The major gift-giving seasons certainly make sense for brands to focus on selling all sorts of merchandise, so having solid holiday marketing plans in place by the end of the summer is essential.
But what of these other yearly events that many brands go to great lengths to make the most of? Much like the questionable return on investment one experiences from Super Bowl campaigns, the return on your April Fools investment is unlikely. The entertainment impact from pursuing a fun day like April Fools can be significant and memorable, but will that drive awareness and activity that keeps on giving after the laughter has subsided? Because to do this day justice, you really need to go all out. The competition is fierce and comedy channels have an obvious advantage. But if you’re just hell-bent on being hilarious this time of year, regardless of ROI, there are some considerations to keep in mind.
How to Not be a Fool
1. Don’t insult your base. This has a 50/50 chance of going horribly wrong. Unless you’ve used the previous 12 months to establish your brand/channel as a place that takes jabs at your target audience and you’re sure they respond in a way that everyone feels good about, now is not the time to take that leap.
2. Don’t spend money you don’t have. This seems like common sense, but it isn’t. As with any marketing campaign, those controlling the purse strings have final say and it’s up to you, brand manager, to be the voice of reason when they want to blow the bulk of your budget on this not-so-hilarious idea. Be prepared with a list of better ways to spend that money — like capturing more leads via an actual ad campaign that ties tightly to your brand.
3. Go “all in” or don’t do it at all. This day, of all days, is not one to make a half-hearted attempt at winning. If you plan to trick your people, put in the time and prep work it needs to give it every chance of success. A solid April Fools’ Day doesn’t just happen the day of, it requires a careful seeding, with hints or other forms of subterfuge leaked to your audience in the weeks leading up to the big reveal.
4. Don’t let everyone in on it. Even at your company. Or else someone is bound to ruin it. Keep your April Fools’ team tight, with a skeleton crew of co-conspirators. It’s always best to have few cooks in the kitchen regardless and you won’t want to talk through every inch of the idea as you go. You’ll want teammates capable of moving fast, pivoting as needed, agreeable and low maintenance. And only one designated writer allowed on the team or you’re asking for drama.
5. Make sure you have C-suite approval. This one is so important and you might think to skip it because what you’re doing is “really just funny and not a huge deal.” According to you. Save your job and check just in case.
6. And the top tip to keep in mind? If it starts to feel more like a chore, something that’s being forced, than a fun surprise for your potential client base, chalk it up as a lesson learned and abandon ship. Because your lack of enthusiasm will poison the mood and there’s no way you’ll create something hilarious if you’re feeling murderous. Channel that thinking toward creating a scary Halloween campaign.