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Five For Friday – Don’t Be So Serious

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The Building #19 near me (actually, I believe it’s Building #19 5/8) just reopened after it was forced to close following disastrous floods this area experienced about a year ago.  I was oddly excited about this, as I have probably been there twice a week since they opened their doors again.  For those unfamiliar, Building #19 is a discount store that sells pretty much everything under the sun for a drastic price reduction.  But I don’t go there just for the shopping sensibility, I go there because it’s a fun environment that clearly stems from a decree to not take themselves too seriously.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that we could all learn a few things from them.

1) Self-deprecating humor is one of the best ways to create relationships.  Executed correctly, it destroys any sense of “we’re better/bigger/different/more powerful than you” and humanizes a brand in a way we can all appreciate.  Walk into a Building #19 store and you immediately see a coffee cart with signage that taunts customers not to make fun of its poor quality because “some day you’ll be old and weak, too”.

2) Instead of hiding from the more challenging aspects of your business, embrace them through humor. Building #19 regularly touts a tagline of “Suffer a little, save a lot”, in reference to the process of digging through a ton of “stuff” just to get to the hidden gems.

3) Use characters to tell your story.  Jerry, the founder of Building #19, is depicted all over the place through less-than-flattering caricatures.  He’s become the defacto mascot of the place and, through him, the company is able to continue its fun marketing with a face to go with the culture.

4) This goes for all forms of marketing, but it’s especially effective when humor is involved – be flexible and adaptable.  Building #19 typically relates its messages to current trends in news and pop culture and always has new content for holidays and significant shipping dates (see here).

5) Make every consumer touch point a little more fun.  The good news is that this is quite easy for historically mundane messaging pods such as the contact page (Building #19’s version) of your website. It’s in these areas that you can truly make an impression (for laughs, check out these unconventional webpage error messages).

Enjoy the weekend!!



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Growth obsessed startup co-founder (MusicBox) and strategist-for-hire.

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