You’ve done it. You got buy-in from c-suite to go ahead with a content marketing plan. You wowed your CEO with a presentation imploring her to invest in the creation of content that would engage, inspire, and entertain your audience. Your budget has been approved, your plan has been set, your team is ready, and now you just need to do one thing: actually create some entertaining content. Before you get started, there is one big lesson you need to learn to create content that will truly delight your brand’s fans, a lesson that actors, dancers, and comedians have had drilled into their heads for years and years. If you want to create something entertaining, you need to leave your instinct to entertain at the door.
We all have an instinct to entertain, and if you want to be entertaining, the first thing you have to do is learn to ignore it.
The instinct to entertain: you have it whether you realize it or not. If I put you up on a stage right now and I said “entertain me,” what would you do? Tell a joke? Do a pratfall? Maybe an impression? What do you think my reaction would be? To laugh? Or clap?
Spoiler alert: I would probably stare at you indifferently.
So how do you create entertaining content if you ignore your own desire to be entertaining?
Here’s the trick to creating entertaining content: there is a very important first step that many content creators ignore. Before you make someone laugh or stand up and applaud, you need to establish an emotional connection with your intended audience. Tell a true story about yourself, or your brand. Comedies like MASH and Cheers succeeded because before they made you laugh, they made you genuinely care about the characters on the show. This is a hard step because it means you (or your brand) need to be vulnerable in front of other people. Telling an honest, emotional story about yourself is the first step in entertaining people. The foundation of entertainment is the establishment of a true story.
Once you’ve established a relationship with your audience, even in such a small way, you’ll notice your audience will start to respond. Oh hey, that anecdote you told about your own life was pretty funny! That true thing you said about your brand and how it relates to my life really pulled me in and now I want to hear more about just what it is that you do. Once you’ve built that foundation of honest trust, it’s a million times easier to be funny, and ultimately, engaging.