Direct Mail Marketing With Humor?

Yes, humorous direct mail works. Many marketers shy away from it because they are worried about offending someone. There is no need to use dramatic political cartoons when trying to reach a broad audience. Analyze who is on your list and then you can plan out humor that would suit them. The reason that you should try using humor is it works. It is a great way to engage people and get them to share, when it is done correctly.

Yes, humorous direct mail works. Many marketers shy away from it because they are worried about offending someone. There is no need to use dramatic political cartoons when trying to reach a broad audience. Analyze who is on your list and then you can plan out humor that would suit them. The reason that you should try using humor is it works. It is a great way to engage people and get them to share, when it is done correctly.

5 Suggested Funnies:

  1. Create your own comic strip: Create your own fun comic strip with characters that represent fun things about your company or industry. You can highlight real problems people have in a funny way and resolve them. Get creative! This can be really fun for your team as well as the recipients.
  2. Cartoons: Add cartoons in humorous situations that people could get into in your industry. Make them really over the top to get the laughter. Make the message fun, maybe even a play ob words that ties into the cartoon theme.
  3. Images: Find a funny image that makes you and your team laugh. Create a way to integrate that funny image into a problem/solution you can fix. There are plenty of images that can invoke laughter without being offensive.
  4. Real life examples: In many cases, there are real life examples of funny things that have occurred either in the office or with customers that can be highlighted and incorporated into a funny example of what not to do. These are very popular as they are relatable, it could happen to them too.
  5. Jokes: Now, no dirty ones allowed! Clean fun jokes that show how your brand can relate to people on their level and be fun.

First, when you are creating your direct mail and want to include humor, make sure to test your ideas on several people from different backgrounds who are outside your organization. This will allow you to see first if people get it, second if they think it’s funny and third if anyone is upset by it. After your idea passes the people test your next step will be to find ways for people to share your fun. Try creating a landing page where people can go to share the funny with others on social media, text message or email. Keep in mind that the landing page needs to be created with responsive design so that if accessed by a mobile device or a desktop it will look correctly as well as be functional for all.

I really like to use humor in direct mail. People love to laugh and to share what they think it funny, just look at Facebook, people post funny things all of the time. The last thing you need to make sure your funny direct mail is a success is to have your call to action stand out. Don’t get so caught up in the humor that you ignore what is important. Test your call to action with the same people you showed your funny design to. You will learn a lot from them. Consider testing more than one CTA to see what offer pulls the best when paired with the humorous theme. Now it time to go out there and create some really funny direct mail. Do you have an example that you have created or seen? If so, I would love to hear about it!

Author: Summer Gould

A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 27 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. You can find her at Eye/Comm Inc’s website: eyecomm.org, email: summer.gould@eyecomm.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.

3 thoughts on “Direct Mail Marketing With Humor?”

  1. “Your job is to sell, not entertain,” wrote the late Jack Maxson, who put the Brookstone catalog on the map.

    Two serious problems with jokes, laffs, cartoons, giggles and guffaws in direct marketing: (1) Humor can sidetrack the prospect.(“Hey, this is funny. I’ll text it to my husband.”) Whereupon your sale is lost. (2) What may be funny to one person can be totally lost on the next. (3) In 80 years on this planet, if I had $100 for every person I have met with absolutely no sense of humor, I could retire in obscene comfort.

    In my experience, the only guy who has been continually successful using humor in direct marketing is Stu Heinecke.
    http://store.directmarketingiq.com/store/p/60-Drawing-Attention.aspx?utm_campaign=dmiqwcm

    An envelope or Johnson’s box on a letter created by Stu is a New Yorker Cartoon personalized with the prospect’s name in the caption. That’s an attention getter!

    In 2008 I wrote a column titled: “Do Clownish Ads Work?”
    http://targetmarketing.adweek.com/article/no-way-they-total-waste-money-108932/all/

    The subject was a series of one-liners for Legal Seafoods I saw on the sides of MTA trollies in Boston. A sampling:

    “This trolley gets around more than your sister.”

    “Hey Lady, I’ve seen smaller noses on a swordfish.”

    I was reminded by advice from David Ogilvy:

    “People don’t buy from bad-mannered salesmen, and research has shown that they don’t buy from bad-mannered advertisements. It’s easier to sell people with a friendly handshake than by hitting them over the head with a hammer. You should try to charm the consumer into buying your product. People don’t buy from clowns.”

    Finally, from the late Malcolm Decker: “There are two rules—and two rules only—in direct marketing. Rule #1: Test everything. Rule #2: See Rule #1.

    Denny Hatch
    dennyhatch@yahoo.com

  2. Denny, I agree with you that humor needs to be careful and you need to know your audience. Testing a segment to see how it does is a great way to start. Thank you for your experience!

  3. Why do people who hear the word ‘humor’ always assume it means “cartoonish (as in mockery or off-color), or jokes (same as previous), or laugh-inducing (see previous)? Humor can be light, positive, and gentle. This is important because so much of ‘marketing’ (selling) uses the in-your-face and pound-it-in-your-skull approach, and they say it at least three times in the message, be it :30 or :60 sec messages.

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