Why So Serious? Using Humor In Digital Marketing

why so serious? using humor in digital marketingLaugh--it's good for your health.

Too bad not enough marketing--especially in the B2B sphere--uses humor as a way to grab attention and connect with the audience. Not only can you get more leads and customers, but you'll also make them more relaxed and put them in a better mood!

However, humor is always a touchy subject when it comes to marketing. Will it offend people? Will everyone understand the joke? Does it even work?

Well, if you take the Old Spice Guy or Hello Flo ads as an example, humor does seem to work. There's nothing like a good laugh to make your brand memorable. But as B2B digital marketers, how can we use humor to break through what can often be tedious, serious marketing? Here's a little strategy that can help you inject a little laughter (but, you know, not too much) into your digital marketing efforts.

Start with internal fun

Most companies (and yours too, I hope) try to inject some fun into the work they do. If you're not having fun doing it, after all, not a lot of people are going to have fun doing business with you. So a good place to start looking for funny situations is inside your company. Who's the prankster? Who's the storyteller? Keep an eye out for things that make people laugh. Maybe they'll make your leads and customers laugh, too.

Every field has its own jokes--doctors, insurers, librarians, etc. They deal with the realities of work in that specific field. Digital marketers have theirs, too. These jokes can be a good starting point for coming up with humorous ideas for videos or blog posts. 

I can certainly think of a few videos based on these jokes that would make digital marketing more accessible! How about you?

Don't think too hard

Overthinking your humor usually doesn't work. Funny is the kind of thing that comes spontaneously, not in a committee. That's why most marketers keep a notebook (or a note-taking app on their phones) to write down funny stuff as it comes, which they can then develop into videos, pictures or writing that are humorous.

Test your idea with colleagues, then friends and family, to see if they get it. Don't assume that your audience will understand the joke just because you do. Testing will let you separate the bad ideas from the great ones, so pay attention to people's reactions when you share a storyboard or a blog post draft!

Make it memorable

A joke that falls flat is a joke that people easily forget. Make your humorous piece of marketing memorable with a punchline, an over-the-top character, or references to pop culture. Here's a great example of how Pure Storage, an all-flash storage company, makes its video memorable with some seriously good writing:

And that's a great B2B example too that almost anyone can understand, but that will especially touch people who are shopping for data storage space. If Pure Storage is as fun to do business with as this video implies, I would keep it at the top of my short list for sure.

Keep it coming

There's nothing worse than a funny marketing campaign that's followed by "business as usual" serious marketing. Once people have got a taste of your sense of humor, they'll expect to see it over and over again. Now that doesn't mean that you have to stop doing serious marketing, but you need to keep trying to up the ante with new fun for your audience.

One of my favourite online video campaigns is Poo-Pourri. I LOVED the first video (I do admit I have a special place in my heart for British humor), and it was the only ad that I let play through every time I went on YouTube, because, well, it was hilarious.

Just a few months ago, the company followed up with a second video that is just as funny, but from a new angle.

They may do only one video a year, but they are definitely worth waiting for.

Use humor along with your typical marketing

Of course, if you are known for serious marketing, you don't want to shock your usual audience by going all humorous all at once. You can subtly insert funnier things by using funny Facebook posts on "Funny Friday" or something like that, and inject a little fun into your marketing a bit at a time. There's always space for a little humor in every business!

What's your favourite funny digital marketing? Has a B2B company seduced you with its humorous approach to marketing?