Media Shower writer George Drennan is well-known for his work in travel, health, and business.

At the tail end of 2011, comedian Louis CK took a huge financial and marketing gamble. He made a – what some called misguided – decision to release his full-length comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, direct on his website with no outsourced marketing. No late night talk show promotion, no physical distribution deal, and no broadcast TV deal. The special was put online costing $5.00 to download and without DRM to protect from internet video piracy.

Funny man and marketing genius Louis CK.
Amazingly, the chance Louis took on this marketing experiment paid off and the special grossed over $1 million through his website. The build up and release of the special relied almost solely on email for its successful marketing campaign, with Louie achieving a high level of mutual trust with an audience that was clearly receptive to him and his product.

So what can we learn from this break away from the traditional promotional model and Louis’s email marketing success?

Better email marketing techniques.

Keep it Simple and Personalized

Louis connects with his recipients by making his emails simple and personalized.

Hi. This is LOuie. It seriously is me. Im even going to leave the O stuipdly capatalized because who would pay an intern to do that?? Okay so you bought the thing with my fat face on it and you clicked the button that said i could email you. And i know that now you are thinking “aw shit. Why’d i let this guy into my life this way?”. Well dont worry. Because i really swear it that i wont bug you. I will not abuse this privalage of having your email. You wont hear from me again… Probably, unless i have something new to offer you.

Marketing emails can tend to sound robotic and over manufactured with little life or character in the writer’s voice. By keeping formatting to a minimum, no rich HTML, Louie’s marketing emails look and read like something you have received from a friend. He speaks direct to the reader with a personal friendly tone, that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch, and develops trust with the reader; trust that is so important in getting potential customers to take an action or click through to your website.

Great Content with a Narrative

Louie’s emails generally have a narrative and always provide engaging content for the reader that is told with an honesty that resonates with his audience. While a business cannot, and wouldn’t want to, tell long-form comedic stories it still shows the power of a narrative and brand storytelling to provide engaging marketing content. Stories hook the reader to keep reading your article or email.


Content should have a purpose. Whether it is to publicize his new special or the release of an audio download on his website, Louie’s emails have a marketing purpose and feature some kind of call to action at the end.

As always I’d like to urge you not to steal or share this video so that I can continue to offer stuff on my site in this friendly and cheap way without losing my ass in the process. I don’t want to lose my ass. I have a great, great ass.
So that’s mostly it. Please go to to buy oh my god and for more information. Oh, also, we now accept Paypal, amazon payments and Dwolla.

Okay. That’s it. Please enjoy your life. And please be always curious about other people.

Your friend,
Louis ck

Adrienne LaFrance used document analysis software to deconstruct Louis CK’s emails and published her findings in The Atlantic,

“his messages are overwhelmingly characterized by promotional language.”

Below is a list of the most used words in Louie’s emails:

  • Special
  • Tonight
  • Tomorrow
  • Tickets
  • Buy
  • Price

While Louie keeps his content personalized and engaging he still achieves the marketing purpose of the email by clever use of persuasive promotional language.


Bringing this all together we can see Louis CK’s successful email marketing comes down to a personalized approach and engaging content with a strong marketing purpose, a strategy that has achieved great success while revolutionizing the distribution and marketing of stand up comedy.

To learn more about content marketing visit the Content Marketing Academy.