forgive my blurred vision.. .I've just read this entire thread...
Hey Duncan! Nice to see you here! I met you back in May. I'm the guy from Seattle who spent an hour or two talking with you at your shop. You remember? it was just before FCBD2.
Anyway, as a small business owner, in a very niche market, I've done some marketing that has worked and lots that was just wasted money and time.
First of all, never pay for what you can get for free.
Ads are very costly, but sending a review copy of a book along with a press release is cheap. If your local paper doesn't have a book section, send it to coloumist, if they don't have one suggest that you write a bi-weekly review of books. Don't have time to write? Find a college or high school student! This really works well for the smaller newspapers, but make sure that the book offered is either a really good book or is topical in some way. For example I would offer up the new graphic novel 'To Afghanistan and Back' by Ted Rall. Now I don't care about anybodys political beliefs, but this is a graphic novel that people would be interested in learning about. And I would think that almost any newspaper would like to have a review of it.
Now, I don't that 'it won't work' or 'tried that' I'm concerend for the future of comic books and I would like to know what all of the retailer out there are doing in there little part of the world.
Do you sponser book clubs? How about sponsoring Fan Clubs (let them do the work to promote a favorite title or company) How many retail stores are there in the USA today? 3500-4000? If each of them came up with ONE idea....well wouldn't that be a kick in the pants?
Don't tell me why not... tell me how.