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Why I Make Fun of Myself.

Why I Make Fun of Myself.

December 15, 2016

Conventional wisdom says that your marketing highlights only the success of your company.

You tell prospects why you’re the right choice: your product is the best; you’ve been around for ages; you’re tried and true; your people are so trained; your facility is so modern; your processes are so up-to-date; and your prices are so reasonable.

Basically, you’re the industry leader, the most economic solution and the Holy Grail all rolled into one. But what if your prospects yawn and, frankly, don’t believe you?

It’s time to turn to counter-intuitive wisdom to get the job done. Make fun of yourself, show your warts, declare your weaknesses, and explain why you’re still the best one for the job.  

Why does conventional marketing often fail?

Like cockroaches become immune to pesticides, we’ve become immune to most marketing. It bounces off of us because it’s boring and unexceptional. (Apologies for the nasty analogy.) Self deprecation can get by our advertising guard-posts, break through our marketing filters.

Turning your company’s weaknesses into marketing gold takes talent, but it’s very learn-able. And it’s not just for the big guys. Smaller companies, even mom and pops, can use self-deprecation with aplomb

How to find the counter-intuitive, self-deprecating message for your business?

Answer these five questions:

1. What are your biggest weaknesses? Are you more expensive than others in your field? How can you see an upside to any of these weaknesses? Remember L’Oreal’s motto for their hair coloring cream, “We’re more expensive, but you’re worth it.” Fewer products in your product line? Many good restaurants have fewer options on the menu, but prepare those options exceptionally well.

2. Do people intrinsically hate using your services? Don’t ignore it - spotlight it! For example, who likes going to the dentist? Years ago when toy stuffed dinosaurs were hot, I created a campaign for a dentist who was a very funny guy. We invented a character called the “Relaxadactyl” dinosaur which demonstrated how relaxed Dr. Bob’s patients were with his dental care. This little character alone increased his customer base by 25% in just 90 days! Understand your prospect’s concerns and respond to them.

3. Do you, as the owner, have an obvious drawback that you need to address with potential clients? Is there an elephant in the room? We have a client, Executive Credit Management and the owner, Don Meltz, is blind. The marketing message for his company developed into, “Don can see things that other collections agencies can’t.” It highlighted how his blindness fed into other personal skills and business strengths which could outperform the competition. Don said, “Brand Launcher helped blind man increase sales by 30% by using his blindness.”

4. Are you competing against a company that’s bigger and better? It’s ok if you are, because you can find a reason to accentuate why your company can still outperform. Remember the car rental company Avis? “We’re number 2, so we try harder!”

Is your product not right for everyone? Does it have a limited application? When I owned Lumpy Mail, the most popular link on the website was “Our Weaknesses”. On this page, we’d tell you when Lumpy Mail would not work. For example, if you were going after a really big mail campaign, it’s too expensive. And it’s more hassle than conventional mailings so your staff won’t like to deal with it. BUT Lumpy Mail is really the best when your audience is qualified and targeted. Mailers like a mini trash can or a zippered coconut get an astronomically bigger response rate than anything else you could send.

Self Deprecating Humor - where the marketing fun really gets going.

Marketing is your chance to express the personality of your business, or your brand. Customers want to resonate with your company, not only your product.

Self-deprecating marketing is especially powerful with social media, because it can articulate your company’s character. If you have a funny marketing tactic, it will attract social media activity. Open your brand up to ongoing feedback and participation. Get talked about for your humor and playfulness.

Here are 4 of my favorite examples of self deprecating humor in marketing.

From Super Bowl commercials to gimmicks for local restaurants, everyone can chuckle over a shortcoming. 

[CLICK HERE to watch my 4 favorite Self-Deprecating Marketing examples]

1.  Wednesday is the slowest day of the week for Gary’s Uptown Restaurant, in Lodi, California. Owner Gary Arnold decided to pep things up by offering a Bald Man’s Discount: 25% off if you’re 25% bald, 50% off if you’re 50% bald, up to 100% off if you’re 100% bald. Gary can relate: he’d never pay for a Wednesday meal either. How does Gary afford it? He knows that most bald guys never eat alone!

2.  Dissolve licenses stock video clips for use in commercials, television shows, documentaries, and feature films, and licenses stock photography for use in design and creative work. They say that their aim is to empower today’s video storytellers with footage from the world’s most exciting and relevant shooters. But their marketing campaign “This is a Generic Brand Video” laughs at how their users take the easy way out.

3.  Radioshack knows it’s an old brand in a constantly evolving industry. And the 80’s was their heyday. Being the primeval company in the computer electronics field is not advantageous. Radioshack took on the perception of being outdated in their 2014 Super Bowl commercial.

4.  How does a marketing team take really bad, unexpected marketing attention and turn it around with self- deprecating humor? Check this out. Jon Stewart had never eaten at Arby’s, but that didn’t stop him from consistently ridiculing the restaurant on his Daily Show. 

In fact, Arby’s became the inside joke of the show. But Arby’s saw the upside. Playing along with Jon’s foolery, Arby’s took the parting shot. On Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show appearance, Arby’s put out a farewell commercial. “When you have confidence in what you’re doing, and take pride, you can roll with it. Our customers have the social media forums to talk about whatever they want, that’s why Arby’s felt a need to play along.” said the CMO. Ultimately, Arby’s put on a good face, and won the contest of wits.

Self-deprecating marketing comes with a big, red WARNING.

Self Deprecating marketing will only work if you and your company are genuinely skilled and proficient. When a competent person shows self-deprecating humor, people think he’s being modest or funny. This is likable. When an incompetent person talks with self deprecation, people think he’s inept and unequipped.

[CLICK HERE to watch my 4 favorite Self-Deprecating humor videos]

The main marketing roads are often crowded. Travel on side roads to get your message through. Show your uniqueness, your weakness, your likeability. Be genuine. Authentic. Your customers will reward you.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,