Boring Just Doesn’t Sell

Is your business boring? It doesn’t have to be!

“Sometimes we get accused of trying to entertain people into buying. But nobody can be bored into buying anything.” - Charles Kushell IV

Mr. Kushell was the executive VP of Cliff Freeman & Partners, the advertising agency that created “Where’s the beef?” for Wendy’s and “Pizza! Pizza!” for Little Caesars. Even today, years after those ads first aired we still remember them. This is because they grabbed our attention, and a world with thousands of images that bombard us on a daily basis, any tool that can grab one’s attention, even for a split second, is a worthwhile tool.

Getting a potential customer’s attention is 90 percent of the battle. Especially in today’s ever changing economy where the customer has more choices than ever! How does humor in advertising help sales?

Humans associate laughing with being among people they know and like. We get a comfortable feeling about a product because our subconscious can’t differentiate between laughter when we are being sold and laughter with our closest friends. Our brain processes only the laughter; the purpose of the laughter comes much later in the thought process. The reasons for what makes different people laugh are as diverse as our tastes in food. The mind does not differentiate between the origins of laughter.

In non-technical terms, a laugh is a laugh. It is the same with natural or synthetic motor oil. Your car engine doesn’t know one from another. Both make the car run. Your mind doesn’t know a commercially induced laugh from a natural occurring laugh. The benefits of laughter remain the same, and your body and mind like it a lot.

What we realize is that if you associate your product or service with laughter or fun, you create a lasting laughter association with your product. The warm fuzzy feelings and properties of the laugh become intertwined with the image of your product. Humor becomes the celebrity endorsement, with the celebrity being laughter. Just as Charles Koshell IV associated Wendy’s and Little Caesars with fun that you remember years later in their ad campaigns, you can do this with your company or product by simply associating it with humor.

The way a company acts, who they do business with, the causes they support, even the fonts of their advertisements and the tone of their copy writing creates a base of customers or followers—or pushes potential customers away. Competition is so tough right now that slight differences affect the marketplace.

The way a company acts is now a determining factor in whether or not to do business with them. That is why humor in advertising and positioning is so powerful. But the company must also back up that created image with the same positive feelings throughout the company in the way they handle their customers, business, products, and more. Adopting a fun advertising slogan is just the beginning. It must be reinforced with fun and humorous techniques on the front lines to be true to your advertising.

Ask yourself the Number 1 question in everything you do:

“How can we humorize this step or process?” Not all ideas will work and not all steps will be easy. Some will take time to humorize. But just by asking the question you will become a hero within your organization because your employees will believe you care. And with humor, you really will!


Rick Segel is a retail expert and the author of thirteen books, including two editions of the best selling Retail Business Kit for Dummies which has sold over 100,000 copies and is translated into 7 languages. Rick's number-one selling book (in its seventh printing) is Laugh & Get Rich, co-authored with Darren LeCroix, a past International Toastmaster's Speaker of the Year award winner. Rick is a Certified Speaking Professional, has spoken in 49 states, on five continents, with over 2,1...

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