Humour has long been used by business as a marketing tactic, and for good reason. Employed correctly, it is a powerful tool for engagement and interaction. Humour is relatable, it is memorable, and it builds trust. These three factors are what make humour so pervasive, and are therefore extremely important to the success of humour in marketing.
Humour is relatable – The best jokes are built on shared experiences. Being able to identify with the subject matter of a story is what makes it funny. Humour is very much a communal experience, and therefore marketers should always consider the reach of a potential witty piece of content. The more people that are able to relate to it, the better.
Humour is memorable – I’m sure we can all recall quite a few marketing campaigns or even just personal experiences that have had us in stitches. As humans, we are wired to remember things that make us laugh. This is why childhood jokes live on. Memorability is one of the primary aims of funny marketing initiatives, and achieving this is dependent on a variety of different factors (which are discussed at the end of this post).
Humour builds trust – Making your audience laugh not only makes your brand more likeable, but humanizes it as well. Since people are more apt to trust a person over a business, this humanizing element is extremely important. Using humour is a great way to appeal to your consumers on an emotional level, which in turn has the power to influence their purchasing decisions.
This being said let’s look at some of the most effective and popular ways to infuse humour into your marketing initiatives:
Online video marketing works, and depending on your goals, online video marketing that also makes your audience laugh works even better. Video is a great medium for creating funny content – the visual and aural elements allow for immense creativity and really give you the opportunity to produce something laugh-inducing, if not a little bit offbeat. From a marketing perspective, an added benefit of video is that it is easily sharable, giving it higher virality potential than other mediums.
Memes are a more recent form of marketing content, and depending on how you use them, they can be very effective. Memes are especially good for tapping into that “relatable” quality in humour. Typically based on existing social conventions, memes are a great way to work with themes that people already recognize and find funny. From a marketing perspective, memes, like video, are very easily shareable. However, their lifeline is less-than-stellar. For short-term promotions or general audience engagement they are a good choice.
Your social media profiles are another great platform for sprinkling in a little humour. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are understood to be more relaxed settings for business interactions, and are therefore great for communicating with your consumers on a more emotional level. And what better emotion to elicit than amusement? My personal favourite brand on social media is Skittles:
Your company blog is another great place to offer some lighthearted laughs to your target audience. Creative blog titles, conversational language, and the occasional exclusively humourous blog post are great ways to spice up your content. While your blog is similar to social media in that it is a more casual setting for business interaction, it is important to maintain a balance between funny content and useful content.
While this approach hasn’t yet grown in popularity, a few brands have taken to creating short comics as a part of their marketing strategy. Comics allow you to create an ongoing visual story for your audience to follow that combines both information and humour. Added to other aspects of your marketing initiatives such as blogging, social media, or email, they are an effective way to liven up your brand.
As you can see, there are a variety of options when it comes to infusing your marketing with a little bit of humour. However, succeeding at this goal is a lot more difficult than failure. Here are some tips on how to keep your comedic efforts from ending in disaster:
1. Understand Your Audience
Not every joke makes everyone laugh. This is because people are different, and this fact is one of the most obvious, yet most important considerations when it comes to marketing. This is doubly true when it comes to marketing with humour. Understanding your audience, or buyer persona, is the crucial first step in creating any sort of content. Do your research! Know what appeals to your target audience and use that to develop your content strategy. Your marketing won’t really work if only you find it funny.
2. Keep it Natural
There’s nothing worse than a joke that feels forced. Trying too hard is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to coming up with funny content. Considering the fact that most humour is unintentional, it is not easy to come up with something that feels natural. While you might have an idea from the outset that you think will be funny, it most likely isn’t. Give whatever you’re creating a good deal of breathing room to develop into something that actually is funny. Forced humour will guarantee a failed marketing attempt.
3. Align Your Message
While it’s all well and good to make people laugh, from a marketing standpoint these laughs should connect back to your business goals. Having funny content that is unfocused will quickly have people forgetting who made it in the first place. The Old Spice commercials provide a good example. of how to do this right While the ad itself is hilarious and entirely random, the foregrounding of the Old Spice product (yet not in an explicitly sales-y way) kept this viral commercial aligned with the overall message of the brand.
4. Take Some Risks
Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path with your marketing. I think both the video example I posted above as well as the Skittles examples offer good demonstrations of risk-taking. The satire in the “Dumb Ways to Die” video and the complete absurdity of the Skittles posts are what make them stand out. There are 7 different types of humor that work in marketing – choose one that allows you to do something unique with your message.
5. Don’t Offend
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this could not be truer of attempted humour in marketing. The line between funny and offensive is often a very thin one, and marketers need to be careful not to teeter too close to the edge unless they’re prepared for a PR disaster. Your humour should not marginalize, alienate, or discriminate against a certain group of people. While it is okay to take risks, be smart about it!
Keeping all of these tips in mind should make for a successful and humour-infused content strategy. There are tons of examples out there of how brands continue to push the envelope when it comes to their marketing campaigns, and these examples provide a good frame of reference for those new to the trend. While some may argue that humour is not right for every industry, I think there’s a time and a place for it in any field. The key is in figuring out what works for your specific brand. So get out there and start engaging your audience with humour!
You can upvote this post on Inbound.org