Archive for the ‘louis ck’ tag
Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and using it over here.
Your problem, whatever it might be, probably has a solution somewhere in the world. And your organization is probably stuck because they don’t know what to do, and more important, don’t have the guts to do it.
An example in the real world that’s precisely about your particular problem, then, is fabulous because it not only shows you what to do, it gives you the confidence to do it.
Louis CK had the same problem of many comedians–too much time, not enough money. His pay-on-the-honor-system internet special was a huge success, and of course, dozens of comedians (ostensibly creative risk takers) rushed to follow in his precise footsteps.
What were they waiting for? After all, Radiohead did a similar thing years before Louis did. Of course, they make music and he makes comedy.
“Oh, that’s a fine example of how a company in the hockey stick industry grew, but we make lacrosse sticks. Do you have any case studies of how a lacrosse stick company has succeeded?”
If you’re waiting for a proven case study, directly on point, you’re going to wait too long.
The skill, it seems, is having the desire and the guts to seek out examples by analogy instead of insisting on being a follower of someone with guts.
The most effective way to make a living from attention paid online is to earn trust, connect a tribe and then sell something that isn’t online. The Ironman triathalon, say, or Louis CK’s concert tickets. Attention is precious and trust even more so.
Many folks, though, would like to be able to deliver a digital ‘product’, an ebook or video or some other online good that they can produce at low cost and sell in volume. There’s a long history of brilliant writers and directors finding markets for their work using movies, books and other media that used to be new, and it would be gratifying if it could work here.
Unfortunately, most people do it wrong. They use a long sales pitch letter with highlighted boxes and fake testimonials. They make grandiose promises of secret riches or long-hidden techniques. And most disappointing to those that would build trust, they enlist a legion of affiliate salespeople, linking to one another and gaming search results or buying fake search ads.
There’s a better way. Consider two counter-examples: Paul Wolfe’s site about how to learn the bass, and Susan Piver’s Open Heart project on meditation. I’m lucky enough to know both Susan and Paul, and I’ve seen how they’ve used the power of digital media to build successful businesses.
In both cases, the model is the same: it’s free to get started. So free, in fact, that most people who engage discover that all they need is the free stuff. Since the marginal cost of sharing these samples is free, it costs them nothing to add one more person to the ever-growing list of those that trust, that pay attention and that gladly give permission to their teacher.
The magic comes in because of the inevitable movement of the most motivated students from free to paid. Not because the teacher has to hold anything back to sell out of panic or greed, but because the committed student is happy and eager to pay.
It’s almost impossible to hold information hostage online. People are unlikely to sit still as you dangle something valuable but not share what’s inside the box. The approach that Paul and Susan take is to eagerly share, and then to clearly delineate between what’s free and what’s not.
Top marketing news, articles and tips from the last week of June 2012.
Social Media Strategy
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the multitude of social media channels to address? To keep up and see results, it’s crucial to develop a strategy, and address any mistakes along the way. Brad Smith (@BradleyESmith) shares three social media mistakes you probably don’t know you’re making, and what you can do to fix them.
- Ask the right questions. Think less about frequency, and more about building a sincere presence.
- Focus. Decide which platform(s) you want to predominantly concentrate efforts to avoid spreading yourself too thin.
- Have realistic expectations. Be loyal, consistent and patient to see results.
The contact form is a simple tool, yet it’s common to come across many that are poorly constructed. To ensure that your contact forms do what they’re made to—generate leads—see Neil Patel’s (@neilpatel) five ways to improve your contact form conversion rate:
- Eliminate unnecessary fields.
- Make sure your form is clear, user-friendly and articulate.
- Provide ghost texts to show exactly what you want.
- Use field focus highlighting and in-line validation to reduce confusion.
- Design for mobile first (its simplicity carries well onto the desktop).
While on the topic of lead forms and generation, consider rethinking the benefits of giving away free content. Comedian Louis CK (@louisck) and musician Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) have both charged for their content, which proved extremely successful. A powerful content marketing lesson learned by both: top fans will pay, even when they can get the content for free.
Content marketing strategy is useless, however, without the necessary buy-in to execute your plans. If your CEO isn’t on board, check out these common content-marketing misconceptions compiled by Chris Winfield (@chriswinfield), and the talking points to help combat them, such as:
- Compelling content gives people a reason to return to your website.
- It’s necessary to provide resources first, and pitch second.
- Value-based content is a long-term asset that spreads slowly (but surely).
- Involving other teams can help meet company objectives.
Last week, Google announced several product and system updates at its I/O 2012 Conference. Some of the most popular include the Google Nexus 7 tablet, which will ship mid-July, and Android OS 4.1, Jelly Bean.
Google also revealed a new Explorer Edition of its prototype camera-equipped glasses, available only for attending developers. Naturally, Google showed off the specs in style, as skydiving employees used them to live-stream their jump above the conference building.
Google+ users can now send customized invitations to events, which are automatically added to your Google Calendar, allow you to share photos in real time, and collaborate photos based on those who attend.
If you’re a Facebook page administrator, you’ve probably noticed Facebook’s new Voice feature. Now, Facebook has made it much more intuitive for users to engage on pages as individuals instead of brands. While this offers the benefit of personalizing your brand, be increasingly aware of the voice you want to set, and which entity you’re using.
Although this is a welcomed change, Facebook is under fire for two major updates: the Find Friends Nearby app, and automatically changing users’ default email addresses to @facebook.com accounts. Facebook has since said that it could have acknowledged the change to make users aware.
As John D. Sutter (@jdsutter) says, “our digital lives are now so invested in Facebook that it would be nearly impossible to pull out at this point.” But, many are lashing out about Facebook’s individual decisions, and becoming unhappy with the social network as it becomes more “un-fun.”
- Five years after the Apple iPhone launch, Business Insider deems the “super computer” in our pockets the most successful—and disruptive—product in history, destroying companies in its path, creating its own industry and ecosystems, and continually inspiring competitors.
- LinkedIn just scored big with inbound marketers. Its new feature allows users to send targeted status updates to followers, an excellent way for companies to help create brand loyalty, build relationships and convert leads.
- Amazon’s cloud outage this past weekend took down Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, and other services along with it. If you’re storing in the cloud, make sure that you have proper backup and disaster recovery systems in place.
- Twitter is “introducing stricter guidelines around how the [its] API is used.” Essentially, it plans to go after third-party apps, and close the walls around those that aren’t developed by Twitter itself, effectively ceasing its tweet syndication with LinkedIn, among other partnerships.
- The New York Times plans to launch “NYT Everywhere,” a new initiative designed to bring its content to third-party platforms including Flipboard and Android apps.
Resources of the Week
- Kapost and Eloqua share how content can become your most productive marketing activity in the ebook, Content Marketing ROI.
- Learn basic SEO essentials on your next lunch break with these short, new Google webmaster videos.
What articles made your top list last week? We’d like to hear your opinions.
For years, independent video producers have waited for the time when it would finally make economic sense for them to cut out the middle man and distribute their content directly to their fans. Then a funny thing happened: Louis CK sold an hour-long comedy special online for just $5, DRM-free — and it was a huge hit. Since then, a few others — like fellow comedians Aziz Ansari and the indie producers behind Indie Game: The Movie — have decided to try their hands at the same model, forgoing traditional delivery platforms and going straight to the consumer.
It’s a trend that is slowly gaining steam, and one that New York City- and San Francisco-based startup VHX is looking to take advantage of. To that end, it’s raised a seed round of $1.25 million, which was led by Lerer Ventures and included participation from Bedrocket Media Ventures, indie film producer Keith Calder, Buzzfeed co-founder John S. Johnson, WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, MTV founder and Clear Channel CEO Robert Pittman, and Chris Sacca.
Early last year, longtime collaborators Casey Pugh and Jamie Wilkinson launched VHX.tv, a site for discovering cool new videos online and sharing them with friends. But lately the two have been working on a whole different side of the video distribution business, providing a platform that helps independent artists to connect directly with fans and sell them content.
The result has been the release of a couple of high-profile videos that VHX powered: The first was Aziz Ansari’s comedy special Dangerously Delicious, which was sold for $5 directly on the comedian’s website. VHX followed that up with the online release of Indie Game: The Movie, which was made available for $9.99.
In both cases, VHX allowed customers to stream the movie at any time, or to download the video in multiple formats DRM-free. That’s a big contrast to selling on platforms like iTunes or Amazon, which have onerous pricing schemes and put all sorts of DRM and restrictions on videos sold through their platforms. And that’s not even mentioning the user experience, which makes all movies look like they’re being sold by iTunes or Amazon. VHX hopes to provide an alternative, Wilkinson told me by phone, by allowing content owners to create beautiful, highly branded user experiences of their own.
“Before, the Internet was where you went if you couldn’t get a distribution deal,” Wilkinson said. But now, “creators are realizing that they no longer need the distributors to reach an audience… Creators are coming around and realizing that people are really happy to open their wallets.”
According to Wilkinson, that awareness means that VHX has a lot more projects in the pipeline — which is why the startup has raised funding. It’s got a designer, but it’s looking to hire a few more employees to improve the tools it provides to independents to allow them to sell their content. In the meantime, it’s going to continue working closely with creators to help them put their content online and make it available, without having to nab a big TV or studio deal.
Comedian Louis CK has just released a new comedy special, WORD: Live At Carnegie Hall as another download/streaming offering. The special costs $5 and follows on the heels of his previous special, Live At The Beacon Theatre.
CK did no preliminary press for the release and this special contains content that fans might recognize from other live shows as well as his TV program, Louie.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan also recently released a download-only comedy special as did Aziz Ansari. The specials aim to avoid the potential censorship and, more important, the cost of working with broadcast and cable networks.
Sadly, Louis CK’s site seems to be down right now but you’ll be able to pick the special up for streaming and DRM-free download shortly.
Following Louis CK’s successful digital distribution experiment, popular stand-up comedian and actor Aziz Ansari is doing the same with his $5 digital release of one-hour special Dangerously Delicious, which is available today.
In December, CK made his performance of Live at the Beacon Theater available as a non-copy-protected download for purchase on his website for just $5. In 12 days, the release attracted more than 200,000 legitimate downloads, accumulating to more than $1 million. CK said it cost $250,000 just to set up the special, $250,000 would be disbursed as bonuses to people who work for him, and $280,000 would go to charities.
CK’s distribution method was probably looked at questionably from media bigwigs because without DRM software that prevents copying, people can pirate the special easily. But there’s an argument on the other side that people pirate so much because of all the dumb restrictions companies put in place on a product consumers would be fine to buy at reasonable price.
What makes this so set-up so appealing for both performers and fans is the cutting out of distributors. When a special is released on video-on-demand or DVD, it can cost as much as $20 to purchase it. Much of that money goes to the company who distributed the special rather than in the comedian’s pocket. And of course, on the consumer end, no one wants to pay $15 more for a special they could get for $5.
Ansari makes this point as well in a funny preview of his special, saying “Think of all the cool things you can buy with the $15 you just saved.” He goes on to list: Several small bags of cashews and/or almonds, a nice beach towel, Nelly’s SweatSuit album (“Sweat” disc only), a bag of screws, and more.
Aziz Ansari image: AzizAnsari.com
Filed under: media
If you’re not familiar with Jim Gaffigan, you should be. He’s one of the funniest comics standing and he’s a kind, gentle soul with a mid-westerner’s sensibility and a hilarious bit about Hot Pockets. Like Louis CK before him, Gaffigan just announced that he’s filming a comedy special in DC next month and will make it available for a $5 download – with one dollar going to The Bob Woodruff Foundation, an association to help wounded veterans and their families.
Gaffigan weighed a number of options before going with a direct download model. He writes:
With more creators going this route, he said, it seems like the pay-per-download model could start changing the traditional distribution of comedy. Louis CK’s effort brought him $500,000 and there’s no reason the brightly charming Gaffigan can’t make at least that.
He’ll be announcing upcoming shows on Twitter (his favorite social network) and the special, called Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe, should be available in April. Until then, check out my interview with him and enjoy some cake.
Startup XA.net has been offering its technology to Facebook advertisers for several years, but this week, with the launch of optimalKeyWord, it’s trying to reach new customers who need help finding the right keywords for their campaigns.
CEO Rob Leathern demonstrated the service for me last week. He said XA’s current clients are big social network advertisers, normally spending at least $10,000 on Facebook ads each month. With optimalKeyword, Leathern said he can help smaller advertisers address a common question: What are the most effective keywords for reaching the audience that I want?
There are two main pieces to the optimalKeyword service. First, there’s the Expander, where advertisers can build enter a keyword and get a list of other keywords that reach similar audiences. For example, if TechCrunch wanted to launch a Facebook advertising campaign (I’m not sure why we’d want to do that, but go with it), obviously we could advertise to Facebook users based on the keyword “TechCrunch,” but optimalKeyword says that we could reach a similar audience by advertising to Facebook users who are interested in Klout, Esquire (?), and Yelp. It also tells us the reach of each term and the male-female breakdown.
The other product, which hasn’t launched yet, is called Explore. In some ways, it’s similar to Expand — you type in a keyword and find out about related keywords. However, instead of just getting a list, Explore visualizes the relationship between different keywords. You can enter multiple keywords and see what terms they have in common (for example, you could reach fans of Breaking Bad, The New Yorker, and Mad Men by targeting “louis ck”), and also click on individual terms to find new relationships.
This is all built on XA’s existing analytics technology, Leathern said, and it also integrates with XA’s other services (so you could export the keywords into the company’s optim.al campaign manager for example) — but it’s much more affordable. Pricing for optimalKeyword Expand starts at $25 per 10 credits, and each credit gets you one keyword search.
Woody Harrelson recently got on Reddit to engage in one of those famous “AMA” ask me anything threads. Well, that’s what it seemed like. In the past, people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Louis CK have had lots of success with their AMAs, focusing on being completely honest and engaging the community’s tough questions. However, success on Reddit depends on that honesty.
When Woody Harrelson got on Reddit this past Friday, honesty was the last thing on his mind, apparently. Every answer he gave to the community was about his upcoming movie, Rampart, and it quickly became obvious that it wasn’t Woody, it was a PR person. This is a cautionary tale for the marketing department and social media managers out there — don’t lie to Reddit.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Comedian Louis CK recent digital distribution experiment to sell his latest standup performance independently has generated over $1 million, he announced in a statement on his website yesterday. Revenue from the special topped $500,000 after its first four days on sale.
CK made his latest performance Live at the Beacon Theater available as a DRM-free download for purchase on his website for a meager $5. Purchasing the special allows you to stream it twice in your browser, or download it twice as an unprotected MPEG 4 video file. And unlike previous standup appearances, CK cut out the middleman distributor (which was previously Comedy Central and HBO), opting to handle all transactions in-house. The result was lower prices for his fans and much more revenue generated that the comedian can keep.
“So it’s been about 12 days since the thing started and yesterday we hit the crazy number. One million dollars. That’s a lot of money. Really too much money. I’ve never had a million dollars all of a sudden,” CK wrote. “And since we’re all sharing this experience and since it’s really your money, I wanted to let you know what I’m doing with it. People are paying attention to what’s going on with this thing. So I guess I want to set an example of what you can do if you all of a sudden have a million dollars that people just gave to you directly because you told jokes.”
If the $1 million in revenue didn’t catch people’s attention, the way CK intends to use the money definitely will.
Rather than horde the vast new profit from the digital download sales, CK said he plans to split it up among various people and organizations. The comedian explained that $250,000 would pay for the standup special and $250,000 would be dispersed as bonuses to people who work for him. Also, CK plans to donate $280,000 to five different charities, including the Fistula Foundation, Green Chimneys, Charity Water, the Pablove Foundation and micro-loan non-profit Kiva. That leaves CK with $220,000 for himself.
“Some of that ($220K) will pay my rent and will care for my children. The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business. In any case, to me, 220k is enough out of a million,” CK said, modestly adding that he’s always viewed money as a resource rather than something you keep for yourself.
The standup special is still available for purchase on his website. CK said if the special makes another million he’ll give more away to charities.
[DVD box artwork via Louisck.net]