You don’t have to be a comedian to be funny. Nor do you have to come up with a new punchline for “Why did the chicken cross the road?” But you can create fun B2B Marketing… if you’re careful.
Your customers are eager to laugh and will connect emotionally with your brand if you do choose to incorporate humor in your marketing.
According to a Clutch advertising survey, 53% of people enjoy a promotion if it’s funny… and they also then remember it.
Why We Don’t Use Humor
Being humorous isn’t easy. So, most of us stay away from lightening up our marketing by trying to elicit laughs. We build customer relationships in a by-the-book way.
It’s true that selling Business-to-Business, we are often promoting products or services that are expensive and don’t seem to lend themselves to humor.
Maybe we are promoting a client’s banking services or our own copywriting offerings. Or maybe our client sells business equipment. Let’s face it, what we’re promoting isn’t always sexy. And the buyer’s journey is likely longer.
So, we underutilize humor intending to show we take our clients’ pain points seriously.
Plus, we’re living in an era where humor can sometimes trigger an unexpected response. Unfortunately, it may be best to proceed with some caution in today’s “cancel culture” society.
Ways to Use Humor in Your Marketing
So then, how can we easily make our marketing more fun? What are good ways to add humorous content or spin your promotions to elicit smiles and laughs… and also get more results?
1. Use contrast
I use what I call “the opposite technique.” I tell jokes that aren’t really funny per se, but they do make people smile.
Like when meeting a client on a blistering hot day, I’ll say, with a smile, something like, “This freezing weather is awesome, isn’t it?”
Or if we meet an obstacle, I’ll joke, “This process is so easy-peasy, right?” You can’t help but put the client in a good mood using this opposite technique.
Some companies go against the grain and use contrast to great effect. Take Cisco, for example.
Rather than sell their ASR 9000 printer using hardcore specs and features, they used a softer sell: romance. They pitched a $250,000 printer designed for large service providers as a Valentine’s Day gift in their video!
The voice-over actor in this humorous ad says, “Because nothing says forever like up to 6.4 terabits per second.”
If your client is a technology brand or financial company, you could tweak the same idea!
Another example is from Slack, the business messaging app. Rather than use stats to promote their brand, they used a fun and relatable approach.
You see a lady, a unicorn, and a rainbow in their Facebook Ad and the text reads, “What it feels like to sit in 25% fewer meetings.” This approach generates almost a sigh of relief and an audible “Ahhhhhh.”
2. Use funny videos or animated GIFs
Head over to Giphy.com to find loads of funny animated gifs.
Or as social media has such a big place in most campaigns, spend some time creating fun and funny content with short videos.
I intend to look into using Biteable, a company that offers you a way to make videos easily for free. You can also go Pro level ($49 per month) or Teams level ($249 per month). It’s used by Shopify, Amazon, Google, and Disney. Here’s an example of one of their emails and note the emphasis on fun.
Social media sites use algorithms that favor videos. Also, funny works have a better chance of going viral and being shared.
3. Employ puns and wordplay
Of course, some puns are cringe-worthy, so test your ideas first. My friend just told me he saw a local Sarasota, Florida promotion for Hale Law accident attorneys that cracked him up. It said, “If you’re injured in an accident, tell the insurance companies, you’re going to Hale.”
I believe they were winking at us and subtly playing with how Hale sounds like hell. But even if we don’t get the joke, their tagline still works in a straightforward way.
Another example: Dollar Shave Club cleverly markets their shaving products by playing on the common, “Save Time, Save Money” adage. They tweaked it to create the perfectly fitting “Shave Time, Shave Money” in their promos.
Words of Caution
Always consider the context of your clever ideas. Think about double meanings, negative connotations, colloquialisms, and translations.
Especially before you offer something funny to the world — or as in my case, at a big meeting.
I once worked for an advertising agency tasked with marketing Kraft’s Sandwich Mate Cheese Food slices. In a brainstorming meeting around a conference table, one person was playing with the word “mate” using an Australian accent.
I blurted out, “How about ‘Try another mate!’” My colleague turned to me and suggested, “Barbara, maybe we shouldn’t advocate for swapping spouses!”
At that moment I hadn’t even considered the other meaning for the word mate. Whoops!
Electrolux, ranked the world’s second largest appliance maker, came up with the catchy, “Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux.” When the company marketed it in the U.S., some people were confused if this was an ad promoting the vacuum cleaner or a competitor putting down the Swedish company.
The marketing team for Powergen Italia, an Italian maker of battery chargers, originally chose to use their whole name in the now-defunct website www(dot)powergenitalia(dot)com. Can you imagine?
They now market to their English speakers at the less hilarious, but better URL: batterychargerpowergen(dot)it.
Humor offers us the element of surprise. So, surprise your readers or viewers in some way through your creativity, and you’ll be rewarded.
Emailing your prospects e-books or white papers is fine. But if you really want to engage, fun content puts people at ease and emotionally connects.
In summary, use contrast, create fun videos and GIFs, and don’t be afraid to play with the words.
Just be sure to double-check how the humor will play out and the various ways it might be received.
Also, it’s best to ensure that the playful tone of your ad is consistent with the tone of your brand, whether that’s for your copywriting business or one of your clients.