Many movie, comic book and animation fans enjoy dressing as their favorite character (s), it’s called cosplay, and this subculture has exploded since the early 90s. Even though it is Japanese in origin American cos-players can be seen across the country stopping traffic and taking pictures as they gather in front of the venue that is hosting the long awaited on comic con. You might be asking what does this have to do with me marketing /selling my book. Well I’m here to tell you obtaining a costume of your character will serve as one of your best marketing strategies ever and will open up other streams of income. One of the best investments that I made was securing a costume of my character; it presented opportunities that I was able to quickly monetize.
I have learned to view each character that I create as a personality somewhat like a recording artist and I am the manager that has to market and promote the brand. This allows my vision to remain broad and not become so narrow that I over look other means of further monetizing my brand besides selling books. I promote my character (s) as if he/she is a real person with a personality, likes, dislikes and so on.
Picture this, it’s the early 90’s, my first comic book has hit the scene and I was eager to tell everyone I knew about my first release. I was self publishing and working with a limited budget so I had to be smart about how I allocated the funds for marketing. Suddenly it hit me, a costume that’s it! The ideas back flipped through my brain, I was so excited thinking of all of the crazy things I can do to introduce my character to the market. I never imagined the revenue streams that the costume would bring. Let’s chat about it.
The costume served as a great crowd puller at every festival, convention booth, store promo and other event I attended as a vendor. Children would gather around my booth in amazement and along came the parents and shortly after that plenty of book sales. I actually wore the costume and became my character AFRO-MAN, I never broke character and I made sure to entertain the children that so graciously granted me their attention.
I didn’t just wear the costume to industry events, I would actually wear it to the grocery store, library, business meetings, running errands and some times at the movies with my wife. God bless her! I became the first real life super hero that you might see anywhere. One day I was in the local chain grocery store checking out, yes in costume. I could hear the others in line laughing and making comments. Unbeknownst to me one of the patrons in line was a writer for the biggest newspaper in the city The Democrat and Chronicle. He approached me and asked why I was in costume. I proceeded to tell him that I am AFRO-MAN the protector of the book of knowledge and that I had to pick up a few things for the headquarters in between crime fighting. Bang! Front-page article in the living section. After that story was published a national magazine produced in the same city featured our brand along with a smaller magazine publication.
I know, children’s birthday parties, yuck! But wait let me explain. Before going full time on my business I was working in the property management industry. I thought about the fact that every property management company in Atlanta carried a portfolio of various apartment homes across the city and each property would hold a resident appreciation party. I remembered the days of working in the industry and calling several different vendors to pull off the party of the summer. It was a headache! So with that in mind my business partner and I created the AFRO-MAN AND WONDER BROTHER pool parties. We eliminated the headache of juggling between the DJ, costumed character, games, prizes, pony rides and blow up jumpies. I knew how much the property management companies would pay for all of this and it was a pretty penny. We contacted all of the vendors worked out deals with them and they loved it, we kept them very busy! We simply slapped our tax on top of the overall price and we were in business making a profit of $500-$1000 per party. Believe it or not the costume character sealed the deal simply because these events were mainly held for the children in the community. Our character would MCEE the party, facilitate the games and give out door prizes.
GRANTS / OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
Again I was at another grocery store in costume, I know I have a thing for grocery stores. But this time I would never imagine that a trip to the store would land me a nice size grant to produce a series of comic books featuring my character. Back to the check out line. AFRO-MAN bags his grocery and heads to the door. Of course the usual snickers and stares accompanied by the amused faces fill the aisles. By the time I got home the phone rings and it’s my friend who tells me this guy wants to talk to you about AFRO-MAN. To my amazement this gentleman was in the grocery store. He began to ask people about me which lead him to my friend who said, “yea I know him.” The gentleman represented a company known as S.C.A.A.T.C.N. at that time S.C.A.A.T.C.N. was working in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and they wanted me to produce a comic book promoting healthy habits to children. I must admit the article that came out that same week helped but keep in mind it was the costume that landed me that news article.
UH OH!!! KOFI STORY.
Hold on, I have to tell you about this. This is one way we used the costumes for general marketing. I don’t suggest you do this for we found out some place don’t like it. However it will give you a good idea of how to think outside of the non-existence box and use the costumes for general marketing. We had two costumes one of the villain and one of the hero. We would have one of our team members drop us off at the mall entrance where I would proceed in chasing the villain through the mall reminiscent of the 60’s BATMAN show. Occasionally I would stop and shout, “ Stop that dastardly villain!” Then began to give chase again while our other team member circles the mall and waits for us at the back door. The entire time we had other team members behind us passing out marketing materials. Once we reached the back door we hopped in the car and on to the next mall. By the way that was Lenox Mall in Atlanta. Okay, okay, okay just one more then I’ll let you go. Imagine The Under Ground Mall, Atlanta Ga. I believe it was 1994 or 95 my team and I created a campaign sign for AFRO-MAN. Back then Bernie Mac, R.I.P. had a famous saying “Who ya’ with!” Of course I had to use it. I was in costume surrounded by my team screaming “Who ya’ with!” and my team would then reply “AFRO-MAN.” Shortly after the entire mall was screaming “AFRO-MAN.” This is when we found out some establishments don’t like this. We were rushed by security. After pulling us back into the security office all they could do is laugh at how we had the crowd so pumped up. Whew! I’m done.
I hope you get some useful information from my long rants. Remember if you see it you can be it.