Sick Puppies Comedy has been fortunate to grow because we have a group of dedicated, unwavering people who are building something special. Since a major part of our business model is coaching, we thought we would share some of the fundamental activities every actor, improviser and comedian should be doing right now to grow their business.
1. You are a Business/Brand/Product/Service/Commodity for Sale. Look Marketable – Unlike standard sales, you are truly in the business of selling yourself. Your product is you. Every word you say, every status you post and every relationship you develop is helping or hurting your brand. People talk. Make sure everything you do is helping to grow a positive opinion of you.
2. You Have to Become a Salesman – Sorry. You have to make phone calls. You have to return phone calls. You need to make follow-up phone calls. You have to make more phone calls. Then you have to pick up the phone and make phone calls. When you make those phone calls, you’ll want to make phone calls just after that. When you aren’t making phone calls you should be at a meeting over coffee/lunch/donuts/breakfast/desert/massage with someone who you are trying to sell. Then make some more phone calls, including one that thanks the person for meeting you 5 minutes ago. Hang ups are disconnections in my book and anyone that “isn’t interested” when I haven’t been able to offer them what they “aren’t interested” in just means I have to find another way for them to see me.
3. Google Yourself – Often – What comes up? Is there anything unappealing that you need to have removed? It’s relatively easy to do, since it’s usually your terrible YouTube video that you posted or an old article that you should take down. However, if it’s a website that’s reviewed you or written something about you and you wish for it to be removed, kindly find their contact page and specifically ask them to remove it.
4. Get a Website. Buy Your Domain – If you don’t have a website, stop reading this and make one RIGHT NOW. You have no excuse. visit wix.com or wordpress.com or blogspot.com and make one right now. I don’t care if you don’t have any real content. Create a website with your name, phone number, a picture and a sentence that says “I’m an entertainer for hire. I can be booked right now.”
If you have it in your budget to afford $8 a year, you can purchase a domain name of your choice and forward it to your free website. This will also provide you an email at your domain name. Owning a website tells prospects you are a pro. There is a big difference between sending an email to Owner@JoeSmith.com vs. SmithJ3455494@hotmail.com.
Build your website slowly. Add content slowly. Keep it up to date. Keep it simple stupid.
5. Be Valuable – You are, in fact, valuable. You are a product and you have a price. You are a limited resource. Every show you do should be treated like it’s your last. There are a bunch of people who are saying right now “I should really go see XXXX. I’ve promised I would see him. Maybe the next one.” Refer to step 2. Your product of “You” has very little to do with your actual performance on stage. Yes. It needs to be good, but your value is set by you well before you’re on that stage. Even if you are performing for free, your market should know you have value and you are worth coming out to see.
6. Promote Yourself Properly – Here’s some truth. The reason why people aren’t coming to your show has nothing to do with how much they have to pay to get in. If your friends really felt like they should be at your show, they’d pay the ticket price. “Hey. I’m in this show on Thursday. Just mention my name and you’re in for free.” Enough. Ugh. Stop. Cut it out. Here’s what you just said: “Hey. I’m doing basically an open mic and it’s not going to be a very good show, which is why anyone of my 1000 friends on Facebook can just walk in for free. You can come if you want. Or not. I don’t care.” Here’s what you think you’re saying. “Guys. I’m being booked as a comedian. I’m a professional. Mention that you know me… VIP basically… and they’re gonna roll out the red carpet and you get to see me own this joint.”
Try this instead. “I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform at West Palm Beach Comedy Hut on Friday. In order for me to get invited back to a place like this in the future, I really need people to come out and support me. They have provided me with some complimentary tickets that I can distribute so please message me ASAP before I run out. Otherwise, tickets can be purchased at westpalmbeachcomedy dot com and are $15. I could really use your support.”
People don’t understand how much you need them. Your friends, contacts and fans are everything. They are gold. You better make them feel special. Your persona on Facebook should never look like you are so successful that you DON’T need them. These people are so happy to see how busy you are and they really have good intentions to come and see you, but since they don’t feel needed, they probably won’t. You have to make them understand that their support directly results in your success. Reach out to individuals. Make phone calls. Texts. Emails. Facebook PM. Just let people know that you want them specifically to come see you. It means a lot and it’s genuine. See step 2.
If you do this properly, you won’t have to beg, borrow and steal to make an audience because if your product is good, you’ll develop a following of people dying to see your next show. Think about it. Louis C.K. isn’t making cold calls today.
7. Be Scarce – People want things they can’t have. Work as often as you can, but be picky when it comes to what you are going to promote. “Hey Guys, I’m gonna be back at this dump on Thursday.” Stop. Please. Pick your next three public gigs and create a plan of attack. Be involved with the marketing of the event. You don’t have to design the flyer, but you also don’t want your face on a shitty promo. Scarcity means that when someone asks when your next show is, it needs to feel like it will be a long time before they have the opportunity to see you again. This upcoming show is unlike any other you will ever do. Come see this show and buy tickets right now because it will likely sell out. If you have a plan, this will happen. See item #2.
8. Make a Phone Call Right Now- Take a break from this post and call someone and ask them if you can be booked by them.
9. Stop, Collaborate and Listen – Individuals can make it in this industry. A group of individuals can become a force of its own. Go find at least one other person that has the same goals as you. Listen to what they have to say. Make them commit to a plan you both can execute.
10. Make This a Full Time Job or a 2nd Full Time Job – One way or another, you should be investing 40 hours a week to your business of you. Even if you already have a full time job, who cares. Make it your mission for this job to replace your current job. Until then, sleep can wait. If you can’t commit to #2, #8 and this one, you have made a mistake. This isn’t a business for you. This is a hobby.
You’ll notice I didn’t say much of anything about your performance abilities. it’s a given you should be good and you should be professional, but part of your 40 hours a week should be spent getting better at your craft. This is a given.