OK, here’s the thing; either you’re funny or you’re not.
If you find yourself in the grey area in between you could be left twisting in the wind with a contrail of misunderstanding in your wake. To be more direct, if you’re considering using humor as a marketing tool, there are a number of factors you’ll want to take into consideration before committing to this strategy.
Find Culturally Aware Writers
Yes, you might well see an aspect of your business you find absolutely hilarious. However, you might also be too close to the subject to realize others might not get the joke. A huge part of what makes a joke funny is the universal kernel of truth it contains to which nearly every person can relate. If you have specific knowledge of a subject others lack, you’ll see humor where the vast majority of the public will miss it. Culturally aware people are in touch with what’s happening in the world and can bend your anecdotes to fit.
There’s Humor in Pain Points
Every marketer worth their stipend will tell you the best way to entice a customer to buy is to show them how what you have will alleviate a pain they experience. Whether it’s making a tedious task less onerous, or reducing the cost of a necessity, relieving pain finds favor with buyers.
A humorous marketing approach can leverage that pain point by finding levity in it. Amplifying frustrations to ridiculous levels or applying your solution in an unexpected fashion can bring a smile to a prospect customer and give them a new appreciation for your product.
Avoid Potential Faux Pas
Several years back, a young woman, excited about her upcoming trip to South Africa, tweeted; “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Giggling to herself, she boarded the 11-hour flight and slept peacefully. By the time her plane touched down, tens of thousands of angry tweets had been sent in response to her joke and she was no longer employed.
What’s the lesson here? Stay as far away from touchy subjects as you can get—and we do mean very, very far away. The pizza company DiGiorno stumbled into a similar situation when it inadvertently made light of abusive relationships.
Humor Can Be a Branding Element
In addition to humorous copy, you can employ funny photography, videos and design elements to make humor an aspect of your branding. Even if you’re designing your site using one of the readily available free website templates, you can make laughter an integral component.
The upside is people will come to you when they need a lift. The downside is you’ll need to be consistently funny to pull it off successfully. The folks behind the mountaineering gear retailer Moosejaw.com have this figured out quite well. Their nicely designed site incorporates humor in a tasteful fashion—one wholly appropriate to the company’s business model. Further, the humorous vibe is extended into their email campaigns and social media presences.
Long story short, there is considerable value in having a good sense of humor. Using humor as a marketing tool is a fine way to set yourself apart from your competition.
Just remember, one person’s joke might be another’s insult, so be very careful when you decide to deploy this technique.
If you get it right though, your customers will develop a strong emotional bond with your site. They will also happily shop it whenever they have needs your product line is capable of fulfilling. People tend to buy based upon their emotional responses and laughter is a manifestation of one of the best emotions of all.