As a Premier Sponsor of the 13th Annual ComicsPRO Meeting, now underway in Charlotte, North Carolina, AfterShock Comics, the industry’s fastest growing independent publishing company, 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.
“Reports of the direct market’s death are greatly exaggerated – as they have been for decades,” attested Steve Rotterdam, AfterShock’s SVP of Sales & Marketing. “That’s not to say that there aren’t deep reasons for concern. Whatever the motivations behind the machinations of the ‘Big 2,’ they typically exert an outsized impact on comics retailers. At AfterShock, we remain committed to do all that we can to support our retail partners as they continue to support us. In fact, we’re challenging them to increase that support as we continue to deliver for our current readers and reach beyond to bring into the fold those elusive new enthusiasts eager for stories that will thrill, chill and challenge them.”
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 direct sponsorship of John Siuntres’ influential Word Balloon podcast will continue, supplemented by similar 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.
“For AfterShock, the direct market is not some alternative distribution channel,” added Rotterdam. “It is the primary avenue by which our readers connect with the work of top writers, artists and some of the brightest new stars in the creative community. It is the avenue that has transformed the idea of AfterShock into the reality that is AfterShock. We are excited to work with our partners to do all that a publisher of our caliber is able to do.”
As publisher of many of the most talked about independent titles of the past few years – including ANIMOSITY, A WALK THROUGH HELL, DARK ARK and BABYTEETH -AfterShock is set to surpass the 100 title mark over the next 24 months.
"AfterShock is one of the most exciting publishers in comics today,” said Peter Dolan, ComicsPro President of the Board. “I’m thrilled to have them participating in our annual members meeting!”
Representing AfterShock at the ComicsPro Meeting are Pruett, Rotterdam and AfterShock CEO Jon Kramer.