp said...

Heidi & James~~~

We Need To Talk, This Weekend, Anytime. I Have Some Ideas....
I Will Donate Free Comics To Give Away At Your Booth... Yes, I'm Typing With Caps For All Words. It's Just Something I Did Today At Work.
Cleavage. I'll Give It A Shot, If You Think It Will Help.
Profit. There's No Reason Why You Can't Make A Buck Or Two. (Where Is The PayPal Button On This Site?)

I Think That I Can Hook You Up With Some Small Press Creators That I Met At The Seattle Comic-Card Con Last Month.

Call Me This Weekend, I'll Get You A Copy Of Jay Fabers' New Book Signed On Sat.

Brian

Swinebread said...

I would think some sort of poll where you could engage passersby by asking questions with the results posted on you blog. Seeing their responses on the web might be a good enticement for conversation. Also, maybe some sort of description of what comic blogging is all about… I know that sounds dumb, but folks who aren’t familiar with what you do might need some sort of introduction.

JohnH985 said...

Lots of great ideas. I like the idea of bumper stickers and postcards and business cards. Some of this you can do on your computer. Also what about making copies of some of your pages and blowing them up and putting them up on something like a poster board. You've had some really good topics and blowing them up woud bound to catch some eyes and bring some people to your booth. I think it's a great idea of having a booth for your site, you have one of my favorite sites about comics.