My First Events Marketing Experience - DevCon 2019
The Day Before
12 October 2019
It was 2pm and I knew that later that same day, I would be setting up for my first time as a trader. My table for DevCon 2019 in Plymouth was booked. I would head there almost straight away after working a shift in the hospital (until 5pm.) My first events marketing venture.
Due to my traditional marketing studies at University, I realized that there are 6 main components to promotional strategy. Known as the promotional mix, they are forward thinking and used to create and retain customers profitably. They can be both traditional and viral in emphasis, and consist of “Advertising, Direct Marketing, Events and Experiences, Public Relations, Personal sales and Sales Promotions” (Jobber and Fahy, 2007)
But it was eight years since I passed that qualification at MSc level. And I hadn’t been working in marketing since. Some things have changed. And I am conscious of what might be right in theory, may not relate to book marketing in quite the same way as promoting a product like Guinness Stout in a text book.
But I also believed that the potential was colossal. My books are about an alternative dimension, and the City of Plymouth. Therefore, I believe that there will be local interest to be gained there. Coupled to the fact that many of the delegates like to cosplay as action heroes, I feel the science fantasy nature of the book would appeal to them.
My understanding was that they are a fun crowd, who sometimes dress up, and obsess over anything sci-fi. They read comic books and watch Marvel for fun. When it comes to literature they just want a good read. My challenge would be to engage a crowd who enjoy entertainment?
Watching my costs
I also didn’t want to order too much stock, and felt that it was like plucking a figure out of the air. To this end, I started with some basic research. I spoke to a friend who know somebody who has done similar things at the same convention. I was advised that most indie authors will sell about 8 books at their first attempt, so on that basis I purchased 60 to do all three events.
I did a breakeven analysis, based on fixed costs and variables for the event. I had comparative figures for six, eight and ten pounds. But I accepted that I might have to adapt my strategy on the day. Regrettably at the moment my variable / book costs are high and I hope to be able to reduce this in the future with a different contract after I am better established.
I was confident as I entered that there would be an interest in my books due to a feature in the new FCM Magazine. This is a student magazine with a free 30000 circulation among students in Plymouth.) I am now attempting to attract similar features from other free magazines in the near future.
Visuals are Key
Of course I understood that visuals are everything. A way of making a first impression. So I invested in a table banner and borrowed a black table cloth. I also purchased some professional signs. I purchased my banner, and my sign from Vistaprint and set up a simple yet professional display. My hope is to grow and improve this over time.
By 9pm, I had set it up very quickly and left my stock in the hall. (It was still there in the morning. I had been advised that they had never had problems before). I was delighted with what I had done, and got a great location in the centre of the hall. I had also met a few traders. Other indie authors would arrive on the day.
Dev-Con Day. 13 October 2019
I arrived early to have time to write and sort out any last-minute hick-ups. The start was brilliant as I was next to another indie author with three years’ experience and a lot of “know- how.” She was a great contact to have made already.
For example, I decided to follow her advice over the pricing issue and go for the 10 pounds. This way I won’t have to worry about change. I will also be valuing my product to what I think it is worth.
She also helped me to set up my “sum-up” machine, to take card payments. By 9am I was ready to go.
Dev-Con 2019 opened at 9 am for VIPs.
By 10am, the celebrities were alll there and the event was open for everybody. The customers arrived wearing a weird mixture of cosplay outfits, and you could almost smell the testosterone in the air. (Some of the women looked awesome.)
I found them to be friendly and the other stall holders to be helpful as well. Within the first hour, I made my first sale. I took 14 more by the end of the day. But it was hard work too.
I soon discovered that the best approach was to remain standing when others just sat down. I said “hello” to nearly every delegate, and offered to explain about my book. By focusing on the local aspect of my sci-fi, (and the Plymouth connection,) I won many sales from people who liked both the concept and the originality. I also signed every book sale, so that the customers could get the personal touch from the author. But I suspect many were won over through determination and enthusiasm.
The customers seemed to like the display, and especially the banner. Many who didn’t buy took cards, saying that they would check the book out on Kindle later.
When my ten-year old son arrived to say “hi” at 4pm, I was exhausted and making good progress. The event was getting quieter, and things were calming down. We packed up at 5pm, and went to celebrate a good day by ordering in a Pizza at home.