. . . You were supposed to have changed that lightbulb last week!

When was the last time a colleague made you laugh?

Take a look at your inbox. Out of 20 emails, which will you actually open? What compels you to do so? 

It’s no secret: funny stuff sticks. You probably remember the last good joke you heard. You’ll probably also open that email with the odd or quirky subject line. Yet, BtoB publishers are not well-known for capitalizing on humor. Maybe we worry about offending our readers. Maybe we are just really focused on delivering useful information. Both of these reasons are valid. But, it’s okay to be funny. Here are a few reasons why: 

  • Humor helps to set us apart from other brands.
  • Being funny builds better brand awareness.
  • Laughter makes people realize that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, which makes us more human. This builds more authentic relationships and also shows your confidence as a leader in your industry.
  • Amusement is more entertaining and hence, increases shareability.
  • Focusing on humor can inspire an enviable creative streak that makes our work more fun and productive.
  • The best humor is rooted in reality and therefore positions us to make a statement about real issues or challenges without depressing our readers.

Take this Ikea ad for instance. Not only does it poke fun at the high-tech world we live in, it also makes a compelling argument for the survival of print. It’s a great example of how humor, when well-written and presented, can help bring a well-known brand closer to legendary.

It’s natural for us to be inspired by funny content and to want to emulate it, but it’s also intimidating, so start with a few simple tips:

  1. See it for what it is. Of course, we want to see direct ROI from any marketing effort. But, as with social media, humor should be seen as part of a larger strategy. It’s really about building your brand awareness, not about direct sales. If you can make people laugh, they are going to share your content, even if they aren’t ready to buy.
  2. Be appropriate. Appropriateness is multi-level in humor. A) It has to be in keeping with your brand and the larger themes of your content and campaigns. B) It has to be appropriate to your target audience and the platform you are using (i.e. something that works on Facebook will probably flop on LinkedIn and vice versa). C) It can’t push the envelope too far (yes, that takes a bit of finesse).
  3. Address the pain point. When you know your audience, you know where they face challenges. That’s one of the best places to poke fun, because we can connect around a mutual frustration. Again, it humanizes our brand and makes our audience feel understood. It’s even better when we offer a solution to that pain point.
  4. Test it. Like any content, test out your attempts at being funny. Humor can be tricky, there is a fine line between making people laugh and being laughed at, or what’s worse, offending your audience. The effort it takes to make sure you hit your mark far outweighs the effort of compensating for a poorly placed joke. Take the time to get feedback across departments and from willing allies outside your staff.
  5. Embrace email and video. We know that email is a proven marketing medium. Learn how to craft the compelling subject lines that lead to funny content and you are well on your way. We also know that video is a powerful tool. Disney doesn’t spend $1 billion on just anything. If you can leverage humor in your videos, you are tapping into the potential of a massive audience. Check out these examples.

Now go be funny.