In fact, 97% of these so-called “LOL” moments are more like LIMH (Laughing In My Head) or LIMHASALAMSCQ (Laughing In My Head And Smiling A Little And Maybe Sort of Chortling Quietly).
All of our scandalously untruthful LOLs tell us something: it’s hard to be truly funny. It really is. Especially in marketing — and especially when you’re trying really hard to be funny in marketing. (It seems the harder you try, the less funny you get.)
Effective humor, however, is not a mysterious black magic that only the chosen few can summon at will. As comic geniuses like Jerry Seinfeld have preached for years, good comedy is a science.
But Does It Really Matter to My Bottom Line?
This is a valid question. Are we trying to be funny for the sake of being funny? Does humor really matter that much?
Actually, it does.
As B2BMarketing.net pointed out:
Are you in a B2B marketing position that depends on client referrals for success? Do you ever take your uplines to meet your clients? Do you ever have new products you’d like clients to try? These are all valid reasons to choose humor. Clients are going to be eager to refer the contact who makes them smile. They are probably going to give more positive reports to your uplines. It will be easier to work through any problems with the client who looks forward to seeing you. And, they may be more willing to push for trying new products from you if they have a positive view of you.
Bottom line? Humor improves relationships with human beings. Better relationships with human beings lead to better, more profitable business relationships. It’s as simple as that.
Humor Derived From Warm Connections, Not Cold Contrivance
The first step is getting a sense of your B2B relationships and gut-checking your awareness of your potential clients. The use of humor in B2B marketing should be derived from a real connection with your client — or at the very least a thorough understanding of who your client is and what they’re about.
Okay, I Know My Client or My Target Audience. Now What?
Once you get to a place where you’re ready to use humor, many of the bravest souls still hesitate because they fear they will fail and look silly. No one likes being unfunny. It’s right up there with forgetting to wear your pants to work or accidentally sending your boss a text that begins with something affectionate like “Hey, sweetie cakes” because you were trying to text your spouse.
So let’s tackle this whole “unfunny” dilemma. These tips will help you know how to actually be funny — or at least mildly endearing and memorable (which helps in marketing too) — in a B2B setting.
- Choose Targets with Universal Appeal to Your Potential Clients
In the book Comedic Writing Secrets by Mel Helitzer and Mark Schaz, they pin-point the use of “targeting” as one of the central pillars of comedy. Targeting simply means finding a target to criticize. Comedy has always been a veiled form of criticism. The trick is finding an object to target that has the most universal appeal to your B2B audience — something that they can identify with immediately (usually something about the business world that frustrates them and is deemed worthy of a little lighthearted ridicule).
- Funny Words, Good Rhythm, and Writing What You Know
If you’ve ever wondered which words are funny, according to these comic legends, words with “p” or “k” in them tend to grab more laughs.
Jerry Seinfeld says that it’s like songwriting, where you’re measuring the rhythmic effect of your voice or your words on your audience. He believes that the counting of every syllable — shaving off letters and words here and there to make the joke more surprising — is crucial to getting the timing right.
And comic superstar Ricky Gervais says to write about what you know and make the “ordinary extraordinary” by being honest.
- Be Tasteful; Use Clean Comedy
Seinfeld is the perfect role model for businesses because clean comedy is obviously a must for tasteful B2B marketing. As Seinfeld himself said, he loves the challenge of making something funny without resorting to R-rated themes and language.
He used this analogy to explain it:”A person who can defend themselves with a gun is just not very interesting. But a person who defends themselves through aikido or tai chi? Very interesting.”
- Don’t Get Too Attached to Your First Idea
Always try to outdo yourself. Never settle for the first idea you have.
As the writer of the legendary TV show Family Guy says: “I think some people make the mistake of thinking that the first thing that they think of is perfect, and they fall in love with it. You might write five different versions of it, and ultimately come back to the first version and decide that’s the best.”
- Creatively Re-Purpose Your Product or Service
Good comedy has the element of surprise. It’s fairly simple: think of an off-the-wall way to use your product. Tie it into some common ground between you and your client — like a holiday, for example. Here’s a fun example of this fromMashable:
Michael Meyers Public Relations used this approach to promote its client Rude Gameware’s Teflon mouse pad. To get the media’s attention, they grilled cheeseburgers on the mouse pad and sent the picture and a press release to reporters around the 4th of July weekend. The stunt earned the company a front-page spot on prominent tech site Engadget, among other media pick-ups.
- Other Practical Tips: Good Business Timing of Humor, Start Small
Search Engine Journal recommends going for the funny stuff at the beginning of the buying cycle because “as soon as they feel the need to make a final call, prospects require content that is more serious and 100% geared towards valid responses to their problems, concerns, and demands.”
SEJ has another great tip: start small. If you’re really worried about bringing the funny factor into your marketing, try it out with smaller projects first, and then work your way up as you master the trade.