By D’Arcy Rahming
Humour is used in marketing all the time. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they bomb. However, as the Super Bowl commercials show, sometimes you have to entertain people before you educate them about your products. Of course, there are some businesses that must be treated in a sombre manner. For example, I don’t know how an ad for a funeral home can be entertaining.
However, look at the insurance people. I mean, insurance is pretty serious business. It means that you have lost something or something serious has happened. Yet we see the Gekko lizard or the Aflac Duck, or even the State Farm Raccoon wreaking havoc in a house. None of these things they are selling are the slightest bit entertaining when they are happening to you.
So loosen up a bit with your marketing. I have seen some really, really stiff local efforts. Almost scarily so. Just take a glance through the advertisements in this newspaper and you will see what I mean. Most advertising does not draw you in because it is based purely on delivering information. A Back to School sale, for example, is to inform you of a great deal regarding items that you need now. The problem is that this type of ad gets lost in the clutter because it seems as if everyone is having a Back to School sale. Even people who are not selling school items have jumped on the bandwagon by adding Back to School packages that can be won by parents. The catch, of course, is that they have to buy their products.
While adapting to the season is creative and should be applauded, I think they can take it a step further. You should make the customer curious by making the ads more entertaining where appropriate. Let me give you a concrete example. If I were selling Back to School supplies I might create some kind of outrageous character that invites people to come in and, with a purchase over a certain amount, win extra discounts or supplies by spinning a wheel of fortune.
People like to win stuff, and this is one way you can stand out from the crowd. So the more entertaining the ad, the more likely people are to consume and act upon it. I’ve used the example of newspaper ads, but the same is true for television, Facebook and other media. The entertainment is what catches the attention of the customer. Of course, it must be backed by a great product and solid service.
• NB: D’Arcy Rahming holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A lecturer at the College of the Bahamas, Mr Rahming has clients in general insurance, the retail, health and medical fields, sports federations and financial services. He is also treasurer of the Bahamas Olympic Committee. To receive his marketing newsletter FREE go to http://darcyrahming.com.