I was reading a book by the comedian Stewart Lee and came across this great example of niche marketing.
For those of you who don’t remember, Stewart Lee came to the fore during the dying days of ‘alternative comedy’ just as the whole stadium thing was taking off. He was part of Lee and Herring who did the TV show ‘Fist of Fun’.
If you are still not with me it may be because his first comedy career wasn’t particularly well handled by his ‘people’. Following the peaks of his TV show success and their subsequent dwindling his management continued to book him into venues that just weren’t working. Comedy audiences had changed and were now looking for the Baddiel and Skinner brand of laddish humour and football jokes.
Lee seems to have heroically weathered this storm and went on to achieve critical acclaim for some experimental noodlings that became ‘Jerry Springer the Opera’ – this is in turn gave him the opportunity to return to the comedy circuit on different terms.
This is where it gets interesting from a marketing point of view.
He decided that this time, rather than return to the audiences that had been so half hearted before, he would actively look for ‘his people’ – a smaller tribe perhaps, but people who actually wanted to hear what he had to say and would be a better fit for his bitter, lefty, post post modernist schtick. (He is all about deconstructing jokes, laying false trails, getting on his high horse and sticking the boot into establishment hypocrites – I love him!)
So with a niche firmly in view he set off with a sympathetic booker to find the venues that wanted him and by all accounts it seems to be working – I’m going to see him in Reading next month. His books sell and so do his shows – they are even on the telly sometimes. He also claims to have priced himself in such a way that he actually makes a bit of money without having to sell himself out either literally or metaphorically and all seems to be fine and dandy in his world.
So take a leaf out of Stew’s book – which is called “How I escaped my certain fate” by the way and go where you are wanted – find your niche and market to it using all your social media and online powers.