Ep. 61 | How to Use Humor in Your Marketing

This is a picture of Halley Gray for the Rethink Marketing Podcast, where she talks about using humor in marketing

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Using humor in marketing is risky endeavor. Done wrong, and you can embarrass your company and lose your job. But done right … well, Halley Gray believes you can see double digit increases in your success rates.

In this Rethink Marketing Podcast extra, Gray explains why using humor in your marketing can be effective, and shares some tips for how to get started.

Gray is the CEO of Evolve and Succeed, a Portland-based digital agency. We spoke with her at the Digital Summit Conference in Portland last summer, where she was a speaker.

She said her clients have seen their conversion rates increase between 7 percent and 28 percent when they added humor in their marketing materials. She said humor works in marketing because it appeals to a wider audience; it lowers customers’ resistance to “marketing speak;” and we pay more attention to a joke because we cognitively know there is supposed to be a punchline. And, she said, humor makes people feel better, which can be a positive association with your brand.

The Formula to Humor in Marketing

Gray said anyone can succeed in using humor in marketing because there it is formulaic. You begin by setting up expectations, and then you deliver the punch line where you present a twist to those expectations.

The first step is to identify what they expect you to say. What are the typical expectations in your industry?

The second step is to find out what types of humor your audience finds funny.

The third step is recognizing what words, phrases, or ideas your audience is already tuning out.

Finally, you turn everything on its head. So, you use the opposite or contrast to their expectations. What would you never see paired with this expectation? What metaphor could you use to help people understand this? Be specific and be succinct in delivering the punchline.

Once you have their attention, you can start selling. Places to use humor would be resistance points in your sales funnel. These include sign-up forms, checkout pages; contact pages and unsubscribe pages.

Warnings about Humor

Gray believes anyone can use humor in their marketing, but does say humor can fail fast. Her tips to avoid embarrassment include don’t go too far with a joke; be consistent with your brand; make sure you connect the humor to your marketing/sales messaging.