How to Use Humor Right in Your Content Marketing

content marketing humor

There’s no doubt that humor in marketing works.

Statistics show that northern Americans and Europeans prefer humor over every other messaging theme.

For businesses in highly saturated industries, funny marketing can easily help them stand out from the clutter.funny marketing


But using funny tactics is a tricky thing to do, and not everyone gets it right.

Yet more and more brands are trying to secure a high rank in their industry by trying to be funny.

But how do you make funny marketing happen?

In this article, you will learn that being funny in your marketing is more about

  • Brand awareness
  • Knowing how much humor is enough
  • Knowing what your audience will find funny

Read on to learn the tools you’ll need to make this happen.

Know your audience

Not everyone is going to sit well with what you think is a funny marketing idea.

That’s why it’s important to pinpoint who you’re going to be marketing to.

Will it be millennials? Baby boomers? Seniors?

Where do they live? What do they do?

For marketers, this kind of targeted thinking should already be a part of your marketing plan.

With humor, the same strategy applies.

To have an honest shot at coming up with funny marketing concepts, you will need to zero in on your particular audience so that you’re guaranteed not to step on anyone’s toes.

… then plan it out

This next step might seem like a trivial thing to do, but it can help with making sure you don’t offend anyone.

Make a list of topics and phrases that you think your audience will find funny.

The same goes with making a list of topics that they might find offensive.

Once you have that list, you’ll know what areas you are welcome to explore, and which areas you can’t touch

A more professional approach to this, obviously, is to stick to a strategy brief, but even then, a brief won’t always inform you on the nuances of your audience’s level of humor.

Your best bet is to stay on the safe side until you’re sure you can pull off something more on the riskier side.

Charmin’s team tweets from their seats

Chris Syme, owner and partner of Social Media Today interviewed Charmin’s social media team.

This is what they had to say:

“We stay true to the brand’s playful instigator tone without crossing the line. Over time we’ve built a rapport with our community to understand where the boundaries are. We adhere to a content strategy to guide us on when and where to engage.”

You see that?

A funny marketing stunt proved successful because the team planned out a strategy before executing a funny angle.

They didn’t just wing it. They analyzed their targets and saw what could work, and what could not work.

Is your brand even funny?

What kind of personality does your brand have?

Is it nerdy? Stern? Down-to-earth?

Tell me, do you really think your brand has an honest shot at being funny in its marketing?

Have you ever met a person who tried to be funny, but wasn’t funny at all?

That’s what it’s like for a brand whose personality doesn’t lend itself to humor.

Just because funny marketing tactics are a proven concept, it doesn’t mean your audience will love the material that you put out.

What’s more, it doesn’t mean your audience will love you any less if you don’t put anything funny out.

Better Call Saul

Being funny worked for the small-time lawyer Saul Goodman in the hit TV show series Breaking Bad.

Granted that this is a fictitious example, this kind of satire isn’t completely out of the question if a real lawyer wants to be funny.

If I saw a funny marketing idea like Saul Goodman’s, believe me, I’d stop and listen!

But the reality is that most law firms have a more serious tone and personality to their marketing.

And obviously so.

They’re in a serious, serious business.

Of course, it’s not entirely out of the question for a lawyer to loosen up the marketing. But chances are that they’ll want to stick to a more professional vibe.

Point being: you’ll need to know how far you can go before your audience and clients stop taking you seriously.

Overall, know your brand’s values, beliefs, and personality. That’s what’s going to determine how far you can go.

Know where you stand with your audience in terms of your personality.

A joke coming from you (your brand) just might not work with your audience.

Don’t overdo it!

Funny marketing is different than a funny person in real life.

When it comes to marketing, your goal shouldn’t be to leave your audience cracking up.

Instead, your goal should be to make your audience have an “ah-ha” moment, and if you’re lucky: a smile.

When’s the last time you texted your friend, “lol”. Were you ACTUALLY laughing?

I doubt it!


The point is, don’t over do it, and don’t over think it.

Don’t try to impress your audience by trying to blow them away with any Dave Chapelle-like material.

9 times out of 10, it won’t work.

Let your peers and friends review your work

Before you even send out your content into the world, allow some people in your network to see what you’ve come up with.

Try to pick people who match the people you are targeting.

Or they could be someone who’s open-minded enough who can step into your target’s shoes.

If they laugh within seconds … you’re good.

But if they begin to look perplexed, and you find yourself explaining your angle, go back to the drawing board.

Funny marketing means being yourself

” … I’m funniest when I’m not being funny. I’m better to laugh at, than with.” – Jemima Kirke

The worst thing you could ever do is to be somebody you’re not.

In the case of your brand, this means stepping away from the personality that your brand endorses.

One of my pet peeves is people who aren’t funny, yet who try to be funny.

On the other hand, people who aren’t funny have a tendency to say some of the funniest things, and that’s because they’re just being themselves.

It’s the same with funny marketing.

If you stay true to your brand’s identity and roots, the humor will come.

Hire funny writers!

People are either funny, or they’re not funny.

If you’re more of the stoic type, that’s fine!

That’s just who you are, and you can’t do much about that.

But just don’t try to rack your brain over a joke which might not even be funny.

Instead, get someone on board who you know could pull off a funny angle.

Send out an email to see if anyone’s interested in being today’s comedian.

Note: give anyone a chance.

I know a person who is a bore to talk to, yet this person comes alive in his writing and will literally have me laughing for days.

Point being, don’t sleep on someone just because they might seem dull.

Give people chances! See what they can do!

Funny marketing that has worked

Funny marketing, if done the right way, can prove extremely successful for your business.

But if done the wrong way, could be a disaster.

“Like a Good Neighbor, Statefarm is There”

Selling insurance can be incredibly hard to market.

It’s pricey, boring, and quite frankly, indistinguishable in its offerings.

Yet, for Statefarm, they have overcome this hurdle by simply depicting everyday people in common (and somewhat awkward) situations.

That’s because they don’t “try” so hard, they just let it hang.

Statefarm’s more recent campaign involves an agent by the name of Jake, who’s up at the wee hours helping customers resolve their issues.

In one commercial, Jake, our Statefarm agent, is talking to a husband.

It’s 3am.

Later, his wife comes rolling down the stairs, hollering at him because she thinks he’s cheating.

She just can’t buy into the idea that it’s an actual insurance agent on the other line, and so she thinks it’s her husband’s lover.

Is this knock em dead humor?

It’s not.

But is it funny enough to make you think, “heh, that’s funny”?

It is.

And that’s how you should approach humor: lightly.

Funny marketing that hasn’t worked

In 2013, K-mart wanted to advertise free shipping, so they came up with an “I shipped my pants” campaign.

It got a lot of attention and traffic to K-mart’s website, but it didn’t sit well with many shoppers.

To some, the idea was too grotesque, and K-mart took a lot of flak.

Point being: know your audience!

Know what you might be getting yourself into before you start coming up with funny marketing ideas.

Key Points to remember

Hands down, humor is the way to go if you want to build instant rapport with your audience and increase awareness of your brand.

Done the right way, you will have an honest shot at increasing your visibility and getting tons of shares.

But remember:

Funny marketing is highly subjective, and as a result can be incredibly hard to pull off.

A bad joke can send your audience seeking business elsewhere.

The first rule of thumb, then, when it comes to funny marketing ideas is this:

Have a tight, tight grasp of your audience.

Know them.

Know them better than they know themselves.

Once you know what will work with your audience, and what won’t work with your audience, funny marketing concepts will be easier to generate.

So, if you’re positive that your brand can pull off writing funny stuff, without hurting anyone’s funny bone (har-har) then, by all means, do it!

If you have any questions, contact us here.

Leave your comments and funny jokes down below!

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