Although I had never heard of Kevin Hart before last week, I was riveted by his podcast interview with Marc Maron which I had recently downloaded. My daughter Laura has been listening to Maron’s podcasts for a couple of years and had raved about the depth of those conversations with comedians.
Besides laughing out loud and learning who Kevin Hart is, two things stood out for me during their hour-long session. Kevin hit the big time in his early 20’s, only to be hurtled back to earth in a devastating way after his youthful success. His story of re-creation is as formidable as it was tactical.
He didn’t give up.
He went back to performing in small houses (after filling a stadium at one point in his early career). After each performance, he and an assistant gathered the names and email addresses of every member of the audience. They manually entered those names into a database noting the venue at which he had performed. They diligently tracked every performance that way, and when Kevin would return to a Cleveland or a Hoboken, they would use email and later social media to contact EACH of those attendees to let them personally know that Kevin would be appearing again and invite them to the show.
How would YOU feel if you got that kind of attention from a performer who you enjoyed seeing?
As he built up his store of email addresses, he created an enormous constituency who then became devoted followers when he transitioned to twitter, MySpace and Facebook to announce his performances. He relies on social media now and the viral effect to sell out his shows, which he does regularly.
Once again, I see evidence that there is no silver bullet and no shortcut to success. Kevin Hart not only makes me laugh, his dedication to his business makes me smile too.