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Two marketing humor strategies: think animals & practice ‘less is more’

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If an advertisement makes you laugh, chuckle or, especially, laugh out loud, that’s usually a very good sign for the marketers behind the ad.

It means they cut through the clutter and stirred a positive reaction. And the glow of that positivity shines onto whatever product or service they are promoting. It places a halo over that brand, and means you will be more likely to spend money on what they are pitching than if none of those positive reactions occurred.

A core principle of forging an effective, enduring connection is the ability to leave people with an overwhelmingly positive emotion. Bob Kummer, Amway Diamond and World Wide DreamBuilders leader, has long emphasized this point at events like WWDB Dream Night conferences. He learned it from his own mentors, like Greg Duncan and Brad Duncan, who in turn attribute much of their teachings to other leaders over time.

The longstanding impact of engendering such an upbeat, affirming feeling spans circumstances and industry. Poet Maya Angelou is credited with the quote that captures this overarching truth:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In marketing and advertising, humor isn’t the only path to forging this warm-and-fuzzy connection. But it’s a powerful one, particularly when a relevant message is embedded within the humor.

Here is a potent one-two combination that will help punch up your next marketing campaign as it seeks to tap into this tried-and-true tactic:

Less is More

Employing an economy of words to communicate a distilled point or principle that you really, really wish to impart is infinitely more powerful than droning on endlessly, as if your audience had all the time in the world to hang on your every last glorious syllable.

In short, less is more—so never mimic the preceding paragraph unless you are striving to make a point by contrast. People simply don’t have the time, especially if they are traveling at 60 mph and have to keep their eyes consistently on the road.

One of the best ways to test whether you need to tighten your message is to say it aloud. How does it sound? Does it flow? Do you run out of breath? Is it memorable? Can you create a hook when setting it to music?

Think (Like An) Animal

Ponder for a moment: how many dogs, cats, lizards or other assorted wildlife have you seen in the past 24 hours? Not in “real life,” mind you, but in the really prevalent media space that regularly comes at us. How many of these critters were given human-like qualities, such as the ability to speak or to engage in some mischievous behavior?

Recently, the inspiration for this piece came as vehicles crawled along snowstorm-slowed traffic on eastbound Eisenhower Expressway near Oak Park. A billboard touting Chick-fil-A depicted two cows conspiring to steer people toward greater chicken consumption.

Of course, they didn’t have a command of the English language that, say, a human might have developed, so their phrase states, “EAT MOR CHIKIN.”

The ad suggests the cows got their hooves on a can or two of black paint and have been diligently crafting this message, paint drips and all, for quite some time now.

Simply hilarious, even if you are a vegetarian or have a beef with Chick-fil-A’s unapologetically Christian founders and the stances they take. Note, too, that the written portion of the message was all of three words, with two entertainingly misspelled.

In other (animal-like) words, “LES IS MOR.”

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