This post is part II of II. To read part I, click here.
Truth and authenticity. Truth makes compelling comedy. Great comics talk about what they know – the good, bad, and ugly. Hacks try to sell what’s popular rather than focus on generating authentic material that is based on who they are. Martin axed all “borrowed” material from his routine, and then became a truly authentic act that resonated with people. Bring who you are to your work, and your work will be better for it. Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres is a great example of authenticity. Truth also means having a definitive, unapologetic point of view (on stage we call it a persona). Marketing, too, must be purposeful, human and offer an authentic “voice” to audiences. Using hack material on the stage is akin to jargon and BS corp-speak in marketing. Audiences know when marketers and comedians are full of it!
This also leads to an important sub-point about telling stories. Last Comic Standing Winner John Heffron is a master at telling stories based on real people and events from his average, “middle class” life. Great marketing also requires honest storytelling and transparency with customers. Audiences worth reaching are smart; respect them and tell them the truth. What could be funnier and more conversational than that? Truth can make us vulnerable as marketers – so we shy away from it. What happens when we are open about our successes and failures with an audience? We become human and relatable. That builds trust with your tribe. Audiences smell “fake.”
Listening and Clarity. Like any great comic, marketers must listen. Customers will tell you what works and what doesn’t. Great comics take responsibility for what they could do better rather than blame audiences for “not getting it.” Sure some audiences just aren’t a fit and some are drunk (it happens!), but if your regular (ideal) audience isn’t getting it repeatedly, time to do things differently. Clarity is the marketer’s burden, not the audience’s.
Working From Your Gut. Great comics, like great marketers, develop a gut instinct by listening to their internal “voice.” It’s a muscle that you have to exercise to keep it in shape. Chasing opportunities that are easy may come back to bite. If your intuition tells you it won’t honor your brand, don’t do it. Honor your instincts, and they will honor you by not leading you astray. Sometimes the “right” things are not the “easy” things. Marketing is often following your gut, not just your head.
Preparation and commitment. Comics spend years honing material into jokes that work with the right set-up, punch line, and delivery (timing). It is a craft that requires constant re-work. Marketers, too, must adapt their material as needed. They must know their audience, prepare their materials painstakingly, and adapt to the unexpected. Message and timing are critical. Moreover, preparation enhances confidence, and confidence is how you sell a joke or your business. Commitment is being fully bought in to your offering. If you’re not buying it, your audience isn’t either. Comics are masterful marketers – when they kill it’s because they “sold” it well. Confidence shows.
Innovation. Audiences change, as do markets. Comics must constantly create new material. Innovation requires that comics take risks by trying new things. The same is true of marketing. As customer needs and economic climates change, great marketers push the envelope by anticipating changes in current markets, and by innovating new products and new markets. Dare to be different; forget what others are doing.
Passion. Great marketing like great comic material requires passion, and a love of the game no matter how hard it gets. A genuine hunger to be better – not to get rich – drives passionate people. Good thing, too, because a drive for money doesn’t motivate people to grow personally. Striving for excellence, and not money, is how we find our better selves and success. Oh, yes, and most importantly – have fun! Comics love to play and are in touch with their most creative selves. You deserve to have fun, too. If you aren’t, neither are your customers. Fun isn’t just for you – it’s a powerful, contagious customer service tool. And, in the end, customer delight is what marketing is all about.
Next time you’re laughing at your favorite comedies, think of it as fun marketing ‘research!’
Have business lessons learned from your past? Share them! kathy(at)keepingithuman(dot)com