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The CMO's Guide To Using Humor In Marketing

https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2018/06/15/the-cmos-guide-to-using-humor-in-marketing/

forbes.com

The CMO's Guide To Using Humor In Marketing
If you have ever met me, even for a split-second, you know I am someone who never takes anything too seriously. Life is just way too short not to laugh along the way. So needless to say I am a huge proponent of infusing humor into marketing and advertising.

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Humor benefits to marketing materials

  • Humor breaks down walls, shows personality a.k.a. shows a brand's human side.
  • Humor is attention-grabbing. It is naturally colorful and original.
  • People love to spread laughter. Making your campaign humorous will ensure it is shared more.
  • Any message imbued with humor will be easier for your target demographics to remember.

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What humor is, at its worst

What humor is, at its worst
  • The wrong joke at the wrong time. It can make your brand look amateurish and unprofessional.
  • If people think you’re cracking jokes for the sole purpose of getting more attention, you’ll be seen as exploitative rather than funny.
  • Humor can cheapen certain ideas or make them be taken less seriously.
  • In some cases, humor can be outright offensive.

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Key areas to create value with humor

Key areas to create value with humor
  • Humorous touches can almost always improve a piece that is already valuable on its own.
  • If you’re sure a joke is going to land, it can make an effective advertisement. Test variations of the joke with a small audience first; that way, you can be sure the humor doesn’t cross a line.
  • Brand differentiation. For example, Oreo has long differentiated itself by offering a quirky, tongue-in-cheek voice across its social media platforms. This is especially effective in dry, or otherwise “boring” industries.
  • Personal branding. Elon Musk, for example, has separated himself from his companies Tesla and SpaceX by cracking jokes and roasting people on his own account.

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Using humor: watch out for these key threats

Using humor: watch out for these key threats
  • Tasteless or offensive humor. Careful with jokes abour specific group of people or sensitive subjects.
  • Bad timing. If your brand is undergoing a PR crisis, or if there’s a natural disaster about to hit your city, people aren’t going to want to read your jokes.
  • Brand misalignment. If your brand is one that takes itself seriously or appeals to people who prefer stoicism to levity, you won’t be served by including more humor in your campaign.
  • You can also face backlash if you try to use a running joke or meme without fully understanding it.

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5 tips to help you get started

  1. Ask yourself WWJD? (What Would Jerry Do?) Take an everyday situation and ask yourself, “What’s funny about this?”
  2. Keep it clean. Steer clear of controversial topics and jokes in bad taste.
  3. Use your wittiness to compete against big budgets. 
  4. Just because your company is serious doesn’t mean all marketing has to be. Poke fun at yourself by doing a parody of your company or your industry.
  5. The best humor comes naturally. Experiment by recording video interviews with quirky customers and employees.

Being Funny Is a Risk

  • Some people might not appreciate your company’s brand of humor. Make sure the humor fits.
  • Being funny may not work for healthcare, financial services or any highly regulated industry.
  • Try using an online survey to test your attempt at humor against an internal audience before you send it out. 

Anyone can use humor

Appropriate humor relaxes an audience and makes them feel more comfortable with you as the speaker. 

Humor can bring attention to the point you are making and help the audien...

Developing Anecdotes

The best and most comfortable place to find humor comes from your own personal experience. 

Jot down funny ideas as you come across it that might appeal to your audience - an embarrassing moment that you might not have found funny at the time, or a funny conversation you had. 

Honing the Delivery

Make sure your choose humor is funny to you. First practice with small groups of people. Pay attention to the way your are delivering the joke or quip.

Only use humor in a speech after you are comfortable telling it from memory and have tested it.