How Email Drove 50% of New Sales for this Entrepreneur’s New Virtual Product


Marko Elgart owner of EastVille Comedy Club

EastVille Comedy Club is the only bonafide comedy club in Brooklyn, New York. They had their most profitable month to date until COVID-19 closed all non-essential businesses.

Standup comedy is unlike other entertainment. Comedians need to interact with their audience for standup to work. It can’t be a one-way conversation or presented without audience participation. So simply moving to online comedy shows wasn’t an option. 

Despite this, owner Marko Elgart found a way to pivot his business to create a new entertainment format with Comics Quarantined. 

Learn the 6 ways he pivoted his business to give his customers an entirely new and unique experience while providing a revenue stream that saved his business.

6 ways to pivot your business to create a new revenue stream using email

You don’t need to dramatically change your products and services to pivot your strategy during COVID-19.  Instead, when you pivot, re-imagine your existing assets and talents to discover additional opportunities to grow your business. A pivot can be one main shift in your business or a few different changes that reframe the product you offer and how you market it to your customers. 

 Below are the 6 ways EastVille Comedy Club pivoted their business to create an additional revenue stream.

1. Consider how else your business can solve your customers problems.

After New York state closed all of the comedy clubs, Elgart saw a video of a comedian performing standup in an empty comedy club. The performance lacked one of the most important elements of standup — audience interaction. But it did give Elgart and an idea on how he could pivot his business. 

Elgart created Comics Quarantined — a daily, live, interactive event. Two or three comics virtually interact with each other through Zoom. Comedians can see each other and the audience if they choose to turn their camera on on their computer or phone. The audience can interact with the comedians through chat. Comics Quarantined is always live and never pre-recorded to keep the experience authentic.

“It’s a very personal kind of connection that you normally wouldn’t ever be able to get. So it’s pretty cool. It’s a behind the scenes look into the comedy business. Giving people the socialization that social distancing has taken away,” says Elgart.

Question to ask yourself: Can you deliver your product or service electronically through an app, virtual tool, or streaming service?

2. Explore how you can expand using email to communicate with your customers.

Elgart’s email list became even more valuable now that his customer’s physical location is no longer an obstacle for connecting with his audience. Standup Comedy shows performed at his physical club in Brooklyn were primarily only of interest for his audience that was planning on visiting or living in Brooklyn.  He can now utilize his entire list for the first time since he launched his business. The audience’s geographic location is no longer an issue. 

Elgart uses email at every customer touchpoint and business interaction. Email marketing is the way EastVille Comedy Club built its business. “50% of my business comes from email marketing, so it is very big for me, and it is very important. There is so much content readily available, NetFlix, YouTube, and movies. It’s essential to have a way to remind people that there is something different that they may want to check out,” said owner Marko Elgart.

Pitching talent

Elgart even uses email to pitch his idea to the talent that he books on his daily live show.

Email sent to talent

Daily customer emails

Elgart sends emails to his customer’s daily to let them know about who will be on that show that evening. Elgart has tested different times and has found that the email he sends at 6 PM gets a higher response.

Email about comedians and actors featured on tonight's Comics Quarantined.

Question to ask yourself: Are you using email at every customer touchpoint?

3. Communicate openly with your customers and discuss how to support each other.

During a crisis, it is essential to be real, authentic, and transparent about your efforts to serve your customers. It also allows you to let them know how they can support you as well. 

Comics Quarantined helps to fund donations for local Brooklyn, NY COVID-19 charities and EastVille Survival Fund. Elgart set up the Eastville Survival Fund to help employees pay their bills until the EastVille Comedy Club can reopen. There is a donation form on the website ticket purchase page for Comics Quarantined where visitors can donate even just a dollar.

“I wanted to make it very affordable for people who are not working. Most people are donating more than a dollar, which is very nice,” says Elgart.

Image of donation form on the website ticket page.

Now is the time to maintain a strong relationship with your customers. Show them you care in your newsletters, broadcast emails, and social media. Your loyal customers are champions for your company and essential brand ambassadors that can help grow your business with word of mouth.   

“We’re fortunate that we can present Comics Quarantined. Most businesses are just closed. It’s definitely providing way more revenue than we thought it would. We’re very happy with it,” says Elgart.

Feature events page listing comedians participating in the live stream.

Question to ask yourself: How can I best engage and communicate with my customers now?

4. Stay true to your brand personality in all communication.

It’s essential that any message that you send is authentic and visually expresses your brand’s personality.  A big part of what sets Eastville Comedy Club apart is their brand identity. They achieve brand consistency across all their marketing assets with AWeber’s Smart Designer

AWeber’s Smart Designer was able to analyze and capture all of Eastville Comedy Club’s core brand components (logo, images, and color palette) to create a branded email template that matched the look and feel of their website. 

“I wanted something different. I was trying to create a theme consistent across my website, logo, and email template. I was able to keep everything branded,” said Elgart. 

AWeber’s Smart Designer is a free, intelligent design assistant that lets you automatically create an amazing-looking, branded email template in seconds by entering either the URL of your website or social media account.

Video of AWeber's Smart Designer

Question to ask yourself:  Is my brand personality being expressed consistently when I communicate with my audience? 

5. Explore partnerships to expand your reach.

To promote their online comedy shows, Eastville Comedy Club utilizes a winning combination of email, social media, word of mouth, and a strategic partnership with TicketWeb, a division of Ticketmaster. 

Partnerships can help give you access to new customers and new markets.  By selling tickets through TicketWeb, new audiences can discover Eastville Comedy Club’s event when visiting TicketWeb.

Image of TicketWeb highlighting comedy shows.

The talent on Comics Quarantined also promote their appearance to their audiences, which helps to drive new customers. 

Question to ask yourself:  Who could I collaborate with to  create co-marketing opportunities to grow my audience?

6. Test out a new idea.

When Elgart decided to test the idea of Comics Quarantined, he posted it on his website and social media to see if anyone might purchase tickets.

What is stopping you from testing out a new idea or concept?  Don’t let perfection limit you from testing out your new ideas. Now is the time to experiment. Quickly launch new ideas with minimal investment. 

If you don’t have a website like EastVille Comedy Club, why not use a landing page to test a new idea. The AWeber Landing Page Builder allows you to create an unlimited number of landing pages and even host them for free. The AWeber Landing Page Builder is a free feature in your AWeber account.

Did you know that some of the most successful businesses were famous pivots?  Play-doh was originally a wall cleaner that pivoted to a popular children’s toy. YouTube started out as a video dating site. Twitter was formerly a podcasting network named Odeo. 

Eastville Comedy Club’s next pivot when the country re-opens is offering live streams of New York City standup to different areas of the country, like Philadephia, Tampa or Houston. Elgart has not figured out yet the logistics but you know when he does will it will have a different comedic twist.

Question to ask yourself:  What could I learn about my customers by testing out a new idea?

Try AWeber and start growing your business online.

You’ll get everything that Eastville Comedy Club uses to grow their business online — including sign up forms, email templates, newsletters, and landing pages.

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