How can I add humour to my marketing?

This slide may or may not have been the reason why I was asked about humour.

Last week I gave a presentation at the Vancouver Business Network on copywriting.

(You can watch the video here: Copywriting 101.)

One of the questions I received before I began my talk was this:

“How can I add humour to my marketing?”

My honest answer is that if you’re asking that question, you probably shouldn’t.

If that sounds a bit harsh, it’s because there’s something deeper at play here.

Let me explain.

We all have a style. A personality. In marketing-speak, we have a brand.

If you’re naturally funny or humourous, your question would have been different.

You might have asked:

  • How can I be funny without offending people? Or
  • How do I know when I’m using too much humour? Or
  • Is it OK to use humour in my marketing?

[My answers to those questions: don’t use offensive humour, when the humour obscures your marketing message and yes.]

Marketing is hard enough to get right without adding the pressure of trying to be funny when you’re not.

But there’s an even better reason.

Marketing is match-making. You’ll attract compatible clients when you show up as your authentic self.

guy with 2 sides

Why don’t people trust me?

For self-employed professionals who wish to be seen as trusted advisors, good, solid marketing sometimes elicits a comment like: “you sound the same in writing as you do in person!”

If you want to be seen as funny, the easiest thing to do would be to hire someone to write funny marketing materials or blog posts for you.

That might be a brilliant idea if you sell widgets online and never speak with clients face-to-face.

But if you’re the “face” of the company and you work directly with clients, you’ll be creating a disconnect.

You’ll be funny in your marketing – and not-so-funny in person.

This is going to feel “off” to your potential clients. They might not be able to name why, but they’ll feel it.

Trying to be someone you’re not erodes trust.

You’re better off to value and play up the elements of your personality that are already your strengths

Every client I’ve worked with has been a unique individual with their own distinct personality.

Some of my clients are serious, others are bubbly and effervescent, or deeply spiritual, or playful, or creative, or nurturing, or heart-centered, or down-to-earth, or direct or inspirational. And yes…some of them are funny.

Often, they try to hide or minimize the best parts of themselves because they’ve received advice or feedback suggesting that those things aren’t “professional” or that they’ll turn off their potential clients..

So they try to tone down their natural effervescence, or avoid talking about anything spiritual or hide their heart-centeredness by taking a more “professional” stance (which often means showing up as some version of boring corporate beige.)

My advice: play up your natural strengths.

Be YOU. Be YOU louder. Be the real YOU.

This way you create a what-you-see-is-what-you-get experience.

If you do this well, you WILL turn some people off.

Congratulations, you’re becoming attractive!

woman with thumb down

I do not like your diagrams, your cartoons or the cut of your jib (whatever a jib is)

Remember that magnets attract on one side and repel on the other

The more attractive you become to a particular group (your ideal clients) – the less attractive you become to everyone else – to the point of turning off some people.

(We could call these folks the “OMG I would never want to work with them people!” because they’ll be starkly different from your ideal clients.)

Not everyone appreciates MY presentation style, personality or sense of humour. (I know! It shocks me too!)

Some of those people give me well-intentioned “feedback” and advice: don’t use so many slides, make your presentations shorter, don’t lecture so much, the cartoons are not professional, skip the humour – business is serious.

But what-you-see-is-what-you-get when you work with me.

You can expect that I’ll teach you stuff, I’ll explain the “why” behind any advice I give, I’ll draw some diagrams as we work together and that I’ll make some funny comments.

When I show up as ME, I attract clients who appreciate what I have to offer.

Then when we work together, I don’t have to try to be someone I’m not or live up to false expectations I set up through my marketing.

Being yourself makes everything easier

guy looking in mirror

I might not be funny…but I’m awesome in other ways!

Marketing and selling becomes easier, networking becomes easier, the actual work becomes easier.

Here are two really strong arguments for being yourself in business:

  1. We live in a world where you can market yourself around the globe
  2. As a self-employed professional or micro-sized business, you don’t need a huge number of clients to thrive.

When you combine these two facts, can you see that turning up the volume on YOU – embracing your own unique differences and personality – is what will help you stand out from the crowd?

YOU are the only YOU.

If YOU are not funny, that’s OK.

Right now, someone is looking at you and asking some other marketing consultant how THEY can show more of that quality that YOU have.

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