April Fools, Why Joke with your Customers?

April 1, 2009

april-fools-8Today is the first day of April, April Fools Day as it is traditionally called.  And more and more, most likely taking a page out of Google‘s book, companies are playing April Fool’s Jokes on their customers.  But why?  What is the point of playing a joke on people who trust you to deliver, or serve, or help them?  Why risk upsetting people?

Because a good story is fun, and something fun and different can spread.  Ideas that spread lead directly to success and, if you are a fan of Seth Godin, you know that is his rallying cry.  True word of mouth marketing exists when customers are so intrigued by your story or your beliefs that they tell their friends, they blog about it, they Tweet about it, etc.  When a lot of people do this in a short period of time, the impact is instant.

In many industries, a shift has occurred from the traditional relationships between business and customer to a new “friendly” relationship. Whereas before it was very important for companies to appear extremely conservative, respectable, and professional at all times, nowadays more companies are appealing to customers on a more personal and familiar level.  Having fun with customers is something that has developed from this “we’re a friend” methodology.

What better way to have fun with your customers than on a day when playing pranks is built right into the calendar.  I think its a very innovative way to create a buzz, and relate to your customers on a more personal level.

But here’s the catch…be creative.  Do something different and unique.  And make people appreciate the effort.  If you do something that takes no effort, and is not that creative, most people will just be annoyed.  The goal is, when a person realizes it’s an April Fool’s joke, they laugh and carry on with whatever business they have with you.

It’s already too late this year, but April Fool’s day is not the only time of year that you can have fun with your customers.  Contest and promotions built out of the same methodology can be a creative way to connect with the public.  But if April Fool’s day sounds like the sort of thing you or your company would like to work towards next year, you don’t have to wait to start the planning now.

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