If laughter is the best medicine, comedy could be the cure for all your digital marketing woes. Humor has a way of attracting and retaining even the most ambivalent Internet users. From cat videos to reaction gifs, people go gaga for Internet humor. But can comedy really make you a better marketer?
In short, yes.
When you integrate comedy within content marketing to create humor marketing, you’re able to make seemingly dry topics interesting enough to build a loyal following for your small business and an impressive conversion rate.
Comedy isn’t always easy to implement within an overarching content marketing strategy, but done correctly, it can deliver impressive engagement with new and long-term customers alike. When in doubt, look to professional comedians for insight and inspiration. After all, comedy is all about marketing yourself.
Below, we’ll tackle the many benefits of humor marketing — and show you how to inspire chuckles with your own content marketing strategy.
Similarities Between Comedy and Content Marketing
Comedians are the ultimate marketers. Like content marketing professionals, stand up comedy professionals carefully craft their acts to appeal to their core audience, using tailored language and memorable observations to get fans talking.
Take a close look at any quality bit, and you’ll draw numerous parallels between effective comedy and content marketing. Here are just a few of the most notable similarities:
Telling a Story
Every good standup comedy act tells a story. It can be the simplest situation imaginable, but if it sets up some sort of exposition, conflict, and resolution, it will get audiences invested.
Mike Birbiglia excels in this regard. In one of his most famous bits, he details an interaction with baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and an unfortunate misunderstanding with a blind baseball writer. In this act, the comedian sets the stage by explaining the circumstances surrounding an embarrassing encounter during an awards banquet, weaving small bits of humor throughout as he builds up to the ultimate punchline.
As with comedy, effective content should tell the story of your brand. Evocative details can help you build an emotional connection with readers — especially if the specifics are humorous.
By the time the punchline arrives, readers should feel fully invested in your story. The relatable exposition and eventual conflict resolution offered through humor help get readers excited for the next article, much like how a good comedy bit can prepare audiences for an even better followup.
Audiences love both relatable stand-up comedians and content. The most embarrassing, cringe-worthy, or humbling stories tend to produce the biggest laughs, simply because people can see themselves in these tales.
Brian Regan serves as a sterling example, as his best acts mention such relatable concerns as food serving suggestions and pain rankings at the hospital. We’ve all dealt with these frustrations at one time or another — so we’re that much more inclined to laugh as we nod along to Regan’s familiar descriptions.
You can build this reliability in your own content by talking about topics and telling stories that your readers can relate to. Whether it’s a common situation that nearly every human has experienced or something that’s only familiar to those in your industry, these relatable stories are a great way to build a stronger connection with your audience.
Comedians are the ultimate wordsmiths. They thrive on wordplay, using a combination of vivid descriptors and clever phrasing to keep audiences interested. Even when the content of their act is unremarkable, the language they use can easily get audiences interested. George Carlin certainly understood the importance of language, as evidenced by his bit about the seven words that must be avoided on television.
When he wasn’t complaining about his inability to use certain words, Carlin made a point of adding even more impactful language into his work. In fact, he thought of himself as more of a writer than a comedian. In a noteworthy interview with Psychology Today, he referred to himself as a “writer who performs his own material.”
When writing content for your business, consider what language you can use to evoke emotion and get a chuckle out of your audience.
A New Perspective
Beyond colorful language, Carlin fascinated audiences by providing them with plenty of food for thought. While he wasn’t a fan of the term “think outside of the box,” that’s exactly what he forced audiences to do. In the aforementioned Psychology Today interview, Carlin explained, “I try to come in through the side door, the side window, to come in from a direction [audience members are] not expecting, to see something in a different way.”
Like Carlin, content marketers should strive to grant readers a new perspective with every article. Comedy can be surprisingly thought-provoking and could make even the most stubborn readers more open to considering new ideas or opportunities.
How Humor in Content Marketing Can Increase Customer Engagement
Humor marketing serves many purposes, but it’s most important for strengthening customer engagement.
The goal: to build an emotional connection with your brand so that customers will invest in your products or services not only in the immediate future, but also in months, years, and even decades to come.
Don’t discount the power of this method; one memorable article can completely transform how customers perceive your brand — and whether they’re willing to take the next step and convert.
The Power of a Strong First Impression
First impressions are everything in the world of content marketing. While it’s possible to repair a damaged reputation, it’s far easier to develop a strong brand perception in the first place.
If you can get customers laughing within the first paragraph, you’ll immediately cement your status as a brand worth following. This strong initial impression can pay dividends down the road, as it will help your brand stand out in a sea of digital content.
Encouraging Website Visitors to Stick Around
Today’s websites often fail to secure sustained interest from target customers. Data highlighted by marketing expert Neil Patel reveals that the average visitor spends just over three minutes at a given website. Meanwhile, bounce rates average 40.5 percent.
While a variety of factors impact these metrics, boredom often plays a role. If the content they encounter fails to capture their interest, website visitors will be quick to jump ship and head for the competition.
Layout, load speed, and graphics matter, but they’ll do little good if the content itself is boring.
Humor prevents this problem by keeping visitors entertained. If they actively enjoy the content, they’re more likely to stay put and continue consuming other featured pieces. They’re also more likely to follow your brand on social media, sign up for your email newsletter, or, most importantly, commit to a purchase or service consultation.
Building a Sense of Community
Customers who appreciate your content’s approach to humor are more likely to also identify with the community built around your brand.
Laughter has a way of drawing us together, making us feel as if we’re part of something greater. This, in turn, fosters a stronger sense of engagement than customers might experience if they feel like a single entity. Those who identify with a brand-based community through humor are more likely to stick around for the long haul.
It Can Strengthen Your Social Media Strategy
It’s no secret that humor is a winner on social media. Followers are far more inclined to share content they deem funny or inspirational. While this often takes the form of retweets or hitting the share button on Facebook, many will go out of their way to link to blog posts they find especially humorous.
A well-crafted article could pave the path to your most resonant tweets, Facebook updates, or even LinkedIn content. Likewise, your website provides an excellent opportunity for displaying your funniest social media updates, including hilarious videos from TikTok or YouTube.
What Content Marketers Can Learn from Professional Comedians
Professional comedians are among the wisest and most insightful members of modern society. Their deep-seated knowledge extends beyond humor to include a variety of other important topics and undertakings — including marketing.
By paying close attention to comedians, you’ll learn the following lessons:
While some comedians hold broad appeal, many tailor their work carefully to fit a specific type of audience. This approach allows them to better relate to those most capable of understanding their perspective, rather than watering down their humor in the interest of pleasing everybody.
Niche appeal is even more important in content marketing than it is in comedy.
It’s not possible to cater to every reader — but such an approach isn’t even necessary. Instead, determine which types of people are most likely to get invested in your brand and how they can be reached with targeted content.
Your niche will influence not only topic selection, but also phrasing, timing, layout, and virtually every other aspect of your content marketing strategy. Once you understand your target audience, everything else will begin to fall into place.
The Importance of Passion
Humor works best in both comedy and content marketing when underscored by a true sense of passion.
In an interview with IFC, comedian and actor Greg Proops references this idea, explaining:
“If you’re just walking through [an act], the audience can smell it a mile away…being engaged is the whole enchilada as far as I’m concerned.”
Without passion, there’s no reason for audiences or readers to care. They can tell when the person behind a comedy bit or marketing piece lacks passion for the topic in question. This is especially true with comedic content, which is impossible to fake.
Tailoring to your audience may be important, but this strategy won’t work unless the content evokes the passion that makes your brand stand out.
Embrace Your Strengths
What sets your brand apart?
How do you expect customers to distinguish your products or services from those provided by top competitors?
Identify these strengths early on and make a point to build them into your content strategy.
Comedians certainly understand the importance of playing to their strengths. Jerry Seinfeld, for example, continues to thrive in a modern comedy sphere that rewards edginess.
His observational style is far from controversial, but that’s okay — he has a real knack for quips about the seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life. Rather than chase a comedic style that is ill-suited to his abilities, he strives to find new ways to build on his natural strengths as a comedian.
In content marketing, embracing your strengths can mean different things in different situations. For example, if your brand is known for its reliability, you can find a humorous way to evoke this quality.
A clever car owner did exactly this in a Craigslist ad for a 1999 Toyota.
Taking a decidedly transparent approach, the seller used a sarcastic, but straightforward tone to emphasize the noteworthy strength that sets this admittedly old and unexciting car apart: it’s one of the most reliable, trustworthy vehicles available and can be depended on to keep running for years.
Why bother playing up qualities that don’t exist? Consumers seeking out reliability above all else will respond best to a marketing message that confidently exerts a product or service’s greatest benefits.
Know When to Own Your Weaknesses
It’s important to highlight your brand’s strengths, of course, but owning your weakness can prove just as valuable in select situations. This approach is all about furthering your niche appeal as a brand.
For example, Budweiser proudly emphasizes its status rather than succumbing to pressure to emulate the many small-scale breweries perceived as producing higher-quality beer. By owning its weaknesses and positioning them as strengths, Budweiser attracts even greater loyalty among its target customers.
In the comedy world, Jim Gaffigan makes the most of this idea with the stand-up special “Beyond the Pale.” He’s clearly not afraid to poke fun at himself — and it makes him far more relatable. Maria Bamford is even more in-your-face in this regard, even titling her stand-up special Weakness Is the Brand.
This strategy can prove risky in both comedy and your content marketing efforts, so you’ll need to do your homework to minimize the likelihood of a poor reception. Play your cards right, however, and your strategy could pay off in an impressive level of customer loyalty.
Best Places to Get Comedic Inspiration for Content Marketing
Inspiration abounds on the internet, but weeding through today’s wealth of resources can feel intimidating. This is particularly true in the comedy world, where it can be difficult to know which options relate to your unique sense of humor while also helping you connect with your audience.
Sometimes, inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. Hence, the need for exposure to a wide variety of comedic sources. Give these options a try:
Comedians love Twitter, which gives them the challenge of building a relatable story and adding evocative language within 280 characters.
Patton Oswalt’s Twitter presence is especially impressive. Vulture refers to him as the ultimate Twitter troll, but that’s actually a huge compliment — his acerbic humor might turn off some followers, but it builds an even stronger connection with others. Follow him and other comedians on Twitter for insight into what allows them to remain hilarious when operating within language limitations.
If you’re looking for new ways to integrate humor into your brand’s marketing content, you won’t find a better resource than blog posts specifically geared toward the comedy world.
StageTime’s Addicted to Comedy series provides an especially intriguing perspective and excellent guidance for your upcoming comedy-based marketing endeavors. Likewise, the Sandpaper Suit website offers an inside look at the fascinating world of comedy and filmmaking — and plenty of worthwhile takeaways to influence your humor-oriented content.
Sometimes, comedians are at their best in the relaxed environment of a podcast. There, they regularly offer insights into the process of crafting quality comedy. Nowhere is this more evident than with the Joe Rogan Experience, which, as of 2019, boasted 190 million downloads per month.
Rogan’s podcast reveals how it is possible to infuse subtle elements of comedy into various forms of media without going all-out. It’s a great source of inspiration if you’re looking to occasionally infuse humor into your content without making it the focus.
If you’re looking to connect with Gen Z through relevant humor, you won’t find a better source than TikTok. As the ultimate outlet for this young generation, TikTok may be best known for its dance challenges — but it’s also a breeding ground for the concise style of humor that Twitter has peddled for over a decade.
On TikTok, this type of comedy takes on a video format. Visuals may be crucial to success, but topic selection and delivery also matter, as you’ll quickly observe while browsing clips from your favorite comedians on this transformational social media platform.
Comedic inspiration is all around. You’ll find it in spades not only online, but also in real life. Sometimes, ideas can arise from otherwise frustrating situations, such as dealing with difficult customers or easing workplace conflicts.
Make a point of jotting down oddities about your business and its employees or customers as they occur to you. Encourage other members of your marketing team to do the same. You never know when a gem might emerge among the seemingly inconsequential observations of daily life within your industry.
If you’re ready to engage with customers while highlighting the many qualities that help your brand stand out, you’ll benefit from using humor in marketing. With insight and inspiration from today’s comedic geniuses, you can get your followers laughing — and reaching for their wallets.
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