Picture yourself at a party. You’re talking to a member of the opposite sex; they look great and appear to be quite interesting. In the middle of conversation they accidently use the word ‘suppository’ instead of ‘depository’ (imagine that!) You laugh, understandably. They duly acknowledge the mistake was made, and ensure they will do all they can to ensure the rest of the conversation will be free of errors. Stunned by the sterile response, you take an awkward sip of your drink and hope to be bailed out as soon as possible. From the other side of the party, you hear chuckles from a conversation you’d much rather be part of.
Now, not all business-client relationships can be represented in the above analogy. But some can. Too often many businesses will avoid showing a sense of humour out of fear of appearing ‘unprofessional’ when in reality it can be taken as a profound display of respect for your customer.
People are savvy. They know (and are likely weary of) ‘corporate’ and ‘marketing’ speak. Addressing them in this tone may make them feel like they’re being talked down to. But engage with your customers on their level, and you’re not only checkmating their cynicism and respecting their intelligence, you’re also demonstrating you understand them.
Famous news-parody publication The Onion boasts an enviable readership demographic – 18 to 44, 26% with an income over 100k and 35% with an advanced degree. This hip parody paper has started producing ads. Only these ads feature The Onion’s biting satirical approach. So what brave company would pay to be publicly mocked by the world’s most renowned satirists?
You might have heard of them – a company called Microsoft. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was famous for being terrible. If you weren’t aware of that and the armies of keyboard warriors that perpetuated this opinion, let me get you up to speed with this ad for the latest version of Internet Explorer. With almost 3 million views at the time of writing this and an overwhelmingly positive response – this just shows how beneficial being self-deprecating can be.
This approach isn’t limited to mass-advertising. It can be applied to day-to-day transactions. Displaying a sense of humour demonstrates intelligence and confidence – give your customers the credit they deserve and you might be surprised by what it does for your brand.