How to Create a B2B Comedy Video Series
October 28, 2018
Editor's Note: This guest post was contributed by Tim Washer, Keynote Speaker/Event Emcee at Ridiculous Media.
My buddy Carlos Hidalgo called. “Let’s create a comedy series on data governance."
Sure, we’ve all had this same thought at one point. And most of us realized it was a bad idea. But I obliged, in the corporate way.
“Absolutely,” I said.
Over the years I’ve learned that an insightful comedy can be created for almost any topic. There are a few simple steps to follow to find inspiration that will lead you to a hilarious concept.
Start with the Customer’s Pain Point
Comedy comes from pain. And when we build a story around what the customer is struggling with, we’re able to connect with empathy. Instead of saying “we’re listening” and “you’re important to us,” we have now demonstrated it. Proven it. We’ve earned our customers’ trust, and they feel heard.
Listen for Specifics
Often as marketers, we focus on the aggregate such as persona or a market segment. But when writing a comedy script, we need to listen to one-on-one conversations. We can’t build intimacy with a pie chart.
Carlos and Michelle Genser conducted a series of interviews with Chief Data Officers to understand the challenges they face in convincing their organizations to prioritize and properly fund the data governance initiative. One CDO revealed in frustration, “Some days I feel like I just can’t catch a break.”
Boom! That single quote captured the emotion we wanted to express, and led us to the concept for this series.
When you’re working to create new ideas for marketing and corporate communication, find out exactly what the customer is saying, verbatim. Spend a day with a salesperson visiting customers, or read the customer service center’s call logs. Or scroll through Yelp. Customer complaints lead to understanding, which leads to meaningful marketing and comedy gold.
One of the infogix sales execs, Matt, told us in an interview that he uses a kitchen metaphor to explain the ROI of data governance to prospective clients.
If you add structure and organization to your kitchen, arrange and label utinsels and ingredients so that they are easy to find quickly, you can have more time available to innovate faster and deliver more complex recipes to your customers, improving their experience and increasing their loyalty.
His metaphor gave us the script for the Coffee Shop video, and more importantly, justification to rent an entire coffee shop.
Heighten the Drama
Heightening is an improv principle that raises the stakes for the protagonist. Put your character into a situation where his or her specific problem will face greater consequences. In this series, we mildly escalated the tension to only the “aggravation” level, although the “Fireplace” video pushes just beyond. But in a long form improv show such as the Harold, it’s not unusual for consequences to reach an armageddon echelon. Since you don’t use props or construct sets in improv, a production budget doesn’t get in the way of adding a volcano or swarm of locusts.
A close cousin of Heightening is Absurdity, and it can quickly lead a storyline into uproarious laughter. An easy way to discover how to create an absurd concept is to take your scenario — in our case, how an organization implements a data governance policy — and juxtapose it with an unlikely partner. Which, in our case, was an enterprise of squirrels. So, we explored how data governance would help squirrels improve strategic planning. About 57% of urban-dwelling squirrels have earned an MBA, so it’s a logical conclusion that they would apply the Porter Five Forces model, or at least a SWOT analysis.
To see other examples of how we inserted absurdity into our Chief Data Officer’s world, watch all seven videos.
Take five minutes right now and create a comedy concept for your company or your client.
- What is the key problem (pain point) that your client solves for their customers?
- Imagine what the consequences could be if that problem was not solved.
- Heighten the consequences. Exaggerate them beyond what is reasonable. If this scenario continues to get worse, how could this lead to Armageddon? Push it to the hyperbolic for practice, then maybe dial it back. This makes video production easier if you don’t have a locusts trainer on the Approved Vendor list.
- Add more laughs. Going back to the “comedy comes from pain” principle, think about how you could fit all of this into an annoying situation, like an All Hands meeting. Write down a list of the things that everyone complains about these meetings, and ask friends for input. They will love to vent, and laughing about those frustrations provides empathy, personal connection and even some healing. It’s can help transform the office culture in a powerful way, making it more fun and creative.
- Finally, write a scene that takes place on the beach, so that you get to go to the beach.
If you're looking for more insight on video, I'll share a few more shortcuts and simple tricks when I emcee and keynote the B2B Marketing Exchange in Scottsdale, AZ, Feb 25-27, 2019 and at MarketingProfs B2B Forum in San Francisco, Nov 13-15, 2018.
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