Last week on the B2B Roundtable blog, SunGuard Availability Services had its B2B marketing campaign featured for doing what’s normally unconventional in the industry: pop culture references.

This wouldn’t be the first story of its kind and it wouldn’t be the last. Generating sales leads has become as much of an online media activity as gaming, celeb news, and internet memes. This mix of big business and consumer culture was inevitable (as SunGuard easily showed).

The only cause for friction is the fear of not doing it right.

Can you do pop culture right?

It’s only natural to resist the idea of using something like zombies or elves just to boost the eyeballs on your campaign. After all, it sounds too much like a parent trying to be like their teenagers.

And yet, some kids idolize their super-cool parents for being better at a hobby than they are.

The truth is there’s really no solid formula for playing with pop culture references. You just really need to open your mind and don’t be desperate about it.

  • Step 1: Be a junkie (or hire one) – Do you like watching movies? Reading books? What about music? See, any of those (and more) can be your gateway to pop culture. And in the occasion, that you’re just not into anything past 1955, why not look to anyone in your work force who is? Having a source of genre-savvy with stock knowledge on popular clichés, genres, and tropes is good enough for a first step.
  • Step 2: Make your business part of a genre – A zombie apocalypse isn’t the only fictional setting you can put your business in. You could get similar results with giant monster attacks or alien invasions. It’s not just action scenarios either. If you’re looking for janitorial sales leads for instance, cartoons and sitcoms are never short of funny ideas that feature janitors and other cleaning staff.
  • Step 3: Know your role – If you want it to come as fun but still as realistic as possible, just don’t forget what your business is all about. For instance, some problems that seem straight out of science fiction or even fantasy could be easily solved with your products/services. (Professor X’s Cerebro is definitely reminiscent of today’s big data technologies).

Again, there’s no solid formula. These steps are just a rough idea of what it means to play with pop culture references in any part of your B2B marketing campaign. The best way to really learn it is if to try it yourself!