Jerry Seinfeld Shows Us the Way

by Jason Gracia · 10 comments

2While listening to a podcast interview with Jerry Seinfeld the other day I heard a snippet that grabbed my attention.

He talked about his start in comedy, the reasons behind his show’s success, and the trials and tribulations of developing his latest material.

It was in this final bit that I found gold.

In my line of work–helping experts build businesses–my mind is always on the lookout for useful material; I’m a mouse forever searching for expert-related cheese.

When Seinfeld talked about his process…the process of all great comics…the biggest, brightest piece of cheese fell into my lap.

Are They Laughing at Me?

He walks the stage, bright lights hitting his face, and trudges through a new bit. He’s testing his material. A few chuckle, but aside from the type who will laugh at anything the mighty Seinfeld sputters, the bit bombs. It’s awkward.

That’s the point.

The next time, at the next club, he adjusts. He builds on the pieces of the bit that worked and avoids the moments that sucked the funny out of the room.

Each stop along the way Seinfeld delivers jokes, gauges response, and tweaks approach. Each stop along the way the jokes get tighter and where uncomfortable silence once ruled the room, laughter comes crashing in.

Be Like Jerry

This is the way of the wise. Put it out there…measure response…make improvements. Repeat.

Chances are your first, second, or fiftieth attempt at, well, anything, won’t be perfect. There are too many unknowns, too many variables to pull off perfection every time. Like Seinfeld’s new material, some attempts will flourish while others will fail.

The key is what you do next.

He makes his jokes better. You have to do the same. You have to measure how your audience reacts to your material–be it blog posts, podcasts, videos, lead magnets, products, or services–and make it better the second time around.

Getting the “Laugh”

Comedians tell jokes and listen for laughter; it’s their feedback mechanism. As experts, your mechanisms are attention, action, and engagement. I want you to study the following signposts in your business–what’s working, what’s broken, what’s the tweak to test?

  • Which Emails Get Opened? Studying the answer will quickly reveal which topics your audience craves most. What an insight that is! Armed with this information you can create proven content, develop products that are sure to sell, and consistently build your brand from week to week. Tip: Depending on your email service provider, you may need to copy your subjects into a spreadsheet along with their open rates. This will give you a useful snapshot of topic/opens.
  • Which email links get clicked? Closely studying how many times a link is clicked within your emails will also help you discover which topics are popular among your people. There’s more. Measuring clicks tracks your ability to write compelling copy. If a hot topic (many opens) gets few clicks, it may be that your copy left them cold. What, in particular, turned them off? What could you have done to jazz things up?
  • Which posts get the most action? Which posts, videos, or podcasts get the most readers, viewers, or listeners? Which garner the most comments? Which get the most shares? You’re the comic and these are the laughs; when is the room quiet and when is the room exploding with laughter? Why exactly?
  • Which social media pieces get the most engagement? Study your tweets, Facebook/Google+/LinkedIn posts, pins and snapchats and vines, and Instagram photos–which formats get the most traction? Quotations, shared links, random thoughts, straight content, photos, videos, infographics? What type of content gets the most love? Behind-the-scenes access, day-in-the-life insights? Which industry topics, in particular, tap into the hearts and minds of your audience?
  • What percentage of visitors joins your list? You create a wonderful lead magnet. People visit. A percentage requests the magnet and joins your list. This is where it ends for most experts, but the true businessmen and women know what to do next…they track their numbers. How many people visited? Of those, how many signed up? These numbers are vital. They tell you, without question, whether you’re offering the right lead magnet–whether you’re “getting laughs”–or whether you need to hop, skip, and jump back to the drawing board.

The list of “laughs” to measure could go on and on, but I know you, my wickedly sharp audience, understands the point well: You must not stop at creation. You must gauge response and adjust accordingly.

Start today. Tap into your inner Seinfeld and look back over your emails, your posts, your social media platforms–what worked well? What didn’t? And how can you use that information to ensure your next piece of content leaves them rolling in the aisles?

It’s Comment Time!

Questions, comments, or concerns about today’s chat? About Seinfeld? (I have no doubt he’s reading this right now, eagerly awaiting your comments.) Let me know below and, as always, I’ll read and reply to every one.

Comments

Jason Gracia

How are you going to use today’s tip to improve your business?

I’m going to focus on email open rates and blog engagement. The more you guys dive into the comments, the more I know I’m hitting the sweet spots of compelling content.

Reply

Michael Knouse

Hi Jason,

Why is your stuff always so timely with me? :-) I was just thinking about this exact topic. I sent out a blog post this week that got higher than normal response at every level and I’m paying close attention to what I did differently. As near as I can tell, it was shorter, more honest, lighter and more revealing than my typical ‘how to’ posts.

As a relatively new blogger/content creator, I’m slowly getting more comfortable with mixing it up and trying new things. The key (as you indicate above) is to “Put it out there…measure response…make improvements. Repeat.”

Thank you for this incredible post. It really has me thinking!

Reply

Jason Gracia

Michael,

Thank you so much for checking my email, reading the post, and sharing your comment. I take none of them lightly.

I’m thrilled to hear that you got a great response to your last post. That’s fantastic. I also love to hear that you’re zeroing in on the causes–information you can use to boost response next week.

It’s all about testing and tweaking, as you said. Try different angles, different formats, different locations, etc. Over time, if you experiment consistently, you’ll find that sweet spot where your personality and passion shine through just as strongly as your knowledge and expertise.

Jason

Reply

Stephen Lahey

I’m a long-time Seinfeld fan and a student of stand up comedy, so I really enjoyed this post. Good point about the importance of testing. I would only add that connecting LIVE with prospective clients — and having the opportunity to read their responses in real time — will tell you a lot about what gets them excited.

Reply

Jason Gracia

Stephen,

Fantastic addition to the conversation.

You’re absolutely right–nothing compares to live, instant feedback. Platforms like Google Hangouts or Life Stream are perfect vehicles to tap into the minds of your audience.

Jason

Reply

Anne

So true what you say. How many of us (me included) keep looking for the magic formula that will bring overnight perfection or solutions, when actually the only way to excel in anything is hard work! It has always been like this and it will always be. Only if you manage to follow through and don’t abandon at the first discouragement, you will see the fruit of your efforts. Why is that so hard to learn and do?

Reply

Jason Gracia

Anne,

You hit on the greatest problem facing experts…and the world.

Through the media we see the final package of success. We don’t see the years of hustle, of struggle, and of failure. We don’t see the dirty side of success, so we’re brainwashed into thinking all success must be overnight.

If things don’t work out the first time, it’s proof that it wasn’t meant to be. After all, no other super successes seem to be struggling, right?

It’s the few of us who understand the truth, who know what it actually takes, that will triumph in the end.

And people will then point to us and say, “See? Another overnight success.”

Jason

PS. Gary V said it best in this talk. 28:10 mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en3dIOtEzUU

Reply

Anne

Finally found the time to watch this video, very inspiring! Gary’s passion is certainly contagious. This is another approach on hard work that I find interesting: http://tynan.com/lovework. Not sure if I would go to that extreme, though …

Reply

Bea Kylene Jumarang

I remember Tim Harford when I think of your post.

“It’s trial, and error. Variation and selection. Variation, and selection.”

That Harford quote perfectly encapsulates this blog post. Anyhow, here’s how I’ve already used your tips for my success. Maybe I can help some of the other commenters with a look at how testing can be applied in the area of content.

As a lot of people know, I write for startups. And a job at a startup isn’t easy to get, no matter how laid-back these kinds of companies seem.

Here’s what I did to land startup jobs via testing and tweaking.

1. I started by making a chain of actions. Resume, cover letter, the interview, onboarding, then the actual start of work. I focused on one step of that chain at a time. So I started with making a solid resume, paired with a tailored cover letter. Now, the tailored cover letters got me responses, but they weren’t leading to many interviews. So I made hypotheses – maybe the resume’s flunking. I tweaked the resume and noticed interview offers coming in more steadily.

2. With the cover letter/resume pairing tweaked, I focused on interviews. My early interviews bombed. They were over Skype, and some of the interviewers had funny looks when I said certain sentences. So I recorded myself saying answers to see the reason, and I found out that my darn mic sucked at relaying my voice. It made it squeaky and uncertain-sounding. I watched myself in a mirror too, and saw that I had this tendency to gulp too much at the harder questions. So I bought a new mic, practiced speaking more confidently, and trained myself not to look so scared at the tough queries. Results skyrocketed.

3. I didn’t do much testing with onboarding, as the process was individual to the companies. But I did lots of tweaking once I was already on the job. I noticed how my bosses liked to receive their updates. I noticed the times when my bosses responded quick or slow, and I developed a timetable for sending my emails to coincide with their less busy times. So and so forth, things like that. Of course, when it came to the stuff I wrote, I basically applied your tips verbatim. I wrote early articles, gauged feedback, and made improvements.

So yeah, that’s my practical example of content testing for you. Oh God I wrote a blog post again, haha. But I hope it helps someone looking for an example.

Thanks again for this excellent post, and keep pumping out the golden content!

Reply

Jason Gracia

Bea,

Holy Cats! You not only over deliver in your own work, but you also over deliver for us in the Six-Figure Expert Community. Didn’t expect such an in-depth example, but I’m thrilled you took the time to share it with us.

Loved how deep you went with the mirror and your expressions. That’s true commitment to success.

Jason

Reply

Leave a Comment