I was asked recently by a few people at a speaking engagement on how to use humor in a meaningful way with customers and prospects. Great question. So here’s my answer (I answered in person, too!). I believe strongly that everyone can communicate with meaning and humor!
Humor disrupts expected patterns, so humor should be focused on the unexpected. Titles that are fun catch attention; however, I think humor at its most meaningful actually goes deeper: it shows people you get it, you get them, and you care. Humor can show empathy. Fun titles, images and videos are awesome – and I am in favor of all of that. And humor that shows empathy goes further.
I think humor that shows people you care is really meaningful. So here is where I suggest you start.
Communicate with Meaning and Humor: Focus on Customer Pain
Every audience out there has a pain point. Your job is to help them fix it. What is it that drives them crazy; that has them pulling their hair out? Tap into that. Humor does come from laughing at pain. You are not laughing at customers or making fun of them. You are honing on their pain and saying, “I get it. This situation you are in sucks!”
Examples of pain points:
1. Your customer sells to small businesses and small businesses are always negotiating for lower prices and more services. Scofield Edit did a great video parodying this exact situation and that shows small businesses that this company gets the challenges these smaller businesses face.
2.Your customer deals with salespeople who shove their wares and jargon in their face with no understanding or care for the customers’ needs. Adobe has a great example of that – poking fun at a lot of high-tech marketing BS and jargon out there.
3. Your customer wants better service from existing vendors and those vendors are high maintenance. Often times dealing with vendor relationships is exactly like dealing with a high maintenance date that you want to dump! Kinaxis has a great video about this that I love because business relationships are like dating relationships – they have to work for both parties!
The shortest way to get attention is to parody the pain your customer faces. Take it over the top. Never make your customer look bad….do show the degree of pain they feel and that it’s not their fault. Some outside factor is making their life hard. By exaggerating each scenario (comedy likes 3 – there is the rule of 3, so show at least 3 scenarios), your customers will see themselves in those stories.
Once you get their attention because they know you get it (and you have made them laugh), you can start a conversation that says, “We get it. We know it sucks. And we can help. Here’s how….”
And you don’t have to do videos. Even a fun, snappy subject line in a email that acknowledges your prospect has better things to do than read more of your email is a great way to get attention because you demonstrated empathy.
Of course, there are many great ways to communicate meaning with humor. That’s where I would start to get the greatest impact – with your customer’s biggest headache. Go make that disappear; first make them laugh by recognizing themselves in what you say.
Great question and that’s the “short” answer!