Tonight I’m heading off to London to watch the comedian Louis C.K. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a pretty edgy, slightly dark and brutally honest comic. He made mainstream news when an “experiment” of his to sell a new stand up special at the low price of $5, earned $1 million in just 12 days.
If you want some background to the experiment, you can read about it on his site here.
There are a lot of articles about how this was clever content-marketing, but just selling a low-cost product and trusting fans to not pirate it, wasn’t enough. It was a smart method, but as you know, the method is not enough in content-marketing.
So what elements of Louis C.K’s experiement could you realistically replicate with your business?
Part 1: Low cost does not forgive low quality
Louis C.K has been doing comedy for more than 30 years. He’s crafted, honed his skills and is very, very funny to his fans.
He once shared a clip on his YouTube channel of an early stand up show where he’s really struggling. It’s a completely different performance to his shows today, and had he tried to sell an hour of that for $5, there’s no way he’d make a million.
With his Live at the Beacon Theater show, it was slick, held at a beautiful venue and had high production costs which Louis paid upfront himself. More importantly, the comedy was great.
Don’t skimp on quality content just because your price point is low. Tweet this!
It’s a very important piece of the puzzle and something for you to think about when you’re giving away free or low-cost content.
Always ask yourself, would my reader or subscriber be really excited to have this? Is this going to be really useful to them? Are they likely to tell their friends about it based on the content alone (and not just because I ask them to?).
If not, think again about what you might choose to put out on your blog, your newsletter or as a free / low-cost gift.
Part 2: Give away plenty of free samples of the good stuff
I discovered Louis C.K after some aimless wandering on YouTube when I saw this clip about him punching his dog in the face.
From there I hopped around YouTube to find more clips of his work dipping in and out happily over a few months.
Some of the content was on his channel, some clips were uploaded by others, and some were on TV shows where he’d made an appearance. The important thing is that there were plenty of ways for me to sample his content, from many different sources.
When you start planning your own content-marketing campaign you need to think about where you are going to place your content so that your ideal customer is likely to find it. (And once they do find it, make sure they know where to go next with a strong call to action).
Because there was so much free material (including full shows) online, I was more than convinced that I liked his style and wanted to see more.
When you give away content, particularly creative content, it’s not a finite resource. The more you produce, the better your content will be, the more valuable it becomes to your audience, the more likely you are to build a fan base that will pay you $1 million to access your latest show.
I once watched a video of a business coach who advised other coaches to double the prices of their training products, but halve the content so they didn’t give away “too much. ”
I’m more fond of Brian Clark’s approach. He built a multi-million dollar software company based on giving away valuable content. He likes to say if you feel you’re giving away too much for free, you’ve probably got it about right!
Is there a way for potential customers to sample your wares? Can they feel confident that when they do buy something, they’re going to be thrilled with it? Is your content distributed around plenty of key watering holes where your ideal customer exists?
Part 3: Respect your audience
Whilst most of his comedy centres on him being a bad-tempered jerk, Louis treats his audience with a huge amount of practical respect.
I say practical because it’s easy for companies to say they appreciate their customers, but Louis shows it in action.
If you are on his email list, emails are sporadic, but funny and written by him. They’re not a generic update, or just a notice when tickets go on sale. They’re often long and involved and you have to dig around in the content to find the details, but he makes it worth it.
He made it very easy to buy his Live at the Beacon Theater show. No complicated checkout, just straight-forward (and humorous) instructions about what to do, directly on his site.
A refreshing honesty
There’s no doubt about it that his experiment was a smart and new way of promoting shows in the comedy industry. But it was this, plus a transparent approach combined with a high-quality product that made it worth talking about.
And with that, I’m out of the door and on a train to London. If you’re Googling yourself Louis C.K. thank you for your work!
What do you think? Fan? Critic? Can you see the tools he used to make this so successful? Can you use something similar in your own business?