Marketing a brand is something to be taken seriously, but it is easy to forget that behind the corporate job title of a B2B buyer is a person, driven by more than only rationality and analysis. B2B marketing is becoming “more human”, so how about letting prospects and customers enjoy your content? Could some humour be the answer to some of your brand’s marketing messages? What could be more human than some laughter?

The rational bit

Laughter has been shown to lower blood pressure, regulate glucose levels, release endorphins, and encourage the growth of new neurons and synapses.

But that’s not all. A recent study by Loma Linda University found that laughter improves short-term memory. Compared to a control group who sat calmly with no video for 20 minutes, those adults who watched a funny video distraction-free had higher scores in short-term memory tests and significantly decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, ABC News reported. So to boost brand awareness and brand recall, creating a witty campaign could be the way to go.

People love to laugh

People are drawn to things that make them laugh - whether that’s a book, a TV show, a meme and even an ad. If you think about the most popular viral videos, from as far back as ‘Charlie bit my finger’, to Superbowl commercials, to ‘Yodel boy’, they all have one thing in common: they make people laugh.

Humour might be subjective, but research shows comedy drives social sharing. BuzzSumo’s analysis of the most shared articles across the web found that the most popular emotions were awe (25%), laughter (17%), amusement (15%), and joy (14%). It’s clear that online audiences want to be entertained with the content they watch, so perhaps B2B marketing could start delivering more of the laughs?

Putting the LOL into B2B 

For some brands humour can be a gamble. We can’t all become the next viral sensation and we’re not all destined to be the next Will Ferrell, but as Skyword discusses, it can be worth the risk.

Laughter produces endorphins and releases the feel-good hormone dopamine. This results in a positive emotional, psychological, and physiological response. Over time, we build up a positive association with the thing that made us laugh. So, why not make your brand be the thing to bring on some laughs? If you want customers to associate your brand with feeling good, you need to give them something to laugh about. Humour makes brands feel more relatable, less rigid and less “corporate”. In turn, this helps customers to build a more positive emotional connection with brands.

As Forbes notes, B2B started as the place of the rational and analytical, yet some tech brands have successfully added comedy into their marketing efforts…

Much of comedy is about timing, and MailChimp got its timing right when it took advantage of an opportunity with one of its campaigns. As LinkedIn explains, a voice contributor to a podcast they created in partnership with Serial accidentally said “Mail Kimp.” They then started an entire campaign around MailKimp called “Did you mean MailChimp?”. This centred on nine name variants, each with its own faux product. It boosted brand awareness and increased user subscriptions.

Meanwhile, Workfront collaborated with YouTube stars Tripp and Tyler for its “Email in Real Life” ad. As B2B Marketing says, the video puts a relatable and hilarious spin on the “all-too-real pain of modern email communication”. (Email speak is another story for another time!)

But, of course, you can’t simply copy previous campaigns. While very different in style, the common factors in these campaigns is that they stay true to the brand and relate to their audiences whilst being funny.

There is not a magic formula for a funny campaign and comedy is not the easiest to pull off, as you cannot force it, especially online. However, you can be sure you’re going in the right direction if you make sure it is authentic and that it will resonate with your own audience.

This means you really need to know your target demographic. You don’t think twice about making a joke with your friends because it’s likely you’ll have a similar sense of humour. Doubt creeps in when you don’t know your audience that well, because you can’t be certain how they will react. You need to take this principle and apply it to your marketing. Humour requires confidence and you can only be confident if you know your audience well.