The ‘dangers’ of humour in business copy

The 'dangers' of using humour in business copy.

So humour in business copy is a no go, yeah?

I’ll be really sad if you’re someone who agrees with that statement. Please do stop reading if you are, you’ll only be disappointed.

I was dragged into a LinkedIn discussion over the weekend.

(I really need to get a life, one that’s filled with fun, boozy brunches and sexy men.)

I was minding my own business when I got tagged in a post (yeah, thanks Lee, no really, I now have something else to moan about).

Initially, I wasn’t all that bothered because it seemed to me like another polarising bit of content to generate engagement. 

But as I was yanked ever deeper into the mire of baseless opinion I started to realise the author believed what he had written.

Don’t use humour in your copy.

Man on LINKEDIN

Let that seep into your noggin for a moment.

A direct response copywriter (his words, not mine) working in marketing said not to use humour. Ever.

Read that again.

You might have to read it once more – I did because ironically I thought it was a joke.

Am I going mad?

(That’s a rhetorical question.)

Have the past, god knows how many years of advertising gone unnoticed to this guy?

Present-day brands like Oatly and my personal favourite, DeadHappy must have slipped under this bloke’s radar.

And his reasoning for such an absolute statement?

It might offend someone.

Well, what a great place to start any marketing strategy. Focus on the one person that might not like it. 

Ok.

I have no idea why he cares more about the people that will complain rather than the people that will enjoy the laughs.

(Hint: those enjoying the laughs are your market.)

If you’re worried about being offensive – don’t.

For some, just being you will upset them.

Taking offence can be made into a full-time job, people actually seem to enjoy it.

Another thing to remember is you won’t hit the mark with everyone in the demographic you’re marketing to. Embrace that knowledge and move on.

I’ll give this business writer his due, he was keen to learn.

I left my five pence worth on his post, a couple of days later I got a DM from him.

He explained it would be “more helpful” if I could send him book recommendations and resources to demonstrate how humour in copy works.

I began to wonder if this was grade A trolling on his part, if so, I was impressed.

But he was being serious (which in this context makes perfect sense). 

As this was yet another bloke, asking me for more unpaid labour, I had to resist telling him to fuck off, instead, I sent him a link to my blog.

(C’mon, what else was I going to do?)

You really couldn’t make this stuff up, if you did, no one would believe you.

Imagine if I pitched this as a storyline to Netflix – copywriter has never seen evidence of how humour works in copy.

They wouldn’t commission it, they’d say that’s way too much suspension of disbelief for any audience to accept.

(It’s also a terrible idea for a script, no one wants to watch that series.)

Even you’re struggling to imagine that a person, whose job is to be the voice of someone’s business, would say such twaddle. 

Stop. Trying. To. Please. Everyone.

It cannot be done.

And what happens when you attempt to be universal is you become bland, generic, boring, and the antithesis of all that’s great about good marketing.

Please do use humour in business copy.

I think we can safely say there’s enough unimaginative marketing guff out there without us adding to it.

Just like The Beach Boys sang, be true to your school, just like you would to your girl, guy.

By that I mean, do what feels right.

You know what works and what doesn’t and if you’re not sure, hire a professional marketing person.

Go balls deep into your ideal client.

And you can start by saying this: my ideal client likes humour. Maybe nail down what type of humour.

Here’s another ‘tip’: the ones that don’t like your funny content aren’t your ideal bloody client.

What if you’re a humourless individual?

Simple, don’t use humour. There’s a market for that too.

Amazingly audiences are different because people are different, there’s room for us all, funny that.

If you’re desperate to add some LOLs to your business content, click here to find out what I got for you.

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