I love being surprised by businesses that find hilarious ways to be memorable. It’s amazing how easily I can remember companies that inject humor into their marketing… maybe you’ve experienced this too?
It’s so effective, all businesses should start thinking like comedians… but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Could Your Phone Number Set You Apart?
Because humor seems to occupy permanent real estate in my brain, I’m always on the hunt to find entertainment marketing…
I ran into this image a few weeks ago on social media:
For me a phone number isn’t at the top of the list of favorite ways to attract clients.
But I promise you that if I’m ever arrested, 855-wtf-popo will be the first phone number I think of.
Hilarious Phone Number + Billboard Ad = Gold.
Humor Sticks In Your Head…
Funny ads and memorable phone numbers aren’t just entertaining, they make your message sticky and easier to remember.
Don’t take my word for it… it’s science.
And it’s not that hard to do if you approach things like a comedian.
You Need To Be A Comedian
Or at least think like one.
One of the ways comedians come up with jokes is to observe the world around them, and look at it in different ways.
For example, in the sub-heading above– “Humor Sticks In Your Head” –did it make you think about “humor making things memorable”?
Or did you think of this…
Comedians Make Connections The Rest Of Use Don’t See…
And that is where humor is made: observing the same old boring world through a different lens.
I can’t remember who said it, but my favorite definition of a joke is that you lead the audience down one direction, then drop the floor out from under them.
The key to humor is surprise.
And what is more surprising, entertaining, and memorable than turning normal expectations about a business or industry on its head?
Yes, Even Your Business Can Be Entertaining
I can already picture the emails, “Brian, I’m in a boring industry. There’s nothing I can say or do to make my business funny or entertaining.”
Here are two famous examples of taking boring industries and making them memorable…
Dollar Shave Club
What could be more mundane than razors?
It’s a product that shaves your face.
Or the squatty potty?
Good grief… it’s a potty step-stool for grown-ups.
You can make anything entertaining if you flex a bit of mental muscle.
The Power Of Not Living Up To Expectations
Let’s call this, meeting unexpectations.
(Am I forcing that one?)
As we saw in those face-smoothing and froyo-making examples, “dropping the floor” out from under your clients can be as simple as meeting unexpectations.
Look at your business or your industry in different ways.
Keep An Open Mind, And Look Around (At Everything)
Think about the Dollar Shave Club, the bilboard example, and to an extent the Squatty Potty video…
These companies took boring industries and made them interesting, really by doing nothing more than using a one-liner joke formula you’ve heard a million times, from Rodney Dangerfield to Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon.
The one-liner structure is simple:
Setup + Punch
Or to put it another way:
The World As We Know It –> Unexpected Twist
Here are some examples…
Dollar Shave Club:
- Are our blades any good? (Setup)
- No, they’re f**king great. (Punch)
- Does your razor need a vibrating handle, flashlight, back-scratcher, and ten blades?
- Your handsome-ass Grandpa did it with one blade and polio.
Finally, the finale (and call-to-action)…
- Stop forgetting to buy blades.
- Start thinking about where to stack all those dollars I’m saving you. (insert goofy dance and make it rain money)
Okay, that last one really isn’t a joke–at least not a good one–but the bad dancing and final scene make up for it.
It’s all about the phone number:
- Expectation? Normal phone number (setup)
- Result? 855-wtf-popo (punch)
This video relies more on the amusing/disturbing/goofball premise set up in the opening seconds than it does on the one-liner structure…
- This is where your ice cream comes from. (Setup)
- The creamy poop of a mystic unicorn. (Punch)
I don’t know about you, but the first time I saw this video I couldn’t decide whether I was shocked, whether I thought it was funny… I didn’t know what to think.
So I watched it again…
And told my friends…
And this was repeated by others millions of times (nearly 25 million views as I write this article).
Some Ideas For Coming Up With Funny Angles
Coming up with funny ideas is the hardest part, isn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but for me I am always the least funny when I am trying to be funny.
So what can you do?
Start by going thinking through everything about your industry, what your company does, what you personally do to support that company, etc….
- What networking groups are you a part of?
- What happens in the group that outsiders might not understand?
- What does your industry do?
- What problem does it solve?
- Are there any acronyms that are common in your business?
- What is a common complaint your customers have?
- What is a common complaint your customers have about your competitors?
- Think about the problems your industry solves, and ask yourself if there is anything about the current solutions that would be strange to people who aren’t in your target audience.
The point of these questions is for you to get outside of your normal routine, and think about your business from the perspective of a child…
The amazing thing about children and their questions is that they start from zero (or nearly zero) knowledge… and so they’re curious… they’re inquisitive… and they sometimes make connections about things that adults might miss.
Here’s an example from one of my kids…
- Son: “Dad, why can’t I stay up as late as you?”
- Me: “Because your body needs to sleep so you can grow, so your body can heal, so your brain is rested for tomorrow.”
- Son: “Does your body and brain need sleep?”
- Yeah… my son is right.
Kids point out the obvious that is lost on us “grown-ups”, and that’s exactly the kind of observation and thinking you need to think like a comedian and come up with hilarious angles for your business.
Here’s an example from this article, from the perspective of a kid…
Humor Sticks In Your Head…
Kid: “Why do I want sticks in my head?”
Good point kid.
I could be making a statement about humor’s effect on memory, or I might be conjuring a goofy image of a stick-man holding a pie.
But we don’t see these connections unless we’re curious, and put on our simple-glasses and look at everything in a basic way.
Looking at things simply is the key to finding the funny in your business.
We’ve talked about how science has proven that humor and laughing helps people remember… which is great for marketers who employ humor (at the right times).
We’ve also talked about some ways to come up with funny idea angles in your business.
I think we’ll delve into this more in future posts, but for now let’s just leave it with this.
- People want to feel good.
- People want their problems solved so they can enjoy their lives more.
If you can combine making your best prospects feel good AND improve their lives by solving their problem…
That, my friend, is the Holy Grail of marketing.