The one thing I learned from Comic Books that makes good business sense
“With great power comes great responsibility.” — Spiderman
I love comic books! I have loved comic books way before Disney bought Marvel in 2009 for $8 million that resulted in today’s $20 Million Marvelverse juggernaut. My love affair with comic books began when I was a child visiting grandpa and grandma on weekends at their apartment in Alton, Illinois. They lived on the second floor of a two-story building. On the first floor was a tiny “mom & pop” grocery that had a comic books/magazines carousel. On the rack was the latest Archie, Superman, Spiderman, Flash and Wonder Woman comic books. And I fell in love at first sight… I could hardly wait for my parents to give me 12 cents so I could buy one (and if I got lucky, maybe two).
Amazing how many decades later, comics are still one of the most popular mediums in the book world today. Did you know that the comic book industry in 2019 hit the $1.9B mark? Of course, in 2020 — not even the mightiest comic book superhero, with the failed virtual Comic-Con event and little to no first-run Superhero movies, could maintain this level of success. But even COVID 19 could not reverse this trend –especially with such high consumer demand, merchandise sales and digital books.
In fact, the popularity of comic books has now gone beyond young male readers and has become the rage across generations, ethnicities, and gender. This is truly apparent as seen in the box-office success of movies, TV series, and their comic books like Black Panther, Lucifer, Punisher, Daredevil, and Star Wars.
There are 225 comic book publishers including well-known US companies such as Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Vertigo, Valiant and Dynamite. But these are not the only ones — there are publishers in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea. Although foreign publishers may not be as well known — they are overwhelming the leaders in the industry with the publication & distribution of Manga or Manga-like comics.
If there’s one thing I learned from the popularity of comic books, it’s that people will always pay money to be entertained. As an entrepreneur, isn’t that what we all aspire for — to get people to pay. But as a business owner, how do you entertain your audience? Here’s a few ways to consider:
Inspire them . Just as Peter Parker started as the quintessential, bespectacled, and often bullied high school nerd before getting bit by a radioactive spider to become Spiderman and operating as a vigilante, you too have a story to tell. Share how you started the business, your struggles along the way, and how you came to be the expert at what you do.
Be socially relevant. The X-Men have been the catalyst for diversity in Marvel since their conception in 1975. The team debuted diverse characters, and the 1982 New Mutants gave us even more variety with characters like Sunspot, Mirage, and Karma. In the business environment nowadays simply selling your product is no longer enough. Social media has put consumers in direct contact with brands, and their users expect their favorite brands to align with them on similar values. As a brand, create campaigns that touch on issues from plastic waste to gender equality.
Show them your superpower. Let clients experience your expertise and the potential impact of your work. In my practice as a marketing consultant, the ability to help my clients identify their target audience and zero in on their pain points is powerful.
Give them the element of surprise. What’s more surprising than the July 16, 2014, installment of Life with Archie where Archie Andrews dies to save the life of his gay friend, Senator Kevin Keller, at a fundraising event. He could have instead died saving Betty or Veronica. In business, surprise your clients and prospects, in a good way — exceed their expectations, anticipate their needs, go the extra mile, reward them for their loyalty, and genuinely care for their interests.
“We aren’t in an information age; we are in an entertainment age.” — Tony Robbins