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How to Use Humor Effectively for Video Marketing

Knock-knock! Who’s there? Iowa. Iowa who? Iowa lot of money for my marketing campaigns. This joke may not be the funniest for video marketing, but it serves well for exploring humor as an effective marketing style.

Many video marketers focus on creating a professional image, which simply means making it look like it’s expected to look. Sadly, this approach often results in boring and forgettable videos rather than helping to make the emotional connection that drives prospects to action.

More often, a marketer attempts to create a lasting connection by tugging at emotional heartstrings to create a small trauma in the viewer’s mind. The marketer isn’t trying to hurt you, but many of them believe that serious tragedy makes the video memorable.

Coming up with funny material that is neither offensive nor too casual requires forethought and objectivity. You have to plan jokes and be honest when they don’t work. Still, humor is a worthy aspiration because it can accomplish tasks, as described in this list, that are seldom achieved by taking a serious approach:

  • Establish rapport. Almost everyone loves to laugh. Inoffensive jokes can easily establish likeability and trust. A joke related to a difficult situation can disarm a prospect or client when you have to deliver “tough medicine.” Relationships are often built on the experiences of shared humor — people tend to do business with people they like. Combined with knowledge, humor enhances expertise, by demonstrating confidence and strength.

  • Trigger memorability. Many marketers strive to create “Aha!” moments in customers’ minds, such as when someone believes one thing and you turn his attention to make him consider another. These are the mechanics of the punch line to a joke.

    The Iowa joke earlier suggests a state to your brain and then quickly refers to it as a financial issue. The unexpected wordplay registers in the brain as humor, which triggers endorphins encoded for memory. That’s why a childhood joke exists in your repertoire decades after you hear it.

  • Create alignment. Effective jokes are based on shared experience, and humor works well when people understand communally the issues at hand. After a common problem is identified and a punch line created around it, insiders adopt the punch line as a trigger representing the issue.

    If no one remembers to turn off the lights when leaving, for example, a giant light switch painted on the wall makes people laugh and remember their responsibility without causing embarrassment.

The challenge in using humor is quite simply that you have to be funny. Stand-up comedians train and practice and sometimes still fail on-stage. Humor works best when everyone understands the references.

If you’re creating an internal video for your company, you can capitalize on funny inside jokes around the office that mean nothing to outsiders but will have your employees rolling on the floor. Your industry undoubtedly has several inside jokes that would be understood only by those people who work in it every day.

If your audience is culturally broad, making something funny to everyone becomes more difficult. To optimize and simplify a humorous approach in video, target the smallest community and use the insider’s view to tickle their funny bones.

You don’t have to use humor all the time, but if you want viewers to like and remember you in a consistent and productive manner, simply follow the words of the late, great Donald O’Connor: “Make ’em laugh! Make ’em laugh! Make ’em laugh!”

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