Originally posted by Pat ONeill:
Let's say an ad in Wizard costs $1000; experience tells us that such an ad can increase sales by, say, 15%. (Bean-counters don't care who's buying, just that more people are, BTW.) An ad in Rolling Stone costs $4000, and results in the same 15% increase in sales (actually, it probably results in quite a bit less).
Ignoring the fact that these numbers are made -up (hey, I don't have numbers either, I just bet the increase would be closer to 2%), look at the situation like this:
1) Comic fan buys Wizard, sees ad for comic called Triangle Man, returns to shop next week to ask about it, is told it's not out yet, and retailer increases his order of the comic by one (maybe two). Publisher prints more copies, sells more copies, makes more money.
2) Non-comic fan buys Newsweek, sees ad for comic.
a) He looks for comic at Walmart next time he's there. Nothing but Dragonball Z (and more power to Viz for getting into this market.)
b) He makes a trip to the mall to buy shoes. He wanders in to the book store there, sees some trade paperbacks but not the comic he's looking for.
c) He makes a special trip to the local non-chain used book store. They suggest he visits a comic book store or a chain book store. He tells them he already tried the chain.
d) He looks in the phone book (or maybe the ad had the retailer-finder number) and locates a comic book store on the far side of town.
e) He visits it, but they are closed on Mondays. (Or they aren't open during posted hours. A local "store" has lost a lot of my money because I only stop by if Things From Another World is out of what I want.)
f) He visits it again. Either he's told Triangle Man #1 sold out last Thursday ("I only brought in a few for the shelf") or he gets the last one off the shelf. (Note that the retailer sells out either way, so he doesn't make any more money because he ordered a little light on the title. That's because he's wise enough to stay afloat.)
g) He enjoys it and comes back for more.
At every stage, a higher level of interest is needed. Most people would drop out early on. Really, the best way to get new readers in word of mouth, so that we can teach them the handshakes and where to shop and which Silver Surfer is better.
This story also illustrates how ads effect sell-thru more than increasing sales. Yes, the publisher could over print and over ship to try and capitalise on the ads, but that requires an even larger investment.
Most ads work on a kind of impulse buying. See the ad for the new mop, it looks cool, see the mop at the store, find out the price. At this point, the product and the price point have to close the deal. Look at it like this, when was the last time you saw something so cool advertised that you visted more than one store looking for it. Your grocery store doesn't carry the waffles, you buy something else. What products do you see advertised that you can't buy at Walmart or Safeway or Fred Meyer? Ads for McDonalds and Sears don't count, you know where to go for McDonalds hamburgers.
As Jim says, this has all been talked about here before. Someone pointed out that those "Beef: It's what's for dinner" ads are paid for with tax dollars. Someone pointed out that Disney stormed into comics just a few years ago, took stock of the state of the industry and left just as quickly.
When I was working for ShopKo, they estimated that it took $11 worth of advertiseing for a new
customer to walk in their door, and they sell things everyone needs, like shoes and clothes and CD's and toys and .... I'd guess it would cost us closer to $100 for a new visitor. Not a new fan, just someone who wanders into a comic shop with an open mind. If the store offers a 25% discount on new comics, the new visitor would need to drop $400 before he grows tired of comics just to break even.
Originally posted by UncommonCon:
TPBs are really the way to go, anyway. They give a much more solid sales item. When you work 30 minutes to convert that casual shopper your reward is $15 - $25 rather than the $3 you get for a regular pamphlet style book, so it makes it way more worth your while. Of course, it will be a staggeringly hard transition, and those that don’t start preparing now will be killed. Stop ordering those Cerebus rags and just wait for the big, beautiful books. Then see how it goes.
And I completely disagree with the point that retailers are interested in selling any title they think will sell. Many seem interested in only selling those that they can *easily* sell. Of course, when the reward is only $3, how much time are really able to spend converting a customer to a new title.
Every comic shop owner I've ever talked to has carried some title or another long past the time he should have stopped, but he (or she) kept thinking he could bring in one more fan to that comic.
I'm not sure what you mean by casual shopper, but if you mean someone who just wandered in from next door, then the issue is never "to make a sale" but to get them to come back. The real money is in repeat customers. A grab bag might do the trick better than a $25 trade or a $3 single issue. (I will not use the term "pamphlet" to refer to such works, it's more demeaning than "comic" books, which is a least an old standard based on the fact that early comics were often funny.).
It's worth noteing that if you hire help to run the store and they spend half an hour trying to sell a 14.99 trade, and they do it half the time then the store loses money.
Originally posted by Jim Hanley:
The X-Men didn't translate into Batman '89 style response for a couple of reasons:
I think the real reason is the current comics fans told anyone who asked that the current X-men comics stink. Vice-verse with Batman, where we told people that the comics were better than the movie.
Had more to say, but I can't think of it all right now.
[This message has been edited by Rik (edited 09-09-2000).]