How to use Humor to Change Behaviors and Attitudes!

Can you train your customers? You bet you can! You train your employees, kids, pets, (maybe even your spouse). Yes, you can train your customers.

You can set up an experience that will give customers an expectation about your business before they even open your doors.

Below are two excellent examples of businesses using humor to shape behavior and attitude.

I absolutely love the creative manner in which this coffee shop owner in Virginia “helps” his customers to remember kindness.

“one small coffee”
“one small coffee, please”
“Hello, I’d like one small coffee please.”

It’s cheeky! What an excellent example of a prompting a much needed behavior change (from the customer) using humor rather than simply being irritated by it. This begets so much more traction with customers, media, and employees.

The second example of using humor to shape behavior and attitude is one of my favorites. I did a double take when I first read it!

Traditional No Parking signs read: “Violators will be Towed at Owner’s Expense”. This sort of sign insights in me a bit of a rebel where I want to park there for just a little bit to see what I can get away with. It communicates:

“we don’t want you so go away”
“we’re super grouchy and have no personality”
“these businesses in the area aren’t very friendly”

The typical towing sign doesn’t spread “good karma” to neighboring businesses. It sets an unfriendly tone.

How about sending the same basic message but in a more creative, memorable manner like the coffee shop above?

My most favorite parking sign (snow photo):

“No Public Parking

All Spaces Reserved
All Hours of All Days

if you park here the fleas of a thousand camels will infest your crotch, or you might be


Fabulous!! I laughed when I read it and you know what? I remember that sign and that parking area. I remember it not with disdain and irritation, but with humor and a smile.

Even though the underlying message for the two lot signs is the same, (No Parking) my attitude is completely different.

That difference in attitude pays dividends to the surrounding businesses.

Yes, it’s irritating not to be able to park in a lot that obviously has open spaces, but the humor behind the message helps to quell that irritation. As a business owner would you prefer to receive a customer who just encountered the traditional No Parking sign, or the flea/camel No Parking sign?

Imagine yourself as a tourist in a town with these two signs. You would:

remember this place
talk about this place to your family and friends

take photos of these signs and the businesses

As a business owner this kind of marketing is SO inexpensive but gets miles and miles of traction.

Here are some other examples. When you read them, notice your gut responses. Which business would you want to walk into as a customer or potential employee?

“Help Wanted” vs. “Join Our Team”

“Closed” vs. “Sorry We Missed You!”

“Open” vs. “Welcome!”

“No Public Restrooms, Please Don’t Ask” vs. “Public Restroom Available”

One of my local favorites at Westwind Frame & Gallery

Come in We’re Open . . .and Awesome” and “Closed . . . but Still Awesome

Look about your business and ask these two questions:

  1. Is there a behavior change you desire, either from customers or employees?
  2. Is there an area you find frustrating and/or irritating?

If you answered yes, try injecting a bit of humor to get the behavior and attitude change you wish to see.

I’d LOVE to hear about your creative messages!

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