It’s tempting to play it safe when it comes to small business marketing. After all, you could risk upsetting potential customers if you try something a little silly or different. But then, every ad starts to look similar to the last, and people will continue to ignore them. That’s why Spencer Sheinin, CEO of Shift Financial Insights, uses a different approach. His accounting firm sees fantastic results from using unconventional humor in their marketing strategy.
Coming in with a different perspective
Sheinin wasn’t an accountant in the beginning. First, he was a serial entrepreneur. Over the years, he ran a contract manufacturer of skin cream products, a construction business and a cold storage business. During this time, he realized accountants and business owners look at the same information, just from very different perspectives.
“Accountants and entrepreneurs are basically speaking two different languages. That’s one of the reasons the typical entrepreneur hates dealing with their books.” It’s no wonder 23% of small business owners feel anxious about their accounting, according to Intuit.
Sheinin launched his firm to help entrepreneurs with their bookkeeping and accounting. But he also wanted to present financial insights in understandable and digestible ways.
Using humor to stand out
Sheinin’s entrepreneurial experience adds extra insight into his target customer persona. He felt that his target audience would appreciate a different style of marketing. Rather than sending out traditionally dry accounting brochures, he weaves in his sense of humor and sarcasm, whenever he can.
In a recent campaign, they sent marketing agency owners a Shift-branded metal straw along with their business card saying, “Some things have to suck. Accounting isn’t one of them.” Sheinin found that a humorous approach works for several reasons.
“The straw-shaped package created a mysterious surprise arriving in the mail. Who could resist opening? Second, it’s designed to make prospects laugh and there’s an immediate connection.”
Creating fun and unique campaigns
Sheinin explains a few of his other ideas that show off his humor. To create buzz for his upcoming book, Entreprenumbers, Sheinin sent copies to influencers along with a pair of socks saying, “For when your socks get blown off.” He’s also sent out yoga mats to prospects with the catchphrase, “We’ll bend over backwards for you.”
In the end, Shift Financial Insights gets more attention when they go against the grain. “Every business sends out Christmas cards and they all get ignored. We don’t and instead send a Valentine card telling our clients how much we love working with them.” Rather than reaching out during traditional holidays, your business may get more attention embracing non-holidays like Festivus, or the Summer Solstice.
Seeing results versus traditional marketing
Sheinin told us that the results from his humorous campaigns have been overwhelmingly positive. “We’ve sent out about 100 straws so far. The conversion rate is around 3-5%, with more still coming in. Even agencies that didn’t need our services called back to say how much they enjoyed the laugh.”
We asked if there were any complaints or negative results, and he said not at all. “Worst case is we just never heard back from a prospect. I’m sure a few packages ended up in the garbage, but no one ever got angry.”
In the past, Sheinin tried traditional marketing, but the results weren’t impressive. “We tried sending out a typical cold message to business owners through LinkedIn asking whether they wanted to talk. We ended up with zero results.”
Shift Financial Insights prefers humor and it seems as though so does their target market. “Assuming that the quality of the work is the same, people would rather deal with a company they can have a laugh with.”
Advice for your own marketing
When it comes to humorous marketing, Sheinin says it’s all about practice. “Every week I try to come up with 10 marketing ideas. I once read if you can’t come up with one good idea, come up with 10 bad ones. You’re searching for the one piece of gold amongst the rubble.” Keep experimenting with humorous ideas and you’ll eventually find one that works.
He also reminds readers that you’re just trying to make the experience more enjoyable for people on the other end. “It’s easy to get too stiff, traditional and wooden, especially with B2B outreach. Don’t forget your ads are being read by people who work at the business.”
Above all, he says don’t be scared to get creative. “If you can approach marketing from a surprise and delight perspective, especially for something that is kind of boring, you can really stand out.” By adding some humor to your marketing, you can improve your results while having some fun at the same time.