Using Humor in Marketing

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February 11, 2014

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The big game aired recently, and many of the ads were humor based. Even the big guys are cashing in on using humor and trying to take the old stodgy out of big business: Look at Geico with a camel asking employees, “What day is it?” Or Kmart going out on a huge limb with the “Ship my pants” commercials. And who couldn’t love Sprint’s “Totes McGoats” ad. Even Chobani, a relatively small guy in the mix, had a funny ad.

And it’s not just TV; these videos are getting watched on YouTube by the millions.

It must be difficult for these big companies to “toe the line” with how far they can go, not to mention the legal approvals they have to jump through to pull it off.

Good news for you: You don’t have to jump through hoops. You can have fun with your brand and your marketing much easier than the big guys. Here are a few ideas of how to inject some fun in your marketing without getting in trouble.

Have fun with your logo.

Google does it all the time. In fact, it solicits logo ideas from students in the Doodle4Google competition; winners get their logos featured. Our team at VerticalResponse has “holiday-ed” up some of our own customer logos. When you add some holiday flair to your logo, you can use it for all kinds of things and drive more customers to your site or location.

Repost funny cartoons that have to do with your business.

Dilbert is a great example of an “office setting” that a business can use. When we use cartoons on our social-media feeds, we check to see if there is a copyright. If there is, we pay for it; if there isn’t, we link the cartoon back to the original site. Grammarly does a great job using humor that pokes fun at common grammar and spelling errors on its social feeds. You can get a ton of interaction with it.


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Test a wacky advertising idea.

Petcamp, a pet care facility in the Bay Area, did a great job with a contest to name its mascot. It was wildly successful in its email marketing as well as on its Facebook page.

Have fun with a tchotchke.

Speaking of pets, our email marketing company, VerticalResponse, made a huge splash at a recent event that benefited pet adoptions with our logo’ed “butt scratchers” (really dog brushes), and that’s exactly how we gave them away. People loved them.

A fun video series.

Why not have a weekly or twice monthly video about something in your business, and make it fun!! Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV built a business selling wine because of his zany videos. As he puts it, he loves the spoken word way better than the written one, and, boy, has he made a success of it. Here at VerticalResponse, we began a “What’s New Weekly” video series, where a few members of our team talk for about two to five minutes about what’s new in the world of small-business tech. They’re pretty humorous, and we’re starting to get people watching.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your business! Are you doing anything fun? Love to hear about it!

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