Differentiate Your Ecommerce Website

With Attitude, Humor, and Irreverence

Differentiate Ecommerce With Attitude
Differentiate Ecommerce With Attitude. CGinspiration / E+ / Getty Images

​I wrote an article about using visual layout and clean images as a differentiator for ecommerce websites, and that got me thinking that layout and images communicate a message to the visitor. To that extent, they are not different from text as a communication medium. Layout and images are merely tools of communication, as is text. So, let me explore using communication as a differentiator for an ecommerce business.

For the purpose of this article, I am not talking about modes of communication, and am going to focus on the message that is communicated. In particular, I want to explore using humor, attitude, and irreverence as a differentiator.

Humor Works, but It Also Fails Big Time

Everyone likes to laugh. As long as humor is weaved into your copy to create a pleasant feeling, you are doing fine. But if you want to sound hilarious, and have your visitors go, "Ha ha," then here are three situations to guard against:

  1. Your need to constantly be funny should not take away from the fact that you are a serious ecommerce player. Your visitors should not look upon you as a joke-site, but as one which appeals to them to the point that they are happy to buy from you.
  2. I like to be regarded as funny, but I am mindful of the fact that funny can quickly degenerate into offensive. And offending your customers will not do you any good. Keep that in mind.
  1. Any reasonable customer would expect you to be funny at certain times, and then serious when the situation demands it. But your impression of what constitutes the right situation for humor may not match your customer's.

Consider Taking the Risk of Being Far More Humorous than Others

Ecommerce sales messages are getting customers tired.

I sense user fatigue, as all online platforms are bombarding sales messages at you. It is no longer only about spam email. Today you log into Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and what have you, and you will face commercial messages. In light of the customer fatigue to sales talk, humor can be a great relief. I agree that not all customers will enjoy your specific brand of humor, but you are not expecting the whole world to become your customer. As long as you generate a sizeable loyal following, you are fine. So, you should consider taking the risk.

Irreverence and Attitude Can Be Formidable Differentiators Too

There are many people who would like to "stick it to the man." In the late '90s we used to talk about Generation X, and later we talked about Generation Y. Those labels are no longer in much use, but the principle remains: today's interconnected world has few sacred cows. People are more irreverent in their outlook, and if your communication is irreverent too, then you might strike a chord. In the deafening marketing din online, yours could be a destination that your customers relate to.

A Committee Cannot Decide to Become Irreverent and Funny

Don't follow the advice in this article if it goes against your grain.

As an ecommerce founder or member of senior management, your true nature will come shining through in your communication. What I am alluding to is the fact that communication is not about masking your true nature. Instead, it is about causing your true nature to become obvious. So you cannot have a marketing committee sit around a conference table and decide on ways to be irreverent. Instead, your organizational DNA itself should have a humorous outlook.