How To Make Humor Work in Marketing

When you open your email in the morning, what headline are you more likely to click on when you are scanning the homepage: a dry news story or a headline that makes you laugh?

Using humor in your online marketing is a popular way to keep your audience engaged, and with these tips from a stand up comedian you can best use that humor to keep them coming back for more.

1. Get the hook

No, not that thing they used in the old days to pull bad comedians off the stage. Your hook is the setup from which all of your humor is going to spring. You need an angle to work and the ability to stick to that angle.

If you check out most successful stand-up comedians, you will notice that they have a hook that instantly latches into their audience.

It doesn’t matter whether it is how terrible a wife they have or their own weight problems, the best find a way to get mileage out of something that the audience has laughed at a hundred times.

2. Timing is everything

You can’t say enough about comedic timing, and bad timing can kill you. It doesn’t matter if you are posting a humorous blog too soon after a tragedy or you are trying to reference a news story that has left the news cycle, failure to keep your humorous content timely will cost you.

The best way to avoid this is to keep up to date on what is happening, in every sense of the word. Have one eye on what it trending at all times, and if you do reach back to something that’s through, make sure that it is at least old enough to be nostalgic.

3. Be observational

Some of the best comedians to ever be on state were observational comics. They made their living by simply observing and pointing out the absurd or idiosyncratic parts of everyday life. Keep your eye out for the odd and the funny in your own life and find a way to share it with others.

Maybe your cat has an odd way of meowing out the window on rainy days, or you notice how young kids can say the most inappropriate things at just the right time to be embarrassing. These are just two examples of the millions that you walk past everyday that can you can mine for your own comedy gold.

4. Read the room

Many a comic has fallen into this pit trap, and you don’t want to join them. Although you do not have a live audience to size up, you have statistics at your disposal through your analytics to get a good picture of who your audience is.

Before approving any funny content, ask yourself the question: “Who is this for?” If you can’t answer that question, it may be back to the drawing board. The more that you know about your target audience, the more you can tailor your content to what they find funny.

5. Make your punch-lines count

If your comedy set was a boxing match, your punch-lines would be your try for a knockout. Make sure that they actually pack a punch. Even a the simplest internet meme is usually an image set-up followed by a punch-line phrase.

You punch-line needs three things: relevance, emphasis, and impact.

The best way to explain it is that you want the phrase to make a connection with some previous information you have imparted, your personal emphasis in tone, and a having a sudden shift from seriousness to levity (or vice/versa).

6. Be visual

There are a lot of ways to get a laugh, but many of the best are able to get a laugh without a word. From those that are able to communicate comedy with their expressions to the much maligned prop comic, there is a power in the visual medium that cannot be denied.

Even if you are posting primarily serious written content you can realize great results from humorous videos and hilarious graphics. They break the flow.

Cracked.com has built its entire brand on these image/cut-lines in their articles, and they can get a laugh whether or not they have anything to do with the article (in fact, it is often funnier when they don’t).

7. Deal with the hecklers

Any stand up comedian will tell you that one of the toughest parts of the job is dealing with a heckler. Sometimes it seems like the internet is made of trolls.

Don’t feed them, but do take note of their feedback. Even if you don’t take it to heart, they are giving you free information on what irritates them.

If you can’t get laughs, sometimes you can delight the rest of the audience by the simple act of taking the heckler down.

WordPress Plugins for Your Internet Marketing Success

Plugins! Who doesn’t love them? They made WordPress the internet juggernaut it is today (and did the same for Photoshop as well, back in the ’90s).

Need something? Pay a visit to WordPress’ plugin repository — chances are someone had the same need before, and wrote a plugin doing just that. As Apple used to say about App Store, there’s a plugin for that.

But don’t get too excited and start adding each and every free plugin, as they may not be entirely compatible with your theme, WordPress version or hosting provider.

Moreover, every plugin slows down your site, even if just a little. Some others will literally bring it down on its knees (either because they are badly written or because your hosting can’t sustain such a load).

This is a short list of the “essential” WordPress plugins you can download for free at wordpress.org and that will really improve your marketing experience turning a bog standard default WordPress install into a lean and mean navy seal of content.

“SEO” Plugins

1) All in one SEO pack
2) SEO Ultimate

The above two plugins are among the best known and widespread SEO tools for WordPress. They are good, but in the recent years the trend has been clearly against over-optimizing sites and some experts would not really recommend to install either of them.

It’s your call: they do work but may also work too well for your own good.

Site Optimization

3) Google XML Sitemaps
Despite the name it’s not useful only with Google: Bing and all other search engine will make use of the sitemap. Provide well structured informations to search engines and they’ll reward you!

4) WordPress Robots Meta
Duplicate or thin content, such as tags and sometimes category pages should not be indexed to avoid penalties. This plugins allows just and if you decided to avoid the “SEO” plugins, it’s a good choice.

5) Related posts via taxonomies
Manually interlinking posts is a much better option, but this plugin saves time by creating a related post section according to the taxonomies (relationships) defined by tags and categories. Helps catching that extra pageview from a visitor, and saves a lot of time.

6) Seo Friendly Images
Again, adding alt and title tags should be done manually, and WordPress’ Media panel makes this very easy. Sometimes, however, an automated solution can work just as well. Try it, see if you like how it works. Again, it’s a huge timesaver.

Site Management

7) BackUpWordPress
This is an essential tool. When you realize you need a backup it’s often too late. No matter how secure your server is, it is still vulnerable to crashing.

This new plugin is easily the best backup solution, it even solves some issues with low cost providers that disable sqldumps (the command used to backup the database).

Set up is easy, you can customize it to back up only the database or the whole installation and choose the schedule.

Free version is fully functional and stores the backups on your own server. The premium version offers technical support and also allows to store backups on a Dropbox account or Amazon servers.

Never, ever, trust your hosting service backups -even if it’s the best in the world. This plugin is a must.

8) Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
Everyone should use this. Although it does optimize your database it’s main purpose is to remove unnecessary records, like multiple revisions to the same post, tags that serve no purpose and posts that have been discarded.

Every time you edit a post or page, even if you only change a comma or a period, WordPress creates a revision. If your site has a lot of posts daily this is a lifesaver.

But even on sites with a lower amount of posts it’s amazing how much unnecessary data is stored.

After just a couple of months blogging once a week and touching up older posts, hundreds of revisions are archived, slowing down your database. This plugin deletes them, and also optimizes the database for better performance.

You can schedule whether you want hourly, daily or weekly optimization. If you don’t like automated tools, just run it manually once every month, after having backed up the site.

9) Broken Link Checker
This is one of the coolest tools available. It monitors your site and notify’s you of any links or images that may be broken, missing or not visible.

I can’t stress enough how important is to avoid having dangling pages and broken links. Broken links are the bane of any website and can easily cause readers to hit the dreaded back button, never to return.

So this plug-in is a Godsend both from the user experience perspective and to ensure the best results on search engines (no search engine wants to drive traffic to a site that is full of broken links).

You can configure it to search by any criteria you choose and damaged links can be fixed without having to go and update the actual post. It also stops a broken link from being followed, which truly frustrates users.

10) Enhanced Custom Permalinks
Sometimes you’ll find the need for a custom permalink. It may be to fix an issue discovered with the above plugin, or just to create a short url in a format different from the one you set as default in WordPress. This little gem does that, and works extremely well.

11) Wp No Category Base -WPMU Compatible
This is a classic, and something that should really be a WordPress built-in feature. It kills the pesky /category/ portion of an url, shortening it and making it more readable.

Always keep clean, short urls: people are more likely to click on
www.monkeydomarketing.com/free-plugins/
than on
www.monkeydomarketing.com/category/free-plugins/

Neither of them are real urls, but the example should help demonstrating the point.

12) Limit Login Attempts
This little gem provides piece of mind, how valuable is that?

It’s wise to keep WordPress secure with the constant waves of brute force attacks. Today WordPress powers 20% of the whole world-wide-web, and is an easy target.

This plugin is no substitute for a proper, strong, password. But works well blocking the so-called “brute force” attacks where the hacker keeps sending dictionary words and common passwords.

Yes, it can be a hassle to get locked out of your account if you log-in unsuccessfully too many times, but its a necessary safety device. You can decide how many attempts are allowed, but obviously the fewer the better.

You may also have it pre-installed if you used a recent Softaculous installer bundled with cPanel.

13) Duplicate Post
A wonderful, little known, gem. Essential to quickly create a draft from an existing post and use that to build a new article with a specific structure. Huge timesaver.

Performance Plugins

14) W3 Total Cache
Both user experience and search engine rankings depend on page loading speed. This is the Big Fat Boss of cache plugins, you can’t go wrong with it.

It supports CDNs (content delivery networks), comments, dynamic content and more. It’s a bit resource intensive, however, and not as fast as the following.

15) WP Fastest Cache
Simpler and much faster than the previous one, suggested for sites hosted on entry level hostings.

What it does is to create a static HTML version of the pages you cache, and serve them directly from the server, without running PHP code or making database calls. Not very flexible, but fast as hell.

16) BJ Lazy Load
Another huge winner, this plugin allows deferred image loading. Images are requested only if the viewer scrolls down the page and can see them. Pages with many images load much faster, and saves also bandwidth.

User Interaction Plugins

17) Contact Form 7
Leading, versatile, contact form. You can’t go wrong with this, it’s the standard and very flexible.

18) Cookies for Comments
Very effective at preventing comment spam, often more effective than Askimet. Can kill almost all the automated spam comments, and for me is a must.

19) Click To Tweet
Easy and stylish way to incentivize tweets, you choose a short phrase and the visitor can tweet it with just one click.

Remember: no one will “click to tweet” something about how wonderful your product is, but they may well tweet a tip, insight or memorable quote that would save them the effort to think what to tweet next.

Provide good content and this plugin will work wonders. (Note that by default this plugin promotes its author indirectly – which is fair, but may not be acceptable for some brands.)