In my last article, I talked about how to prepare and practice your sales pitch for conventions. This week, I’ll discuss understanding people who attend comic cons. This is based on my experience behind a table at cons, so hopefully it will at least give you some insight into what is going on.
CONVENTION GOER PSYCHOLOGY 101
When you start working conventions, you’ll notice pretty quickly that there’s a pattern in how people walk by your table. Once you notice this, you’ll know exactly how much effort you need to put into giving them your sales pitch. Why needlessly give your pitch to someone who is walking by quickly and not even paying attention to you? Conventions can be tiring, so these tips will help make your energy (and your voice) last longer.
I like to call this process the “table proximity range”, because the level of engagement is different based on how close they are from you.
LONG RANGE – 5+ FEET
You can figure if someone is walking down the center of the aisle and not looking at your table, there’s no reason to talk to them. These are the people who have a purpose to get somewhere, and unfortunately, you aren’t it. The same can be said for the people on the opposite side of the aisle from you. If you try to get their attention at this range, it just comes off looking desperate.
MEDIUM RANGE: 3 FEET
People in the medium range generally are window shopping and are effectively doing a drive by viewing. From my experience, these people usually are looking at everything at the con before they start focusing on tables that interest them. This is also the range where people who came to the convention against their will tend to lurk. (grandparents of kids, etc.)
You may be able to say “hi” before they walk on, but every once in a while someone may stop at your table simply because you acknowledged them. If they are doing a slow drive by at your table, you generally have 5 seconds to give your pitch. The reason for this is because that’s generally how long it takes them to walk from one end of your table to the other.
SHORT RANGE – 1.5 FEET AND UNDER
These are the people who really want to look at everything. This is the 10 second pitch range. You have enough time to tell them the basic pitch, plus you get to add one or two more sentences to explain whatever it is they are focusing on. You may even be lucky enough to have a conversation with them that has nothing to do with your work. “How are you liking the convention so far?”, “Seen anything cool?”, “Why are you dressed up like Wonder Woman when you are a man?”, that sort of thing.
KNOW WHO TO ENGAGE WITH
What I mean by this is that if your comic is rated R for adults only, and an elderly grandparent approaches your table with a 9 year old, and it’s clear that the grandparent has zero interest in comics, you probably don’t want to give them your pitch. They are not your target audience. There’s always a bit of improv that takes place, so just remember that you may need to alter your pitch to fit the people you’re talking to.
WHAT TO DO WITH MULTIPLE PEOPLE
If you have a lot of people coming and going, you may experience a moment where you have multiple medium range and short range people near you at the same time. Focus on the close range people, and make sure to talk just loud enough for the medium range people to hear you. I will admit that you may give your pitch 10 times in the span of a couple of minutes if you’re busy. Don’t worry if people at the table already heard your pitch, they won’t mind hearing it again!
DON’T FORGET YOUR MANNERS
Remember, regardless of what range they are from you, be polite, even if they don’t buy anything! Kindness goes a long way. The last thing you want is to give the impression that you’re rude or unfriendly. You never know if those people will come back later! I’ve had different people who would stop by my table or do drive bys, then walk off, and come back 20 minutes later, then walk off, then on the 3rd visit they buy something. If you’re rude, those people may not come back at all.
In the next installment, I will talk about things to expect at your first comic convention, so stay tuned! Thanks for reading!
Understanding people who attend comic cons by Todd Tevlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.