Comedian Marketing Strategy Part 3
What It Takes to Use This Comedian Marketing Strategy
This comedian marketing strategy is so effective because most comedians are unaware, or unwilling to apply it. Differentiation requires big-picture thinking. One can’t simply crank out material night after night with little regard to how they’re positioning themselves. Achieving short-term goals won’t lead to long-term success unless you plan it out that way. Differentiation as a comedian marketing strategy requires that you step back periodically and determine what your real outcome is.
This takes conscious effort. Many times we equate putting words on the page with progress and everything else as procrastination. This is a harmful idea. Many times progress is moving backwards in order to change our strategy and achieve long-term success. Plowing through our career writing as much as possible is an excellent way to be constantly pulled in many directions. When you’re pulled in many directions it creates writing that lacks flow, which in turn makes it difficult for an audience member to determine who you really are. Ironically, many comedians forgo this strategy because they want to be more mainstream when, in fact, this is the very strategy that creates mainstream success.
Using This Comedian Marketing Strategy For Mainstream Success
How do you use this comedian marketing strategy to create mainstream success? Perhaps counter-intuitively, comedians must serve a niche before they can ever hope to create mainstream success. Steve Martin is an excellent example of how this comedian marketing strategy can be used to go mainstream. He’s one of the most popular comedians and movie stars of all time. Steve Martin got his start by going the opposite direction of other comedians at the time. While other comedians creating “angry” stand-up comedy (much due to the Vietnam War), Steve Martin became the silliest comedians ever seen. He served a demographic that was so small they didn’t really exist at first. He learned how to be an irreplaceable comedian in the “silly comedy” niche. Nobody in the world could possibly get close to his ability to serve this niche. In fact, the beauty of the plan is that no comedian at that time even wanted to compete with him. Why compete over a tiny demographic when they could strive for mainstream success by appealing to everyone? While these comedians struggled throughout their career to serve the audience better than all their competitors, Steve Martin was a gigantic fish in a very tiny pond. He worked for over 10 years in a niche all alone (with the exception of Albert Brooks, who also got famous this way) before the first “look-a-likes” came out of the woodwork. But by then it was already too late. No comedian could possibly hope to enter a new niche and compete head-to-head with a comedian that’s been serving it relentlessly for over 10 years.
So how did Steve Martin go mainstream? A niche doesn’t stay tiny forever. Once a comedian becomes proficient at making people laugh in a niche (and yes, it does take time) then audience members will begin relentlessly spreading the word. This means a comedian can gain several fans by leveraging each original fan just by being unique. Each friend tells more friends. Not because you’ve asked them to but because they want to share your material with their friend. Eventually, the group swells so large that it brings in people that don’t have the same type of humor, but are willing to give it a try (how this occurs is described in great depth in Faster & Funnier: A Comprehensive Guide to a Great Career in Comedy). To go back to our example, eventually Steve Martin had such a large fan base of people who enjoyed silly comedy that it gained notice from people outside the niche. All of a sudden, people who enjoyed the serious comedy of the day found themselves with an entirely new genre they could fall in love with. Each new audience member created more and more momentum until the system tipped and Steve Martin went mainstream, eventually selling out more arenas than anyone at the time.
Comedian Marketing Without Differentiating Yourself
Contrast this with the usual comedian marketing strategies. The majority of comedians try to create their fan base one fan at a time. If they’re undifferentiated then there’s practically zero chance that an audience member will remember him or want to bring him up in a conversation to a friend. That means the undifferentiated comedian can only gain one fan at a time. It’s simply impossible to create massive success using this comedian marketing strategy.
Think of it this way. There are over 300 million people in the US alone. How many people do you really need to be your fans in order to make a 6-figure income?
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