Note: this is a condensed article based on Kathy’s ebook on adding humor and storytelling to your content! Download the ebook today!

Humor is Human! As content marketing explodes, so too, does the volume of noise. You have about 7 seconds to grab attention. There is just too much content and advertising chasing too few brain cycles for processing.

Laughter lowers the intellectual shield your busy prospects have up all day just to survive the messaging onslaught. Humor opens up a space for connecting because it disrupts the expected pattern.

As a marketer and improviser, I know how important humor is in connecting with an audience.

Here are three ways (there are many more!) I’ve used in marketing and on the comedy stage to add humor in advertising and get results.

1. Show Empathy: The Truth is Funny

Connect on an emotional level by tying your company and offering to a real human challenge your prospect has. When you parody a real challenge by taking it to extremes – the height of exaggeration—you show customers you get it. Hey, the truth is funny!



Start with the pain points of your audience, and of your ideal customers. What drives customers in your space crazy? Relationships can be a great way to explore the comical truth. In 2012, I wrote about a supply-chain management software company called Kinaxis. It has a very funny video that parodies the ‘awkward’ relationship between a vendor and customer by comparing it to a romantic one! And it is.

2. Tackle Your Customer’s Problem and Go Way Over the Top

Scofield Edit has a great video from 2009 parodying the client-vendor relationship much. I first wrote about this video back in 2009 when it was fresh. It still works! The company took a universal issue its customers can relate to – not being valued by some customers who want more for less – and took it to a humorous extreme. What if you went to your hair stylist and asked for a free haircut to “test drive?” That’s exactly what I love about this video which received over 1 million views within weeks of its launch

3. Parody and the Power of Surprise: Flipping Expectations

On the improv stage, and unexpected plot twist is called a “tilt” and it changes the story itself. Not too long ago, I had a credit union client. It had to attract Millennials to grow its customer base. The challenge: many Millennials don’t know about credit unions, or have negative opinions of them. They are into convenience and technology, not old-school, in-person customer service. So we created a campaign “When Millennials Rule the World!” We put twenty-somethings in bank VP roles and in customer service, and let them improvise how they would run a bank. Then, we asked Millennials to submit ideas online. The results were hysterical. This audience loves humor and the campaign successfully up-ended perceptions about this credit union being low-tech.

What would be unexpected from your company? Find that and go ‘there.’ Surprise is a tremendous weapon precisely because it can change perceptions in a powerful way.

Your Turn

How you create “surprise” and turn expectations upside down with humor? Let me know!

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