How to Use Humor in Your Marketing
We know humor is an effective marketing and advertising tool. Volkswagen’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial, called “The Force,” featured a young boy in the role of Darth Vader, and was shared online for days after the event because of how funny and heartwarming it was. However, not every business has the budget for a Super Bowl advertisement. While a local coffee shop cannot afford a television spot, many small businesses are incorporating witty one-liners into their sandwich boards in order to increase foot traffic.
Even if your marketing budget is generous, humor is not always appropriate. The most important thing is understanding how to make it work with your brand and the products you sell. When humor goes wrong, it can go really wrong.
Here are some best practices for incorporating humor into your brand’s marketing.
Make It Relatable
Humor is endearing and engenders trust, showing the human side of your business and making you more relatable to your customers.
Consider the pain points of the audience you are trying to reach. Perhaps you could make a joke about this conundrum when you are giving a tour of your services or the physical location of your business, during a consultation meeting, or anytime you are meeting a potential customer for the first time. This will demonstrate you understand your audience and you have an effective solution to their problem.
Make It Attention-Grabbing (But Use it Sparingly!)
By using humor, you are creating a reaction in others and making your business memorable. You want to stand out from the competition, but you also don’t want to make it look like you’re trying too hard. If you share a particularly well-timed meme on your social media site, it will get more engagement than if you share a random meme every day and people begin anticipating it. April Fool’s Day is also a great, one-time occasion to try injecting a sense of humor into your advertising by devising a light-hearted prank.
People are more likely to share something with their friends if they find it funny. Perhaps you can create a funny character that represents your brand or your slogan and incorporate the character into your email marketing. Think about the Aflac Duck or GEICO’s gecko. Humor is linked to higher memory recall, so if you can make your customers laugh, they may be more likely to recall the name of your business or your product, and also to share it with the people around them.
Know Your Audience
Humor can be a disaster if it ends up offending your customers. The last thing you want to do is double your marketing budget because the cost of the PR campaign to repair your reputation is more than your total budget for the fiscal year 2020.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid making politically incorrect jokes, making a joke about a specific group of people or delving into a sensitive subject, like a recent event that may be divisive. You know your audience better than anyone else; if there was a tragedy that recently impacted your industry, or if you work in a city that just experienced a disaster, it may not be the best time to start incorporating jokes into your blog posts.
Injecting humor into an advertising campaign may always be ill-advised if you are targeting an audience that is more stoic. However, if you work in an industry known for being particularly boring, you can defy people’s expectations by demonstrating a sense of humor. One way you can do this is by adding humor to your “About Us” page.
How Can Your Business Use Humor?
There’s always a chance your jokes will fall flat. But this shouldn’t prevent you from letting your customers see your silly side. If you aren’t sure if it’s just a tough crowd, or your jokes are really that bad, or if your clients just don’t appreciate humor, hold a contest where your clients get to share their jokes with you. If you don’t get a good response, maybe humor isn’t what your audience is looking for. In that case, a joking tone may not be the best way to connect.