Tell me the features of your product and you will put me straight to sleep. Show me a funny commercial involving your product and a monkey in a business suit and I'm already taking out my credit card. Is that really the way it works? Not exactly, but close.
Business is a serious endeavor so why do so many successful companies use humor to communicate their message and engage their clients? The concept must be more involved than it first appears. And it is. Laughs can translate into dollars so the strategies involved are well worth noting. Here are four ways humor can add to your bottom line. And I mean that in the nicest way.
It's an attention grabber. When it comes to viewing your advertisement, email or website, most people won't give you a lot of their precious time. In her Tributemedia article, "You Have 7 Seconds," Lindsey Bowshier explains that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Make your own joke here. To win their consideration, a business must grab their viewer's attention quickly and for that, humor is an excellent tool. A funny subject line or headline is a powerful eye catcher that can capture interest long enough to inspire a closer look.
It creates a memory. Do you know what percentage of your information is remembered by a potential customer twenty four hours after it is heard? I used to. And so it is with many marketing efforts. Often the hard work of a sales team is best served when the message is sent through the avenue of humor. Which is why hilarious Super Bowl commercials are remembered long after the teams are forgotten. If you have any doubts, may I simply say, "Three frogs and a beer."
The key is to tie the comedy with the product in such a way that the benefits are perceived by the buyer. Otherwise it's just funny for the sake of funny. Which is fine if you are a comedian but not so fine if you are selling perishables.
It's an ice breaker. Let's face it, the clients you are calling on don't want to talk to you. That's why they hire receptionists to say they are in an important meeting when, actually, they are sitting five feet away playing "Candy Crush." A warm and humble comment, coupled with a slightly humorous bent has a tendency to break through the predictable and fiercely rehearsed barriers raised by any receptionist worth her salt. And in a matter of seconds you are best friends with a complete stranger and a step closer to the real game.
It adds an element of likability. In her Forbes / Entrepreneur article "People Do Business With People They Like," Amy Rees Anderson makes a good point. She says, "People do business with people they like." Perhaps that was redundant. But given the choice of many vendors, customers would rather buy from a cheerful soul than someone who is routinely doing their job.
Humor in business is rarely slapstick comedy with a drum beat and cymbal because nobody wants to buy a burial plot from someone with giant shoes and a horn. But a big smile goes a long way. Add a bit of friendly, lighthearted humor and you're on your way toward winning over a lot of clients.
In this extremely competitive world we call "Business," a sense of humor could be the very tool that puts you ahead of the pack. And, as I've always said, "Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes." Or maybe that was said by someone more clever, like Lewis Grizzard. Either way, it's pretty funny.
How do you use humor to get ahead in business?