Humor in B2B marketing may not seem like the most obvious choice for a campaign tactic, but it’s more helpful than many realize.
Take the hilarious “Did you mean MailChimp?” campaign in 2017. MailChimp partnered with the true-crime podcast Serial and ran an audio ad in 2014 featuring several street goers reading lines and saying the brand’s name, one of whom is unsure of the pronunciation. The flub turned out to be a golden opportunity with “Did you mean MailChimp?” when the brand created several different name variants and fake products, all adding to the humor and fun of the original mispronunciation.
By creating an “inside joke” with its audience, and becoming part of the joke themselves, MailChimp created a hilarious and highly memorable marketing campaign.
[image source: LinkedIn]
Humor is memorable and associated with positive feelings. Aligning your brand with humor that matches your brand voice will make you stand out from your competitors and attract buyers.
Why should you use humor in marketing?
1. It’s attention-grabbing
In a sea of technical content, you want to stand out as much as possible. Because 53% of customers say they’ll remember an ad if it’s funny, using humor is a great way to be memorable and stay top of mind when a buyer is researching a new purchase.
2. It’s shareable
Feelings of happiness, surprise and admiration all contribute to a post’s engagement and level of sharing. Tap into that with humor. If your social media followers appreciate the humor in one of your posts and then share it for their friends and colleagues to see, you’re expanding your reach and increasing your audience.
3. It enhances your storytelling
Marketing is about telling a story, and humor will make it more engaging. Swap out the industry jargon for a well thought-out but lighthearted marketing approach to appeal to your audience and seem more relatable. Humor is also linked to higher recall, making your story stay top of mind.
How do you use humor in marketing?
Humor, in life and in marketing, can take various forms.
To make sure you hit the right notes, use research to create a persona that includes things like location, age and even gender as those can affect what kind of humor performs best. Use surveys to rank the possible approaches and A/B testing to fine-tune details.
External research is also necessary. You may find more ideas and opportunities for humor if you widen your scope beyond your audience and even your industry. You also have to know what kind of environment you are adding humor into so your jokes don’t have the opposite effect. Steer clear of making light of anything too serious, and be ready to pull jokes if they may suffer from bad timing.
It may take some outside-the-box thinking to do humor right, and if you’re worried about a joke falling flat or accidentally offending someone, there are professional services that can help you infuse expert humor into your marketing.
What kind of humor works in B2B marketing?
While your humor needs to match your brand voice, it doesn’t have to be the same across the board. During different stages of the buyer’s journey, you have some room to be bolder with your humor or take a more laid-back approach.
Humor can be your main attraction in the awareness stage. You want buyers to notice your brand and remember you as they move to the consideration stage. Your goal for this stage is to create interest so the buyers want to learn more about you. Comparing two unrelated images for a hilarious juxtaposition or featuring huge hyperboles are eye-catching and memorable ways to use humor for attention. If you’re brave enough, using self-deprecation to hold a mirror up to your industry will add to your relatability.
You’ve achieved your goal and now the buyer is taking a closer look at what you offer. But in this stage, humor should be a supportive element to your educational material. Infuse your material with observational humor and other, lighthearted commentary to keep a consistently funny voice while proving your value.
As you edge closer to a transaction, communications will become more personalized and straight-forward. That’s not a bad thing. By now, the buyer is familiar with your voice, so don’t be afraid to keep the tone fun and casual without the carefully crafted humor of the other stages. Your goal here is to communicate that now is the time to buy.
Over half of all customers say they’ll remember an ad if it’s funny. Humor associates feelings of happiness with your brand and improves recall, so you stand out from your competitors and attract more buyers.