Is Using Humor For Your Website Right For Your Business?



Good morning, internet fans. Ryan Perry here, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, July 7th. Therefore, it is Internet Marketing Thursday and, as usual, I have Virginie… You guys are killing me. I have Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center on the other side. I apologize. For some reason, the video started in the background. Good thing we’re going be talking about humor today, Virginie, because it has been a very humorous morning.

Virginie Dorn: Yes, it has been so… And life is too short not to be amused, so let’s have fun.

RP: There you go. Very true. Today we’re actually going talk about using humor on your website. Is it right for you and if it is, some kind of, maybe, check points, some thoughts and bullet points to think about when incorporating humor into your website because the reality is, I think humor is a very powerful tool. However, with power can come some bad sides also if it’s not done correctly and humor can be kind of tricky also.

VD: That’s true. Let’s talk to the facts. There are over 1 billion websites on the internet and when I look at them and most of the them are just boring. They’re merely encyclopedia and list of products and services. It is nice to stand out a little bit and bringing humor into your website can really create a very strong emotional relationship with your visitors and make them smile and make them remember you more. It can be a great asset but, again, it has to be done properly.

VD: Today’s webinar, I have actually four section. One is the facts to consider when you’re, again, considering using humor on your own website. Number two would be why use humor and then what you should do and what you should not do. And it’s a lot of bullet points, many of them are self explanatory. They’ll just make sense to you. Maybe we can just dive in and go with point number one which is not all industries types are appropriate to use humor and by this, you will not see the SPCA commercial or website using lots of humor in their marketing material because their subject matter is very serious. You know, animals suffering and so forth. So it’s not right for every occasion or every industry type so that’s something you definitely have to consider. So you might be a happy, easy going owner of a company but it is a very serious industry.

RP: Yeah. I think… And obviously, that’s understanding who your target audience is, because if people can’t relate to your website, your message, your brand, then they’re not going want to do business with you.

VD: Correct. And not all target audiences, even though they might be fun people, want humor on your particular website so that’s… You consider your industry type. You consider your target audience. You also consider the subject matter of the service and product you offer and that ties in with the industry. When you sell shoes, you can be funny. And, again, if you’re taking care of children in orphanages, maybe humor is not quite appropriate and you’re going to offend more often than you’re going to please. Another point to consider is cheesy humor can make someone laugh but it will be at the detriment of your company. So we always see those people at parties. We’re laughing at them, not necessarily with them so if you’re going to use humor, make sure it’s not cheesy. Make sure it’s elegant in a way and when people laugh, they laugh with you and not against you.

RP: Yeah, and I think, from a branding point of view, from a marketing point of view, humor’s really important and is… What is the final outcome that you expect? Are you actually trying to generate a sale? Generate a lead? Whatever it is and I know from a marketing point of view, especially with social media, everybody wants to go viral. That was kind of the hot thing. I think that’s tempered itself and there’s a lot of funny websites out there that are very viral. However, from a conversion, from a dollar, from a business point of view, they don’t do anything. All they do is they give us that 10 seconds of “Ha ha!” and I move on but I have no interest in doing business with them.

VD: Yes. Very true. So, again, look at your… Have a focused approach. Just like anything else in marketing and for your website, what’s the angle of your humor? And then based on this, see if it’s appropriate. And also remember that humor, if not done right, can confuse the visitors. They might not quite understand what’s the joke about, might totally miss the fact that it’s a humoristic text or image so it… Sometimes being too subtle using humor can be a big risk ’cause, again, you want the majority of your audience to understand that this was done in a humoristic way and, again, take the action you want them to take after they’re done laughing and smiling with you.

RP: Yeah, and one of the other things is depending on what area you’re trying to cover is that what may be funny on the West Coast may not be funny on the East Coast, or in the South, or in China, or… Other parts of the world could be offended by what is humorous here locally.

VD: Yes, because humor can, indeed, offend. Now talking about region, if you have a local business with a local targeted region, you can use local humor. Here we have Clover. They do milk and wonderful ice cream and they have Petaluma Rocky Road because Petaluma is the town my business is in and it’s very well-known for the bad road conditions so their Rocky Road is called Petaluma Rocky Road, something like this. It’s funny and the people who buy it locally totally get it and they smile and still buy the ice cream.

RP: All right. I don’t know if the city of Petaluma finds it funny, but that’s a whole other conversation. I think I actually, at that point it’s okay to offend them because as people that drive through there, we understand. It’s like “Hey! Fix your roads.” But anyhow, that’s a whole other subject.

VD: Correct. So why use humor if there are so many risks? So when someone… The main thing is, when someone smile out of happiness, and I don’t mean because of a sarcastic comment, or they’re mean and they smile, but they smile because they’re happy. It really helps them remember what’s going on at that moment. Again, just in a better condition emotionally to get a message through to them. So if you have a specific message, a specific call to action you want them to take, and you make them smile out of happiness, they’re most likely to be more receptive. If that makes any sense.

RP: Well, it does. If you can make people happy, the reality is they’re going… People do business with people. Even though Clover is a company and I’m buying Clover product, but I want to get a sense of who the people are. And so that’s where branding comes in and I think it’s very powerful. Being a single guy most of my life, going through this online singles things, one of the number one things women will say is, “Hey, make me laugh. Make me laugh. Make me laugh.” Humor is a very powerful tool, it’s a great way of disarming people, which is what I think you’re trying to say, because we all have barriers, especially when I come to a new website that I know nothing about. Maybe I recognize the name, but if you’re a new company to me, and you can disarm me, then that’s where you’re going open up, I’m going to be more receptive and more likely to buy a product or sign up for a service at that point.

VD: Indeed. Very well explained, thank you. Another thing to consider is, some subject matter are more intricate, maybe unusual. And sometimes by using humor, you can make a complex subject appear so much simpler to understand. So humor can be a great tool for that. Humor has been used in… Even in hospital, in children’s centers, you see clowns going. And it’s not just to make them happy and smile, but sometimes they have fun explaining the disease. They can take subject matters, and again, intricate, complicated, maybe difficult to explain, and use humor.

RP: Yeah, and I think even if you go back to, say, for me, school, I had a math teacher in high school that used humor on a regular basis. You think of the teenager in high school, it’s the last place most teenagers want to be. Especially a dry subject like math, unless you were really into math, math was a very dry subject. Humor was a great way of connecting with people. Again, it opened up the mind, made them more perceptive. And it was one of the best classes I had, although one of my most difficult classes that I had back in high school, also. But because of the unique personality of that teacher and adding humor to the curriculum, made it much more bearable and enjoyable.

VD: Yeah. I can see that. And here, you remember this maths teacher, many years ago.

RP: Many years ago!

VD: Decades, that’s how old you are. Again, why use humor? Humor can be trendy. It could be right on the money, what’s going on currently. So you can use this as being a trendy website or company. Again, it can go viral. We mentioned this earlier. And when you go viral, in a good way, it’s totally free advertising to your company. This is a bunch of people sharing your webpages, a bunch of people mentioning your company name, your services, or your product, at no cost to you. Just because some sort of humor used on your website went viral. So, if done right and properly, it can have great financial value to your company.

RP: Yeah. There’s two that come to mind. One was an airline. It was a very small airline, Canadian-based airline. Last year… It was two years ago, they actually brought in a booth with an LCD screen and Santa Claus was there. So all the little kids would come up and they’d go, “Oh!” Santa Claus would ask them what they wanted. And even the parents would say, “Oh, I’d love this, I’d love this.” They sent elves out at the airport that the people were landing at and went to all the different stores, bought all those gifts, and when they landed Santa Claus was there with all these gifts. And he’s going, “Oh,” you know? And you had to put your boarding pass on a scanner to start the screen, so they know who you were. And then they had all these presents for people, and it was a great PR piece.

RP: The other one that I can think of is Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola; With the little kid in the walkway out, and the football. That’s from the ’70s, and that video keeps on getting played over and over again every year. Not… It was humorous in a very lighthearted, emotional way. Not kind of that stupid bang you over the head type of humor. But still humorous, it left you with a smile at the end of the commercial.

VD: Yes. And again it helps people remember your company and services. So, if done right, it can work for you as well. So maybe let’s recap what you should do and what you should not be doing when it comes to considering humor on your website. Consider the message and your company’s image, your audience, your branding. Consider the goal of your website. What’s the ultimate goal? Is it to promote a product and make a purchase? Is it to pick up the phone and call your clerks? Hire someone who is experienced and funny. I’m the webmaster, I’m not a joker. You have to hire someone who has experience in being funny and there are plenty of local people. You can find them on Craigslist or maybe a local chamber. That’s their job. Sometimes they do voice over, sometimes they’re just standup comedians and they’re local to your community. Hire a professional. Have again a focused approach to your humor that you aim for a very specific goal. And first test, test, analyze, adjust, review, test again, make sure it’s right for you and then launch. So those are the things you should be doing when considering humor on your website.

RP: Yeah, a couple other things that I’d like to add is, one is that when you do test, definitely I would tread lightly and the fact that you got those great idea but you think it might be too cutting edge, might be pushing the boundaries, bring it back to the point where people understand it without going overboard. The other thing is, and I see this with attorneys. They’re doing bio videos for attorney offices but it’s not, “Oh, well, why did you become an attorney and what’s your favorite part of law that you enjoy practicing?” It’s actually more personal information. It’s a great way of humanizing their website which typically is a very dry industry but there’s… What was the funny moment or they try and add some personality and by doing that, by bringing that humor to the specific attorneys, so this is actual law attorney on film answering these questions doing like a bio video and they’re actually showing a part of you that you would never see before.

RP: And because it’s real life stories, typically the humor it works and it is a great way to humanize and showcase that look, even though a lot of people maybe turned off by attorneys, we’re just everyday people just like everyone else that’s out there. I thought it was a great marketing approach and a great way to get conversion on a website.

VD: Yes, and as you mentioned that story, it reminds us of a client of ours, then owner of insurance company and we had two videos on their home page. One was the main video promoting the services, the second one was all the out takes and that out takes one got four times the number of exposure as the regular one. And this company was quite successful. So what’s funny was all the messed up, people did during the filming of the video, and we were amazed on how many more viewing, like four folds, this particular one got compared to the standard video. So humor can help.

RP: It’s not only the humor at that point. It’s the fact that it’s real, it’s honest, it’s legit, it’s not, “Oh, okay camera’s on, hello, my name’s Ryan Perry.” This is somebody being real and purely honest and that’s really what we’re attracted to when you boil it all down.

VD: Yes. Well, I like to wrap up this session with four points of what you should not be doing ’cause we talked about what you should do, should not do but there’s four things to remember to not do. So don’t be too funny just on your website and be very serious offline. It just confuses clients. We’re not understanding the branding. Number two, be too funny, or too many jokes at every turn of your website because you’re overwhelming the senses, now you don’t look like a serious company. Third, don’t be too subtle either. Too subtle then people miss the fact that it is a joke and that is humor and they are left confused and annoyed. And number four of what not to do will be to not test it at all and just taking a chance with it.

RP: Alright, perfect. That is it for today’s show then on using humor in your website. If you’re thinking about doing it, I think the first place to start is to test lightly. Also, find somebody who understands humor. If you don’t feel that people relate to your humor very well, then you may not be the right person to actually convey that message. Get somebody who understands what people think is funny. Virginie, as always, I appreciate the time and energy, and I’m looking forward to next week’s show right here, same place, same computer, same time.

VD: Have a great rest of your week. Goodbye.

RP: Alright, will do. Take care everybody, we’ll see you next week.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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