What began 4 years ago as a blog by Chris Hardwick has transformed into the giant that is known as Nerdist Industries. The site is pretty much a one-stop-shop for nerds on all things pop culture. In recent news, Legendary Entertainment has acquired Nerdist (read more about that here.) So, just exactly how did one comedian’s idea blossom into an acquisition of a major production company? This is no small feat and certainly not an overnight success. Find out how Nerdist has become so successful and what your business can learn:
1) Find a niche and go for it: Even within the “nerd culture”, there are different types of people and interests. Things usually associated with the word “nerd” include video games, computers and technology. But in fact, Nerdist has expanded on that limited mindset to also include: movies, music, food, comedy and even sex/health.
If you look at it compared to marketing, it’s the same way. Marketing is a very general term and there are so many different areas to expand on: traditional, email, newsletters, viral, direct mail, print, online, etc. Being a generalist is helpful but being a specialist can make your business stand out.
2) Appreciate your fans/customers: Nerdist provides free content via podcasts, articles and video clips. In a world where everything has a price tag, it’s nice to see something made with passion be put out for free for fans to consume. It’s also not surprising to see the hosts/comedians also respond to fans by comments or through Tweets. This personal touch makes fans feel more connected to the community and more likely to attend live shows.
Nowadays, social media provides a channel for companies to showcase the human side of their business. Personal interaction is crucial for repeat customers and to help establish a trustworthy reputation. As for giving things away, the Freemium model works well for many businesses, especially when it comes to digital goods.
3) Enlist the help of your friends: What makes Nerdist podcasts so great? When comedians invite their friends, of course! These conversations provide an inside look into the industry on a personal level that can’t be found anywhere else. And not to sound superficial, but it all ties back to promoting yourself but not at an in-your-face kind of way. After all, this is a business and there is money to be made. For example, in Doug Benson’s dining podcast, each episode focuses on a local eatery such as the Grilled Cheese Truck and the Let’s Be Frank hot dog cart. This is a great form of promotion that is interesting and relevant to foodies and comedy fans alike.
Cross promotion is a great way to gain exposure in a different audience… especially if it’s closely related. As a small business owner, there’s great opportunity when you combine efforts with friends or other local businesses. Bringing on others will help with networking in the industry and it will also force your business put out better services/products.
4) Make your branding memorable: Part of what makes Nerdist so recognizable is its consistent branding. Even though there are over 20 different podcasts, each of them still feels like they belong to the Nerdist family. Part of finding your individual voice in the crowd also means personalizing it, even if it is with a sign off catch phrase like “Enjoy your burrito” or “Keep it crispy”.
Does your business have a consistent look and feel? Branding is an important part of effective reputation management and building a credible repertoire. Whether you’re a small business or a large company, it’s important that consumers find your brand and logo memorable so that they keep you in mind for their future business needs.
5) Work hard and don’t lose sight of the big picture: Not just any comedian (or anyone, for that matter) can create a unique business model as Nerdist. Many people even question how Nerdist can even monetize the free content that they’re putting out but believe it, they are making it happen. This passion and desire for hard work didn’t just come from anywhere. After all, Chris could have been a washed-up former MTV host turned alcoholic if he didn’t turn his personal and professional life around.
There is no quick short cut to success and Nerdist is a perfect example of that. If you want your business to run like a well-oiled machine, the only way to do it is to get down and dirty and do it yourself. But no matter how much effort you put into things, remember to never lose sight of your integrity and remember why you’re in business in the first place!
Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.