Thursday, December 20, 2007

The business of Business Cartoons


When I started as a cartoonist, everything was about creating whatever happened to sprout from my muse...and then later worrying about how to sell it. I suspect that most creative people start out this way, whether in art, music or writing, etc.

Eventually you realize that while you can sell almost anything if you wait long enough for a buyer, to receive regular income from your creations you need to focus on specific markets. You need to find niches that work well in pairing your abilities with customers.

Today, newspapers are languishing, affecting two of the traditionally primary markets for cartoonists: political cartoons and comic strips. I started in one, spent time in the other and jumped out of both before I lost my mind (and my heinie). Most of the cartoonists I know have been forced to rethink things and diversify into new areas.

While I still do cartoons for newspapers on occasion, most of my clients now come from advertising, book and magazine publishing, greeting card compnaies and several other 'industries'...but one of the fastest growing areas is business cartoons for corporate clients.

Many companies are looking for new ways to attract customers -- and they are finding that humor is highly effective....Especially, cartoon-based humor. One cartoon can quickly catch a customer's attention. A campaign using several funny cartoons over a matter of months builds a following (creating something that is rare in advertising: actual desire and anticipation for more).

Additionally, companies are finding that they can get a lot of value from cartoons. A single cartoon can be used simultaneously in print ads, direct mail, email blasts, blogs and on their corporate websites. (For the latter, animation can even be added to them.)

Most of my clients for business cartoons are repeat customers...and they often share the emails and feedback on cartoon-based advertising they receive from their customers. Its helpful for me to see what works. But more importantly for them, the cartoons are becoming a source of interaction with their customer base that is invaluable.

My inspiration for talking about business cartoons today came from Brad Shorr, (of Word Sell, Inc. near Chicago), one of my favorite long-term clients. (The above cartoon was an early, just-for-fun collaboration). In addition to being a expert in sales and marketing, Brad is a talented writer. One of his blog posts this week covered the subject matter of business cartoons & marketing. --You can check out that post here. His discussion of the process of writing targeted humor is fascinating (and also familiar.)

It's been a while since I had any time to write more than just few sentences here and...well, it felt good. Happy Holidays to everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark, It's interesting how the cartooning market has changed. You wonder whether newspapers will even be around in ten years. You were wise to diversify your business ... many companies never see the writing on the wall until it's too late. Thanks for your kind words, and Merry Christmas!

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