3 Content Tips From "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee"

11/18/2014 05:24 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

Even Jerry Seinfeld gets rejected once in a while. He was told by some of the top social networks and content influencers that his web show--longer than five minutes--would never work on the web. To add insult to injury Seinfeld was shopping around for a sponsor for his web show "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" and he was rejected by coffee titan Howard Schultz.

These examples demonstrate that viral content is not a straight arrow. Many times you throw something at the wall and it doesn't stick. But the web allows you to try out different material in increasingly creative ways. We have a lot to learn about content from Seinfeld's show--now in its fifth season--"Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee."

Long Story Short

Eventually Seinfeld got a sponsor for his web show. Acura not only embraced the concept but gave Seinfeld the creative license to write the Acura ads. The ads are catchy, charming and gel nicely with the show without distracting from it.

A Starbucks rejection didn't phase Seinfeld. Nor did the naysayers who told him the format was doomed. "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee"--an edited talk show without the live audience--has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys and received critical acclaim.

Who wouldn't want peruse bear claw donuts with Sarah Silverman, watch Larry David take a break from his spartan diet to try a pancake or listen to Chris Rock talk about how kids need bullying because this shapes them into future innovators? We can't get enough.

Being Weird

Seinfeld said in an interview that he is attracted to people who are "weird." He admits to having zero chemistry with "normal" Hollywood actors. It's the content and characters from Jerry's Bizarro World that create magical moments--moments where you laugh so hard you cry. Weird, funky, eccentric--these are these are the traits that generate eyeballs today. Normal is boring. This was the reason Seinfeld was such a hit. It was eccentric--unlike anything before.

"Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" isn't scripted. The chemistry between the characters is delicious. The mood is cozy, intimate and palpable. You feel like you are riding in those sexy vintage cars with the wildly charismatic guests. They have included Aziz Ansari, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patton Oswalt, Tina Fey, Louis C.K., Brian Regan and the list goes on.

No More Press Releases Published As LinkedIn Posts Please

We know there's a content deluge on the web. Every vendor and brand and Tom, Dick and Harry are looking for attention. But can we all agree that too much junk is being published as "content." Let's stop the madness.

A fan of the show, I pulled three tips from "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" you can apply to your own content creation efforts.

Jerry Seinfeld talked about the making of this show in an interview with David Letterman and in this interview he talks about some of the reasons he thinks the show has taken off, some of the initial uncertainties and more about life according to Jerry.


Three tips anyone can learn from "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee"

1. Does your content have movement?

Whether it's a white paper, webinar, podcast or article--you want to steer clear from me-too content. The content shouldn't sound formulaic or trite. Ask yourself would you take time out of your day to watch, read or listen to the content you're publishing?

Seinfeld in the above interview says he believes the show is only possible because it's always "moving." Jerry has much of the dialogue happening in a car giving it a "kinetic energy." The editing of the dialogue creates an overall tone and rhythm. Anything can happen in that car ride to the coffee shop. Seinfeld and a guest often go to a second location all with "movement" in mind. The viewer never knows what adventure the segment will bring.

Remember that content is not only about educating your customers, peers and audiences--it's about entertainment people who are probably multitasking and have a short attention span. Make it lively for them. Give the content movement. Create something that feels as lively as a dance.

2. Do people care about the topic?

It's rare that I see trending topics on social media about VRM, CRM or manufacturing processes. While this is perhaps what some of us do day to day it's nice to mix up your "editorial calendar." Create something inspired and magical.

Seinfeld knows his audience cares about cars and coffee. Seinfeld said "people like those things. Let's make a show where we pour over those things with affection." That sounds pretty simple but it's true--people love cars and coffee. These two symbols conjure powerful emotion. They bring back memories, conversations and sensations. Ideally the content focuses on something that makes a person's blood boil or makes them laugh or makes them *feel* anything at all.

3. What's the optimal length for your content?

Seinfeld looks at the analytics for his show. In an interview he said most people watch "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" while at work. If you knew that would you alter your content approach? The data can help you create smarter formats that are optimal for not only timing but the device the content is being consumed on.

Seinfeld says he met with the top Facebook guy, the YouTube lady and another esteemed content futurist. They all told him the show wouldn't work if it was longer than five minutes. In turns out the average viewer tunes in to "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" for 19 minutes--the full segment.

You don't always know what will resonate with your audience. By testing different formats and versions you will get your best feedback. Don't always listen to your peers about what will and won't work.

In conclusion you might get rejected--after all Seinfeld did by Howard Schultz--but if you keep at it eventually you will find your voice.