The Top 10 Reasons why most Comic Conventions are not profitable.

The Top 10 Reasons why most Comic Conventions are not profitable.

You want to start your own comic convention? Before you do read our Start Your Own Comic Convention tips.

There’s a reason why most Comic Conventions are not profitable, poor planning.

It’s easy to spend money, it’s harder to make money. More importantly it’s harder to make money when you are overspending on everything for your comic convention.

Here are a few tips that we have learned over the years of optimizing comic conventions.

  • Don’t overspend on Print!
    • It’s so easy to overspend on print materials. Whether it is for post cards, promotional cards, flyers, banners, convention guides and so forth. That can easily put you in the hole for $3,000-$5,000 for ¬†single show! Don’t let that happen to you. Take your time researching online prices for the same print runs. The key is to NEVER be in a hurry when you are getting print items together. The sooner you need it, the more money it’s going to cost, and that will just foul up your budget. Want us to save you 50% or more on your print needs? We’d be delighted. Contact us today!
  • Don’t overspend on Advertising!
    • The biggest drain on your budget can easily be misspent advertising dollars. TV/Radio/Social media outlets will GLADLY take all the money you want to throw their way. What’s the chances your ROI is even 1 to 1? If you can’t get another person through your door for every $1 you are spending on advertising you might be doing it wrong. Content of your ad is key to driving sales and attendance. Not only that but now you are dealing with a saturated market place where there are conventions every weekend of the year. And there might even be one close enough to your event that it will hurt your attendance. It’s important that you stand out from the crowd. Be smart with how you prepare the content for your ad. Be sure to tailor it to your demographic. Take time sourcing the costs of ads and see if there are discounts available. Go with the outlet that offers your the biggest bang for your buck.

  • Don’t run an advertising campaign without optimizing it first!
    • Wonder why there is so much science between A and B testing? Because one works and one doesn’t. This can make or break your event. If you are putting the wrong message out to fans, chances are they might not ever show up. If you are putting out a well thought out message that can attract fans, you are doing it right. Be sure that whether you are running ads on TV (optimize them for visual impact and aesthetics), RADIO (optimize them for audio impact and brand awareness), or SOCIAL (optimize them for visual impact and lead them directly to a funnel where you can convert them to a ticket sale or a newsletter sign up), you are taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of your attendee. What would make you want to go to a show? What would convince you to turn over a few hard earned dollars for a pair of tickets? If you know the answers to these questions you are already ahead of the game.
  • Don’t overspend on guests!
    • Want to buy a big name just to lure some unsuspecting fans? Think that will guarantee your shows success? Not so fast. Big names come with big price tags. They also come with a lot of guarantees and accommodations. If you don’t have a proven track record of attendance it could be a waste of money for you and a cause for some embarrassment when the guest expects a much larger turn out of fans. Don’t sink before you swim. Make sure that you field enough agents or celebrities to get a feel for what each one costs, what their guarantees are and accommodations demands. Bonus points if you can find a local celebrity or guest because you automatically reduce the amount of expense on accommodations and/or travel arrangements. A car ride is much cheaper than a plane ride and to and from transport from the airport to the hotel to the venue and back again.
  • Don’t overspend on the venue!
    • It’s easy to take the first offer you’re given. But here’s the rub. Venues are feast or famine. If there is noone else vying for your position on a particular weekend, then the venue will sit empty. The venue would much rather rent the space out and draw an event then not. Remember this when you negotiate your next venue. Depending on the situation, often times, if you can bring a successful show to a particular venue, that in turn could bring additions shows and opportunities for the venue to lease their space. Everything is relative in this realm. So be sure to explore all opportunities. Be sure that once you hit the negotiation table, everything is spelled out and written down. You don’t want ANY unpleasant surprises from the venue management team when your show is approaching, during, or after the event.

  • Don’t overspend on bells & whistles!
    • Sure giant displays for your celebrities and guests are nice, but are they necessary. Make sure that you are looking at each item as an expense and if you will be able to recuperate that expense. If it seems like it is unnecessary, then cut it, chances are you didn’t need it in the first place. Do you need pole and drape? Do you need line stanchions? Do you need back drops? Consider each one of these carefully. Take a hard look at your budget and make sure that you have a firm grip of the entirety of the equation before you evaluate each need. Once you have made a careful evaluation, go back through and see which items line up with your image and your appeal to your fan base. Don’t be afraid to shop around, unless there is something with the venue contractually being obligated to a particular rental facility. Take some time and do some leg work getting plenty of quotes and plenty of options. The surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot is by getting one quote and assuming it’s the best you’re going to get.
  • Be cautious with your budget!
    • Look, no-one is going to throw money your way. If you thought different, go ahead and try it…go on…we’ll wait right here. Wasn’t as easy as you thought right? Treat your budget the same way. The points above are a good way to wrap your brain around your budget for your show. Take each step carefully. Don’t sign or commit to anything until you’ve explored multiple possibilities. Feel confidant moving forward that you got the best deal possible and the money you are spending is all necessary. Once you have achieved this you know that you are doing both yourself, your event, your exhibitors and fans a favor. Nothing sinks a show quicker than back office mayhem because you found yourself waaaay over budget and no-one to blame except yourself.
  • Attract volunteers!
    • If you are planning on running an event with more than a couple hundred people you are going to need volunteers. You will need people to keep an eye on the ticket sales, the lines, the guests, the floor, the parking lot, the food, the bathrooms and more. If you had to pay a full staff at a convention, things are going to get very costly. Lucky for you, there are a lot of geek culture minded individuals that don’t mind sacrificing their weekend to hang out at a convention. Make sure you value everyone’s time. Although they aren’t getting paid directly, be sure to allow them to enjoy the show when they are not scheduled to volunteer. Give them a commemorative t-shirt. Get them food and water to make sure they are taken care of. Nothing leaves a worse impression then herding your volunteers through the door, overworking them, not giving them a chance to breathe or enjoy the show or barking orders at them. Look volunteers are people to. And often times they are better people than the rest of us. They are more socially minded and they are willing to contribute to the ‘greater good.’ Just make sure that you respect them and their good nature and treat them kindly!
  • Have a well thought out image for your convention!
    • Build it and they will come. You heard that in the movies right? That’s true if you have a professional image and identity. Nobody wants to come to a flea market and have to pay good money for tickets. If they are coming to your show they are expecting the “Comic Con Experience.” What that means is that you will be providing 1. a safe place for them to embrace their geeky side 2. a good assortment of exhibitors 3. exhibitors that have quality items at affordable prices 4. some guests that they might not get to see on the daily 5. A show that is well thought out, well laid out and well executed. Give your fans what they desire and you will consistently be able to grow your show and keep your image outstanding.
  • Be clear with your direction for your show!
    • Don’t try to do to much. Rome wasn’t built overnight. Pinterest started out with a very narrow demographic for it’s user base, it wasn’t until it’s user base exponentially grew that it became a platform for much more than it was originally intended. If you want to run a Comic Convention, run a comic convention. If you want to run a Gaming Convention, run a gaming convention. If you want to run an Anime Convention…Well you get the point. A surefire recipe for disaster is to run an EVERYTHING convention. Then no-one feels like they belong and they just won’t show up. If you start small and then grow smart, you will be ahead of the game and much more likely to succeed, then if you jump in and try to seat of pants it.

EVERY show has the potential of being profitable, from a 500 person show to a 500k person show, it’s all in careful planning and execution .

Comicon Adventures prides itself in assisting with all of the facets of running a show. Be sure to reach out to us if you are uncertain about a particular piece of the pie and we will be happy to help!