B2B creativity – not a laughing matter, or is it?

By Mark Wilson, Creative Director

Laughter is good for soul. Or so the saying goes. We find humour in everything, from dog and cat videos online, to stand-up comedians and 30-minute sitcoms. But what about elsewhere like adverts or brand communications? Definitely yes — the Old Spice ad of The Man Your Man Could Smell Like sticks in my mind, as does the self-deprecating humour of the Skoda ads or the classic Skittles.

Image credit: Discover Magazine

It’s easy to recall it in the B2C environment but when it comes to B2B why aren’t we using more humour? But I guess the question many people would rather ask is should we use humour in B2B.

Again, my answer is definitely yes.

B2B isn’t some impenetrable fortress of earnestness. Because the one thing we often forget about this space is that B2B decision makers are people too. It’s true that the purchasing decisions are bigger and require more research (aftershave versus buying hardware for an entire enterprise, for example) and the consequences of making the wrong decision are also greater. But…brands still need to attract attention and help buyers along that journey. And what better way to do that than with humour?

There are many things that don’t translate from the B2C environment, but humour isn’t one of them. B2B audiences are more serious, because let’s face it, automation software or cloud aren’t inherently funny. But humour can be used to help brands connect with their audience and get their message across.

Humour can also help brands stand out in a competitive marketplace and make a product memorable. Just consider how this worked in the B2C context for Old Spice. It’s just an aftershave which is pretty subjective for most people and on its own definitely not something we find funny. And yet, humour works. Makes it memorable.

In the business to business space, and especially the B2B tech space, the same can be true. The key thing is that it needs to be done properly, tastefully, and align with the target audience. It also needs to fit in with the brand values, purpose and messaging, and form part of the wider marketing and PR strategy.

Ultimately, tapping into humour is often the key to unlocking people, even in B2B. The path to success, as with many things marketing and PR related, lies in its execution.