Clicks and giggles: why B2B marketers should embrace their funny side
Ask any marketer what their B2B campaigns aspire to be and chances are you’ll hear: human, friendly, impactful and so on. But it’s unlikely anyone will tell you they want to be funny. Can B2B do funny? What if brands offend someone with a misfired gag? No one’s going to invest a wedge of cash with a company that tells jokes, right? Well, some do it very successfully, and here’s why.
Likeability is a powerful driver of trust. It makes people want to interact and do business with you. And one of the ways to get someone to like you is to make them smile with stories that are funny, endearing or relatable. Why should it be any different if that person is a B2B buyer? In a sea of boring B2B marketing, brands that entertain as they inform with funny, sharable content will not only stand out from the pack, they’ll increase reach and create new fans that could turn into leads.
A word of caution though: humour is highly subjective and many marketers are justifiably nervous about overstepping the mark. The B2C marketing hall of shame is littered with examples of brands going viral for all the wrong reasons, such as this infamous ad from Dolce & Gabbana. It’s driven many businesses to play it safe – but then again, cautious marketing never sold anything. As the following examples show, marketing that avoids stereotypes and is charmingly self-deprecating can leave your audience with lasting positive vibes – and potentially a desire to buy.
Getty Images shows their ability to laugh at themselves
Every marketer knows the pain of trawling through umpteen stock photos of business people smiling cheesily at their laptops. Despite Getty Images being a prime offender, they decided to have some fun with their own product. The company teamed up with 20th Century Fox to promote the movie Unfinished Business with a collection of images featuring the film’s star Vince Vaughn in a series of cliched business poses. The campaign showed the brand’s ability to laugh at themselves, while driving customers to their site to explore more.
Slack gets playful with data
Slack had data proving real business benefits for its customers, like reducing email by 48% and meetings by 25%. Instead of slapping those percentages into a bunch of forgettable banners, they went for a different tack and focused on the euphoric feelings having fewer meetings might engender, with playful images of customers cuddling kittens and sitting in clouds. Surreal maybe, but distinctly more eye-catching than your average B2B ad.
Zendesk gets cheeky with customer search
When Zendesk wanted to grab attention and stop customers going to alternative vendors, it played a baller move. The company created a fictional conceptual rock band called Zendesk Alternative, with a landing page that ranked top in search results for anyone Googling the term. Featuring spoof tour dates and songs (such as ‘Open Source the Future’), the page distracted from its competitors without bad mouthing them, raising awareness along the way.
Phrasee livens up your inbox
Big-budget movie campaigns aside, there are plenty of smaller opportunities to make your stressed-out reader smile. One way is by zhuzhing up your company newsletter with fun tidbits, like a quote of the week, behind-the-scenes stories, or a competition to win swag. AI SaaS platform Phrasee combines a playful tone of voice with fun articles and graphics to deliver a weekly newsletter that customers actually look forward to reading.
Google Analytics calls out the absurdities of online shopping
Shopping online is meant to be easy, but sometimes it can feel anything but. Back in 2011 Google Analytics had fun with the idea of recreating the frustrations of buying online in real life, with a customer repeatedly thwarted from purchasing a loaf of bread by having to answer questions from a disengaged supermarket worker – mimicking the cumbersome checkout processes of some retailers in a film every e-commerce consumer could relate to.
Used in the right way, humour makes your content more engaging, your brand more likeable, and your customers more likely to do business with you – but keep it fresh and even subtly self-deprecating.
If you’d like to talk to us about how to put fun into your marketing, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org