Louis CK is one of those comedians who “looks familiar”. You’re more likely to know him from Parks and Recreation, than his stand up comedy where he has quietly built a huge fan base. However, while I’ve become a fan of the jokes, it’s the business side of Louis CK that got me hooked.
Like any stand up comic, Louis CK has hosted several comedy specials on networks such as HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central. It was his fourth event that changed everything. He decided to produce his own special “Live at the Beacon Theatre” and then offer it on his website at the price of only $5. Typically, these would be sold in stores for at least $20.
A lot of his friends warned him that the show would become pirated and shared online for free. He told Jimmy Fallon “People told me everyone’s gonna steal it. So I just wrote a note that said please don’t do that … And they didn’t.”
The result was amazing. In just a matter of days, the sale earned him over a million dollars and that number continues to grow.
Louis figured he had been paid over and above the value he provided. He decided to repay the money he had invested and keep a fair return. He then announced he would donate over $280,000 to various charities, as well as provide over $250,000 to his staff as bonuses.
From a business and marketing perspective, Louis CK has pulled off the nearly impossible.
He’s successfully sold his show, gained a new dedicated fan base, received plenty of exposure and earned the trust and commitment of his staff.
What can we learn from Louis CK?
1. Can you earn more by selling your product/service at a fair price to many, rather than a high price to few?
2. How can you go direct to the consumer and allow them to share in the benefits of doing so?
3. Would a profit sharing business model create a stronger committment, sense of ownership with your employees?
4. Do you trust your customers? Are you spending a lot of effort and money trying to protect yourself just in case? What if you just trusted them?
5. Are you open and honest with your fan base? What if you shared your costs to produce a product? Would it allow your clients to realize that your price is fair?
More and more, consumers are buying products from people they like. People like to buy from good people. If you start there, you might wake up tomorrow with more money that you expected. It worked for what’s-his-name from whatever show that was. You know, the red headed bald guy.
This is where you can buy Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theatre. It’s only 5 bucks.