Thank you. That concludes my blog post for today. Please tip your waitress on the way out and drive carefully! OK, I agree. That’s a lame intro. In fact, it’s more than lame, but you get the point, don’t you? You’re still reading my post, so my work here is done.
Humor can be a powerful marketing weapon! In fact, let’s go ahead and upgrade that notion and describe humor as a marketing ninja. We’re all familiar with humor in advertising campaigns. It’s been a staple of print, radio and television advertising for decades. Make your audience laugh and not only will they remember you, they’ll keep coming back for more.
What you need to ask yourself as an online retailer is this: “What am I doing to stand out in a crowded marketplace?” No punchline here — it’s a good question. Let me give you an example. My wife and I recently returned from a summer vacation in a foreign land. One day we went walking along a beach that was crowded with booths and vendors everywhere — a commercial zoo. They were all selling the exact same things — jewelry, woodcarvings, shells, art and clothes. Most of the merchants would step in front of us and start pushing items in our faces. After saying “no thanks” a thousand times, we spotted a man resting under a palm tree with items for sale on a table in front of him. He stood out from all the other sellers because he wasn’t standing out! We headed to his area and I actually bought some earrings for my wife.
Hanging out and waiting for customers to find your business might have worked for that clever merchant, but it’s a luxury you can’t afford. Nobody’s going to just stumble upon your website or auction listing. You need something to catch a customer’s attention — something that separates you from the crowd.
Many new online retailers think the only way to compete effectively is to offer the lowest price. And while price is important, your goods could be more costly than every other site on the Internet and you could still sell up a storm. How? One way it to use humor on your website. People purchase from places they trust, identify with, or (drum roll please) from places that make them laugh.
Another example: Dawn Meehan is an online retailer with six children. She described a hilarious trip to the grocery store that resulted in returning home to find a pack of Pokemon cards smuggled into the cart by one of the youngsters. Her amusing description of the drama resulted in someone buying up the cards – worth only a few dollars — for $142.51. In addition, thousands of people saw the listing and hundreds commented on it. Some even described similar shopping experiences with their own children. Humor, trust — and a connection. By the way, you can read that story on Dawn’s blog, Because I Said So.
There are countless tales of items being sold online for more than their value. Some of them might even be true! Remember the sale of an air guitar? The item arrived and it was an empty guitar case. Then there was the Mickey Mouse-shaped potato, a partially eaten bar of soap, an ashtray with fur, a haunted doll, pet rock and antique high-end bellybutton lint. You can sell just about anything if you pepper your pitch with the right punchline.
There are a number of online retailers out there today who use humor effectively. Moosejaw does a wonderful job of incorporating humor into almost everything it does. Request a catalog or take a good browse of their site and you’ll get an idea of how humor can make a difference. ThinkGeek is another great example. The products being sold on these sites can be found elsewhere and often, but thousands of fans find they shop these sites because they’re fun!
They say laughter is the best medicine, but it also might prove to be the best marketing tool you ever used.
Tip: We’ve never used them ourselves, but if you’re looking for someone to help you create creative and downright funny website copy and product descriptions, consider talking to the folks at The Witty Writer Marketplace, billed as an online service that hunts down “witty writers of mirth and magic who take ideas and infuse them with the balsamic vinegar and chili sauce of wit, irony, satire and plain old funny.”
Account Consultant (SMB)