Your customers crave entertaining content.
In fact, 49% of internet users rate humorous content as the most interesting and memorable (according to HubSpot’s most recent Consumer Trends Survey), and want to see more of it.
That’s 1 in 2 potential buyers!
It’s true no matter what industry you’re in.
Even if you sell bundles of pre-made Excel templates to 52-year-old insurance actuaries named Walter… guess what?
Walter still enjoys a good laugh!
And if you can delight him with funny branded content, he’s going to stick with you and buy from you — and not your eleventy hundred indistinguishable competitors.
Creating funny branded content is a serious challenge, though (pun intended). And it can be especially tough if your company is operating in an industry that even your target audience finds boring.
But the good news is:
If you can manage to create hilarious branded content in a dull, unexciting niche… then you can absolutely dominate it. Why? Because nobody else is doing it! Most of your competitors are too scared to try, so you can outshine them just by making an effort.
Even if you’re not perfect, you will easily differentiate yourself and become top of mind for your ideal customers.
So today, I’ll show you 6 simple ways of infusing your marketing content with pizzaz, panache, personality, and all the other great P-words — like p-humor. And p-entertainment p-value.
It’s a good thing I’m writing right now; if this was a podcast, I’d have spit all over my mic.
And in addition to these humorous hacks, I will be sharing some real-life examples of brands that already do this masterfully, so you can learn from them and get inspired!
Here’s what we’ll cover in this week’s article:
- 3 tiny ways to inject humor into content (they’re small but they pack a big punch)
- How to freshen up cookie-cutter content like job postings — and make it original
- #1 way to transform dead serious messages… even if you can’t change a single word
…plus 3 more tactics you’ll have to read the actual post to discover. Gotta leave something to the imagination!
Oookay. *cracks knuckles* Ouch.
Let’s start with one of the easiest hacks you could implement to make any piece of content more memorable and delightful…
Make them grin (or even chuckle) with microhumor
Your content doesn’t have to be off-the-wall goofy to be funny — or at least, funny-ER than your competition (the bar for THAT must be so low it’s in the core of the Earth!).
Try sprinkling tiny, very low-key jokes here and there in your marketing content — the shorter, the better. For example, you can use:
- Funny asides in parentheses (like the one in the first sentence of this section *wink*)
- Crossed out words and phrases to make it look like you
screwed the poochmade a mistake and then corrected yourself
- Well-placed emojis, textual or graphical — especially great for email subject lines
This is known as microhumor, and it’s all over the place in nonfiction books and other fields where dull subject matter clashes with the goal of engaging readers.
Any kind of joke can be fair game here, as long as it doesn’t hijack or disrupt your main message. Remember, the key word here is “micro”! Well, key word particle, I suppose.
Where to use it: anywhere within a piece of content where engagement takes priority. Email subject lines, blog posts, social media content, etc. But go easy on microhumor where clarity, and not cleverness, is key — e.g. sales copy describing your offer.
Example: microhumor can work wonders in your social media bio, where you have to make an impression in the fewest number of characters possible. E.g. check out what Allstate (the insurance company) say in their Twitter bio…
(It doesn’t matter if insurance salespeople are the #1 bane of your entire existence — this is still delightful.)
Facelift cookie-cutter content by “renting” another format
Some types of content follow extremely well-worn grooves.
If you hear the words “cover letter” or “Twitter bio” or “job posting” or “infographic,” you can make a pretty solid guess about what you’re going to see.
And 99 times out of 100, you’ll be right on the money!
On the one hand, it’s not necessarily bad: conventions and best practices exist for a reason. But the problem with creating formulaic content is — it’s too similar to every other essay/media bio/resume etc. your prospects have seen ten trillion times.
So even when you put out something genuinely awesome… it can still get stuck in your audience’s “genericness filter” and be ignored.
How can you avoid it? Try this:
Next time you need to create a formulaic piece of content for your brand…
…why don’t you structure it according to a completely different format?
For example, you could:
- Describe the unique mechanism of your service like a recipe
- Write your job posting like a singles ad / dating profile
- Create a social media bio in the style of Dr. Seuss
- Draw your infographic as a comic strip
This alone will make your content sizzle and pop like a ribeye hitting a screaming hot cast iron pan. And even if you play everything else about it completely straight, your audience will still perceive your content as unexpectedly delightful and funny!
Where to use it: anytime you need a fresh take on something done-to-death and cliche-infested, like a job posting.
Example: well, I’ve mentioned recruitment ads and job postings twice now… so I’d better deliver! Well, check this out: Mailchimp created an entire series of job ads stylized as baseball cards, to hand out at recruitment fairs…
(Working as a… *checks notes* deliverability engineer never looked so hip.)
Spice up serious copy with funny visuals (or vice versa)
I know what you’re thinking, “Summer, what if I can’t joke around AT ALL in my marketing copy?”
Well, first of all, forgive me if I doubt that.
And second of all… then don’t!
There’s a whole other place you can add charm and make your audience laugh, or at least chuckle appreciatively — your visual assets.
If you’re determined to maintain a 100% serious verbal communication style with your audience, visuals can be a fun way to engage your prospects without breaking the “kayfabe,” so to speak.
The contrast between serious copy and funny visuals, by itself, can feel funny and fresh and intriguing. That’s something we’ve been taking advantage of here at The Draw Shop for years! But, in the interest of being unbiased, I’m not going to share one of our videos here and choose a different example instead (see below).
Where to use it: any type of branded content with a visual element and an audio / textual element. Infographics, marketing videos, illustrated articles and web pages, you name it.
Example: check out this ad by Dissolve — a company that licenses stock video footage out to other brands. Stock footage is the definition of generic, right? Well, the video leans into this assumption, hard.
It combines stock footage you’d expect from the billionth company ad you’ve seen this week… but pairs it with a delightful tongue-in-cheek narration.
The result is deeply entertaining:
Ride the waves of trends (and surf them to glory)
Chasing trends is a terrible way to build a business — but a great content marketing tactic.
Hopping on a trend can put you in front of audiences who might not otherwise know you exist (at least if you time it right). Plus, piggybacking off a humorous enough trend can make your content seem funnier almost by default!
You can take advantage of all kinds of trends:
- News stories. Of course, go for absurd and funny ones, not tragic ones
- Viral challenges — will I age myself if I reference the ALS Ice Bucket challenge here?
- Memes, which are probably the easiest-to-parody trends (but the most perishable)
Memes might be my favorite of the bunch, though. Why? Well, unlike viral challenges, they don’t need you to DO much besides creating the content. And unlike news stories, they carry less real-world “baggage” you have to be mindful of.
Where to use this: trendjacking is pretty much only useful in social media marketing, or extremely quick one-off promotional campaigns. Trends, especially memes, go in and out of fashion at the speed that makes even The Flash himself look like a geriatric snail — so if you’re going to make use of this tactic, stay nimble!
Example: there are too many to list, but I have a sweet spot for Microsoft Excel memes. Talk about a dry, incredibly dull subject being elevated with humor! This one might be my fav…
(The kicker is, I found this in a FB group full of accounting and financial analysis memes. If you ever manage to inspire your customers to make funny user-generated content about your product, even if it’s as dense and technical as Microsoft Excel… then you’ve officially won marketing.)
Captivate and amuse prospects with “4th wall breaks”
Here’s another thing your content can do to seem instantly funnier: address the audience directly, pointing out the fact they are reading / watching / listening etc… to your content.
How? Take your pick! You can:
- Riff on what they might be doing at the same time
- Speculate on what their day has been like
- Guess where they will be going (or not) afterwards
- Call out what they might be thinking
- Ask them if they’d watched the game last night
And so much more.
In theater and film this is known as “breaking the 4th wall.” It’s not only a great way to entertain your target customers, but also create a sense of connection and intimacy with them.
Where to use it: this is an awesome way to start a piece of content, because it’s so attention-grabbing. You can use it in video ads, at the beginning of articles, in emails — practically everywhere.
Example: here’s an absolutely all-caps GENIUS ad campaign created for the British Heart Foundation. It uses 4th wall breaks to great effect, immediately gluing the reader’s attention to the poster:
(Image and campaign by: ElisabethBolzon.Com)
Even on the ever-crowded London tube, these are impossible to ignore. Before you know it, you’ve read through an entire heart disease PSA… and loved it. (You can delight in more variations of this hilarious and deeply true ad creative if you visit the link under the image.)
Indulge in puns (don’t worry, they’ll groan on you)
“But Summer, puns aren’t funny!”
Are they? Or have we all bought into this ridiculous scam that only high-brow, “adult” humor (but not that kind of adult) is worth appreciating?
Well, call me Babe Ruth — because I’ll go to bat for puns any day of the week.
Good or bad, they are delightful. Good puns are funny, because everyone appreciates smart wordplay. But more importantly, bad puns are arguably even funnier. That’s what makes dad jokes such a beloved subgenre of humor — we all love to groan at them!
Besides, anybody can make a pun. Even the most self-serious brand creating content in the stuffiest of industries.
Where to use it: anywhere, anytime you’re not worried about conversions. Headlines and email subject lines are particularly ripe for punning, as you’re about to see…
Example: once again, there are too many to list, but I always enjoy puns in the daily marketing / business newsletter, The Hustle. The editorial team over there are pun-questionably masters at deploying this humorous device.
Just feast your eyes on these subject lines…
(Whenever you need to get eyeballs on a dull topic, puns are a wonderful way to do it. Or should I say …pun-tastic? OK, I’ll stop now.)
Tickle your audience pink with a humorous brand video (by us!)
Let’s be honest:
If you’ve made it this far (thank you, by the way), then by now you’re in one of two minds about using humor in your branded content. You’re either…
A. 1,000% sold on the idea, and the gears are furiously turning in your brilliant entrepreneurial brain on how to implement it in your marketing
Or B. You’re still not sure if this is the right fit for your brand voice and your industry, but you’re curious if this might work (that’s why you’re still reading).
Either way, my team and I can help. Over the years, we’ve produced hundreds of brand videos, ranging from stone cold serious to wonderfully whimsical and gloriously goofy — but always engineered to convert — for 1,200+ companies and counting. Education, biotech, manufacturing, finance, coaching, real estate, petroleum, pest control… we haven’t yet met an industry we couldn’t make magnetic and captivating.
We’d be honored to do the same for you. We invite you to take advantage of our genius marketers, silver-tongued copywriters, and absurdly talented artists and videographers to create a marketing video you’d be proud of. (Whether it turns out to be hilarious or not!)
We used to do only whiteboard animation – not anymore! Now you can work with us to create awesome marketing videos in a variety of styles:
- Live action
- Motion graphics and cartoon animations
- Virtual Reality Animation
- Digital stop motion animation
- 2D character animation
Interested? Then click here to view our samples + get a risk-free quote and tell us about your dream brand video — one of our marketing experts will get back to you post-haste!
P.S. Looking for something smaller… but still more than powerful enough to grow your business? We can craft an irresistible Elevator Pitch that will help you grab your prospects’ attention in less than 30 seconds. Learn more about it here