WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Season 1 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” If you haven’t seen Season 1, please do so immediately. Oh, and read at your own risk.
The year is 1958. You’ve been an amazing wife. You’ve dedicated your entire life’s purpose to your husband—only to find out he’s leaving you for his secretary.
That is the situation that Miriam “Midge” Maisel finds herself in as the first season of Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” kicks off.
However, her reaction is not what you’d expect from a “traditional” 1950’s housewife. While outside forces are pushing her to reconcile with her husband, Midge is firm in putting her own happiness first for once in her life. It’s this decision that leads her to a career (gasp!) in stand-up comedy.
This sets Midge on a mission to find her voice and achieve success on her own terms, something that all B2B content marketers can certainly identify with.
In today’s competitive landscape, B2B content marketers are experiencing more pressure than ever to establish an authoritative, authentic, and trustworthy voice that resonates with audiences, compels them to act, and ultimately drives results. And the marvelously funny Mrs. Maisel can be a source of inspiration to do just that. Let’s dive in.
Based on trailers for the show and Midge’s epic first performance, you’d think her newfound comedic talents will take her right to the top. But the reality is that Midge goes on to bomb quite a few of her sets.
In the episode “Doink,” she faces a diverse audience and struggles to tell jokes that resonate with the crowd. Midge’s initial reaction? “What is wrong with these people?”
Her manager, Susie Meyerson, is quick to correct her.
“Another comic was up there an hour ago. He killed. Same audience,” Susie boldly states. “People were asking for directions to a fallout shelter… you bombed.”
Even though Midge is a funny woman, Susie reminds her that everyone bombs when they’re trying to perfect their act. Susie also warns her that next time she needs to prepare her set and not rely on spontaneity.
For B2B marketers, this should resonate on multiple levels. Nailing the “resonance factor” right away is a longshot, and that’s OK—but you need to learn from it. With careful planning, as well as collecting and internalizing insights as you go, you’ll be able to refine, optimize, and personalize.
Today, personalization is par for the course, and just like a good comedy set, your content needs to be tailored for your B2B target audience—an audience that isn’t just made up of potential business buyers, but everyday consumers, too.
Packaged messaging intended for the masses makes it harder for you to make a genuine connection with the audience you’re trying to reach. Similarly, you can’t just pull a good, relatable story out of thin air. It needs to be carefully crafted for the people you want to attract and engage.
Comedic timing and a natural knack for humor are not what makes a comedian funny. It’s his or her ability to use humor in a way that makes a personal connection with their audience. And there’s no better way to do that than using their own experiences — experiences that their audience can identify with.
In Midge’s case, all of her stories and jokes are inspired by her own personal life. Whether it’s joking about her husband leaving her, or her parents’ obsession with being the perfect Jewish family, Midge always uses her own experiences to influence her stand-up.
If you’re all out of content ideas, turn inwards and reflect on your own experiences, interests, and accomplishments. Do you see anything that could help you form a connection with your audience? If so, those are the stories you need to share with your audience.
Alas, the perfect time to quote Tim Washer, a B2B marketing veteran—who’s worked for the likes of IBM, Cisco, and Accenture—who’s been moonlighting for decades as a comedian and comedy writer, has arrived.
In fact, he illuminates this teaching from Mrs. Maisel, blending his experience and passions together to create content that resonates. He told us:
“A lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection.”
Another great part of using personal experiences is that you’re creating content based on personal knowledge, making it more authentic, credible, and genuine. It’s this same practice that inspired this very post. I love Mrs. Maisel. Why not write about it? I’ll love writing it and my audience of Mrs. Maisel fans will love it, too.
Read our full interview with Tim to learn his comedic content marketing tips and tricks.
At the start of Midge’s comedic career, she struggles with accepting her new normal. She wants to use her real-life stories but refuses to use her real name, opting instead to use fake names at every set.
In a show that’s all about embracing yourself and finding your voice, this strategy simply doesn’t work. With her name changing each week, Midge’s audience has no idea who she is and neither do the bookers who could get her into better comedy clubs. It isn’t until Midge accepts that being a comedian is a part of her new life and owns it by using her real name that she starts to see some success.
For your brand to be memorable, you need to define and embrace who you are, what you do, and why you’re worth listening to and connecting with. It’s all about brand identity.
This means having a clear niche, competitive advantage, and value proposition, as well as a plan for how you want them communicated to your audience through your content. Without a clear brand identity, your message will get lost in translation or forgotten altogether.
Comedy in general, and especially in Midge’s case, is all about making fun of yourself. Midge jokes about Penny Pan, the woman who stole her husband. She jokes about the many mistakes she’s made. She jokes about her appearance. It’s all poking fun at herself and what happens to her, even if it’s a serious topic like affairs, divorce, or religion.
But just because something is serious, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. For B2B content marketers especially, the subject matter can be rather dry. Your audience doesn’t want to read dry material, though. They want to be entertained.
How can you accomplish this?
It’s time to let your guard down a bit, as Midge eventually does. And it’s time for another Tim Washer quote:
“These days, there’s so little content out there that truly connects with people,” Tim said. “So often we start off with a good idea, it goes through a committee where everyone wants to have a say in something, and the idea begins to soften. Then you end up with the lowest common denominator of something safe.
He adds: “So much of marketing is telling people how great we are. But with comedy—especially in the form of video—we can show them that we’re not always going to tell you how great we are. And if you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make.”
Midge Maisel isn’t the only female comedian featured on the show. There’s also Sophie Lennon, the most successful female comedian in New York City. However, Sophie Lennon isn’t all that she seems. At first glance, Sophie is a hilarious comedian from Queens.
But upon taking a closer look, the audience finds out that none of it is real. Sophie is a wealthy woman from the upper east side who wears a fake fat suit, fakes an accent, and tells fake stories to earn a few laughs. It’s all an act. And it feels like a betrayal.
Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video
To build off the previous section, crafting a unique brand identity is great as it helps you fine-tune and perfect your messaging. But when the identity you created doesn’t represent who you really are, it comes across as no more than a gimmick.
When you’re developing your B2B content marketing strategy, you need to be authentic to your brand and values above all else. This ensures that the connections you’re making with your audience can be trusted and aren’t built upon a bed of lies. Something Sophie Lennon can’t say.
If there’s one thing that this show is about, it is finding out who you are and what you have to say to the world. It’s imperative in the world of comedy and in B2B content marketing. But the steps towards doing that is the same for both: be unapologetically yourself, know your audience, poke fun at yourself, draw from personal experience, and find your unique voice.
So, go forth and kill it, B2B content marketers. Be vulnerable. Speak from experience. And you might accomplish your dreams, too.
Want help nailing your content marketing set? Check out my colleague Josh Nite’s guide to creating funny content out of serious business.
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