Talking Points
October 2021

B2B Marketing Doesn’t Need 2B Boring—Humor Is A Persuasive Tool

Tickling the funny bone can be a very powerful marketing tool. Nearly half of the world’s impactful ads use some form of humor. But can humor be used successfully in B2B advertising? Yes, without a doubt. The key is to begin with the basics:

  • Know your target. (What you think is funny doesn’t matter. What they think is funny, does).
  • Define the problem. (That way, you can exaggerate it, lampoon it, or reinterpret it in an amusing way).
  • Keep the subject relevant to the key message.
  • Make sure references are universally understood by your audience.
  • Don’t push it too far. (Offensive or taboo humor can backfire).
  • Try to make people laugh with their eyes. (We see ads before we read them).

Also, keep in mind that humor is both subjective and culturally specific. Customers in Asia and the U.S. won’t necessarily react to an idea in the same way. Your choice of media matters as well. A funny idea might work better on YouTube than it does on a billboard or in an email.

Here are two B2B brands that have been successful injecting humor into their marketing mix:

Kinaxis Supply chain management. Now there’s a topic that just screams hilarity, right? Well, Kinaxis found a funny way to view their industry. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONe1ZrBrs04

Adobe This hysterical ad produced by Adobe to promote its Marketing Cloud Research & Analytics tools shows an obsolete company discovering new life after unreal response to one of its banner ads. www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZXUq7Pln3g

These approaches prove that the “B” in B2B doesn’t have to stand for boring. Showing our lighter sides with a little humor connects us. And that connection can be a very persuasive way to engage our customers.

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