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Humor in Selling

 

Techniques Using humor > Humor in Selling

Throwing in the frog | Don't knock the mouse | May contain nuts | The relaxation effect | See also

 

Humor can be a useful tool in the sales person's toolbox, but it must be used with care.

Throwing in the frog

Humor can effectively be used in selling and other persuasion. When you make people smile, they relax and often forget their objections.

O'Quinn and Aronoff (1981) were selling art pieces at a nominal $6000 and tried adding the line '...and I'll throw in pet frog'. This led to smiles, relaxation and people being ready to pay significantly more than when the frog line was not used.

Don't knock the mouse

Walt Disney was paranoid about keeping the sanctity of his central product: Mickey Mouse. There was(/is?) a saying in the company along the lines of 'Don't knock the mouse', meaning, very seriously, never deride the product, even if it you are bored with it or it seems a bit trivial.

Making fun of the product, the service, the brand or company can easily damage perceptions by customers that is not helpful. In consequence, you need to be careful when using humor as it can backfire. Yet used well, as in the research above, it can have a very positive effect.

May contain nuts

Some companies build humor into their entire brand. SouthWest Airlines and Virgin are two classic examples. With humor 'built in', these companies can legitimately make fun of themselves, though they are yet deadly serious about delivering excellent customer experience.

The relaxation effect

When people are relaxed, they trust more and will hence share more personal information, accept 'facts' from others and generally be willing to buy. Humor is a way of relaxing people and can easily put them in a good mood.

See also

Sales, Using Humor

Gray, A., Parkinson, B. and Dunbar, R. (2015). Laughter’s Influence on the Intimacy of Self-Disclosure, Human Nature

 

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