Niche Appeal vs Mass Market Appeal

Inadvertently today, I started a very heated discussion on my Facebook timeline.  I posted about how comedian, Mo’Nique (seriously, that’s her name), complained that she was the victim of racism and gender discrimination because she was only offered $500k to do a Netflix special and Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock got like $20m and Amy Schumer got $11m.

My comment was pretty straightforward – that had nothing to do with race or gender and had everything to do with a business making a decision on quality and return on their money.

So far, so good.

I had a bunch of people comment and agree with me and others just liked the post.

Then someone made a comment about how it seems like women of colour never get paid as well as white men or some such nonsense.

I replied with, and I stand by it, that maybe the reason why black female comedians aren’t paid as well is that they just aren’t as good.

That’s when the firestorm started and I was immediately called a racist.

There was nothing racist about it – even people who follow the stand-up comedian industry could only name a half dozen or so contemporary comedians who fit that criteria and most people had ever only heard of one or two of those.

The point I made, rather successfully I might add, is that a company like Netflix pays you what you’re worth.  If they think you can bring in new audience members and engage the existing ones to help prevent churn, they pay over the odds.

But it’s not my job as a consumer to go research female comedians of colour so that they can become more famous and get bigger paycheques from Netflix.

Dave Chappelle gets paid $22m because he asked for it and if Netflix said, “No” he would have gone to HBO or Comedy Central and they would have given it to him.

That’s the way the market works.

Hollywood is a mess, but the one thing you can always count on is that they value money above all else and customers vote with their wallets.

Wonder Woman was a big success – it did $821m at the Box Office.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Thor: Ragnorak did $851m and still going.

Gal Gadot deserves whatever she gets, but let’s face it, she deserves less than Chris Hemsworth because that dude’s net box office returns are in the multiple billions when you factor in the other Thor movies and the Avengers.

And as a result, he gets paid more than she does because that’s how Hollywood works.

The problem for Mo’Nique according to my friends who follow comedians and actually know who she is, is that she appeals to a very narrow demographic.

She’s successful in a very narrow niche.

Dave Chappelle… He has successfully built a career and a set of routines that appeal to a mass market audience.

That’s the difference.

Bring that back to your online business.

If you want to have the definitive authority site on the internet relating to thimbles for left-handed, red-headed men, then go for it.

But you can’t legitimately sit there and complain that venture capitalists are willing to invest in Craftsy but not your site.

Craftsy appeals to a wide audience successfully and you, irrespective of how good you are, have decided to narrow your focus to a very specific slice of a particular market.

What’s the takeaway here?

Well, first of all, if you’re on social media and you dare suggest that people aren’t successful because they aren’t good enough then prepare to be called an “ist” or be accused of an “ism” by the virtue signallers in your audience.

That’s important, so brace yourselves.

From a business perspective, you need to find the balance.

If you want mass market money, then you need to build mass-market appeal and, strangely a pretty big audience.

If on the other hand, you’re happy to make your way by being the best in your smaller, niche market, then you should probably be willing to accept that you’re not going to make mass market money.

That’s not to say you can’t do really well in a niche because that’s entirely not true – you just aren’t going to have people lined up to throw Dave Chappelle money at you.

And for most people, that’s probably ok… Except for Mo’Nique – she deserves more.

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