It’s extremely competitive in the B2B marketing space. It used to be that the companies with the best reputation, biggest budget, the best direct sales force or the best channel sales model had the upper hand.
With the increased efficiencies and scale that can be achieved with content (or “inbound”) marketing, add the online reach factor into the mix. Now companies that can get more awareness (and consideration) via content, social media, and search can outmaneuver competitors who rely on old-school tactics or who aren’t quite as savvy online.
In order to stand out online, to attract lots of Google-loved inbound links and to spread like the flu in social media, it takes more than cookie-cutter ebooks, pitch-heavy blog posts or not-so-subtle marketing videos. Not to mention the woes of those marketing leaders who don’t have enough executive buy-in to do innovative content campaigns and are stuck doing “me-too” efforts.
So do “humor” and “fun” qualify as bona fide B2B marketing hooks? Are marketers willing to go there and does it work? The research probably still needs to be done, but here are examples of companies who are willing to go there – mixing B2B marketing and fun. What do you think? Do you see untapped opportunity here?
Here are some ways companies are integrating humor into their marketing.
1) Cartoons and B2B
Marketo has been actively using cartoons and experimenting with different types of content designed to mix fun with education (and of course, lead generation).
Marketo Definitive Guide to Lead Generation: http://www.marketo.com/definitive-guides/lead-generation/. See also the Marketo Marketing Activity Coloring Book
Brian Solis teamed up with Hugh MacLeod (of Gaping Void) to educate and entertain at the same time.
See “17 Cartoons That Will Change Your Business”: http://www.slideshare.net/briansolis/17-cartoons-that-will-change-your-business-by-briansolis-gapingvoid
At Wrike, we’re launching a cartoon called “Welcome to Droneco” to illustrate typical business situations while providing people a short break in the middle of their day.
Learn more about (or follow) “Welcome to droneco”: wrike.com/droneco
2) Push people’s buttons
B2B companies that know how to push people’s buttons (in the right way) can maximize exposure in social channels.
Who wasn’t sent this conference call video by a colleague or friend? Okay, probably plenty of people, but it did get around quite a bit with 9.8M views. If your company could push buttons as well as Tripp and Tyler do here, think of all of the exposure you could get to a business-oriented audience.
Tom Fishburne is another great pusher of buttons. These are great cartoons to loosen the crowd before your next presentation
Find this one here: http://tomfishburne.com/2015/03/generation-z.html
3) Have fun with influencers or celebrities
iStock got a ton of buzz for the Vince Vaughn Unfinished Business free stock photo giveaway (see the campaign here and my post about that one here). This is a great lesson in blending celebrity, humor and B2B marketing/buzz generation.
LinkedIn lightened up the mood with their ebook “10 Essential Posts from LinkedIn Influencers” featuring influencers on LinkedIn Pulse, including Ann Handley (which is who tipped me off to this ebook via a blog post).
We recently brought a little levity to the Wrike blog by featuring Redfoo (of Dancing with the Stars and LMFAO) in his natural element – showing everyone how he’s “getting things done while keeping if fun”.
Learn more here: https://www.wrike.com/blog/redfoos-tips-for-wrike-success/
4) Experiment. Have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously
You can experiment a bit and even poke fun at yourself or your company.
On the bigger budget side, we have IBM and Intel experimenting.
IBM’s Ninjas vs. Superbugs campaign teaches us about antibiotic-resistant bacteria – and lets us embed modules of their site into our website or blog. IBM is primarily B2B so this isn’t a consumer play, but more of an awareness campaign for IBM’s research division.
On Vine, we see Intel having some light-hearted fun.
See it here: https://vine.co/v/O7jiKHhO2nr
And it doesn’t have to be big budget. One of the pioneers of B2B and fun, Rick Short at Indium Corp shows us how to delight a child with a unique Christmas Gift (from way back in 2007). Indium has been producing hundreds of videos and blog posts since this time and has been consistently showcased as a company doing innovative and fun marketing in a “boring” industry (solder paste manufacturing).
So do B2B and Fun Mix?
What’s your take? Do you think brands should move more in this direction? What great examples of fun B2B content marketing have you seen? Let us know in the comments.
See the results of the Content Chat on this topic!
On April 6th, I hosted a Content Chat on Twitter session – see the results here: http://smartershift.com/2015/04/the-roi-of-fun-content-for-b2b-brands/
To learn about Droneco (launching Monday April 6), go here: Wrike.com/droneco
Dog meeting comic via Tom Fishburne: http://tomfishburne.com/2015/01/shinyobject.html
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.