Any other business

Four principles from a famous stand-up comedian that could save your business

6 min read

18 August 2016

When was the last time you watched stand-up comedy? Did you laugh? Shout? Smile? If you’ve ever been under the spell of a talented stand-up comedian, then you know the gifts these individuals have for captivating an audience.

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I recently interviewed James Acaster – a talented comedian who has appeared on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, and Russell Howard’s Good News! – on my weekly podcast Getting Goosebumps.

Acaster gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process of writing and performing stand-up, alongside the myriad applications of comedy into the greater business world.

As such, I’ve explored how applying the principles of stand-up comedy to your business can pique interest, improve audience engagement and drive conversion. 

Lesson one: Be true to your brand message

To leave a lasting impression, Acaster believes there’s one essential trick that has helped him develop his on-stage persona. The answer? Be true to yourself.

Being true to yourself pays dividends, and then some. Plus, it means you don’t need to constantly shapeshift to appeal to different audiences. For Acaster, he can maintain his comedic style and essentially self-select the type of audience he would most like to attend his gigs. This sense of legitimacy is something that resonates with him and his audience.

In the world of business, brands need to stay true to their values in order to attract and retain customers and candidates. Align yourself with businesses that share the same ethical principles, and use your brand purpose to hire employees that become an extension of what you represent. 

This helps created an image of trust and moral legitimacy, which is important in today’s digital age.

Read more from Bryan Adams:

Lesson two: Flexible working

Acaster believes that a rigid working schedule bogs down the creative process. In his case, setting aside dedicated time to write, or being fixated with a desire to constantly generate material from his daily life, can act as a hindrance to the creative quality of his material.

The lesson? Rigidity is counter-productive and makes processes become stale over time. Who wants to work in a strict, hyper-regulated environment all day long? Give employees the license to manage their own time and tasks within reason.

This not only garners trust between employer and employee, but allows staff to grow and develop a sense of autonomy. Flexible working lets ideas flow in a spontaneous manner and encourages a more relaxed, open sharing of thoughts and concepts. 

Continue on the next page for the final two comedic principles you can carry into your company operations, including how comedy can impact sales.

Lesson three: Listen to your audience

As the old adage goes, “Learn to listen, listen to learn.” Acaster uses the practice makes perfect ethos at open mic nights to gauge audience response to new material. Listening to audience feedback is far more beneficial than spending hours fine-tuning jokes on his own. In fact, this strategy needs to be applied to your customer management teams today.

In the world of business, online reviews and social media are becoming a very real and important facet in the modern path to purchase. People trust the opinions and reviews of others, often times at the expense of brand messaging.

In a sense, this has “democratised” business. Power has shifted from producer to consumer, and as a result brands need to improve their customer experience across all online channels.

This means you’ve got one mission: learn from feedback! If the same complaints come up time and again, you should assess the situation within the wider context of your product, stocking and delivery strategy and look for solutions.

Read more on the crossover between business and comedy:

Lesson four: True brand transparency

The technique Acaster uses to make people laugh might have more in common with business functions than you’d imagine. How? Well, think of Acaster as a salesman.

His jokes serve as the products; his punchlines that feeling you get when you use a product or service for the first time. Everything has to be in sync for the desired effect. In Acaster’s words: “You have got to try and lead them to the door and then open it.”

In other words, brand messaging needs to be honest and transparent throughout the sales cycle. When you’re upfront with your customers, you can lead them to the door and avoid failed expectations.

In an age of heightened awareness, businesses must leave no scope for misunderstanding. Be honest to your customers and the punchline will have an even greater affect.

Bryan Adams is CEO and founder at Ph.Creative

Indeed, honesty is the growth stimulant for rising fitness empire LDN Muscle.