Comedian Louis C.K. is a marketing genius.
His decision to sever his ties with major media companies and distribution channels in favor of selling his product directly to fans on his website worked like gangbusters. Instead of releasing DVDs, he’s opted to sell $5 downloads on his site. Meanwhile, tickets for his live shows can only be bought directly from C.K., which he says cuts out the middlemen and lowers ticket prices for fans.
C.K. is in a unique position. He’s built a fan base that is clearly receptive to and appreciative of this type of approach. But that doesn’t mean brands couldn’t learn a think or two from him. Here’s how Louis C.K. does it:
Respect your customers
If there’s one thing that’s apparent from C.K.’s messaging and his approach to his products, it’s that he respects his customers. Marketing emails from him are rare, the checkout process for purchasing material on his site is simple and easy to use, and he’s completely transparent and honest about where the money is going. His “Live at Beacon Theater” special even broke down things like production fees, Website maintenance costs, and his $200,000 profit. The content itself wasn’t copyrighted, making it easy to download illegally if users wished. But C.K. simply asked that they not do that and explained that he was selling to them directly for everyone’s benefit, in his view at least.
“Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.”
Learn by taking risks
When it came to his first theater tour, C.K. decided, instead of giving radio stations a presence at his shows in return for promotion, he’d try it another way. He didn’t want them there, and against the advice of his agent, he decided they wouldn’t be. As he told the A.V. Club, “I said to my agent, ‘Let’s do none of it. Let’s find out if this is a huge mistake. Let’s find out. I’m willing to sacrifice my first theater tour and have the places empty and identify that it’s because I wouldn’t let the radio people participate. But we also might find out that it didn’t make a difference and that I never have to do it.”
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