5 Rules to Draw Attention with Personalized Cartoons
For decades, we've been told by "experts" that "Humor doesn't work" in direct marketing. Boy, were they wrong.
When I talk about using humor in direct marketing, I'm talking specifically about cartoons with personalization. Editorial readership surveys have long shown cartoons are the best-read and remembered part of magazines and newspapers. That's good to know when designing a campaign, because you only get a precious split second of your prospects' time to influence whether they'll open your letter or email, or toss it.
Cartoons do a lot more than just getting people to open your campaign piece. Humor is about truth and truth creates agreement, but cartoons offer truth in such an immediate and disarming way that they are an ideal involvement, engagement and persuasion device for direct marketers.
If you don't know what you're doing, humor can be hazardous to your campaign. But by following a few rules, it's actually quite easy to put humor on the right track:
Rule 1: Focus on the Recipient's Identity, Not Yours
Whenever I speak to clients for the first time, they always want to change the cartoon to focus on their identities, brands or offers. Marketers have been trained to inject their talking points into everything they do, so it's an understandable mistake. However, if you make this mistake, it's likely to kill the response to your campaign (notice we wouldn't mention anyone but 'you' in the cartoon in the mediaplayer to the right?)
Rule 2: The Recipient Always Wins
The humor of the cartoon must pay a compliment to the recipient without fawning, and it must pay that compliment in a backhanded, almost accidental way. The cartoon must also be relevant to the recipients' lives.
One winning campaign for Outdoor Life featured a cartoon with two fishermen on a dock. One's holding an enormous bass in his arms. The other comments, "That looks like the one
Rule 3: It's Got to be Funny
If you're going to use a cartoon, you've got to cover the basics: Cartoons are popular because they're funny. If your cartoon isn't, you will disappoint your audience and taint your brand. Make sure the art matches the caption—I once saw a cartoon come through the mail with a spoken caption, but none of the characters in the drawing were shown speaking. Overall, it helps to use the work of an experienced cartoonist.