As an agency, bloomfield knoble, inc. (bk) strives to achieve three fundamental pillars to build success – awareness, attitude and usage (AAU). There are a lot of ways to define and measure each of these, some more popular than others, but at a 30,000 foot level – this is really what we want to do. Whether talking about a product, a brand (which includes celebrity personas – not necessarily the person themselves) or a service, we’re really talking about moving the target audience from one place (never heard of you) to another (loyal). A lot of agencies, bk included, use the DAGMAR model (defining advertising goals, measuring advertising results) for detailed measurement. For purposes of this blog, I’m going to stick with a higher level and focus on why I think Colin Kane gets it right.
Let me get the obvious out of the way first – yes, I am a huge fan of Colin Kane; yes, this is could qualify as a shameless plug; yes, I have written about him before (in fairness, it’s because he keeps doing stuff right); no, I am not trolling to his followers; yes, I’m prepared to be eviscerated at one of his shows if he hates this article.
In order to explain the advertising genius of Colin Kane, it is important to understand what he, like any brand, is trying to achieve.
There are entire books written about generating awareness, but they all come down to the same thing – let the target audience know you exist. It seems really simple, but there are a lot of steps to that statement: who is the target audience, is there a better subset to the target audience, what is the best way to reach and communicate to the audience? What I think Colin Kane is doing right is generating a cycle of awareness through target audience loyalty and advocacy.
From my perspective, Colin Kane achieves awareness through two primary methods – outside and inside. “Outside” awareness is generated through advertising (online, traditional or direct) from the comedy clubs where Colin is going to perform. These clubs have a vested interesting in filling the club, so they help promote. Whereas “inside” awareness is generated by Colin via social media or PR. Colin works very hard to establish a relationship with fans through interaction and rewarding them with comedy. In return, he asks that they attend a show or promote him to their networks. What impresses me most about how Colin generates awareness is the length of time it must have taken to achieve success.
I don’t pretend to understand the behind-the-scenes work of comedy, but Colin must have started with 1 person at an open microphone night or something. That 1 became 2 and then that 2 grew to 4. I’ve been to several of Colin’s shows and they are packed, so however long it has taken to get to this point must have been really hard work. As a brand, Colin has to play “long” in that he recognizes brand success will take time. It’s amazing the fortitude he has when so many brands abandon effort if they don’t see immediate results. I could see where being a comedian could be frustrating since it may take so long to generate awareness.
From a bk perspective, attitude is the relationship a target audience has with a brand. A positioning statement is precise definition of that relationship and the goal of marketing is to make the target audience believe the positioning statement. It’s a fancy advertising way to say that people better like what you deliver. What I think Colin Kane is doing right is refining his target audience to create awareness and drive usage.
I think Colin would agree that his stand-up comedy isn’t for everyone. I also think he would agree that he’s OK with that. Colin is upfront about his stand-up routine, because if it’s not for you he doesn’t want you to attend. Like any product, there is an appeal to an overall market segment, but true success comes from owning a specific category. Colin Kane is the best insult comic out there (in my opinion), so he owns that category, which generates a positive attitude from those who have seen him. Since my attitude about him is positive, I try to help generate awareness for him (I promote his stuff on Twitter) and I generate usage (attend his shows when possible).
I think it is also very important to recognize that, like many brands, Colin offers a different product to different target audiences. Stand-up “Colin” is not the same “Colin” as his videos, nor the same “Colin” as his movies, and certainly not the same “Colin” I’ve been privileged to meet offstage. As such, the attitude people have about him, or a brand, can vary greatly. Look at someone like Will Smith – people may hate his music, but love his acting. It’s two different segments of a target audience.
There are a lot of ways to define usage, but from a bk perspective, usage is what generates return on investment (ROI). What I think Colin Kane is doing right is continuing to grow his fan base to achieve a higher level of success.
I can’t begin to quantify Colin’s success because I don’t know his definition of success – that’s something only he can decide (although his agent might disagree). I know that he’s killed every time I’ve seen him perform. I know that he’s now verified on Twitter (I’m jealous) and I know that he’s going to be in a movie. I don’t know if he’s “made it” in his mind or not and I can’t pretend to know how much blood, sweat and tears he has put into his career to determine the cost in an ROI model. But, I can tell you that Colin is doing it right because he’s converted me into a hard-core fan.
I’m not a social person. I don’t have a lot of friends and I am rarely motivated to take action regarding brands. I don’t follow many brands, I don’t Yelp, and I rarely engage with brands beyond what my job requires. Yet here I am writing about Colin Kane and retweeting his work and he couldn’t pick me out of a lineup. Somehow, someway, Colin Kane has made a connection with me, and a lot of fans like me, who want to see him achieve. He has motivated me to be an advocate and no matter what advertising model you follow, that’s pretty impressive.
Go see Colin and judge for yourself. I would suggest you tell him I sent you, but it’s probably best not to draw attention to yourself at one of his shows. Trust me, I know.
Connect with Colin (warning, some content may not be safe for work):
A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.