Why comedians have an advantage over marketers

As a business owner, you have something really important in common with comedians.

You have to appeal to the public.

But comedians have a much easier time of it than we marketers do.

Man smiling in an amused way in an audience of people

Comedians know immediately if they are appealing to their audience. You need to test, test, test.


Imagine you’re at a comedy club and a comedian is onstage telling a joke. The audience either laughs or remains silent. If the audience laughs, the comedian knows he’s done okay.

What’s more, the audience’s laughter can be measured.

If it’s a perfunctory laugh, the comedian knows he needs to do better. If it’s a friendly chuckle, he’s got the audience onside but hasn’t really tickled them yet. If it’s side-splitting, tears-of-mirth laughter, the comedian knows he’s got it nailed.

What does all this have to do with marketing, though?

A while ago, I banged on about how important it is to test everything you do in your marketing.

That’s where comedians have the advantage. They can tell immediately if their material is working on their audience.

Incidentally, sales people have a similar advantage: they’re right in front of their customers and can use body language and other physical cues to see if they’re winning their prospect over – and if they’re not, they can change tack.

We copywriters and marketers, though, don’t have any such clues.

We don’t have that intimacy with our readers. We have to win them over without any immediate feedback to tell us whether or not our marketing is working.

That means we have either a really easy job, or a really difficult one.

If you’re really dead set on making as much profit as possible from your product, if you’re conscientious and willing to put in the effort, you’ve got a difficult job ahead.

On the other hand, if you just want to churn out the same old shite everyone else does because ‘that’s the way it’s done’, your job is easy. Just keep doing what everyone else is doing. But don’t expect to see results.

I know your job is going to be a difficult one though; you wouldn’t be reading this if you were looking for an easy ride, a quick fix, or a fast buck. You know you’re going to have to put in the effort, particularly when you’ve got no immediate way to tell if your marketing is working.

Throughout my blog posts I show you loads of tried and tested ways to produce effective marketing materials – but that doesn’t mean they’ll work for you and it doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.

That’s why testing and measuring is so important.

Remember, though, advertising testing is not an exact science. It’s not like chemistry, where you can accurately predict what’s going to happen when you mix two chemicals. With advertising, there are many variables and you can’t control them all.

Testing is a huge subject and it can be intimidating, so remember to focus on one thing at a time. At any rate, there’s no point testing two aspects of the same ad at once.

The four most important factors in any advertising campaign are:

  1. Copy – what you say in your ads. This includes the appeal and the way you express that appeal.
  2. Media – which magazines, newspapers, or other broadcasting methods you use. This includes email marketing, AdWords, Facebook advertising, banner advertising, direct mail…
  3. Position – what position your ads occupy in publications, which day of the week people see them, or what time of day you choose to send them out.
  4. Season – which months of the year you run your adverts.

A good place to start is with AIDCA. Start by testing your appeal – the reason people will be interested in your product. Then move onto your offer, for example. Then test your headline or the call to action. You can even test font, paper colour, images or no images… the list is endless and your testing should be endless too.

Make sure you include a means of measuring responses – so use a coupon or include a code that people must quote when they respond. Then make a note of how many people reply to each version of the advert.

Remember: test everything you do, and test it all the time. Keep trying to beat the emails, direct mail and adverts that bring in most of your money. That way, you know you’re getting the best you can out of your marketing investment.



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS Want in? Want more advice, information, and guidance from someone who’s made a mess of things, fixed it, and is now thriving? Cool beans. Start by buying my book Business For Superheroes. Click here to get your copy.

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