Content writers utilize many different styles and voices depending on their subject and whom they’re writing for. And often, this means looking to outside sources to research tone and language, among other things. Next time your online marketing team is diving into a project, suggest they take a cue from an unlikely source—comedians. Wondering why? Here are four lessons content writers can learn from comedians.
1. Command attention immediately
Comedians don’t wait to grab an audience’s attention and neither should a content writer. Whether they open with one of their best jokes or let the awkward silence drag on to elicit nervous giggles, they know the importance of making an impression out of the gate. Content writers, too, should hone their introductions to make sure readers are drawn in from sentence one.
2. Tailor content to your audience
Comedians do their homework on the cities they visit and utilize that knowledge to play on audience likes and dislikes. Likewise, content marketers should focus on the audience they’re writing for and know what they want and need. Give Bill Burr’s 2007 recording “Emotionally Unavailable” a listen and pay attention to how he uses funny subway anecdotes to pander to a big city crowd. This subject isn’t coincidental: “you know what I love about that joke?” he asks. “That joke only works in cities that have subways.”
3. Be original
Anyone familiar with the comedy world knows what stealing from others can do to your career. If you’re unaware, just read up on the controversy over Dane Cook’s supposed plagiarism of Louis C.K.’s jokes. Similarly, using other people’s ideas—or worse, outright plagiarizing—will only harm your reputation and that of the brand and/or business you’re writing for.
4. Know how (and when) to deliver your punch line
Transitions, timing, and proper build-up are just as important in content writing as they are in comedy. Of course, content writing requires that your main point be established early on, whereas a comedian has more leeway to use mystery to keep an audience engaged—but it’s still important to leave your readers with a satisfactory ending.
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