Be a Clown: Using Humor in B2B Marketing

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Constance Aguilar
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I know, I did blow it! Like the criticizers of the concept, I was scared I'd make a joke and no one would get it.

If you can hit humor in the right spot and your audience understands the joke and can separate from the seriousness of the product, then you're going to win fans over. For life.

I think humor works best because it takes your audience by surprise in the B2B world. They don't expect it. So it sticks with them. BUT, again, it's all about riding the fine line with comedy; the line of "I get it, but did they?"


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Ryck   4/11/2012 1:50:51 PM

@sohaibmasood - like you, I have mixed feelings about humor.  I love seeing it when it works, especially when it can highlight a product or service's key benefit for a customer in a memorable fashion, but I am torn, as we appear to live in a hyper-sensitive world now.  This latter point would have me be more conservative, or it may have double and triple check things before I proceed.

Ellis Booker
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I'm sad this column didn't start with a joke. "Two marketers walk into a bar..."

At my old magazine we gave annual awards for top creative B2B work. Year after year, the humorous campaigns won our hearts, often making it into the top three slots. 

Now, I'll quickly add that these executions were judged not by a professional in X or Y industry but by a group of trade magazine editors, along with a design director and, usually, one or two college interns. In other words, we judges weren't the target audience, and maybe this is why the jokes (sometimes broad or just plain silly) struck a chord. Then again, funny campaigns flowed out of the marketers and their ad agencies every year. It's unlikely they'd keep using humor if it proved ineffective.

I credit IBM's "letterbox" TV ads in the early 2000s, produced by its longtime agency of record Ogilvy & Mather, as proving humor could work for a big, serious, B2B marketer. It was a bold move by IBM, and worked quite well. 


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sohaibmasood   4/11/2012 1:11:22 PM

@Ryck: Eventhough I tend to agree with you, I still feel that humor is a difficult thing to pull off especially when it comes to B2B marketing. 

B2B marketing usually relies on the conventional approaches and it is fairly easy to offend someone or some group when pulling of a campaign based on humor. 

On the other hand, I have seen companies doing a great job with humor in B2C marketing. 

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Ryck   4/11/2012 12:53:40 PM

Humor can play a central role in communicating with your target audience.  The risk, however, is that you may not come across as funny or you may offend someone or some group.

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I See
AliceAMM   4/11/2012 11:47:01 AM

Love the first and third video examples. Humor definitely takes something that could be a bit dry and adds life to it. Really like the first one where it humanizes the product. Certainly easier to grasp the product and remember.

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