Laughter Is the Best Marketing

Get customers laughing their way into your store!
by : 

Megy Karydes

May 2, 2016
Marketing Mondays - Laughter Is the Best Marketing

It’s common marketing knowledge that repetition helps customers remember your brand. Make the impact of your marketing efforts even stronger with humor.

Even if your business isn’t known for being funny, find ways to show off your funny side. Customers will find you more relatable and memorable, further cementing their loyalty. Ours is a business that rewards creativity, and the good news about the latest marketing and media strategies is they are becoming more creative as customers become increasingly less interested in being “sold.”

Humor is the great neutralizer

One shop owner in Florence, Ore., decided to go tongue in cheek with the signage in the front of her store, declaring the shop is not a tourist trap. Her feeling is that many seasoned travelers don’t shop at tourist traps, and while most of her customers are local, tourists do happen upon her store in the spring and fall, often dropping big bucks. Why not give them a funny reason to be drawn in?

The great thing about humor in marketing is its share-ability. Think funny videos you take in your shop and share on social media (bloopers, anyone?) or funny memes. If your efforts are clever enough, customers will share them and introduce your shop to others in their social network.

Laughter is the best medicine

Getting customers laughing isn’t exactly easy if you’re not a comedian at heart. Some people can find humor in anything or any situation, but if being funny isn’t your strong suit, you’re either going to have to work that "muscle" or ask someone you think is funny to help you.

Humor all around us

Be mindful of what’s funny and working for other businesses, and not necessarily in the gift-shop space. Take a walk through the grocery story with your radar ready to pinpoint humor in packaging or signage. Food companies are good at using humor because they’re often stacked (literally and figuratively) against competitors on the same shelf. Also, flip through magazines and look at the ads. Everything from car manufacturers to accountants are using humor, some effectively while others fall flat.

Note the ones you find funny and start writing them down or taking pictures of them and putting them in a file folder. Those examples will help you hone your own humor voice. You’ll also start getting ideas of what might work for you. Jot those ideas down. Those initial ideas may work or they may lead to something else down the road.

Know your audience

Using humor can also be tricky because what one person find funny, especially if the joke is irreverent, might strike a sour note with someone else. This is where your judgment has to come into play. If your business is the kind that would benefit from irreverent humor because it works with your brand, go for it. It’ll certainly make your business more memorable! But if that kind of humor would bring backlash, maybe consider a more general kind of humor (like the Oregon shop with its tourist-trap signage). The impact is still effective but it doesn’t offend anyone.

Humor, when used right, can be an effective and low-cost way to set your business apart from competitors. What are some of your favorite marketing campaigns that made you laugh? Share on Retailing Insight's Facebook page!

Megy Karydes helps small businesses harness their marketing power. She’s also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic’s CityLab, Midwest Living magazine and Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at