With so many marketers using storytelling to engage their audiences, how do brands stand out among the competition? Humor is one way. Not only are consumers wired to read and listen to stories, but they’re also highly receptive to humor because it grabs attention and makes the brand more human. Consumers have a lot more choices, and in today’s stressed world, who couldn’t use a laugh or two while standing out against the competition?
Researchers at business schools at both Wharton and Harvard also validated the use of humor in marketing in 2017. They reported that consumers intuitively related a brand’s humor as an organization in control. They elevated brands that used humor with appropriate content as being competent and confident. And when consumers feel that way, a feeling of trust is also easier to foster.
Things Not To Do
Like many things, humor also has its place. Trying to use it when promoting products dealing with serious psychological or physical is a definite no-no. With today’s heightened sensitivity, jokes even hinting about different ethnic groups and gender are offensive and will deliver the opposite effect. According to marketing consultant, author, and comedian Max Hamm, by the same token, wry, matter-of-fact statements do little to influence consumers these days.
Things To Do
Use imagery with humor. Many of today’s consumers are turned off by being told how they should react to a product. Engaging consumers with humor while creating a visual image empowers their minds and keeps their interest. One way to imagery is creating a “live-action scene” in which the consumer is given an example of how a product delivers satisfaction and the feeling it produces. This beats the old way of simply telling the consumer what the product does.
Brands that share a memory with consumers that especially trigger shared emotions have an excellent opportunity to connect. This comes from knowing the target demographic and appealing to them. Reflecting warmly about a memory of station wagons to a Gen Z audience, for example, will fail miserably. On the other hand, many boomers would likely appreciate it. Injecting the right humor or funny anecdote will make the message resonate even more.
Metaphors, especially those that are unexpected and with a hint of humor, also work well. Think about metaphors that could relate to the brand. How might they be applied with humor? Is there a familiar saying or popular movie title that’s relevant? Succeeding with an unexpected metaphor would make an indelible impression on consumers.
A twist of surprise can add excitement that incites and adds to consumer interest. Imagine a new and novel use of a kitchen appliance or foot massager. User comments sometimes reveal such things. Imagine the enthusiasm and publicity a contest awarding a prize for the brand’s most unusual or novel use could bring. Except for the prize, the cost would be almost nil.
Do the brand’s customers have an unmet need, or are there certain concerns or questions many of them have in common? Analyzing comments, asking the service center, and listening to customers can sometimes uncover such things. If they’re present, acknowledging and addressing them can be extraordinarily successful in capturing customer trust and loyalty.
Consider applying most or all these techniques and deliver the punchline with stories and humor, when possible. The comments subsequently received might also be valuable as part of a successful case study or blog.