Project Description

June 2020

Creative Corner

Alastair Puddick
Alastair PuddickSenior copywriter

B2B marketing: find your funny bone

Humour and marketing go hand in hand. Indeed, around half of all ads globally feature some form of humour. So many brands use it, from Snickers to PC World, to Paddy Power to… well, there are just too many to name. But when it comes to B2B, things tend to be a bit more formal. Because serious business messages need to be discussed in a serious way, don’t they? Well, no. Here are four reasons you might want to consider using humour in your B2B marketing.

  1. Humour makes your brand more human

Whatever you’re selling – from sweets to fizzy drinks, to washing machines or even cloud-based converged infrastructure solutions – you’re talking to a human being. So, you need to talk them like a human being. Using humour shows you understand your customers and what makes them tick. It makes you more relatable. And it shows you’re not afraid to have a laugh (or laugh at yourself).

One great example was when KFC took a self-deprecating swipe at their own disastrous chicken shortage with their infamous FCK advert. They could have sent out a standard apology message. Or even kept tight-lipped. Instead, revelling in their own fallibility showed a real human quality. And it was effective – garnering 219,138,216 shares on social. “What we needed at that time was something that showed us as humans,” says Meg Farren, CMO of KFC UK and Ireland. “We just knew people were going to smile at this.” Okay, KFC isn’t B2B, but the principle is the same for any brand.

  1. It helps you stand out from the crowd

If you want people to view/read/interact with your content, it needs to stand out. Where everyone else’s content looks the same, humour can make yours more colourful, interesting, innovative and fun. So, people will be drawn to it.

Cisco’s classic Valentine’s Day advert does exactly this. The company could have focused on the features of its ASR 900 server. Instead, the ad sets it up as the perfect gift for a loved one. It’s fun, it’s different, and it really stands out. “Comedy can cut through all the noise,” says Tim Washer, Executive Producer of Rich Media Marketing at Cisco. “It makes the point in a very clever way, and it connects with people so they listen.”

  1. It makes your content memorable

You don’t want people to just notice your ad. You want it to stick in their minds. And the ads we tend to remember are usually the funny ones. In fact, 53% of people say they’re more likely to remember and enjoy an ad if it’s funny. Cisco could have talked quite coldly about the unique benefits of Cloudlock, for example. But would people remember it? Wrap it up in a humorous video about inept people that don’t understand cloud security, however, and viewers are more likely to remember it.

  1. It makes your content shareable

People love sharing things they find funny. So, by making your content humorous, you can increase the chances of boosting your reach and making your campaign successful (see FCK ad above).

Leadership development company Leadercast could have advertised their services like any other business – simply describing the features and benefits in a dry way. Instead, they hooked up with comedy duo Tripp and Tyler to create a funny video imagining conference calls in real life – tapping into the frustrations anyone who’s ever been on such a call (i.e. their target audience) will understand. It’s charming, relatable and exactly the sort of thing people like sharing. And so far, it’s had over 20 million views. Not bad for a B2B video.

So, where do you start?

It could be as simple as a more quirky tone of voice. An off-key way of looking at a dry subject. Maybe even an unexpected call to action or a more light-hearted way of writing the T&Cs on your website. A little humour can go a long way. And it can really help to differentiate your brand.

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