7 Reasons Marketing Is Like Stand-Up Comedy

7 Reasons Marketing Is Like Stand-Up Comedy

Why didn’t the marketing couple get married?

They weren’t on the same landing page.


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Lame joke aside, marketing is like stand-up comedy.

I’m not talking about the ultra-produced sets on Netflix with no hecklers or dead air from a bad joke. Those audience members are primed to see whichever comic is filming their special that night. The audience understands what material they purchased a ticket to see, and if they didn’t like the comic, they wouldn’t buy a ticket!

I’m talking about the visceral experience of watching comedy in a dark club, with a cocktail in one hand and a tomato in the other.  

Those raw events, where there is room for the audience to give and take, are like good marketing in action. 

Our jobs as marketers are similar to comedians. Our stages look different, but we constantly look out for stories in the ordinary.  That’s what marketing is – finding new ways to tell your business’ stories in a way your desired audience wants to hear. 

Here are 7 reasons marketing is like stand-up comedy:

Your Opening is Crucial

The opening of a stand-up set often dictates how the show will go. It’s a chance to show the audience who you are quickly. In marketing, you must transition quickly from who you are, to why they should care.  

Capture attention quickly by knowing your core offer as a business and what result you provide to your audience. 

It’s not just about you and the jokes you want to tell. It’s about your audience.  

Know Your Crowd

Do Missouri audiences know what a bubbler is? If your best punch line centers around a Midwest drinking fountain, but your audience thinks you’re referencing a bubbler to smoke pot, you’ve swung and missed.

Knowing your audience helps you understand what people care about – and what content might relate to them. You may have the coolest idea for a social media contest, but if your core consumer doesn’t care about the prize, you’ve missed the mark. 

Hubspot has laid this out beautifully here:   “https://blog.hubspot.com/service/know-your-audience

The Meat Is In The Middle

Guide  your audience down the marketing funnel, or comedic journey. Show them the way by making the next steps easy and seamless.  Don’t leave your audience hanging with no clear path where to go next. 

Comedy writer James Allan, , said, Lead them to the water and let them drink. Don’t leave them in the middle of a desert with an ice cream map.”

It’s natural to receive a followup email after a free trial or a vehicle test drive.  It’s not natural to say “Thanks for trying our sample of B vitamins to address your low energy. Would you like to buy a canvas backpack?”

The best comics build up their ending jokes throughout the middle of the set.  Unless you are Mitch Hedberg who’s entire brand of comedy was a string of funny one-liners, make an effort to be consistent throughout.

Keep it Brief

Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”  

You must be able to clearly state your value proposition. What problem do you solve for your customers? Do they understand within a few seconds of hitting your website homepage?  

I don’t need a lecture on floor tile and cabinet manufacturers, I just need to know I’ll smile walking into my new kitchen.

Don’t force feed your audience a whole meal when they’re only hungry for the appetizer.

Be an Active Member

Engage with your audience, make new friends, and crack a beer before the show.  

The same goes for your business audience. If you sit in an ivory tower, afraid of rejection or the real feedback your audience wants to give, then you have no business being in business. Why do you think Twitter has grown into one of the top channels for customer service

Here are 4 examples of businesses using Twitter as means to communicate directly with their audience. 


Take Tomatoes to the Face

“Everybody bombs.” 

Amazon Prime’s show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has a perfect scene after fledgling comedian Mrs. Maisel survives a trainwreck of a set. 

To bomb as a comedian means your jokes don’t go over well with the crowd and you get no laughs. Bombing in marketing might mean the campaign flopped and you generated no new customers. Just search “bad marketing fails” and you’ll find hundreds of campaigns that failed. 

This is a rite of passage – for comedians and in marketing. The key is carrying on and learning from your mistakes. Reset your goals, adjust KPIs, and try again!

Plus, tomato juice is an astringent, so you’re basically getting a free facial.

Adapt on the Fly

The best comedians and marketers know how to adjust quickly. If you’ve ever been to a comedy club, or watched a comedian’s clip on YouTube, you’ve seen this in action. There might be a heckler in the crowd who the comedian has to shut down quickly with an expert shift in attention. There could be a trending national news story that wasn’t in her script, but she’d be foolish not to capitalize on it with commentary.

The best marketing strategy is researched, tracked, reviewed, and adjusted.  I am NOT advocating for new ads every week because no one walked in your store. The same way a comedian doesn’t abandon all his material because a few jokes didn’t land.  

I hope this post inspired you to lighten up, roll up your sleeves, and grab that mic with abandon. Your audience is warmed up and waiting for the show!


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Amanda Davis

About the Author : Amanda Davis

Amanda Davis is a Senior Brand Strategist for Mid-West Family Madison with extensive creative strategy experience. She has 8+ years of media experience in digital marketing and Out of Home. She also has experience in market research, technical training, and working with nonprofits. She is a strategic thinker who likes blowing things up just to see if the pieces fit better another way.