The ONE biggest marketing mistake that you can make.

I don’t like Bob Dylan.

I respect him.  I admire him.  He’s a without-a-doubt revolutionary musical and literary genius.

But there’s a .001% chance I’d ever listen add him to my AmazonMusic playlist.

And you know what?  Mr. Dylan’s doing just fine without me, and he couldn’t give a @#$% whether I listen to him or not.

What does that have to do with the price of streaming music in China?

I get a lot of pitches.  Via email, via agents, via consults.  I even got one pitch through a writer’s mom who sat next to me on a flight to London.  (It was pretty good, actually.  Who’s more passionate than a parent?)

One of my stock questions to anyone pitching me anything is, “Who do you think the audience is for your piece?”

This question not only helps me determine whether the Pitcher and I are on the same page, but it also gives me some insight into the business acumen of the person who wants me to get involved in their project.

The red flag answer to this filtering question of mine?

“This show is for everyone!”

While I appreciate the bullish answer, the fact is . . . no show is for everyone.  And the more you try to make it for everyone, the more you water it down and make sure that it’s for no one.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that every morning I post a #mymorningwhiteboard quote.  This AM’s was this terrific reminder from the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Reporting, Herbert Swope, who said:

“I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure:  try to please everyone all the time.”

This goes for you as a writer, you as a producer, you as a politician, and your shows as well.

I don’t like Bob Dylan.  But plenty of people do.

Some people don’t like Phantom.

Some people don’t like Sondheim.

But every one of those examples found more than enough people to not only make them a success, but rather make them a massive success.

The biggest mistake you can make as a marketer is to think you can or should have everyone in your audience.

No.  Your first marketing exercise when you embark on producing a show or building a career is as follows.

  1. Identify exactly who your audience is.
  2. Find that audience and exploit them and only them.

If your audience spreads to “everyone” from there then great, but it’s much easier to market to a niche than it is to the world.

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Want more marketing tips like this one?  Check out this video course on marketing guaranteed to help you find your audience fast . . . and for free.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.