How a little comedy can help content creation and communication captivation
We all struggle with developing killer content that not only communicates but captivates audiences. Let me share some insight from two recent comedy outings and why you should routinely schedule such humorous adventures in your career journeys to master the art of theater and comedy in your messaging.
Last month, when I was in New York City I saw Love, Loss and What I Wore, an off Broadway show about women and life or to better describe it as the New York Times Review states, two hours of matters of the heart and matters of the closet. It was entertaining, thought provoking and triggered some deep emotions and memories.
The performance did not include any high tech scenes, fancy costumes or flying actors. It was so simple, yet so powerful. Five women in black dresses, who stood in place for the entire show spouting off smart dialogue that left a lasting impression.
This past weekend I was in Chicago and went to Second City. Second City is a comedy institution (with theaters in Chicago and Toronto) dating back fifty years and spawning such great talent as Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd and many noted Saturday Night Live stars. They usually have a couple of performance options, this weekend I saw South Side of Heaven.
Most of what I saw there were character-driven improv style, laugh so hard it hurts shows. I’ve never been disappointed and always learn so much.
I love comedy, and due to my very tight time and limited schedule I always try to do things when I’m traveling that are fun and I can learn too. Here are some of my take-a-ways and I how I manage idea generation while I’m hanging out with friends and often drinking wine.
1) Always carry a good idea pad or use your phone notes app. After two glasses of wine, a great idea can easily exit your brain.
Spot what works.
2) Pay attention to what topics the audience laughs at.
3) Listen for simple words that are called something goofy but seem to roll off the tongue and sound extra funny. For example, the word ‘Acne’ is okay, ‘Big Fat Zit’ has a lot more word punch.
Mimic good story structures.
4) Story telling is a craft. Stories that really work usually follow a simple architecture. Here’s a structure you’ll see often: Set scene, introduce characters, identify problem, present solution, use of a shocking result or a question asked.
All of these comedy gems can aid in delivering more meaningful and memorable presentations, writing content or making a strong point in a text message .
If you need more help with story telling or comedy, check out two of my favorite advisers: Doug Stevenson, who puts on story telling workshops around the world and offers coaching and my super funny buddy David Glickman, who also coaches and can punch up material.
For more creative problem solving, view:
18 steps towards stress-free, fast-lane, more fun and darn good writing.
This week Lauren, my marketing coordinator, and I were in New York City – to say our trip was amazing would be an understatement. We enjoyed a perfect balance of business learning and connecting with new interesting people, hospitality highs and a little drama from Mother Nature.
The mission of our trip was to film a promotional video for my new book, Brand Turnaround, meet with McGraw-Hill’s marketing team to finalize book promotional plans and to experience the wonders of New York City. Mission accomplished, we did it all and more.
The most dramatic moment of the trip must go to the Earthquake. I’m sure you heard about it, well we experienced it. We were at McGraw-Hill on the 42nd floor filming a video trailer for the book and suddenly the floor moved, the building swayed and we all felt a bit drunk without any wine. Even though it was a small rumble compared to what the West Coast feels on a regular basis, because it was so out of the norm for NYC, it was freaky and scary. Then an intercom voice announced what we all thought, it was an earthquake and to stay calm and stay tuned for additional information.
So since we were women on a mission, we went back to work, trying to get a good voice and visual take in before the announcer blared more warnings or updates.
Dwelling on an earthquake accomplishes nothing, soothing your nerves after a little high rise building rumble with shopping and retail research does wonders.
So after filming for a three-minute book promo, we had an excellent meeting with the McGraw-Hill marketing team. The book launch is going to be grand and memorable. We brain stormed on publicity and joint venture and Lauren and I showed off some of the book’s brand new promo tools, like our laptop skins, new website and blog, Brand Turnaround Tee shirts and even our custom Brand Turnaround bling that the marketing team will be sporting. Then we hit the streets to do our part for Manhattan’s local economy (buy stuff) and find idea inspiration.
Shopping is one of the best forms of market research any brander or business owner can do. Even if your business is not retail, when you shop ask questions, take pictures, look at the brand touch points like signage, packaging and décor and when you see something cool, ask yourself: How can I apply this concept to my brand or one of my clients?
We ended up on Fifth Avenue and were smitten by Louis Vuitton‘s ultra fabulous windows display. The theme was Ostrich, eggs and LV’s best merchandise. The compelling idea was the big bird, he or she was huge, seemed at least 10 feet tall and extended from one window to the next. The head was in one window, the bird feet were in another and in others there were equally as mammoth bird eggs and all were dazzled with serious accessories. The split window look was not only creative, but engaged the viewer to follow the story in every window, instead of just stopping at one window and seeing one collection of their offering.
To see more shots go to Fashion Magazine
Merchandising is a critical tactic that builds brands. Whether you are a retailer with public window displays or a law firm with window boxes in an office lobby, these touch points are excellent opportunities to tell stories and should not be forgotten. And dividing something up, like they did with the bird, was an interesting way to present something, especially if it’s an unusual approach.
Is there a merchandising opportunity in your brand experience that can further express who you are?
The elevator attendants
We stayed at the Pierre Hotel, booked through American Express Travel. AMEX offers some very well-priced luxury travel deals with generous perks, like: stay three days, pay for two plus get breakfast everyday for two and $100 to spend anywhere in the hotel.
The property is almost one hundred years austere and elegant. The five-star everything from service, to ambiance, to food and beverage to gigantic fresh flowers was opulent. Part of their luxury brand was the attention to detail and the preservation of classic hotelier traditions. Every time you entered an elevator bank, a pleasant, professional staffer greeted you, smiled and made you feel like the most important guest in the hotel., pushed the floor button you needed and wished you a lovely day.
There was no heavy door to swing shut or any tricky floor buttons to push on these elevators, the attendants were there to deliver on the Pierre’s brand promise: the best of the best with impeccable white glove service.
What small touch can you add to your brand that reaffirms your brand essence? A brand essence is a brand’s DNA, it’s why you are here, how you are different, what your personality is and what you promise to deliver.
Got to run. Look for these topics in the next few days.
• How to brand-extend and not brand-dilute from Top Restaurateur Daniel Boulud
• Sampling trends and merchandising from hip, new Indian fare restaurant Junoon
• Video branding ideas from a super cool, online entrepreneurial TV by an insurance company
• What you can learn from a one scene Off-Broadway-production and apply to marketing
• Networking in NYC, it’s really such a small world
• A Book Review on Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek
Till next time, Brand on!
Of all of the place I travel to, Manhattan, New York juices my brain like no other city. Got here on Sunday. Traveling with my Superstar Marketing Coordinator, Lauren, who’s been with me for over a year. So needless to say we are celebrating many things, learning a ton, meeting lots of interesting folks, doing business and contributing to the local economy.
The next few days while in NYC, we will cover everything from customer service ideas, new trends and hot spots to branding hits and misses and we will introduce you to some new friends and business experts. This trip includes a lot of hospitality content because I’m finishing up our new restaurant branding course set to launch in the next 60 days.
Specifics insight will include:
- How to brand to the Elite, even if you are not a 5 star luxury property like the Pierre Hotel
- How to brand-extend and not brand-dilute from Top Restaurateur Daniel Boulud
- Sampling trends and merchandising from hip, new Indian fare restaurant Junoon
- Video branding ideas from a super cool, online entrepreneurial TV by an insurance company
- What you can learn from a one scene Off-Broadway-production and apply to marketing
- Networking in NYC, it’s really such a small world
- Book Review on Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek
- Marketing and launching my new book Brand Turnaround with the McGraw-Hill team
Our journey started at the Tampa Airport. Which is one of the easiest and stress-free places in the US. We flew Delta, which offers an early and direct flight that lands at 9:30. We were greeted by “Felix” who owns K&G limo. He has been my driver for over 15 years. While there are many national limo services, I’m loyal to Felix and his company because for many reasons, he’s consistent; there are no surprises. I trust him and admire his hard work and family values. Felix has 7 children. 6 by his wife and one who they adopted after witnessing a less than healthy living situation over 30 years ago. Felix and I often talk marketing and branding when I’m in his car.
Since we came in on Sunday, I didn’t have a tight schedule of meetings, I invited Felix to have coffee with Lauren and me so we could take a look at what he was doing with his website and share some wisdom. Even though I only see Felix when I come to NYC, I consider him more than a transportation vendor, but a trusted friend. Felix makes everyone feel special, like a celebrity. And he has no shortage of celebrity customers from Academy Award Winning actors and Grammy winning musicians.
Felix wanted to know what else he could do to attract even more business. His son who recently graduated from law school had set up his site. He did a nice job and K&G Limo was getting calls from their site and other online avenues. We suggested a few added methods to increase his results, which can work with many business models.
7 Tips to drive more traffic to any website
1) Felix had a blog, but it was not connected to the site. We suggested connecting it for search engine optimization reasons and as a helpful content tool for his customers. We also suggested:
2) Adding more and often keyword research and optimization in his website and blog content. And tagging all images with these same high ranking key words.
4) Add a site map, search spiders love site maps.
5) Offer a helpful safety travel tip sheet that visitors can download when coming to NYC. This will not only earn points from the site visitors, customers and prospects, it can help Felix grow his opt-in list. Plus, he can tweet and share on Facebook too.
6) Set up a Youtube account that hosts a welcome video or again, helpful travel tips videos. This will not only earn points from the site visitors, customers and prospects, it will help his search ranking, because Youtube is owned by Google.
7) With their permission, add testimonials from customers to the site, and if they are interesting, then blog about them and use them for content on social media platforms too.
Till next time, Brand on!
If I had to look in my crystal ball, I’m putting my money on Jimmy Fallon. Tues. I was fortunate to get to go to his show with one of my best buds Jill Griffin, author of Taming the Search and Switch Customer (Jossey-Bass), and two new friends from New York city, Meagan, who works with Peter Shankman, fellow entrepreneur and founder of Help a Reporter, a great website for connecting journalists to story resources and Julie, a music publishing pro. It was a very memorable event. Here are a few things I took away.
To start off with tickets for the show are only available for a limited time window. Fans need to call the NBC studios about 30 days before the desired date as they only release tickets on certain days and then they are gone. I called for 20 days straight, the more I called, the more determined I was to get the tickets.
Limited time windows to purchase anything, drive the emotion.
Once I spoke to an NBC staffer, it was an enjoyable experience from then on. They were super friendly and seemed just as nice as Jimmy’s persona; a consistent extension of his brand. Within minutes of the call, I received a pleasant notice explaining all the ground rules and details to attending the show.
They made the entire ticketing process simple and hassle free.
A few days before the event, I received another friendly notice, telling us where to go to get our tickets and how to fully enjoy the show.
All the staff at the studio reminded me of Ross the intern, who got his big break with Jay Leno. Young, happy and eager to help.
The check in process was seamless. We were instructed to meet at NBC store, an environment full of branded Jimmy Fallon goods. Friendly, helpful people dressed in gray NBC suits with crisp shirts and big smiles were everywhere. Security was a breeze and we were moved into a holding area and asked who wanted to be on stage and jam with the Roots, Jimmy’s house band. Of course we did. We were given special wrist bands and more instructions to be sure we added to the show’s natural charm and fun.
Inside the filming studio, the room was decked for the holidays, not one inch of real estate was missed. About 15 minutes before show time, a warm up comedian, warmed us up. Without fabricating the show, the pre host provided more branded guidance, so that the show’s audience would not misbehave. He also danced like a champ, chatted with many guests and kept the room’s mood at a high energy level.
The Jimmy Fallon experience lasted over two hours, even though he was only on an hour.
Before the opening featured guest came out, Jimmy did two entertaining side stints. The first one was called “Tweeter hashtags”. Viewers contribute their goofy tweets from one of Jimmy’s hashtag topics. Tonight’s hashtag was: HOHO Hell no! The second one was a continued segment called “The 12 days of tacky Christmas sweaters”. A lucky audience member was gifted a very ugly coiffed with trinkets knitted master piece.
The stints were touch points and 100% on brand all with Jimmy’s contemporary and silly style.
Social media is an active strategy for building the show’s fan base.
Every minute of the show was fun. Jack Black was the featured guest. Jack, so consistent with his over the top funny brand, bolted on to the stage with a song and dance. From there the chemistry of Jimmy and Jack kicked in, they were smooth and added to the authentic personality of the show.
Next was a random, crazy performance where Jimmy and Jack banged on larger than life drums all to the tune of The Little Drummer Boy while spewing red and green paint all over the stage. Watch them get in the spirit.
The show ended with a special, rocking performance by the Roots, probably the hottest TV band going. The performance was magical, but what made it even better was more audience engagement. 30 or so of the guests, including my pals got to stand behind Roots and sway and groove to the tunes and have even more fun.
So how can you include your customers in your product delivery? Not only adding to the offering, but the experience they receive?
And for any of you who feel like you are not on your game yet. I started watching Jimmy Fallon when his show first launched. In the beginning, he appeared awkward and he wasn’t that good. Today, he’s smooth, in the zone and his popularity continues to grow. Brilliance takes working at it.
Jimmy has been crafting his craft for many years and even though he was a solid stand up guy and SNL hit, a new gig of any kind takes time to get right and Jimmy likely still has nights where he tells joke that bombs.
In closing, comedy and humor in any form feels good. Is there an opportunity in your world or venture for little more random, silly, gut-busting funny material or content?
More from NYC on Thursday.
It’s freezing in New York, but fun and stimulating!
First thing, check into my hotel. I am staying at a small boutique property on upper West Side (I’ll share the details on this property at the end of my trip). Are you traveling to a big city and want a great deal on cool hotels? I always use Hotwire.com. You can pick the number of stars and which part of the city you want to stay in. You get a choice of many, showing prices and star rankings. I’ve never been disappointed and sometimes save 50% off rack rate.
Worried about bedbugs? Go to Bedbug registry and make sure your chosen hotel won’t have uninvited guests in your bed. My hotel is awesome – it was not listed, WHEW!
Our first adventure: A food tour of the Lower East side via City Food Tours. This is a great way to taste and learn some history about New York’s fabulous food. Most tours are a couple hours long and range from 40-90 bucks per person. They include a knowledgeable guide, outside exercise and samplings of 5-6 culinary bites along the way. We discovered: The Essex Food market, a gem, which houses Roni-Sue chocolates, an artisan spot with truffles and to die for chocolates in every variety. The Pickle Guys, one of the few pickle places around. Economy Candy, a massive store that feels like a mall of a million sweets. The Roasting Plant, a great coffee cafe founded by a former Starbucks staffer who turned a vacuum into a Javabot® coffee roasting system and lastly, one of the best slices of pizza from San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria.
A great afternoon! More marketing commentary coming. Packed agenda.
Robert’s at the Museum of Design.
Prohibition a neighborhood spot for live music acts. Rachel Platton performed and was an amazing, fresh and entertaining sound. She’s a New Yorker who is hitting the world tour scene. Check out her schedule, and check her out.
Went to Jimmy Fallon Live with Jack Black, recap coming, was tooooo much fun and got to hang and dance with the Roots. I’m now the proud owner of an official drum stick too.
Got to run, sorry for the short hand, promise to fill in. Headed to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Review coming too with lots more street stuff.