Business

Comedy can help foster marketing creativity

Tina Fey’s book, “Bossypants,” list four rules for improvisation — or for meetings.
Tina Fey’s book, “Bossypants,” list four rules for improvisation — or for meetings.

Comedy is a great way to inspire creativity, alignment and strategy in working with brands and you don’t have to be funny to do it.

The techniques used in improv comedy are especially valuable for this. You can use them in your meetings to inspire strategy, vision, marketing ideation, communication, innovation and even employee relations.

I’ve spent many years watching my son, Logan, perform improv, and the most important thing I’ve learned is that the spontaneity of improv comedy requires a safe environment for crazy ideas.

So whether it’s on a stage or in a conference room, there needs to be an expectation that this will be a crazy, impulsive ride and that all ideas — no matter how silly — are welcome without judgment.

Maybe you’ve heard this before, but comedian and writer Tina Fey has four rules of improv that make good ground rules for your meetings. She describes them in her 2011 book “Bossypants,” and I was reminded of them recently at a conference I attended.

1 Agree — That means you need to agree with whatever ideas are offered by your co-workers. As Fey points out, it allows you to start from an open-minded place and respect what your co-worker has offered.

2 Say “Yes, and ” — That means you need to contribute to the discussion by building on your co-worker’s idea.

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So if you’re Kraft Foods, and your marketing co-worker suggests building a giant macaroni mosaic in Greene Square that everyone can contribute to, you need to build on that by saying, “Yes, and we can encourage selfies.” Someone else can say, “Yes, and we can promote it on social media.”

The important thing is to contribute to the ideation yourself while bolstering your co-workers initiative.

3 Make Statements — That means you should try to keep the conversation positive by focusing on making statements during your ideation rather than sidetrack the process with questions, challenges about what you’re doing.

Questions distract people from contributing because they now need to stop the flow of ideas to answer them. Statements help keep the contributions flowing and force participants to contribute to a solution.

4 There are no mistakes — In improv and at your ideation sessions, there are no mistakes, only opportunities. As Tina Fey points out, “Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.”

• Tracy Pratt is a product manager and lead marketing strategist at Fusionfarm, a division of Folience, The Gazette’s parent company; (319) 398-8343; tracy@fusionfarm.com.

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