If you accept the premise that all the marketing world is a stage, then it shouldn’t be much of a leap for you to see the role humor and innovation plays in it. Even classic playwrights like William Shakespeare understood that dramatic irony was what kept his audiences coming back again and again. By combining drama and humor, he was able to tell stories that were tragic yet laugh out loud funny at the same time.
The comedic playwright has a rare talent, but, then, so does the content marketer. The question is how do these two worlds mesh? The content marketer’s job is to grab the attention of an audience and hold it, so, clearly, there are a few things you could learn from the comedy playwright.
Get Into the Mind of Your Audience
“The playwright also splits himself into two other minds: the mind of the writer and the mind of the audience.”
– David Mamet
David Mamet didn’t write Glengarry Glen Ross to appeal to five-year-olds. He knew his audience, so he wrote a play designed to appeal to that demographic — adults looking to laugh at some of the ironies of life.
You could argue that market research is the heart of successful content creation. Marketing agencies spend considerable time and energy analyzing the demographics associated with a brand or product in order to understand the audience. Five-year-old kids don’t buy toasters, any more than they do Broadway theater tickets, but their moms do. You need to know that if you want to sell those toast making machines.
Knowing your audience is also about understanding what kind of story will appeal to them. What do moms love more than toast?
- The simple life
- Smart technology
Content marketing requires you to write a story using this information to entice mom to buy the toaster.
Grab Their Attention
“You have the same demands…keeping your audience invested in the story.”
– Suzanne Collins
Suzanne Collins is known more for her dramatic fight scenes more than creating comedy but she has the right idea. Once you know who your audience is the next step is to find a way to get them invested in the brand or product. Humor is memorable and just as importantly, when something’s funny, people want to talk about it.
Ask around and see who remembers the Got Milk Campaign? Chances are most people will have at least story about a favorite celebrity with a milk mustache or the funny commercial like the one of the Trix rabbit sneaking cereal into his apartment only to find out he has no milk.
Once the California Milk Processor Board understood that they had everyone’s attention with their Got Milk project, they monetized on it. According to Adweek, Got Milk? Is one of the most remembered taglines in history for beverages.
“My plays aren’t stylistically the same.”
– Suzan-Lori Parks
You can’t fool an audience with repetition. If you want it to be memorable and engaging, it has to be different. Being unique is the essence of making an impression but it is far from simple whether you are writing words for a play or blog. When playwrights go to the theater are they there to steal ideas? Hopefully not, most likely they go for the inspiration.
As content marketing professionals, you might look around at other campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t but your job is to be creative. If you produce a blog or video that is just like the competitions, well, the viewer will connect what you made with someone else. That’s not funny.
You also want to keep your ideas fresh. If you just replay the core concept over and over, things stagnate and your brand is no longer memorable.
Make it Distinctive
“Never underestimate the stimulation of eccentricity.”
Playwrights like Neil Simon have their own brand of humor. Each play focuses on a different story but they have a similar flavor to them, one people associate with the Neil Simon brand.
Being a little eccentric isn’t just about content marketing, it’s about comprehensive brand development. You want your work to pop in a world that is overrun with logos, taglines, viral videos and blogs.
Lemonade in Culver City, California is really just a cafeteria style restaurant–or is it? They used innovative brand development to create a wow factor that makes them distinctive. The common thread in everything from their online marketing to their website to their restaurant decor is, you guessed it, lemons and lemonade. They took what is really an old story and gave it a fresh coat of paint, one that made the brand stand out. Today, Lemonade has 28 locations and is still growing.
The people at Peloton wanted to enter the fitness market with a unique indoor cycling idea, so they looked beyond the usual gym setting to define their brand. They created the only bicycling machine capable of streaming live classes, essentially allowing you to spin with people from all over the world in real-time. This led to cycling studios based on their engaging technology, a clothing line and a subscription service. That’s on top of selling of a 2,000 dollar machine that comes with an attached tablet computer to consumers willing to pay for online spin classes.
Peloton boasted a revenue of around 150 million in 2016. They took a tired fitness machine industry and created something different and exciting.
Comedy playwrights make the world laugh. You can take that kind of thinking and use it to develop content that will make your audience stand up and applaud, too.
Darla F is a full-time freelance writer published internationally and an award-winning author. Over the last decade, she has ghostwritten memoirs for a successful entrepreneur and created byline pieces for USAToday, Jillian Michaels, USARiseUP, New York Times — About.com, Multibrief, MedCity News, LiveStrong and AOL. Darla is known for her ability to take complex topics and make them clear to anyone.