On the list of most desired qualities for running a successful business you may assume to see strong marketing strategy, impressive product and stunning online presence. Likely, you don’t expect to find humor anywhere at the top. Yet humor is in fact an extremely valuable element in most of the tasks and responsibilities involved in the business world, including branding, customer care and employee retention (but don’t try it with accounting).
When used cleverly and sensibly, humor is one of the most effective strategies to attract new clients and to keep the current ones happy. When a brand is able to intentionally make people laugh, it immediately gains credit for trustworthiness, honesty and warmth. It also shows the customers that they have something in common with the brand, establishing valuable familiarity. In other words, humor humanizes businesses.
But there’s a catch: You can’t fake it. There’s nothing less appealing than a brand trying to be funny and failing hard at it. If you want humor on your side, you need to put your brains to work and come up with ideas that will make people burst with laughter. Here are six winning approaches you should consider:
Companies and brands traditionally strive towards respectability, but there’s so much to gain from doing the exact opposite. Most of you are probably familiar with Old Spice’s successful ad campaigns.. The secret to their advertising brilliance is that they decided to openly ridicule the hyper-macho image, depicting it in the most absurd and hilarious ways possible. No customer who buys Old Spice products is doing so because they want to become the men who promote it, and yet people not only buy Old Spice, they praise their ads constantly and help them gain even more exposure by sharing them on social media.
Marketing is supposed to highlight all the reasons your brand is great, but there’s more than one way to do that. Believe it or not, your weaknesses can be turned into a marketing goldmine if you control how you talk about them. No one wants to be laughed at, but what if you’re the one who’s laughing? That’s exactly what the people behind the IE ad campaigns are doing when they are promoting the world’s most uncool browser by owning this image rather than ignoring it.
If you want to use humor to reach out to your customers and strengthen their engagement with your brand, then ask them to play along. If you invite participation and encourage people to be fun, silly and happy, you’re actually generating a positive experience that is centered around you and your brand. A few weeks ago we launched a cute Facebook photo challenge and asked fans to send us pics of how their kids dressed them up for work. We got tons of hilarious photos of embarrassed parents and proud children. The participants in the contest had a blast, and so did our Facebook fans.
Some types of humor are timeless, but some are rooted in a cultural moment. If you keep your fingers on the funny pulse, you will be able to use the trendy lingo and visuals to your own advantage. Airline company Delta recently released a new safety video that seems more like the ultimate online viral video. It’s basically a combination of funny and wacky internet stars, from Doge, through Overly-Attached-Girlfriend, to Screaming Goat and other familiar and lovable faces. And for dessert, they added a fun interactive bit that you don’t want to miss (starring a blender,no less).
Keeping it humorous is not only useful in advertising. Sometimes opportunity strikes and you get a chance to prove your wittiness in one-on-one interactions as well. This is what happened to British supermarket chain Morrisons. When a customer complained to them via Facebook about an unevenly sliced bread he purchased from them, Morrison’s people both compensated the customer and leveraged the situation with a series of hilarious responses that got them great press coverage.
Offensive humor is bad for business and for karma, so you should never cross the line. But if you know how to be cheeky within the boundaries of good fun, you can generate a nice level of hype around your brand. Eat24 is an app that is notorious for brash content marketing, not shying away from dirty jokes and college-humor-style gags. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a perfect match for their target audience.
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