What’s Forrest Gump’s WiFi password? 1forrest1.
My dad told me that joke the other day. I'm ashamed to say that a small part of me chuckled. Dad jokes, eh?
But sure, we all know that laughter is a powerful thing. It can reduce stress, prevent heart disease and quite literally turn that frown upside-down.
While dad jokes have their charm, if you're looking to get into the real land of laughter and frolic until your heart's content, then stand-up comedians are the gatekeepers.
We're currently going through a golden age of stand-up comedy. Comedians are practically rock stars - becoming overnight sensations, attracting audiences in their masses and selling out massive venues all around the world.
We've got Jimmy Carr with his signature deadpan delivery, Noel Fielding with his surreal approach to stand-up ("catch the vision, smell the dream. Make toast and put it in your anorak."), and Frankie Boyle with his outright controversial and often pessimistic sense of humour.
All that said, have you ever come across a comedian who has come remotely close to the stage persona of Lee Evans?
Since entering the comedy circuit in 1983 right up until his retirement in 2014, Evans paved the way for observational comedy and has become a master and innovator of large-scale comedy.
Love him or hate him, his distinctive brand of clowning around with loud, energetic stage performances and slapstick humour has earned him his place as a household name in both Britain and Ireland. He even holds the Guinness World Record for a solo act performing to the biggest comedy audience.
Also, have you ever seen anybody sweat through suits like that? It's kind of gross and impressive at the same time.
Now I know what you're thinking, what does a loud and sweaty comedian have to do with content marketing?
A lot actually.
Content marketers can learn a lot from how stand-up comedians engage with their audience. Creating a unique brand, telling a good story and making sure their content is engaging and attention-grabbing are all tricks of the trade that both content marketers and comedians can relate to.
"But wait, what do Lee Evans and content marketing actually have in common...?"
Fear not, Padawan, as we're about to give you four answers to that very question.
1. He created his own unique brand of comedy
Paddy Power created a betting empire off controversy and being the loudest voice in the room. They understood the importance of standing out from their competitors early on, even if that meant pouring salt in old, bitter wounds and offending a lot of people along the way. There's only one Paddy Power, that's for sure.
Well, like Paddy Power, there's only one Lee Evans. Face it, no other comedian can channel their inner Looney Tunes better than him.
Evans' character and brand are the very reasons he became a British comic icon. He created an image that blatantly stood out from the competition like a swollen (and sweaty) sore thumb. And how did he create this image?
That's right - through the content he uses on stage. (We're sure you saw that coming.)
The quirks, child-like impressions and outbursts are there to both entertain and reinforce his brand to his audience.
Creating a unique brand is content marketing 101. You want to stand out from the rest and shine through for your audience. Look at what your competitors are doing and ask yourself how you can do it differently and better. Create brilliant content to get your audience's attention and make them come back for more.
2. He knows his style isn't for everybody
Ever listen to a band that has a huge fan base right from their debut and feel lost because you don't get the appeal at all? Suddenly, that band is five albums into their career, has gained cult status and never veered from their signature sound and you still just don't get it. Sound familiar at all? Different strokes for different boats.
10 minutes into watching Lee Evans perform (and sweat) and you'll figure out quite quickly that his style of comedy isn't for everybody. His loud, high-octane approach can sometimes be hard to swallow and is often the main focus for critique in the media.
I'm sure he's well aware of the naysayers and yet his unique and up-front style has been a staple in his routines throughout his 30-year career. Why? Because he isn't trying to please everybody.
Evans has amassed a significant following from his signature brand because he knows what his audience wants and is focused on perfecting just that.
As content marketers, we need to identify our ideal audiences and personas, find out exactly what they want, how they want it and give it to them. Not everybody is going to like what we have to offer and you can't please everybody. You need to focus on your target audience, instead of trying to hit everyone with all of things. After all, they're the people who are actually interested in what you have to offer, right?
That can sometimes be hard to accept for businesses, but the more relevant your audience is to your service, the more qualified your leads are and the more engagement your content will get. Take the time to find who your target audience actually is based on real facts and not assumptions and it'll make your job a lot easier.
3. He delivers simple stories in his own way
Establishing a consistent tone for your brand is essential. Lee Evans' goofiness and kid-hyped-up-on-sugar-and-caffeine disposition can be off-putting, but you can't argue that he can tell a great story in his own way.
In his 1996 'Different Planet' tour, Evans gives us his observations about the time he sat on an airplane for the first time. It's a basic theme, but Evans manages to tell and detail it in his own way. A simple story about a normal experience quickly turned into an interesting and over-the-top saga that compliments and enforces his brand.
The point is this: create a story that's in line with your brand and audience. Make sure it reflects on your brand positively and uses the same language your audience is used to.
Like Lee Evans, always inform and entertain through your content to reel those customers in. A good story always goes a long, long way.
4. He's all about the audience, not himself
An essential part to any inbound strategy is creating content that focuses on the problems and needs of your target audience and not the brand itself.
Lee Evans is a great example of the antithesis of an egotistical comic. He always dabbles on the fine line between comedy and self-deprecation for the sake of his audience. Come on, if you can find any other comic that sweats through two suits per arena show and has to take a shower before the encore, let me know. (Seriously, three words - industrial strength deodorant!)
Evans isn't about ego. He's about audience and what they want. Content marketing is the same. It's not about you, but about your audience. People have changed the way they consume and buy throughout the digital age. Super-informed consumers aren't looking for brands to push their product at them; they want to be informed and nurtured to make a decision on their own terms - not your business'.
I'm not saying to make a fool of yourself, but be aware that consumers see through the insincerity. They don't want to be bombarded with brand-centric content any more. Those days are over.
Evans' self-inflicted clumsiness gives him a quality that his audience can empathise with and relate to. Create content that deals with your audience's problems and needs and don't push push push.
Build them a (strategically designed and relevant) castle and they will come.
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