How does one bridge the gap between stale copy and engaging prose? Web content offers a unique challenge to freelancers. The trick is to find a way to present factual information without putting the reader to sleep. Comedian Ron Dentinger said, “Humor has a way of bringing people together.” Why shouldn’t you use it to bring fresh air to musty expert writing?
It is a Time Honored Technique
It is not exactly a new theory. Advertising agencies have often turned to humor to get the attention of consumers. As far back as 1958, Alka-Seltzer was using the distinctive slapstick style of Buster Keaton to say, “Relief is just a swallow away.”
Fast food restaurant Wendy’s put themselves on the map by creating one of the most comedic buzz phrases of all time.
“Where’s the beef?”
That line did more than just send people to the drive-through window. Walter Mondale used it as a battle cry during his presidential campaign. The slogan is still undoubtedly the punch line to more than one dirty joke even decades later. It has its own Wikipedia page for God’s sake. It’s just that good.
Why Add Humor to Copywriting
Content can be effective whether it has wit or not as long as you are satisfied with just good enough. If you really want to win the war of the Interwebs, however, you need to spice it up and funny makes that happen. Nothing boring ever went viral. Humor in web content gives it the potential to penetrate even the most stubborn of markets.
Tips for Using Humor as a Tool
- It goes without saying not all comedy is appropriate in the business world. An effective writer knows how to think like an entertainer to bring a point home.
- Stay away from generalizing the humor. It should have a purpose in the article, and be relative to the industry. Doctors get golf jokes, metalworkers might not.
- A few people are born without a sense of humor – true fact. Too much funny might inspire those genetically challenged individuals to search elsewhere, and that rather defeats the purpose. Overdoing the humor might mask the point of the article.
- Try not to make fun of products. That will almost always backfire.
- Some of those people born without a sense of humor will be your clients. Make sure the client wants funny before you write funny.
- Know your audience. The livestock industry will probably not laugh at Mad Cow disease jokes.
- Don’t confuse ironic with clever. They are not the same thing – oh, and inside jokes – not so funny.
Above all else, writers, remember that wit is seasoning only. Expert writing is ultimately about the content, but adding a touch a humor can be the difference between fidget and heart-warming.
Darla F is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.