Thursday, February 3, 2011

Alert Consumers When You’re Kidding Around

Different things make different people laugh. Students of the psychological inventory named the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, in which each individual is characterized by a combination of four letters, say that if an INTJ type tells a joke to an ENTJ type, just that one letter difference in type could easily lead to the story falling flat.
     It follows that if a retailer starts kidding around with consumers they don’t know well, the consumers might not get the joke. This could have consequences which are not amusing at all for the retailer’s business. It’s a particular danger when the audience hasn’t been alerted that the retailer’s kidding around.
     It’s a lesson Allstate Corporation learned these past few days. Last week, the company issued a press release describing dramatic differences in auto accident numbers based on astrological signs. They said their analysis of 2010 claims data showed Virgos were involved in almost eight times as many accidents as were Scorpios.
     Maybe the press release was hitchhiking on all the recent publicity when astronomers from the Minnesota Planetarium Society announced that because of the moon's gravitational pull on Earth, the alignment of the stars had changed since astrological signs were last calibrated. Horrors! The signs were off by about one month, it seemed. In any case, Allstate was just kidding around.
     But according to a Insurance Network News report, many people mistakenly took the story to mean Allstate was angling to set insurance rates based on the applicant’s astrological sign. A few days later, Allstate issued a firm denial, a denial which carried not one iota of humor.
     The traditional advice is that financial institutions and funeral homes should abstain from humor in their ads. As with other such rules, there are times you’ll violate the advice because surprised consumers are more likely to listen to your message. Researchers at University of Cincinnati and St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania found that humor in retailing is most effective when it is novel and unexpected.
     A joke which isn't immediately understood can still be effective in making a sale. Research says the shopper's mental energies are taken with trying to figure out the humor, and this distracts the customer from thinking about reasons not to buy. So humor can be useful in moving the indecisive customer to the cashier.
     However, it works best if the customer is alert that you are making a joke.

Click below for more:
Joke Around to Facilitate the Sale
Use Humor in Unexpected Ways

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