Salt Lake City—Six months ago, it looked like there wouldn’t be a Salt Lake City Comic Con FanXperience this year.
But as the doors opened on the event Friday, it was projected to be the biggest FanX Salt Lake Comic Con had ever produced. And that, said co-founder Dan Farr, is in large part to a strong, concerted marketing effort.
“I think our guest lineup ended up a lot stronger than we expected, but [co-founder] Bryan [Brandenburg], he’s a relentless marketer. People would think with the crowds that we’ve had come out before that we just announce an event and all of the sudden everybody else would come. That’s not the case,” he said.
This year’s FanX is the organization’s eighth comic con production—FanX is typically a smaller event in the spring or winter geared towards fans of all stripes, while Comic Con in the fall is a larger, more focused celebration of “geek” culture—and Farr said the shows do have a dedicated core group of fans who will come, rain or shine. But for the majority, Farr said, it’s a matter of getting the word out in a way that resonates with new fans or people who might not realize the event is for them.
“It’s really 60, 70 percent of people who come to these events are people we have to market to every time just to make sure we’re reaching them, that they’re aware of it—they may not be on our newsletter, they may not be following our social media posts—so it is a lot of work just to make sure that the message gets out there to people,” he said.
And according to ticket sales, and the throngs of people crowding into the Salt Palace Convention Center, that strategy worked. More than 50,000 people pre-ordered tickets, and more still waited patiently in a line that snaked around and outside the building to buy theirs the day of. Brandenburg said they were on track to have their biggest FanX of all time.
Part of that certainly was due to the heavy star power the event ended up having, including Justice League actor Jason Momoa, stars of “The Princess Bride,” and “Weird” Al Yankovic. Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee was also slated to attend, but canceled his appearance as of Friday afternoon due to health problems.
Another factor to the increased attendance may have been the lower ticket prices, which were roughly two-thirds the price that past events have been—corresponding to the event being for two days, rather than three. The shorter length of the event was originally due to the Salt Palace’s availability, but became part of the strategy as a less intensive, less expensive experience. Given its success, Farr said, it’s likely FanX will continue to be shorter as the organization continues to hone both spring and fall events for their eager customers.
“I don’t see it going back to a three-day event. I’d like to keep a difference between the September event and the FanX. Part of the reason is that three days, it’s a lot of money for people who come to the event. Not necessarily the attendance fee, but also they end up spending more money on products if they’re here for three days, so it gives them a chance to [save] their money so they can buy things in the September show, too,” he said. “We try to be mindful and get the right balance there.”