How to become really popular – lessons from Daniel Kitson

This is a story about how to become really popular, while still appearing to be cool and not selling out.

There are many things I could comment on about Daniel Kitson, but if you don’t know, he’s a very funny man, who makes a living by being funny on stage.

This blog is about business, rather than reviews of comedy, so I won’t go on about why he’s so funny or brilliant. Daniel Kitson is rarely seen on TV, so he’s not one of the obvious comedy megastars.

And he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, in fact, he’s downright weird.  The last time I saw him, he spent the whole show shouting down from a tree on stage.

Here are my thoughts on what we can copy

Every so often I get an email in my inbox from Daniel. It’s like a mini bit of one of his shows, rambling on about the world, and what’s happening.  The last one was about sacrificing a donkey to stop the moon exploding.

Sometimes, it’s just stuff he wants to say, such as the one I got just before the election, imploring people not to vote for the Conservative party.

And sometimes it’s stuff he wants to say, plus telling me about some shows he’s got coming up, and giving me a heads up on how to book.

Business lesson 1 – the tone of voice

Business lesson here – what he’s doing is maintaining his own (very unique) tone of voice and writing an email which feels like he’s writing directly to me.  This makes me read it and remember it.  He’s also being completely true to himself, or so it feels, this is just him writing something he wants to. His emails don’t push anything, they just sound like he’s enthusiastic about the shows he’s doing and sharing that with me.  There’s no special offers, discount codes or buy it now nonsense.  Just funny nonsense.

Business lesson 2 – don’t bother with the fancy formatting

There’s no formatting in the email, it looks like something I’d get from a colleague or friend. Business lesson – don’t try too hard with the fancy layouts and formatting, just write the emails as if you’re writing to a friend and get them out there

Business lesson 3 – experiment

His shows are all different, and he’s constantly changing and trying out new things, although some themes stay the same, such as the strangeness of his thought processes, ability to gently take the mickey out of himself and find the world a strange and wonderful thing. Business lesson – don’t be scared to experiment with new things, but do keep some things the same so people know that it’s still you and trust you.

The result – mega sales

The result I’m a fan, so I put a note in my diary to buy tickets at 10 am on Monday morning.  And when I try to buy tickets, nothing happens, there’s no buy button, nothing happening.  So I stomp off into town to go and complain at the Dome box office – I assume that they’ve forgotten to put the tickets on sale when they were supposed to.  I get there at 10.45 and there’s a bunch of people in front of me, all trying to buy tickets for Daniel Kitson.  Apparently, the demand was so high that it crashed the Dome’s website and no one could buy tickets.  “The same as last time he played here” the ticket lady sighed.

So the interesting thing for me here is that somehow, Daniel Kitson has created so much demand that he’s broken the servers, caused a queue and I can still only get row H in a 900 seat venue, 45 minutes after the tickets go on sale.  And at the same time, he’s made me believe that he’s someone special, and that hardly anyone else gets his work and no one’s ever heard of him.

All from being very funny, doing what he wants, not compromising, saying what he thinks, and sending out friendly emails.  And apart from the being really funny bit, we can all do that.

PS – If you’d like to also learn how to be very funny, so you can do all of the above, here’s a great course to teach you that part too.

PPS – If you’d like to sign up to Daniel Kitson’s email list, for research into how to do brilliant emails and learn more about donkey sacrifices and why not to vote Tory, here it is

Photo credit – donkey by Dani-Rae Law from Flickr on a creative commons licence