The Power of Humour in Marketing Conference a great success.

How can humour help sell products? A large number of delegates attended IT Sligo’s annual marketing conference recently to find out why. A panel of well-known speakers shared their expertise and advice including Mattress Mick and Sligo’s own celebrity salesman, Eamonn Cunningham from EJ’s mensware.  Colin McLean (Registrar IT Sligo) opened the conference, with his personal insight into humour and branding.

Eamonn Cunningham is twenty-five years in business and shared the story of EJs to date. Eamonn noted that he “needed to devise some clever marketing ideas” and before social media days he “always used humour”. Eamonn gave many examples of social media ads from ‘EJ Wallace’, that got national coverage, to ‘Kung Fu EJ’, to ‘EJ Grand National’ that got over 1.1 million views and a reach of 1.7 million.

Ecommerce Manager of EJ’s, Gary Dolan said “we really engage with our customers, we really engage with our brand”. Gary added “We have a huge focus on customer service and customer satisfaction”, this drives the EJ personality forward. Gary also shared the benefits of humour to EJS; “shows our personality, makes our brand more relatable, earns trust, more personal more social, drives traffic and sales”.

Eamonn provided some useful tips for example; “don’t use copycat tactics, be inspired, use your imagination, don’t repeat, always try to be original, Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, learn from them”.

Michael Flynn known famously as Mattress Mick, told his story. Mick wanted to be a “character”, and spoke about personalising the salesman and said he has to continue to promote business in quirky ways and has said social media has been a great addition to his marketing and sales.  Mick’s dream is to open stores around Ireland and has “great plans for other videos”.

Paul Dunkin, Chief Marketing Officer-Maximum Media, who own Joe.ie and Her.ie websites, advised that businesses should think about the strategy behind a brand, before we even think about humour. Paul spoke extensively about what makes a great brand: clear purpose, consistent at core, well defined and distinguishable character, overcommit to a couple of things and be innovative. When using humour, make sure it delivers on your brand purpose. Paul noted “humour can be an impactful way to get your message across”. While speaking about his company’s use of podcasts. Paul said “don’t be afraid to do funny ads, the most important thing is consistency”.

Tom Mughal, Social Media Manager Lidl Ireland, advised: “all channels have a different purpose and different following”. He stated “honest, sets us apart from competitors in customer service, is relevant, is personal, is Irish, has a strategy, is on brand”, and “is authentic”. He gave the audience a key takeaway “social media is about positive associations with your brand”.

Local academic and author Dr Susanne Colleary said “humour is local it’s very culturally specific…it’s an insider knowledge”. Suzanne added “humour can laugh at or with people…it can bring people together or divide…it can express community…tends to be a shared thing”. She finished with “if you are going to use humour, approach with caution”.

The final speaker was John Rainford (Business coach and educator, Strawberry Fields). John said “humour allows you to deliver a serious message” and spoke about the need to “think in a creative way”. He also is of the view that “if you’re in marketing or business, if you are not memorable, what’s’ the point?” For businesses he added “don’t assume you know the marketplace, it changes”.

The conference MC was Pamela Finn (PR Agency PR Pam) who invited Áine Doherty, (member of Programme Team M Sc. in Marketing) to close the conference. Áine summed up key conference messages; humour needs to be linked to brand purpose, know your audience and maintain consistency, the importance of leadership in marketing, don’t be afraid of humour learn from mistakes, humour is culturally specific and the importance of brand trust.

For more information about the M Sc. in Marketing or marketing degree programmes please contact John Kelleher, Head of Department Marketing, Tourism and Sport, kelleher@john@nullitsligo.ie 

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