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Improv Rules for Creating Award-Winning Content


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John Cleese preaches that creativity is not a skill set, but a way of operating. By applying four principles from improv theater and comedy writing, every marketer can become an idea factory. Takeaways from the Content Marketing World and INBOUND presentation include:
How to get your team into the “open state” to create concepts on the fly; and steps for low-budget, same-day production.
Applying the juxtaposition technique to generate new ideas.
A list for sources of inspiration for mini-documentaries, humorous webisodes and other videos that connect emotionally with your audience.
Simple, alternative approaches to the “talking head” video; ideas for recruiting customers and influencers; and successfully navigating the approval process.
The 5 small mistakes that kill a video’s chance of getting shared.

Published in: Marketing
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Improv Rules for Creating Award-Winning Content

  1. Improv Rules for Creating Award-Winning Content Tim Washer @timwasher #CMWorld
  2. The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else. John Cleese @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  3. Building a Creative Culture ① The Open Mode / Tortoise Mind ② How Comedy Works ③ 5 Quick Fixes @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  4. 1 The Open Mode @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  5. When you're in the open mode, nothing will stop you so effectively as the fear of making a mistake. John Cleese @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  6. There are no mistakes, only gifts. Improv Principle @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  7. Reframe Mistakes ① Internal recognition for big risks that failed ② Email from the CMO ③ Improv class as corporate training ④ Cascade cases of Success through Failure • PBS Digital Studios • 3M Post-It @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  8. 2 How Comedy Works @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  9. Juxtaposition @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld Suggestion 1 Suggestion 2 Attributes Circus Bacon
  10. Creepy Circus Clowns Shovel Trapeze Pigs Bacon Farm Ham Eggs Rooster The Shining Confetti
  11. Juxtaposition @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld Clowns Farm Attributes • Rainbow hair • Giant shoes • Makeup • Packed into car • Balloons • Farmer • Livestock • Early risers • Rooster • Tractor
  12. Food Temperature Smarter Planet: Food safety salmonella Farm to Fork On Star Trucks Supply chain chicken Cooking class
  14. 6X capacity ASR 9000 6.4 TB /second Launch Date: Feb 9th Price: $80k - $250k Forrest Gump= 200 feature films/ second
  15. @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  16. Mark Twain @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement.
  17. Oh Caption, My Caption @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld ① Clarity ② Economy ③ Inspiration A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
  18. Rule of Threes @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld The first two items in the series establish the pattern. Then the third item delivers the hard left turn punch.
  19. x y Rule of Threes
  20. INBOUND15 The Breakers Newport, R.I. Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s summer cottage boasts 138,000 sq ft, 70 rooms and 1½ baths.
  21. Irony @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  22. INBOUND15 Built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, who embroidered “Home is where the heart is” on his welcome mat Clifford’s Tower York, England @timwasher
  23. Contrast @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  24. INBOUND15 What’s the club’s policy on roasting marshmallows?
  25. Patterns @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  26. INBOUND15 WARNING: Beware of bears making announcements
  27. INBOUND15 Waited here for 10 minutes before I realized this wasn’t a Cinnabon Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport @timwasher
  28. 3 5 Quick Fixes @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  29. Shrink the Committee ① Narrow scope of committee’s input ② Build relationships over coffee ③ Ask: “How can I help my ‘partner’ be successful? ④ Find the right champion ⑤ Play in the sandbox ⑥ Move messaging to the blog post, not the video @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  30. Story, not Adjectives ① Find an anecdote that represents the attribute (e.g. Agile) ② The specifics create a connection with the audience ③ Make the case rather than making a claim @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  31. Abandon the Studio @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  33. Show, Don’t Tell ① “before/after” case format with results ② Film sit-down interview first. Builds trust. ③ Shoot rich, visual B-Roll ④ “How it Works” animation creates a learning experience ⑤ Avoid conclusions and superlatives @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  35. Publish Weekly @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld
  36. “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Ira Glass
  37. Tim Washer @ TimWash er • # CMWor ld