Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Humor Your Customers

It was June 1941. Mr. John Joseph McNamara handed the final draft of his doctoral dissertation in Psychology to Prof. Joseph Tiffin at Purdue University. That dissertation, which caused a major redirection in consumer psychology research, had to do with something now called the Purdue Eye Camera.
     Up to that point, most advertising researchers would evaluate the power of an ad to grab attention by asking consumers to say how effective the ad was. Mr. McNamara suspected that this sort of self-report was flawed. So rather than ask the study subjects, he photographed their eye movements when looking at magazine pages containing ads of various sorts and in various surroundings. In my opinion, not the perfect measurement tool for the task, but an excellent addition to the consumer researcher’s tool kit.
     After receiving his degree, Dr. McNamara collaborated with Prof. Tiffin to use their Purdue Eye Camera to answer a quite specific question: “Does a funny cartoon on a magazine page draw attention to an otherwise interesting adjacent ad, draw attention away from it, or have no real effect?”
     They found that people spend significantly less time looking at an ad when there’s a funny cartoon next to it. If a prospective customer would have spent fifteen seconds mentally processing the ad’s message when there was no cartoon, they’d spend a total of about only ten seconds when the humor was competing for attention. And with an ad, each second of processing makes it more effective.
     How about humor in the ad itself? Subsequent research found that humor does help sell.
  • It draws attention and generates word-of-mouth about the ad.
  • Humor heads off mental counterarguments. The shopper is too busy chuckling to challenge the sales pitch of the ad.
  • When happy, customers are more likely to make a decision to buy.
     The same sort of thing happens in face-to-face selling. Gently and briefly kid around with the customer.
     You can give yourself lots of reasons not to make jokes with customers: The shopper on a tight schedule doesn’t want to take the time to hear you tell your favorite dozen funny stories. Everybody wants their dignity respected, so if the humor takes the form of teasing a customer, you’ll lose that sale and probably any opportunity to make a future sale.
     To avoid offending, build on what you discover the customer considers to be funny.

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

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