Today the craze is about finding your niche and optimizing your niche. With internet it's possible and probably the best strategy to market small rather than big. I don't think enough conversation is discussed when it comes to retaining this niche. So today I've decided to take a look at how to properly market and retain your niche so that hopefully they become fanatical fans. I've decided to pick a show that I was once insanely crazy for, hoping one day that there would be six seasons and a movie. This show pretty much built my high school days and was probably my first love when it came to TV shows. If you couldn't guess by the little hint I dropped earlier, the show I am talking about is NBC's, or I think now Yahoo's, sit com, Community.
Quick note, sadly I am not an avid fan or viewer of the show anymore. After about halfway through the fourth season I stopped watching. I felt like the show's direction moved on from what I was looking for. I'm not hating, just acknowledging the show went in a different direction. However, I think this makes it even more perfect for the case study. I'm far enough removed from my insane loyalty to the show that I can now look back and do a partially unbiased look.
So let's begin.
1. The Pilot provided great laughs, a good product, and a promise for more fun to come!
This one is pretty simple. Create a good product for the first impression. I'll come back for more later.
2. They Knew their Target Audience
Community was a highly niche, specific show. The whole premise of the show revolved around satire, comedy and pop culture references. If you didn't enjoy quit wit or subtle humor, you had a hard time following the show.
Jokes were poignant and required background knowledge of other TV shows and the nation's current political and social environment. The show was geared more toward younger informed millennials in the upper teens to early 30's, where people had enough experience watching other TV shows, but were still young enough to be a part of mainstream culture.
Sexual acts were made, racist topics were joked about, yet the show never had to worry because it resonated with the audience. Community knew who they were targeting and did not bother trying to please everyone.
3. Start Creating an Emotional Connection between your Customer and the Product.
If you have a good product the only thing keeping your customer coming back is that good product. However, if any inconvenience occurs or there is a change in their life, it's quite possible your product will be lost because it might be a hassle to still interact.
If you can make an emotional connection, where the customer starts to feel like they have a relationship with the product they will be more reluctant to leave. For example, in high school whenever I had a test, which was quite often, I made sure I knew that there was a way I could watch the show the day after. (Hulu!) Fridays became my Community day even though the show aired Thursdays. Why did I go out of my way to keep up? Because I felt the connection with the characters and the show.
4. Listen and Interact with your Audience.
Community is by far one of the most successful shows at accomplishing this. After about half of the first season ended for Community, a fan created the following video. It featured clips, with Sara Bareilles's Gravity as the theme music, portraying a love between two characters who so far had NO signs of romance or love.
After this video came back. Dan Harmon, director of the show, created an episode that featured the same songs and format of the video into the actual show.
Note the same music, the same style of clips. When this episode aired, community fans raved and fell deeper in love. The show's director paid actual homage to this original fan made video and even made the two characters fall into a romance! This was just one of many things that Community noticed from their fans and incorporated into the show.
5. Inside Jokes, Create Features or Aspects that Die Hard Fans can share and create a community around.
This goes hand in hand with the prior section. After an episode where Abed, the aspergers' afflicted son of a falafel cook falls in love with a show, he screams "Six Seasons and A Movie!" declaring his faith in his new favorite t.v show.
After the episode aired, fans started to tweet and hashtag that saying. Summarily Community started featuring it in the show. Those who were die hard fans took notice and loved the continual inside jokes as the show continued to play more and more on these quips. There are PLENTY of instances where this occurs and just watch past the first season and you will see the multitude of references.
6. Swag it Out!
Community did a great job of bringing it's community a step closer by having awesome promotional items. All items were props you could see on the show. Having these items allowed fans to feel that much closer and proclaim their love for their tv show.
I do want to note that most TV shows create swag, however, where Community excelled was that many of their swag was built off of inside jokes and things that their community, no pun intended, seemed to talk about the most.
Note: I have that cup above. I Love it!
Community may not be considered the greatest show ever nor will it attain the popularity it once had, but one thing is for certain. Community had one of the strongest and most fanatical following of any T.V show. Their following continually petitions and fights for the show to find a place to broadcast.
So though I'm not a die hard any more, the show will forever have a place in my heart and I continually use it as a guide for when I create marketing campaigns for clients.