ComicsPro 2019: AfterShock Partners with Comic Retailers as “Agents of Change”
As a Premier Sponsor of the 13th Annual ComicsPRO Meeting, AfterShock Comics unveiled a robust and fully-funded program of relevant, tangible and targeted support for retailer efforts to meet the challenges of what most consider to be an uncertain time in the comic retail channel, commonly known as the direct market.
While “reports of the direct market’s death are greatly exaggerated,” the publisher realized there are deep reasons for concerns over the influence a few publishers can have on retailers.
AfterShock’s recently launched “Read Dangerously” campaign will see the rallying cry extend beyond the publisher’s back covers via fresh creative executions that showcase new and established titles throughout 2019. Paid online advertising on comics news and genre-specific enthusiast sites, along with targeted print advertising, are part of the plan. AfterShock’s will expand their paid sponsorships of half a dozen other authoritative and professionally produced podcasts – and will include shoutouts to specific stores whose ordering activity warrants such support.
In fact, store customization, ranging from dedicated AfterShock sections to targeted messaging, is a key component of AfterShock’s strategic plan. Geo-targeted Facebook advertising, store IDs and links featured as part of “on sale” social media postings, customized digital assets furnished directly to retail partners, and paid, store-specific print advertising in local weekly and daily newspapers have been announced.
While the majority of the planned marketing activity will be in full swing by the beginning of the second quarter, March will see the launch of a dramatically enhanced website, debut of a new “Rumblings from AfterShock” consumer newsletter and the institution of a “Shock Clock” SMS program that invites fans to opt-in to receive weekly reminders of AfterShock titles hitting stores that week – something that AfterShock will make store-specific with increased orders.
All of this activity is in addition to the publisher’s ongoing first issue returnability program, 1:10 incentive cover initiative and publicity campaigns.
But perhaps the most significant new initiative announced as part of AfterShock’s ongoing commitment to the direct market is the dramatic expansion of the publisher’s long established and highly visible “store visit” program. Since the program began almost two years ago, members of AfterShock’s editorial and marketing teams – most notably Publisher Joe Pruett and newly appointed Director, Retailer Relations Lisa Y. Wu – have visited close to 300 stores across North America with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of the ongoing challenges navigated by our retail partners on a daily basis, as well as promoting opportunities available through support of AfterShock titles.
These efforts will be multiplied by a factor of 30, as recruitment begins for members of a new AfterShock Army – highly trained and knowledgeable comics enthusiasts and service-oriented representatives each based in one of 15 territories into which AfterShock has divided North America. Designed to enable AfterShock to visit and keep in touch with more stores in more places and more frequently, the program will be spearhead by Ms. Wu. Recruitment ads will begin appearing online, in social media and in AfterShock titles.
AfterShock is set to surpass the 100 title mark over the next 24 months.
Representing AfterShock at the ComicsPro Meeting are Pruett, Rotterdam and AfterShock CEO Jon Kramer.