Behind the Marketing Curtain with Comedian, Marketer Tim Washer


As we entrepreneurs lengthy to make significant connections with our viewers, we frequently look deep into our figurative crystal balls in hopes of discovering a option to lay an irresistible subject of content that may lure their consideration. Sadly, we will find yourself placing our viewers to sleep—leaving the door open for extra colourful characters to swoop in and carry them away.

So, how can we take to the sky and get our viewers to give up to our content? By crafting a  narrative that has empathy, humility and wit. And there’s definitely no higher individual to look to for inspiration than comedic treasure Tim Washer, Artistic Director of Advertising for the Service Supplier Division for Cisco.

As a part of our Wizard of Oz-inspired Behind the Advertising Curtain interview collection, immediately we’ll pull again the material and get to know extra about how Mr. Washer arrived within the fantastic world of marketing, and share insights that may assist you harness the facility of comedy to humanize your model and join together with your viewers.

Take pleasure in!

The Man Behind the Curtain

Tim grew up in Houston, TX and attended school at Texas A&M College, majoring in—you guessed it—marketing. However after commencement he took a gross sales job at Xerox—which was definitely not in his unique plan.

“As I used to be getting near commencement, there was one factor I knew I didn’t need to do: work in gross sales,” Tim recalled. “However as I used to be taking a look at marketing jobs, most open positions appeared to be promotional jobs—and I wasn’t turned on by that.”

“Then a professor of mine talked about Xerox, and stated their gross sales group was rated No. 1,” he added. “So, then I assumed: ‘Why not begin there?’ This appeared like the right alternative to get a greater concept of how clients assume and what their wants are, which is important in marketing. It was a complete one-eighty for me.”

After snagging a gathering and shadowing somebody for a day, Tim landed the gig at Xerox—laying the inspiration for what can be an extended profession within the software program and know-how area. A couple of years later, he went again to high school to get his MBA. Then, within the late 1990s, he made his approach to New York Metropolis and has been there ever since.

However shortly after his transfer, Tim realized he wasn’t precisely working in his calling.

“What I actually take pleasure in doing is comedy and improv, and making individuals giggle,” he stated. “That’s the place I really feel at home. That’s my Kansas.”

Because it stands at present, Tim has been capable of merge his sensible gross sales and marketing expertise together with his true ardour. As beforehand talked about, he’s presently Cisco’s Artistic Director of Advertising for the Service Supplier Division, and focuses on company humor and video content. Right here’s slightly style of his work:

Previous to Cisco, he spent about six years doing comparable work at IBM. As well as, he’s nonetheless lively within the comedy area, with writing and appearing credit for his work on Saturday Night time Stay, Conan, The Onion, and Final Week Tonight with John Oliver.

However how precisely did he get right here? We’ll get to that within the subsequent part.

Following His Yellow Brick Street

Like Dorothy Gale, an sudden tornado hit Tim with out warning, sending him on an extended and winding path.

“I do know the precise second it occurred,” Tim remembered. “It was March three, 1998.”

It was the season of Lent, and Tim stated he was thumbing by way of a devotional information that his church— Fifth Avenue Presbyterian—had created for the season.

“In there, I noticed a Frederick Buechner quote that stated: ‘The place the place God calls you is the place the place your deep gladness and the world’s deep starvation coincide,’” he recited. “And there have been a collection of reflection questions, the primary one was: ‘What’s your religious present?’”

For Tim, that reply was straightforward. It was making individuals chuckle—however he requested round simply to make positive others felt the identical method. However it was the subsequent query that sealed his destiny.

“The query requested: ‘How good of a steward are you being to this present?’” Tim defined. “And at that second I had this sense of obligation come over me. I noticed it was not a selection. It wasn’t one thing I needed to do—it was one thing I had to do. I used to be going to be a comic.”

#Comedy wasn’t something I wanted to do. It was something I had to do. @timwasher Click To Tweet

After that, Tim joined the Upright Residents Brigade (UCB) in New York Metropolis, and studied improv beneath the incomparable Amy Poehler. She truly helped him get considered one of his first huge breaks—writing for SNL.

“She was extraordinarily influential and useful,” Tim stated, likening her assist to the type Dorothy acquired from Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion.

He had a number of different trusty helpers alongside the best way, too, together with Tony Hale, recognized for his position as Buster Bluth on Arrested Improvement and Gary Walsh on Veep, in addition to movie director Scott Teems.

“Scott is undoubtedly one of the crucial influential individuals on my profession,” Tim stated. “Once I pitched my first comedy video to IBM, I didn’t have any price range, however I referred to as him up and he labored with me on it. They usually liked it. He’s been an expensive good friend, and each time he’s obtainable I ask him to work with me.”


Almost 20 years later, and a number of other of his signature and wildly profitable PowerPoint bits later, Tim has carved out a singular profession area of interest for himself and he’s turning out award-winning company work.

Assembly the Wizard

With out additional ado, let’s dive into Tim’s ideas and insights for infusing comedy into your marketing technique.

That’s a horse of a special colour. How can comedy and content come collectively to create a singular viewers expertise and bolster model voice?

Comedy is probably the most powerful strategy to humanize a model as a result of it demonstrates empathy. Let’s face it, numerous true comedy comes from ache. So, once we can come out and contact on a buyer ache level, we present them that we perceive their perspective. Once we do one thing that’s self-deprecating, once we look weak, and once we let our guard down a bit of bit that’s once we make a connection.

Today, there’s so little content on the market that really connects with individuals. So typically we begin off with a good suggestion, it goes via a committee the place everybody needs to have a say in one thing, and the thought begins to melt. Then you find yourself with the bottom widespread denominator of one thing protected.

A lot of marketing is telling individuals how nice we’re. However with comedy—particularly within the type of video—we will present them that we’re not all the time going to inform you how nice we’re. And when you can make somebody chuckle, that’s the most intimate connection you possibly can make.

If you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make. @timwasher Click To Tweet

The Depraved Witch was defeated with only a pail of water. What artistic techniques and instruments can entrepreneurs use to create an enticing video expertise?

In case you’re going to do comedy, it’s important to get a comedy writing and a video manufacturing staff which might be skilled with producing comedy. One of many largest errors individuals make is saying: “Let’s make a humorous video. Our in-house video man can in all probability do it.” However when it falls flat, they typically assume comedy simply doesn’t work for his or her model.

Comedy could be very a lot a social sport. You could have a companion with the suitable chemistry, and somebody to bounce concepts off—and somebody to inform you when one thing simply isn’t humorous. This dramatically enhances the work.

As a extra basic rule for creating nice video, you want to have the ability to inform a narrative—a narrative that doesn’t give attention to hitting all of your product speaking factors. For instance, we did a mini documentary for Cisco that confirmed how smaller service suppliers are serving third-world nations. It targeted on how our clients are making a distinction, and naturally inferred that our applied sciences are serving to them make that distinction.

If you want to add #comedy to your #marketing, get an experienced team. @timwasher Click To Tweet

Dorothy’s ruby slippers have been the important thing to attaining her finish aim of returning home. How can entrepreneurs leverage their present assets to unlock artistic video content concepts?

Today budgets are being reduce, but we nonetheless want to supply extra content. So, we have to transition from entrepreneurs to content creators—and people are two very totally different skillsets. However the backside line is that it’s essential to concentrate on telling the story.

Get away from the product and concentrate on discovering out how individuals are truly utilizing your services or products. Ask your self what individuals need to observe. Ask your self how you would make one thing visually fascinating and compelling. In the event you don’t have an enormous video price range, spend money on an affordable mild, tripod and digital camera, and begin capturing. Make 10 movies, after which publish the 11th one. When you get snug with it, nice issues can occur.

When doing any kind of video #content, you need to focus on telling the story. @timwasher #marketing Click To Tweet

Good witch or dangerous witch? What’s a nasty behavior all entrepreneurs ought to drop?

Letting worry have an excessive amount of affect over their selections—and dropping this behavior definitely requires some deep private reflection. Ask your self how does worry maintain me again in my job? Is it a risk-averse boss? Is it worry of failure? It is advisable work out how worry is impacting you proper now, on this very second. Then you can begin to seek out options to work round it.

Ask: How does fear hold me back? Once you figure it out, you can look for solutions. @timwasher Click To Tweet

What’s one factor you’d ask the omnipotent marketing wizard for? (Extra finances, extra assets, higher knowledge?)

Nicely, I’d all the time ask for extra price range. However I’d additionally ask for a committee of “sure” individuals. Those that are extra open to risk-taking. I’m lucky to work for a corporation that’s open to all of that, and needs to be leaders within the artistic area and embrace risk-taking.

We’re Off to Meet Extra Wizards

I’d wish to sincerely thank Tim for taking the time to open up about who he’s, the place he comes from and the way he approaches content and comedy. Thanks a lot, Tim.

In fact, TopRank Advertising’s journey to Emerald Metropolis continues to be underway. Within the coming months, we’ll be bringing you extra unique interviews and insights from business wizards so as to add some smarts, coronary heart and nerve to your marketing efforts.

Keep tuned for our subsequent installment, my fairly!

What’s one factor you’d ask the omnipotent marketing wizard for? Inform us within the feedback part under.


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