Viral marketing. Publicity tours. Brand enthusiasts. Probably not the first things that come to mind at the mention of a comic convention. But read more about San Diego’s annual science fiction and fantasy festival and you’ll come to learn that it has much more in common with an advertising and marketing trade show than a comic convention.
Beyond trade show staples like grab bags, freebies and giveaways, the annual San Diego Comic Convention helps studios and publishing companies directly engage their respective target markets, turning fans into full-on brand enthusiasts.
With Hollywood hotshots like Peter Jackson and Robert Downey, Jr. in attendance, it’s not uncommon for a film to generate massive interest and buzz months, sometimes even years, before its respective releases. Studios and publishers recognize the power of a loyal audience and the incredible reach these fans can have through social media – that’s why they’re willing to spend the time and money required to turn simple consumers into brand enthusiasts.
A clever viral marketing piece (below) might cost a few dollars to make and place but the true value of the piece comes in the Twitpics, the Facebook status updates and Instagram photos. If gamma radiation turns Bruce Banner into The Hulk, then what turns Joe Filmfan into Super Fanboy? A personal connection to a brand.
That deeper connection can be built through everything from an unannounced exclusive trailer to an open Q and A session with a movie’s director and stars – building trust and a strong relationship with consumers by presenting them with legitimate value.
While you may not a have a following as fiercely loyal as Doctor Who‘s, you can still apply some of the principles to your company. One of my favorite blogs, Social Media Explorer, does a tremendous job explaining the steps required to build a happy and enthusiastic group of brand enthusiasts:
1. Stop thinking of ‘social media’ as some ethereal definition
2. Go back to the communications rulebook
3. Stop assuming you don’t already have community
4. Be your biggest brand enthusiast
5. Assimilate into the community as if you are just a member