Here’s a joke for you: Two people entered a B2B blog. They got bored and left.
Oops, wait. That’s not a joke. That’s the reality.
Humour is insanely underrated in B2B marketing. The content marketing strategy used by a majority of B2B marketers for their web copy and blogs is downright boring and mundane. Most marketers are tired of risk-averse stakeholders dismissing their innovative ideas as being too “funny” for a B2B audience.
To burst your bubble, adding a dash of humour in B2B marketing strategy is not only appropriate, but also helps win business. Campaigns that make the target audience laugh always tend to be successful. All the good content that you ever come across will be authoritative, valuable, and engaging. And humour is a tried-and-tested way to engage audiences. In fact, it can prove to be a highly viral tactic.
So, ladies and gentlemen, grab a coffee because we might be here for a while, discussing why and how you can add humour to your B2B marketing strategy.
Let’s first see why B2B marketers are afraid of using humour.
- Being funny is hard. Like, it’s not rocket science, but it takes decades for even professionals to get it right. And even they might mess it up. We understand the fear.
- B2C has got it easy. The instant noodles and soft drink sellers definitely have more doors open for marketing. B2B people have to deal with stakeholders, bureaucracy, and a lot more sophisticated stuff, which makes humor the last thing to strike your mind.
- It might give people a reason to ignore you. People fear that they might handle humor wrong and make people think that they’re not serious.
In spite of the things that are stopping you from using humour in your B2B marketing strategy, you got to take the plunge, because ‘Beyond fear, lies success!’.
Why add humor to your B2B marketing strategy?
- Funny content gets shared
The buyer journey in B2B marketing is often longer and involves more decision-makers as compared to B2C. Thus, it might seem like funny content can’t capture the quick wins. However, funny content serves a different purpose here. B2B lags far behind B2C in one major area and that’s share-ability.
Nobody will look forward to sharing a 20 page PDF report. But something humorous that is relatable for your target audience? That’s practically pixie dust. It will get shared like crazy, bringing in more people to your social profiles and website.
Along with creating funny content, you also need to take care of the best times to post on social media, because when you post at times when your audience is the most active, you’re likely to get more reach, engagement, and shares.
- Humor is as powerful as storytelling
Storytelling is something that a lot of marketers vouch for, as it holds the capacity to engage and persuade people. And humor can do a lot of things similar to storytelling. It has the ability to affect us emotionally and psychologically.
Humor helps you humanize your brand and induces a feel-good reaction from people who come across such content. It also helps build trust as it carries a hint of honesty. It often plays a persuasive role, i.e, it has the power to influence others. Thus, along with your regular content, you can harmlessly include some memes in your social media content calendar.
- B2B buyers are also emotional
Wait, what? Isn’t the B2B audience more logical and rational than B2C? Well, that’s another most common misconception. Google and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council found out in a survey that 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they connect emotionally with the brand. And that number is higher as compared to the B2C audience!
The reason behind this is the high stake involved in making a transaction. If B2C buyers make a wrong purchase, they’ll usually be dissatisfied with the product or just inconvenienced. However, if B2B buyers make a wrong purchase, it can cost them much more. Thus, they are going to put in more effort to know and connect with a brand before making a deal.
- The top B2B businesses are already doing it
If you are still unsure whether humorous content will work in B2B marketing strategy or not, have a look at the brands that are already nailing it. You will find that some of the most popular and successful companies have long been involving humor in their marketing.
Whether it’s Cisco’s pitch for gifting a router on Valentine’s day or MailChimp’s quirky messages, sometimes it’s the simplest ideas prove to be the most effective. You don’t always have to break your bank for curating funny marketing ideas. We’ll see some of these brands at the end of the blog.
Tips to add humour in B2B marketing strategy
- Use expressive imagery
‘A picture is worth more than a thousand words. You might have heard this saying a lot of times in your life. It is already proven in various studies that images get more engagement as compared to plain text, whether it is on social media, website, or any other landing page.
Visual content has the ability to induce more emotions as compared to any other form of presentation. Humour in the form of images, often referred to as memes, holds the potential to make your brand go viral overnight on social media. You can make a typography style flyer design and add some abstract elements on them to make it more engaging.
In general, it is observed that the best way to induce humour in the viewer’s mind is through an element of contrast. While wisecracks and subtle sarcasm control the roots in text, a whiff of craziness is what cracks the funny bone in the case of images.
- Use funny videos
If there’s anything better than funny images, it’s humor pictured in motion. Creating funny and entertaining videos definitely requires more effort than still images. However, in the case of still images, the viewer might have to go the extra mile and interpret the intended message, which is not the case with videos.
Videos provide campaigns the freedom to describe everything as planned, yet retain the right to creative autonomy. Moreover, the algorithms of social media platforms have changed in a way that promotes videos more than any other form of media.
And, with social media still being the most powerful commercial tool of today, campaigns are increasingly designed to appease the algorithm by curating videos.
- Play with your words
The power of a crisp copy in B2B marketing strategy is absolutely unquestionable. Words are what give life to an image and provide a voice to the narrative that is composed via a video. In brand marketing, the best sentences and taglines hold the ability to stay at the tip of their audience’s tongue for centuries.
The best writers are those who can derive humour cleverly from this huge marketing weapon called words. Instilling humour just by using words can be challenging but also rewarding at the same time. Anagrams, word-plays, humorous jokes, and puns are some of the most common ways you can use to write in a playful and conspiratorial style. You can also make use of increasingly aware and self-referential content to tickle your audiences.
- Adopt an informal approach
B2B marketing campaigns that adopt an informal approach have proven to perform much better than those that use a stern and formal tone. An informal approach lets you create campaigns that are highly conversational in nature and instantly connect with the audience.
It provides you the maximum liberty to include humour in your marketing campaigns. It also allows the campaigns to be self-referential. Keeping your marketing campaign informal allows you to crack a joke or two and make your customers chuckle which ultimately makes you endearing in the eyes of your audience.
In history, the most successful brands were the ones that used extremely cheeky and personal messaging in their marketing campaigns while maintaining their brand image and positioning at the same time.
- Be personal and be surprising
Don’t be too predictable. Your audience should not always have an idea of what to expect from you. Put your creativity to play and figure out how you can elicit humour in a unique and surprising way.
Also, know your customer and customize your edginess and quirkiness accordingly. Some people are more sensitive to particular sorts of humour than others. People usually appreciate messages that solve their grievances and make them giggle too.
Great examples of brands using humour in their B2B marketing strategy
MailChimp breaks all the barriers when it comes to adding humour to their B2B marketing campaigns. For example, it did a ‘Did you mean MailChimp?’ campaign in 2017. It partnered with true-crime podcast Serial and ran an audio ad. The ad featured some street-goes who were reading out the brand’s name, and one of them was unsure of the pronunciation.
MailChimp grabbed this opportunity and created several name variants and fake products, all adding humour to the original mispronunciation. One of them was ‘FailChips’, where approximately 200,000 bags of crushed potato chips were provided to snack shops to be distributed to customers. It provoked a lot of discussion and make the campaign a truly fun and memorable move.
Creating romance out of nothing at all? Cisco knows how to do it. It sells hardware products that nowhere scream ‘funny’, but it has the right creative team that has been able to tickle even a serious set of audiences. They pitched a $250,000 printer as a last-minute valentine’s gift in their promo video!
The Cisco ASR9000 is a high-powered router that is targeted at the service provider market. The product specifications and features are the things that prospective buyers will get attracted to. However, by marketing the product as a way to show love, Cisco sets its ASR9000 apart from the competition.
Slack is a team collaboration tool that allows teams to communicate through messages and calls, and share files. At the end of 2015, it launched the ‘Euphoria’ campaign. Instead of touting the productivity stats in an expected way, Slack used visuals and imagery of unicorns, kittens, and rainbows to reflect how Slack users feel when they can respond to their team members instantly and collaborate seamlessly.
When you are having an issue, you quickly look for a solution, preferably offered by a friendly customer service representative. Zendesk is a SaaS platform that provides software designed to improve customer experience. It seeks to build relationships between businesses and customers. In its TV commercial, ‘I like it when he gives me the business’, it showcases an older couple talking about trials and tribulations of relationships.
The bottom line
More than half of B2B customers admit that they remember an ad if it’s funny. Thus, incorporating humour in your B2B marketing strategy will make you stand out from your competitors and attract more buyers. It might be a bit tough to include humour in your campaigns, but if done right, it can work wonders for your brand!