Showdown: Comedy vs. Credibility! Can You Build Consumer Trust Using Humor?

build consumer trust humor

Fighting from out of the red corner, spouting statistics, wielding a calculator, with millions of citations and countless debate wins, we have credibility! And in the grey corner, wearing an over-sized tie and a mischievous look, armed with nothing but wit and charm, we have the mustachioed comedy! Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a close fight. Who will take home the title of The Best Marketing Strategy?

In all seriousness. No. In all laughter, if there’s one thing everyone loves – no matter their age or affiliations (unless they belong to the Official Order of Sourpusses) – it’s humor. Although, some situations call for sobering statistics and hard facts, we still giggle at funny situations and awkward silences. We chuckle when we feel happy, and sometimes we even snicker when times are sad. When we know things, we feel smart. But when we laugh, we feel good and, most importantly, we feel connected.

How Comedy Makes Credibility

When class clowns eventually grow up and become entrepreneurs, instead of, well, clowns, they avoid using comedy in their marketing content because they are afraid no one will take them seriously if they do. Although funny and laughable are very different things, most business owners, unfortunately and incorrectly, see comedy and credibility as mutually exclusive. But these two traits do not fight on opposite sides of the ring.

According to science (and that’s no joke), laughter releases endorphins in the brain that trigger social bonding and help people form feelings of trust. Primarily a social signal, laughter has the power to attune the giggler’s mind with that of the joker’s. From a physiological perspective, the physical act of laughing (lifting the chin and exposing the neck) makes people vulnerable to each other. When two people (or a person and a brand persona) find the same joke funny, they laugh together, become vulnerable together and immediately find common ground. When people survive being vulnerable, they develop trust.

Marketing campaigns that make consumers laugh not only facilitate bonding between their viewers, but also create opportunities with every advertisement or bit of content for consumers to bond with the company’s brand or persona. Every comical marketing message you deliver to your target market is an opportunity for you to be vulnerable, trust-able and likable. Every time your message makes someone laugh, it unleashes bond-forming endorphins in that person’s brain, which compel that consumer to trust your brand even more, boosting your credibility with comedy.

Charm Customers with a Comedy Come-On 

If you still can’t believe that comedy and credibility fight on the same side, take a page out of Geico’s playbook. The New York Times reported, that before the company’s slender, green gecko hit the scene in 1999, the company held only two percent of the insurance market. Since deciding to let comedy lead their marketing strategy with a delightfully strange mix of animals, cavemen and rhetorical questions, Geico has grown from its two percent market share to number two in the industry. Comedy grabbed the market’s attention, put Geico at the front of the consumer’s mind, found levity in a traditionally gloomy (Fires, floods and crashes – oh my!) advertising space and gained the all-important trust of consumers in their market group by making them feel well-acquainted with the company through the shared bond of laughter.

When you use humor in your marketing content, you, too, can get much closer to your customers. Imagine if, like Geico, you had both comedy and credibility on your side – not duking it out in opposite corners of the boxing ring. Imagine if you could laugh with your customers about reptiles and swine and move to the top of your industry. Imagine what it would be like if your entire target market felt like they were your closest group of friends. Imagine what comedy in content could do for you.

Jennifer G is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Montana. She enjoys researching and writing creative content to engage readers and developing professional voices for clients across all industries. She specializes in medical, health, veterinary, and financial writing. Having worked nearly thirteen years in finance, Jennifer applies her experience in the banking industry (marketing, social media management, consumer and commercial lending, customer service, accounts, and bookkeeping) to her writing work within the industry. 


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