Marketing Terminology

By | Thursday, February 10, 2011 Leave a Comment
I was reading this interview The Beat conducted with Diamond's David Bowen, and it occurred to me that some of the marketing language he used might not readily known to a lot of people. As I happen to work in marketing, I thought I might take a blog post to make sure we're all speaking the same language here.

One of the first things he mentions are POP Displays. "POP" is an acronym for "point of purchase." It's a general term used to describe any promotional material that's designed to be placed at the location where you actually buy something. It could be a sticker meant to actually be adhered to the cash register or a poster intended to hang behind the counter or an old-school spinner rack that's displaying comics or even a life-size figure. Sometimes they're made by the publisher, sometimes the retailer. Really, it's just about anything that a retailers utilize as a way to promote their products.

"POS" stands for "point of sale" and is a sub-set of POP. The point of sale is where the actual transaction takes place, where the cash register is. These are typically smaller items, and try to play more heavily on the impulse purchase mentality, whereas POP can be (but not necessarily always are) larger and geared more towards overall awareness.

There are some standards that often get thought of with regard to POP. The "tent card" is a classic because they're easy to create and can be tweaked to fit a wide variety of sizes and proportions. It's essentially just piece of heavy paper folded in half. The V shape is placed upside down on the counter, allowing the text and graphics to be seen/read while the customer is standing near it. Because there's so little involved in the actual production of tent cards, creators not infrequently provide PDFs for retailers to print out themselves.

"Table tents" are essentially a more elaborate version of tent cards. Unlike their namesake, table tents do not necessarily fold up in a tent-like shape but, rather can be nearly any sort of self-standing piece designed to be placed on a table or counter. You see this type of thing a lot in mid-scale restaurants. Sometimes they're just cardboard standups plugging the desserts, sometimes they're more elaborate and hold copies of the menu or napkins. (Though don't confuse table tents with napkin holders; there needs to be a marketing/sales angle here.) Those cardboard cut-outs of characters you sometimes see on comic convention tables with the speech balloon hawking the latest book? Those are table tents.

Another simple, and common, POP for comics are "header cards." These are basically a flat piece of card stock that's as wide as, but an inch or two taller than, a comic book. They're designed to be placed behind a stack of comics on the rack, and the portion that sticks up above the actual comic has some type of promotional message. I've seen store-specific ones frequently that highlight staff picks, while publisher ones use them to tie together storylines that cross over multiple titles.

Also used right next to the comics are "shelf talkers." These are also generally simple card stock pieces, but they rest underneath a stack of comics and stick out slightly beyond the shelf. Publishers again can create title-specific shelf talkers, but many stores also use them to highlight "New Comics This Week" or "Featured" books as seen in this photo.

Less used, because they're a tad more expensive in large quantities, are "window clings." These are thin plastic, usually translucent, promotional pieces that adhere to smooth surfaces like windows via static electricity. I have to admit that I haven't seen these used much in comicdom; the only instance I can think of offhand are the Visa/Mastercard pieces often stuck on the front door.

From time to time, "standees" are available. These basically large cardboard cutouts that are free-standing. You tend not to see too many of them in comic shops since they take up a fair amount of precious floor space. They also are fairly expensive for as quickly as they begin to look worn. Some of the more popular characters have commercially available versions for fans. I recall there was an Arthur Adams drawn Wolverine that was rather prolific in the 1980s.

That's certainly not all of the POP items that are available, but that covers some of the more common ones that use terms you might not be familiar with. Check out the promotional kit below and see how many different POP pieces you can identify!
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