Brightraven, I think the tools are there to build awareness for a new product without necessarily putting any promotional expectations on the retailer. In addition to the standard Previews advert, there are podcasts, promotional giveaways, banner campaigns and things of that nature...
It's the retailer's job to build awareness of their own store brand and reputation within their communities, and one can't do that without being an apt representative of the entire industry without favortism / prejudice towards any given product. Publishers and creators certainly cannot build interest directly in your community. We're too busy producing the product to come to every town and city and interact with the local businesses and educators and libraries and other societal elements on the retailers' behalf. And I don't care how many adverts we put in PREVIEWS, how many TV commercials we do, how many internet interviews and podcasts and banner ads we do, how many movies and/or TV series we make, or even if we're constantly on the road touring to conventions and visiting your stores, NONE of that translates into direct interaction with your general community. All of that effort merely targets an ever diminishing fanbase that cannot afford to sustain the current model. This is evident in the mass loss of comics retailers we've seen over the past 10-15 years.
That is the retailers' responsibility. If you don't know how to interact with the rest of your general community, it really doesn't matter what kind of business you run, you're not going to get the amount of business you should. It's not promotional expectations of or on our behalf, as it is THEIR STORE as a brand, and their store brand should be one of such diversity of content as to appeal to everyone, and not just a tiny niche market that alienates the vast majority of the population. We're just providing the diversity of product for them so that they can build their own brand. If they choose to be a dorkcave playing the goddamn Superfriends theme on the sound system and having mannequins dressed up as Lady Death and Emma Frost on display, we really can't help that. If they choose to trash talk everything that isn't Marvel / DC as "Well, that really doesn't sell well here..." (unless they personally happen to be a fan of it, then they talk it up), nothing we can advertise is going to change that, because they are deliberately creating negative reenforcement and urging the customer NOT to buy.
Imagine going to a shoe store and being told you should only buy NIKE, ADIDAS, or CONVERSE, when what you're looking for is a dress shoe, not sneakers / high top basketball shoes. What good is that?
Imagine going to a Chinese restaurant where all they want to serve you is chop suey. You may like chop suey, but what if you're in the mood for moo goo gai pan or schezuan chicken? It may be on their menu, but the waiter replies, "Nah, that stuff no good. Get the chop suey..." You plan on staying and eating / going back to that restaurant? I sure as hell wouldn't be.
But that is effectively the same thing as what comics retailers do when they say 'that title doesn't sell well here', or refuse to order something (and believe me, I've had retailers who were so fucking assholish they wouldn't order SANDMAN or HELLBLAZER from DC because 'only goths like that shit', to not ordering indies regardless of the publisher ad nauseum, to not ordering Marvel books because they boycotted the creator because creator said some thing on a message board the retailer didn't like...). It's ridiculous. The DM is a broken mess. And what's worse, is we, the publishers and the retailers both, allowed it to get this way.
So people are looking for other alternative methods, to get out of the bottlenecked distribution method that is Diamond and the Direct Market. Be it digital comics or other systems. That's why we've got a "How would you improve comics shops" thread on this board, and a "How do we better promote Savage Dragon?" on Erik Larsen's personal board. Because nobody really knows what to do to try and fix things.