The Superhero's superhero: Salt Lake Comic Con

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6 2014 2:35 p.m. MST

“Did you know on social media there are really only about 4 1/2 degrees of separation from you and everyone else in the world?” he asked. By giving his core audience a reason to share information about Salt Lake Comic Con within its Facebook and Twitter stream, he was able to exponentially increase the reach of the advertising dollars they did spend promoting the event. By Brandenburg’s calculations, leveraging social media saved him upwards of $5,000 to $15,000 in advertising dollars a week.

It’s just not a good idea to ignore the “kapow!” of paid and organic marketing efforts working together. After all, who would Batman be without the Boy Wonder? Well-crafted, strategic, and sharable content can take your paid advertising efforts to the next level.

“We created content we felt our core audience would want to share,” he added. Brandenburg wanted to make it easy for fans to share info about his event, so he and his team created very sharable content. Even though there is a lot of great imagery within the comic book, geek and pop culture universe, Brandenburg wasn’t content to simply post pictures of Superman, Zombies, or Darth Vader. He added a sense of humor that gave his audience a reason to share.

“Know your customer inside and out,” he says. “Understand their needs at a deep level. We did a lot of listening — nobody listens.” He also suggests they found success by entertaining instead of selling. In other words, if all customers hear is, “Gonna buy?” they probably won’t.

“Social media allowed us to have a conversation with a million people a week within 600 miles of Salt Lake City,” said Brandenburg. “You’d think it would be Business 101, but if you’re going to have that many conversations all at once, you’ve got to listen to your customers, understand their needs, and come through in the end.”

Most small business owners will never organize an event for over 72,000 comic book and sci-fi fans, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from Captain Kirk or the Incredible Hulk. Pulling off Comic Con is a serious endeavor that required Brandenburg, Farr, and their team to look at what others had done before and learn from tactics outsiders used to market their products and services. Then they architected a strategy that engaged comic book fans and movie fanatics to laugh, have fun, be entertained, evangelize and ultimately become customers.

Maybe Brandenburg and Farr deserve capes after all.

A Main Street business evangelist and marketing veteran with 25 years in the trenches, Ty Kiisel writes about small business finance issues for lendio.com and is author of the book, "Getting a Business Loan: Financing Your Main Street Business."

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