It’s funny, we are not serious about Humor in B2B Copywriting

‘oh, so dead…so serious’ — the thought bubbles when I read B2B websites or social content.

I mean I do understand, one has to sound professional and all…but does that mean to be tone-deaf, emotion-less. We must have heard, boardroom speakers often resorting to funny one liners before the hard-hitting sales target speech. So joke is not a taboo! One may argue, “oh it’s a cohesive, closed group, not strangers”. And hence a small leeway is allowed or assumed.

I hear ya! … My question then is, ‘Isn’t your target audience connected by common interest, goals, desires and pain points…the markings of a closed group and shared values? Whom, you’d like to know and befriend, (before your sales intent surface).

Similar to my group — marketing copywriters — we all feel the same pain of scope bleed, shifty goal posts, unclear briefs and even chasing overdue payments.

Why humor in copywriting is important

The simple truth is, humor makes it more entertaining and hence engaging.

One example of good use of humor is Cisco Systems. Tim Washer, formerly senior marketing manager of social media at Cisco, said: “When I can’t find a compelling statistic to support my argument, I invent one: ’73 percent of people who read B2B blogs are people.”

‘IT’s Risky. People can get offended!’ you’ll say. Yes they can. Political correctness and inclusive narratives often leave us with the bottomed out, bare minimum, non-offensive, impersonal, baritone monologues. In short, deadwood…that offends no one, moves no one.

We never were targeting Everybody to begin with! were we?

What if they don’t get offended and become your fan? And isn’t NOT taking a risk is the riskiest non-act? I will leave you to it. You may scratch up another objection. Meanwhile, please read my case in support of Entertainment in B2B marketing. As brands, we are supposed to feel the audience’s pain points. And pain is often the butt of a joke.

Here’s one —

Manager told a joke. Everyone laughed. Except one guy.

Manager: Didn’t you get it…(little patronizingly).

Employee: I resigned yesterday!

In B2B marketing copywriting if you keep the audience engaged, you will get more sales. That simple. Here's how... While creating copy, you have to keep the reader’s mind engaged by introducing humor even if in small doses. Even if in specific channels. For example, a sales email is a personal channel, while social media is a public forum. You can choose which one makes a better brand fit.

Humor encourages engagement. The way to go further and faster is through engagement. Its proven that entertaining content directly drives engagement, which in turn pushes organic reach, and that can mean higher ROI.

It’s pertinent because the social platform’s organic reach is not more than 5% or even lesser. It’s important to understand, what people share has more to do with how they want to be perceived in their groups. As marketers, we succeed when we get our audience to take the action we want them to take, whether that’s sharing a post, browsing our site or buying our products.

So the only way businesses can move the needle on engagement is by taking some risks. Think about your target customers, the people you want to touch. What are the themes, what do they want to hear about? Importantly, what they like to be seen ‘sharing’. Humor is one way to trigger an emotional response that prompts your audience to act.

How to use humor in copywriting

The only thing worse than having boring web copy and sales messaging is trying to be entertaining and missing the mark. The wonderings in the minds of your reader can cost you big. Just when you thought the only choice is to better play safe than try and fall flat and become a joke, here is the trick.

Trick is finding the pain points of your true customer and marrying relevant ones with your brand truth. We can achieve entertaining value without compromising on Brand connect. In fact, the humor about the service or brand would be so specific that mostly, only its target audience will get it. The pains of a data engineer Vs data scientist is unique to them. If you can solve those with a bit of humor, wouldn’t they love it?

  • Use expressive, relatable imagery and how-to-video with characters.
  • Use language nuances. pun, surprising twists to known phrases. Create new words. May be, less serious tones, playful and personal approach.

Easier said than done. Sometimes, use professional help to set the tone. Than follow.

Humor doesn’t mean you have to joke with every potential customer and bring down the credibility quotient. All it means is, that you don’t have to be a total jerk either. A little humor might help in changing the perception from a hard nut to a laughing one. You may have found the biggest tool to melt the guard down of your customer’s biggest objection.

Humor according to research

Humor is a great approach to enhance viral-ability of your B2B content. We have all seen brands out there with a focus on just pitching the product, the service etc. The idea of B2B businesses has more to do with the humans as a whole.

Humor increases reach. Based on a research in USA, one of the key motivations people share content on social is, “To bring valuable and entertaining content to others.” When you use humor in your marketing, it’s important to strike a balance between being entertaining and bringing value to your audience. If the only thing they remember from your marketing is the joke, then your content hasn’t done its job effectively. Content that does achieve these two objectives is more likely to be shared, and thus, consumed by even more potential customers.

So,

Is humor in marketing required ? Absolutely it is. You can do it in small doses, first. Start with opt-in customers like in a newsletter, or a blog with a certificate perhaps ‘H’ (humor ahead. For Mature readers only). But the most viable option to start with is social media. Finding the absolute truth about your brand and presenting that in a more relatable way that is fun and is fruitful.

Fun content that’s build for your audience builds connection, and keeps your brand top of mind. At the time of ‘shop intent’ and consideration, they are pre-sold to your brand and your offer. And when they call you, you know a lot can happen over a cup of coffee…

I help businesses thrive. It's through a framework of go-to-market strategy, magnetic messaging, and creative campaigns.