A Marketer’s Hu-manifesto on Humor


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Humor is about as human as you can get. It is one of the best ways to connect with an audience as well as increase your return on joy. Who doesn’t want that?! I dusted off my now several-years-old Hu-manifesto on humor (Humor-festo just doesn’t sound right) and why it matters in business and marketing, as in life. I updated it and am sharing here.


1. Humor is an attitude of fun. You can have a sense of fun without having to be “funny.” Don’t force the funny – you’ll hurt yourself. Humor opens you up to the joy of the moment. Attitude is the most important determinant of success. Time flies, but *you* are the pilot. So fly with more joy and fun.

2. Humor attracts like. When you share appropriate humor, you build rapport and strengthen relationships. Happy begets happy. It’s universal law. I don’t make those rules. But, if I could have; I would have. They are damn good rules.

3. Humor oils the innovative engine. Use it regularly. It’s part of the creative process that drives innovation. When we use the ‘humor’ brain, we are leveraging the creative brain, and are open to fun and spontaneity. Sometimes the “A-Ha” comes during the “Ha-Ha.”

4. Funny Makes Money. This is especially true in speaking and writing – and often in marketing. I am looking at you, b2b. Humor offers a huge pattern disruption, cuts through noise, and let your messages get through. That is especially important in an age of content explosion and diminishing mindshare. Humor helps you stand apart from the crowd. Be heard – not one of the herd. Plus, humor helps people learn. And we all want to be educated, right?

5. Humor humanizes. An organization that values humor and laughter creates positive energy that powers everything it does. Additionally, a company that can laugh (especially at itself sometimes) adds a human dimension to its brand. Good humor doesn’t kill brands. People (doing dumb stuff) do.

6. Humor is the greatest people skill you can have. No kidding. It makes you likable. It opens up positive channels of communication with others. It’s emotional ‘cable.’ Humor is highly correlated with emotional intelligence – and career success. Take that, and your bigger paycheck, laughing all the way to the bank. Until you get to the bank – they are not fun.

7. Humor puts people at ease. Builds rapport and reduces tension. It’s a natural pain reliever that won’t hurt your liver. Organizations that laugh more are more productive and less stressful. I want to stress that.

8. Humor aids in memory retention. Make people laugh – and they’ll remember you. People remember not what you did, but how you made them feel. Make people feel great.

9. Humor is a part of a great customer-service strategy. It delights and surprises. Empower people to have fun at work and to convey that in their interactions with customers. You can’t give to customers what you don’t feel. Good, rapport-building humor is corporate culture connective tissue. Make sure your culture is happy, not crappy.

10. Humor is an indicator of morale. Just as good humor is a sign of a healthy company, rife inappropriate humor is a huge red flag for any organization. Don’t ignore it. Constant inappropriate humor indicates a lack of respect for the organization, its customers (look at Enron – they made fun of customers and how stupid they were) and a lack of trust. These are lethal to a healthy corporate culture. If employees exhibit toxic humor, run fast! It’s gonna blow!

11. Laughter is good for the soul, bad for the crow’s feet. Mileage is inevitable, but smiling takes off years. It’s better than botox. Increase your “smileage” and turn back the “old-ometer.” Aging is an inevitable destination; you might as well enjoy the journey.

12. Humor, like love, is a universal language (although ironically and paradoxically subjective at the same time. Hmmmm…!). So, move over math. That’s right, pi, I’m talking to you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kathy Klotz-Guest
For 20 years, Kathy has created successful products, marketing stories, and messaging for companies such as SGI, Gartner, Excite, Autodesk, and MediaMetrix. Kathy turns marketing "messages" into powerful human stories that get results. Her improvisation background helps marketing teams achieve better business outcomes. She is a founding fellow for the Society for New Communications Research, where she recently completed research on video storytelling. Kathy has an MLA from Stanford University, an MBA from UC Berkeley, and an MA in multimedia apps design.


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