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What’s the value of ‘funny’ to retailers?

Ever been at a party where there’s a person who stands out from the others because they’re funny? They hold court to spectators waiting with bated breath for the next entertaining story.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could apply that to our businesses and make them stand out from the crowd because of their personality?

Debra Templar, of the Templar Group, is a keynote speaker and retail consultant. She believes that retailers have forgotten how to have fun.

“Laughter is the cheapest medicine and the cheapest holiday. It chases away the blues, relaxes strangers, and wins friends. So why aren’t we employing it more in retail?” she asks.

I recently bought a new car through carsales.com.au and spent a few months trawling for and stalking what I was after. It was during this process late one night that I came across a competition the site was running in conjunction with Ford. Reading the video blogging competition guidelines that stressed the need for highly entertaining videos got me thinking, and not for the first time, about the value of ‘funny’, how it contributes to breaking down the barriers and relaxing a buyer. And if that laugh comes from someone in the general public who takes control of a video camera, then authenticity is thrown into the cauldron as well.

Jeremy Bass writes in his blog about Ford, ‘How hands-on beats hype hands-down’.

“The value in competitions like the Ultimate Test Drive lies in the way they lay to rest consumer cynicism from bombardment with advertising and promotional material.”

Bass quotes Ford’s Marketing boss, David Katic, as saying ”people’s bullsh%^ detectors are well-honed these days. So what better way is there to sweep aside all the problems associated with that than to simply hand your product over to prospective buyers and tell them ‘there you are, go for it?”

That was enough for me to enter Ford’s competition and be your ‘fly on the wall’ reporter. The rest, as they say, is history, as for me and eleven other finalists are now embroiled in a national battle of the wits with a very lucrative prize; a new Ford Focus, drive away value roughly $40,000. Ford encourages voters to vote for or ‘like’ their favorite funny blogger daily based on content, by offering random prizes including $750 worth of fuel vouchers weekly. The winner is the blogger at the end with the most votes.
I’ve always held the opinion that the world can never have too much laughter, and that deep down we all crave it. As I lend my subversive online character De De Zign to Ford over the next four weeks I’ll be looking to test that theory. Care to join me? I might make you laugh.

Janet E. Leach is an entrepreneur and owner/director of Artery Store.

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