Marketing Motivation

Saturday December 24th, 2011 – Springfield, IL/Lincoln, IL

I’m still basking in the glow of the whole experience of working at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. Donnie was busy with other things at the end of the night, but when I got my check he had hand written a note on the envelope telling me I did a super job and will be back.

That’s totally fine with me. This is the kind of place I’d love to work anytime, even if it is in Springfield, IL. I never particularly liked the town itself, I always found it to be kind of run down and redneckish. The only reason I gave it a second thought at all was because of my friend Max. His wife’s family is from the Springfield area and he relocated there.

Max was doing the morning show at WYMG, and we had thought about trying to hook up and be a team. I was on the air with him for a few days, but after exploring the town it didn’t look promising. I wasn’t impressed with much, and thought I would have hated it.

I hadn’t discovered Donnie B’s at that time, I had only heard of it. Had I known how he runs his business, I may have had a different opinion. I’m glad I finally got to work there, and now I’ll get the best of both worlds. I can live where I do and visit there occasionally.

It really is all about marketing. Before I left the hotel, I checked the Weather Channel to see what to expect on my drive home. There are sponsorship logos on screen for the local reports that rotate regularly, and sure enough there was one with Donnie B’s logo on it in the mix. Not many comedy clubs would have the savvy to buy an ad there. It was shrewd.

Zanies in Chicago has always been well marketed too, and that’s why they have been in business since 1978 and have multiple locations that have also lasted. Rick Uchwat knew how important marketing and advertising was, and he made Zanies THE standup comedy name brand in the Chicago area. That’s exactly what Donnie B. is doing in Springfield.

Second City sure did it with improv comedy. I still get asked by people in the Chicago area who have no idea about what comedy is if I’ve ever ‘played Zanies or Second City’. Those are two names they’ve heard of, and they try to sound like they know something.

I don’t know much about many things, but I do know how important name recognition is in business and I know I need to have a lot more of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Dobie or Mr. Lucky or The King of Uranus. I just need a brand that generates a mass recognition.

That means I have to constantly promote myself to a customer base and make myself as easy to find as possible, whether it’s a booker for a show or someone who wants to buy a CD or another product – and by the way I could stand to have a lot more of those as well.

I’m not nearly as well marketed as I could be, and that’s my fault. I take full blame, but also know it’s very fixable. I know I have a good product, actually one of the best around. The problem is, not enough people know about it and think of me first when the need for a comedian comes up. I need to make myself a brand, even if it’s only in the Midwest.

This is a whole new skill set, and I’m going to master it. I’ve made a decision to make myself a master marketer just like I decided to become a master comedian when I started. I mistakenly thought that a good product alone would be enough to make me filthy rich.

SO wrong. I did achieve my objective of being a master comedian, but it didn’t get me the results I wanted. Not enough people know I’m a master, but that’s not the issue. They need to PERCEIVE me as being the best, and that means they not only have to know that I exist – they have to be familiar with my work. Some endorsements wouldn’t hurt either.

Also, a territory is important too. Zanies started in Chicago. They expanded eventually, but Chicago was their first territory. Donnie B. has Springfield, and I think he has a club in Bloomington, IL as well from what I hear. I need a territory where I’m THE comedian, or at least one of the top two or three names people think of when comedy is mentioned.

I still think staking out the square of Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, WI and Rockford, IL is a smart move. I’ve been working the area forever, and have a lot of media contacts and even some fans. I also have made a few enemies, and they’ll remain pains in the ass.

Still, I can continue to go around them like I’ve always been doing. They can’t stop me from achieving my goal, they’ll only make a few things inconvenient. They won’t be able to see my bigger picture anyway, so I don’t care. I’m going to dig in and stake my claim.

I want to be the name people think of for standup comedy in those four places, and have a home base to work whenever I want. There are literally several MILLION people in that squared area, and between clubs, theatres and private parties I can carve out a nice living.

I’ll still go to places like Donnie B’s and Wiseguys in Salt Lake City and any other club I happen to like, but I’ll go there because I want to. Big difference. There are far too many other old road dogs like me with solid acts but no name recognition anywhere. Not good.

I stopped for breakfast at ‘Daphne’s Diner’ in Lincoln, IL on my way home and had one of the most delicious omelets I’ve ever had in my life. It was beyond scrumptious. How a simple omelet could taste so good is beyond me, but it did. It was perfect in every way.

It was listed on the menu as a ‘Hawaiian Omelet’, which I hadn’t heard of before. It had ham, black olives, Swiss cheese and pineapple. I don’t know why it sounded so tasty, but it did so I ordered it. Wow. It was like a flavor volcano erupted in my mouth. Delicious!

The eggs were cooked perfectly. They were moist and fluffy, and not a scorch mark on them. Sometimes omelets can be dried out or burned at the ends. Whatever. Not this one. I couldn’t believe how good it looked on the plate, and it tasted even better. What a treat.

On the way out, I took a business card. I looked at it in the car, and it had a local phone number with no area code listed, nor did it even have the town or state listed. A website? Of course not. Daphne has a great product, but nobody can find it easily. Sound familiar?


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