The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Be Shocking and Unique
Successful comedians are shocking and unique. They may cause a bit of discomfort, but they ultimately get you to think about information in a new way and make it an enjoyable experience. Good marketing employs the same principles to capture attention. It grabs customers’ attention, keeps attention by presenting something new and creates a memorable experience customers will want to repeat."
2. Tell a Great Story
"Seth Godin would say that all great marketers are great storytellers. To tell a good joke, you need a relatable story. You need to tell the audience why they need your product, or, better yet, make them come to their own conclusion that they need it."
3. Every Audience Has a Heckler
"If you watch stand-up comedians, you’ll often notice that every room has a loud critic — someone who isn't a performer but willing to bash anyone who tries. It's the same for entrepreneurs. When you market your company, there will always be someone who seems to do nothing but criticize you. Accept it. Focus on those who are enjoying what you give, and brush off the criticism. There's always a heckler."
4. Test Before You Launch!
"Always test your material on a small sample audience before going mainstream with a large campaign."
5. Be Ridiculous
"Sometimes you need to be ridiculous and provocative to draw attention to your product. Don't be stodgy or afraid to push the boundaries a bit — Any press is good press. If you need inspiration, watch Dave Chapelle's "Rick James" skit before writing your next set of tweets or Facebook posts."
6. Eat the Frog
"Comedians are trained to call out the most obvious, worst stuff first — to address the elephant in the room as quickly as possible because, hey, elephants are HILARIOUS. (And why is it in a room to begin with? Am I right?) Eating the frog means dealing with (acknowledging and completing) the hard stuff first. And the same is true of marketing if things get real."
7. Write Every Day
"Jerry Seinfeld once said the key to becoming a great comedian is to write great jokes, and the best way to create better jokes is to write every day. The same holds true for copywriting. If you want to write great ads and compelling copy, then you need to practice every single day."
8. Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
"When we first started our business, my partners and I felt like we needed to portray ourselves as serious, straight-faced business people. But we learned over the years that if we act like ourselves and let our real personalities show through, we're actually a more attractive company to existing and potential clients. Business is about relationships, and people want to work with people they like."
9. Not Every Joke Gets a Laugh
"When you market a business, most people try to be different. They try to be a bit different so people remember them. You see this a lot in the Super Bowl commercials. But for every great campaign, there are a few that flop. Your success is not about the great campaigns but how you respond to the bad ones. Make fun of yourself and admit failure so you can move on and turn the bad into good."
10. Dedication Leads to Success
"How often do we hear about comedians who toiled in obscurity before finally making it big? Comedians like Louis CK, Larry David, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Seinfeld, George Carlin and others failed countless times before finally making it big. They stubbornly didn't give up because they love what they do and believed in themselves. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from that approach."
11. Craft Your Words Carefully
"One of the things that make comedians so entertaining is their wit. I enjoy listening to funny puns and the creative manipulation of the English language. Like good marketers, talented comedians must be very smart to captivate the audience. It's almost as if a stand-up performance is one long marketing message."
12. Honesty Is the Best Policy
"The best comedians are incredibly honest. Sure, they exaggerate for comedic impact, but you can tell that they're coming from a real place and that the genesis for the joke was something that really happened. Any other approach makes it harder for an audience to connect. Honesty is required in business as well: You can put the truth into context, but you can't operate without it."