Tread Lightly When Using Humor in Your Marketing and Advertising


In advertising, there’s one debate that rages eternal: does funny actually sell?

Some integrated marketers insist, yes, funny breaks through the clutter and helps customers remember you. But then, there are naysayers who point out that the famous “Yo Quiero Taco Bell?” ads actually tanked the restaurant’s sales by 6%.

However, there’s one thing that isn’t up for debate: being funny does not mean being offensive, and being offensive is a terrible strategy.

The Cost of Crossing the Line

Sure, humor can draw attention, but at what cost? According to service industry expert Aaron Pederson, happy customers drive 80% of your sales. While most businesses experience some churn, winning a new customer can cost up to ten times more than retaining a current customer.

Find Your Funny

No matter what creative strategy you use, it should complement your brand. That’s especially true for integrated marketers in small business.

Ellis Verdi, president of the DeVito/Verdi agency in New York City, says, “The biggest impact you can have with a small budget is to reveal who you are and what is unique about you.”

Made Movement’s Chief Creative Officer Dave Schiff says, “The best jokes are about something everyone knows to be true but no one has courage to talk about…It’s a matter of harnessing what is being said…and making it relevant to your brand.”

Schiff also says that if you’re going for witty, make sure there’s a reason: “You can’t just have a funny skit and tack the company logo on the end of a video. It has to advance the cause of the business.”

A masterful example of how it all comes together is in this long-running Snickers campaign: it’s funny for a reason, solves a business problem, and it’s on-point with the brand persona.

Try Heartfelt Rather Than Humorous

Humor is hard – even Jerry Seinfeld bombs sometimes. Even better than making your audience laugh is making them feel. Take a look at memorable, earnest efforts fromUnilever/Vaseline and WestJet. These campaigns aligned with the brand, fostered deep emotional connections, and were wildly successful. You may not know funny, but you know what’s true. And so do your customers.

The Five Types of Signage No Retailer Should Be Without


Even as advertising and marketing increasingly goes digital, some things may always be analog, like signage for your business. And physical signage is arguably even more important than a website, since it can help integrated marketers connect with people who may not have even considered your business.

These are the five essential signs that can help you show, tell and sell.

  1. Outdoor Signage

This includes marquee signs and anything else that drives foot traffic, such as awnings, sidewalk signs, “store hours” signs, and even those people who stand outside of businesses and twirl directional signs. Speaking of sign spinners, did you know there’s actually a sign twirling school and even a yearly spinning competition?

  1. Informational Signage

Informational signage gives direction or information, such as where the restrooms or cash wrap is, or how many items are allowed in the fitting room. These signs effectively help customers navigate through your store and shopping experience.

Menus and menu boards are a whole other story and an exact science unto themselves.

  1. Persuasive Signs

These signs can be used to draw attention to certain items or promotions to “persuade” your customer to purchase. They can include shelf-talkers, merchandise hang-tags,point-of-purchase displays, and anything else that points out specific merchandise or a promotion. Persuasive signs can create a higher perceived value, increase brand awareness, and even drive better sales.

  1. ADA Signage

Signs that inform disabled patrons of your accommodations create an inclusive environment– and, depending on which state you’re in, they may be required. Learn specific guidelines here.

  1. Mats

You need them around your store for comfort, safety, and cleanliness; why not add a marketing message? Mat messaging should be simple and uncluttered, perhaps even no more than a logo or a few words.

And while you’re looking down, consider floor graphics, a hybrid of mats and informational and persuasive signage. These novel, colorful graphics focus consumers’ attention and may even boost sales by up to 30%.

Don’t Forget Your Branding

When you’re creating any of these signs, remember to follow best practices:

  • Stay within your brand guidelines for colors, fonts, layout, and imagery
  • Be clear about your message
  • Use type big enough that it can be read from an appropriate distance
    without squinting
  • Use a specific call to action

See Signage Done Right

To see a stunning example of what well-executed signage can do, Trader Joe’s is practically a case study. Their delightfully low-tech signs regularly inspire patrons, besides providing fodder for integrated marketers. Retro not your style? This article is an excellent starting point for adopting high-tech signage for your business.

Influencer Outreach: A Formula for Success


Today’s consumers–especially the coveted millennial demographic–value experience and authenticity over advertising. While only 1% of millennials are persuaded by advertising, 33% look to trusted online personalities for purchasing guidance.

The question is, how do you connect with those personalities–dubbed influence marketers–most likely to see and share the value of your product or service? In a recent blog post, Social Media Beast provides a clear approach for integrated marketers reaching out to influencers.

Identify the Influencer(s)

Refine your list of potential partners to those most closely aligned with your area of expertise. These are most likely to become fans and share positive reviews or recommendations to their audience/your potential customers. This post from last year offers a quick checklist for getting started.

Open a Dialogue

Once you’ve narrowed it down, get to know the influencers better. It’s considered poor manners (as well as counterproductive) to do a cold outreach. Read their posts and opinions on social media, engage with their content, become a part of their communities.

When you send your first email, be open and genuine—after all, it’s their candor that made them stand out to you in the first place. Introduce your business, explain your product and why they and their audience will be interested. Tell what you have learned from them, and how you can help them and their readers. Be prepared to describe what a partnership between you might look like: will it be an invitation to participate in an upcoming event or contribute a guest blog?

Be Patient

Online personalities became influencers by amassing an audience through hard work, dedication, and commitment to their brand. They may be in demand by many others looking to piggyback on their success. If you don’t hear back right away, send a friendly follow up.

If your second message goes unanswered, move on; you have a business to run. If you hear back and are able to work together, rein in your need for instant gratification. Like many integrated marketing tactics, this approach may not yield immediate results. You are leveraging the trust the influencer has established with audiences over time for an endorsement of your product or service.

Embracing this influencer outreach approach allows you to build brand credibility and trust with your audience by connecting them to sites and people they already trust, thus improving your likelihood of success.