Every year during the weekend prior to Labour Day, Canada’s largest, and North America’s third largest, pop culture event takes over downtown Toronto. If you are unexpectedly caught in the horde, sometimes literal horde depending on the cosplay, you might think that Toronto has been taken over.
At its heart, FanExpo, which covers nearly every square foot of the north and south buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, combines comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming (video and otherwise).
The event attracts more than 120,000 people. They come to shop for artisan jewelry, original pieces of art for all the genres, collectibles of every form. They come to meet the comic book artists that inspired them. Most of all they come for the celebrities. Autographs of Hollywood celebrity or the sci-fi elites are extremely popular. Between $40 and $100 means about a minute of time while talent pen their names. Want a photo? That will be another $100, more for group shoots. The thousands of dollars an hour celebrities earn is nothing compared to the earned media that brands generate.
This year, Cards Against Humanity who are famous for their Black Friday “deals” had people lined up and taking photos of their booth titled “Apologies from Americans” while other attendees snapped shots of those in the line-up. The upcoming film Thor: Ragnarok featured actor costumes in front of a movie poster wall, which drew the attention of fans who captured the image and shared it. The upcoming TV show of Star Trek: Discovery gave fans the chance to play “phaser Tag” while other shared photos of a wall well-branded with the show’s logo.
Competing for each and every dollar are the independent artists as they hustle to position themselves as the next hot property, but these new talents lack the big budgets of the established players.
Here are four tips for low-budget hustle tactics used by the independents.
1. Know your audience, and know what they like. Artists recognized how popular the video game Overwatch is and recognized how loyal their fans are. When the lone voice actor, Charlet Chung from the game with 30 million players came to sign autographs, artists created prints for her to sign. A majority of artists promoting their own original art also featured many renditions of the popular Overwatch character D.Va. The booths that had prints had line ups of fans eager to buy which drew in potential fans for their original material.
2. Be everywhere. Most brands social media extends to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Independents need to be everywhere and their business cards prove it. The majority had at least five to to 10 social network icons highlighted: Google+, YouTube, Twitch, Tumblr, Behance, Pinterest, Dribble, DeviantArt and Patreon on top of the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
3. Employ a three step approach to acquisition: interest, entice, engage. The real hustle of the art occurs when artists start selling themselves. They have a few square feet to claim as their own, and they lay it all bare to the world, that is step one, gain interest. Once they have a moment of attention they entice. They know they are surrounded by passionate fans, they quickly identify their realm of fandom and sell directly to it and they do it hundreds of times per hour. Thirdly they engage with the soft sell, offering package deals or simply handing out their business card. These artists sell on all platforms and realize that physical sales are not the only source of income.
4. Be the source. Artists don’t only sell art, they sell knowledge and experience. Patreon has made it easier for artists to receive a monthly income from people that appreciate their art as well as share how they make it. YouTube and Twitch partners share revenue with the content creators that populate their networks.
Keep these tips in mind if you’re an artist or even an established brand. If you would like any help with your digital presence, ask us how we can help you.