Almost 20 years ago, I stepped into my first comic book store; shyly hiding behind a few of my geeky guy friends who directed me to comic books that a “girl would read.” I defiantly picked up copies of what they were reading and promptly fell in love with many of the superheroes—incredibly powerful beings, reminiscent of Greek Gods in that their superior powers were complemented by dramatic faults. Spiderman’s one moment of carelessness causes the loss of Uncle Ben. Rogue’s energy-draining power prevents her from touching her love interest, Gambit.
I proceeded to learn everything I could to be able to discuss and debate topics from the Enterprise’s matter/anti-matter warp core to whether Batman could take Superman in a fight. I think we all know the answer to that one.
There’s clearly been a rise of female Sci-Fi and comic fans over the past two decades—the past few Comic Cons have boasted 40 percent female traffic. Factors contributing to this socialization include the rise of comic-based movies; the Twilight and Buffy effects; and the vastness of subject matter and type of books from graphic novels to manga and anime.
Earlier this month, DC Comics rebooted their characters and storylines in hopes of inviting new readers in and bringing lapsed readers back.
When it comes to marketing in this space, women should not and cannot be ignored. So, how do you market to Fangirls?
•Understand the root of interest: I’m not going to lie—casting Chris Hemsworth as Thor didn’t hurt. But, if you dig a little deeper than good-looking men, you’ll find a woman is looking for something else when she delves into this world: Perhaps it’s an escape from the everyday. The artistry of the panels. The complexity of stories. Everyone has their reason(s) for fandom: understand those motivations and tailor your messages to address them.
•Be authentic: If I can talk you under the table, there’s a problem. Know your stuff. Alternatively, go to the hardcore fans (both online and offline) for advice as opposed to ineffectively speaking the language.
•Don’t talk AT fans as if they’re newbies: Sure there are plenty of women entering the ranks every day, but in order to create a successful dialogue, you should develop content and base tone on your target’s expertise level.
•Speaking of segmenting: Divide fans by interest—though I’m partial to Marvel superheroes, genres encompass everything from the extraordinary and magical to memoirs and stories of quite ordinary humans. While some generalists exist, most fans find a niche they love and explore each corner of those interests.
•Gear needs: Unisex t-shirts do not properly complement female shapes!! I’m not talking about superhero costumes that are prevalent at Comic Con events—I’m talking about your average t-shirt featuring “in” jokes that aren’t offered in women’s cuts. Get with it. I’ve all but worn out my Dr. Horrible, “I don’t go to the gym, I’m just naturally like this” shirt, because it fits so nicely.