How to Use (and Not Use) Humor in Marketing for the Construction Industry

Posted on July 19, 2018 by Andrew M

Humor marketing construction industry

There have been great marketing and advertising campaigns fueled by humor and comedy. Some have been wildly successful, such as what you see from car and home insurance providers with their various commercial character series. Other campaigns have seemed a bit weird (or downright creepy) because the humor didn’t work either conceptually or as a practical application. How can you use humor effectively for marketing a business in the construction industry? Let’s “build” a case!

Who You’re Marketing For and Who You’re Marketing To

Humor and comedy are potentially great marketing tools, but you have to understand you have two audiences to work with. The people you’re marketing to are the potential clients who may hire the services of the contractor you’re marketing for. Some jokes are decades old, and funny to laymen when discussing a construction project and also remain funny among colleagues who conduct the job together, but can potentially be demeaning when one group tries to make fun of another even with the best intentions.

A great example is the “plumber’s crack” joke about seeing where the sun don’t shine or ain’t supposed to. No plumber wants that joke as part of their marketing campaign. As a matter of fact, they want to market against such a stereotype and portray themselves as maintaining the client’s level of sanitation and decency while providing a valuable service. White collar workers may make such jokes among themselves, and other construction trade employees make similar jokes, but it becomes potentially demeaning when one group declares such childish humor about the other.

Understanding Funny versus Offensive

The point of the previous example is to show how some humor is funny, some is offensive, and sometimes a simple joke can be either funny or offensive depending on the context in which it is presented. There is a great marketing campaign for an insurance company who covers home damage expenses, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Try not to hum or sing their theme song upon hearing that phrase! The Farmer’s Insurance commercials work because they make light of urban myths which are horribly bizarre situations that could potentially happen to anyone. The conclusion to their jokes is how well they managed what could otherwise have been a horrible situation.

Finding the Right Balance

The balance of comedy and a serious portrayal of services provided has been well addressed by home and auto insurance providers. People who run a construction business can take note as to how they found a way to show how well they take care of the job at hand, yet can be amicable and fun to work with on a regular basis.

As a second example outside of the construction industry, everybody in America who owns a TV sees a local commercial for “Crazy (insert name) Used Cars!” and recognizes how the dealer has great deals regardless of how annoying of a person they might be. That works because you only have to spend a few hours one afternoon with that person, and buying a new car is exciting. It’s a different story when you need to work with a contractor in your home for the next month as they conduct repairs, remodeling, or renovations. Imagine that “Crazy Contractor!”

Tradesman Humor and Layman Jokes

When a contractor is working in a home, or building a new house, or working on a larger level by building an industrial building for a business investment, the fact of the matter is you have to work with them for an extended period. Some comedy is funny among colleagues who appreciate the hard work and effort they each put into the job, because they do take pride in their work and make a conscious effort to present themselves in terms of professionalism and a person of authority. Other humor can sustain a giggle as a layman’s perception of how the trades work. Such jokes have to remain isolated, as it is never funny for someone in authority to make fun of a person for whom a job depends on the first person’s approval.

Ultimately, a marketing campaign has to take the direction toward which it finds a natural flow. The idea of, “Whatever you do, it will offend somebody,” is absolutely bogus. There are plenty of great ways to introduce humor in the construction trade services or any other industry which will draw customers toward your business rather than pushing them away from you. The best way to make a sale and the best way to conduct a marketing campaign are the same. Remain polite and cordial, approach the job with a smile, and follow through by making your client happy about how they chose to to conduct the services they needed.

Andrew M‘s most recent work history involves giving consultations and writing. Business propositions, sales pitches, marketing material and informational articles are some types of writing he conducts for his clients. Most of these are oriented toward the construction trade, architectural field, real estate market, or small business operations that Drew has extensive experience with.


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