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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Advertising Anarchy

Wednesday January 18th, 2012 - Gurnee, IL

   I saw a business card years ago that had ‘OFIT’ written on it in big block letters. Below those letters was written “There is no profit without PR”. How true. If nobody knows of a product, how can they buy it? McDonald’s never lets up on advertising, so there’s a clue. If they keep pounding their name out there after fifty years, I need to start following suit.

   There is no question most comedians are painfully under marketed, especially with the public in general. It’s tough enough to keep one’s name out there within business circles, much less the public’s eye. It takes a calculated effort, and most of us fall painfully short.

   I surely do, or at least I thought so. I’ve spoken with several booking agents recently to find out who they thought the most well promoted comedians are, and my name came up in the top two or three. BIG red flag. If I’m at or near the top, that’s one truly pathetic list.

   Granted, I came up in the generation where comedy clubs boomed. I could make myself a living performing in venues that promoted themselves as an outlet to see comedy. I was able to ride piggyback on a club’s advertising campaign, as did a whole generation of us.

   The booking agents were the ones with all the power. The goal was to establish contact with as many as possible, so work would be plentiful. Most of us never thought about any self promotion after that. How stupid and naïve we were, and now there are very talented performers floating around in comedy limbo that nobody knows about. That frightens me.

   Now, it’s a different game entirely. It’s a social media world of Face Book, Twitter and You Tube. There is a whole new generation of wannabe comics who are great at hawking themselves in those circles, but have no act. They haven’t paid any dues, but they’re good at drawing attention to themselves. Unfortunately, that’s more important than the product.

   This is how it is, and I need to deal with it. It doesn’t matter that I’ve put in a lifetime of sacrifice to attain a master level of my craft. If nobody knows I’m there, they can’t sample my product to see if they like it or not. I don’t want to be a dinosaur like a lot of my peers, and I don’t mean any disrespect toward them. The world has changed, and we need to too.

   Not only have I let myself get out of touch with booking agents, my public presence can use a major overhaul. I have contact with several radio shows around the country, but not enough to put me over the top. I thought I was on top of the game, but I’m way behind it.

   This morning I went to a networking breakfast in Gurnee, IL to shake hands, kiss babies and forge new contacts. I have to start over with a brand new marketing campaign. I don’t even have current business cards. That’s pathetic and inexcusable, but also motivational.

   I should be cranking out monthly newsletters for a calculated list of radio and television shows, websites and fans in general. The old comedy club days are long gone, and we had no idea how easy we had it then. Now it’s everyone for themselves - advertising anarchy.

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