7 Ways to Use Humor in Your Online Marketing

Leyl Master Black | Open Forum

Do you like to laugh? Well, so do your customers.

You don’t need a big budget to add a little levity—all you need is a sense of humor. And as a small business, you’ve also got one big advantage over large corporations, notes Jeffrey Hayzlett, chairman of TallGrass Public Relations: It’s easier for you to get your offbeat ideas off the ground.

“Small-to-medium businesses have a higher degree of flexibility with their marketing activities than corporations will ever have,” Hayzlett says.

Ready to up the fun factor? Here are seven ways to inject some humor into your marketing.

1. Deliver data with a punchline. Real estate broker Herman Chan created a video blog about real estate and design called “Habitat for Hermanity” that pokes fun at the real estate business while empowering buyers and sellers with behind-the-scene tips and secrets of the industry. Chan shoots and edits most of the videos himself using his iPhone and believes the blog makes him “memorable amongst a sea of boring realtors.”

According to Chan, “Younger generations have been socialized to receive info via humor. My clients don’t watch “20/20″ or “Nightline” for news, they watch Colbert and Jon Stewart. They want data delivered with a punch line.”

2. Tap into pop culture. HalloweenCostumes.com took advantage of this year’s Gangnam Style craze with a fun “Gangnam PSY Costume Tutorial” blog post that offered customers a cheap, versatile guide for creating one of this year’s biggest costumes.

“By looking at what we what we had in stock, how we’d modify it to keep the cost down and striking while the iron was hot, we generated sales and gained exposure that was very desirable for our target audience,” says Marlon Heimerl of HalloweenCostumes.com.

3. Give Your Product a Laugh Track

To breathe life into a complex (or even boring) product, consider putting a humorous spin on how people use it.

Michael Meyers Public Relations used this approach to promote its client Rude Gameware’s Teflon mouse pad. To get the media’s attention, they grilled cheeseburgers on the mouse pad and sent the picture and a press release to reporters around the Fourth of July weekend. The stunt earned the company a front-page spot on prominent tech site Engadget, among other media pick-ups.

Showcasing your product in a humorous video is another great approach. Pure Storage, an all-flash enterprise storage startup, shot and released a humor-filled marketing video titled “You Know You Want Flash.” To minimize costs, the startup wrote, directed and produced the video in-house, staging the shoot and production in one day in its Mountain View, California, office. The video has garnered nearly 26,700 views on YouTube to date.

“We created this video with two goals in mind: to challenge the perception that storage is boring, and to challenge the status quo established by the old school incumbent storage vendors,” says Matt Kixmoeller, vice president of products at Pure Storage.

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