Hard Lesson 13: How to Market Yourself at a Con as an Attendee

July 22, 2016

We talked earlier this week about how to market yourself as an exhibitor, but there’s a big pool of people who go to cons as attendees that are trying to market themselves as well. That’s how most of us start. I don’t know many people who start going to cons as exhibitors right off the bat. Why would you? That’s a big investment without any product. Almost everybody I’ve ever met started by going to cons, then went to more cons, then started exhibiting. When you are at the beginning of your career, there is nothing better than going to cons to get access to your favorite creators and authors.

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However, there is etiquette behind marketing yourself as an attendee just like there is in marketing yourself as an exhibitor. Almost everybody at a con is willing to take a couple of minutes to talk with you, but if you want to get the most from your favorite creators, here are a couple tips to maximize your experience.

1. Buy something from their table.

Some creators make 50% or more of their income from a few shows a year. In order for them to maximize their revenue, they need to sell books. If you are sitting by their table, people will be less likely to stop by their booth. So every minute you take of their time costs money. Which is fine. We all expect questions to be asked, but if you like the creators, buy something from their table. I always tell people that $20 buys five minutes of my undivided attention. When I was attending cons I made sure to bring $200 to buy time from people I respected. I wanted to make a good impression, and it stuck.

2. Ask intelligent questions about their work.

I know it’s a silly thing, but us creators will bend over backward for our fans. If you’ve read our work, let us know before you ask us questions. If you do that, you will get much more out of the creators than if you just start pelting them with questions. But more importantly, don’t just say you like their work, ask them a question about why they did something. Everybody says “I like your work” if you can say “I really liked when you did X, what was the reason behind that?” It’s going to make you stand out from the crowd.

3. Have something to give us, but understand we probably won’t be able to look at it until after the con.

I love getting hand-outs and books from people. I really read everything that people give me. However, it’s hard for me to read it at that moment. Here’s why. We are tired. We are fried. We are in sales mode. It’s noisy. It’s crowded. It’s hard to think. Giving notes is a part of my brain that just doesn’t function at shows. However, if I tell you to email me later, I mean it. But just make sure that your leave behind is the best representation of your work possible.

4. Ask to get in touch after the con, and then do it!

I tell everybody that comes to my table that I really want them to email me after shows. I tell them all the time that I’ll answer questions and comments. Do you know how many people take me up on that offer? Nobody. I’ve maybe received 10 emails this year out of the thousand people I’ve given that offer. If you are a creator and somebody tells you to get in touch with them…do it! Get their contact information, tuck it away, then wait a couple of weeks, and then email your questions. I can only devote a couple minutes to somebody at a show, but after a show I can give much more. Plus, I can really think about the answers to your questions. If you actually take the initiative and email these people back, they will notice. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them.

5. If you have a project and you want to pitch somebody, make sure you have a budget and plan in place when you talk to them.

Cons are great places to meet people who can move your career along. Many people will try to find artists and writers at cons to work on their project. Just remember we are very busy and tired. We can’t keep straight everything about your project, so it’s up to you to be succinct, have a budget in mind, and do the leg work.

6. If you want to talk with a person more, scope out the hip after hour spots.

Every con has a bar where people go after the event to get a drink. If you can figure out the spot you can scope it out and talk to the artists and authors when they are comfortable, instead of in the hustle and bustle of a con. Just remember to be considerate if they are in the middle of a conversation.

7. Follow them on social media before the con and start engaging with them.

This is a big one. The most points of contact you can have with somebody before an event, the most likely they are to remember you. So start early. Favorite things they say on social media. Tweet at them. Be engaged.

8. The more times you see a person at cons, the more serious they will take you.

You can see this in your own life. The more often you see a person the more you like them. If I see you at cons for a couple years and then I see you tabling your own stuff, guess what? I’m going to take you more seriously than the first time I saw you. So just remember that these things build over time. The more often you can see somebody and show improvement, the more you respect you will get with that person.

If you follow these few tips, you are going to have a much better time meeting up with your favorite creators and making an impression.

I hope you learned something. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to us on iTunes, stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app. We really appreciate your support.

And if you want to move from an attendee to an exhibitor, make sure to book your free strategy call today by clicking here.

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