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Three words: Dollar Shave Club.
Is this going to be yet another post about the 2012 minute-and-a-half promotional video? Thankfully, no. But, I can’t help bringing it up because when talking about using humor to promote dry subject material – replacement shaving razors – Dollar Shave Club can’t be beat.
Their campaign hit all the checkboxes: scalability, broad appeal, information, and huge conversion (about 330,000 people signed up within a year of the video launch). Most of you probably know what I’m talking about, but in case you don’t, or want a refresher, check out the video below:
How do you feel about signing up to a replacement razor subscription now? Maybe a little excited?
According to a review by HubSpot, “the video cost approximately $4,500 – and yet, it got more than 11 million views and coverage on countless media outlets.”
Ok, enough about Dollar Shave Club – for one, it’s been covered over and over again, and two, it’s a B2C example where humor (attempted) is a much more accepted and popular approach.
So, what about B2B? How do content marketers use humor to not only generate awareness, but to actually push an audience toward conversion?
I’ll give you a hint: The answer is not solely video. Video may come top of mind when thinking about adding humor into your marketing, but there are a variety of formats including:
In this post, we’ll cover seven B2B companies who are really killing it with their content and bringing their audiences some laughs along the way. We’ll point out key ideas on how you might be able to apply some of their tactics to your content approach.
We’ll begin with an older social post from Intel.
The fact that it’s from 2012 is impressive because social has only grown more foundational in digital marketing, and Intel was already playing with the medium.
The post isn’t promoting anything – just providing some laughs for social browsers. It’s very top-of-the-funnel, awareness post, but new followers can turn into new leads.
We’ve all seen a stock photo exactly like this, but never with Vince Vaughn as the main subject.
But the majority of iStock’s audience is definitely B2B, and their move to stick out of the stock image crowd by making fun of stock photos is a great way to gain marketers and media outlets’ attention.
After seeing this, you may ask what other campaigns will they have next. What does their library offer if they’re aware of all the over-used tropes of stock images?
iStock poked fun at themselves and their industry space. They weren’t afraid to call out the minor elephant in the room and be a little self-deprecating, pretty much saying, “stock photos are often ridiculous. But, hey, we all need them. Come check out ours.”
Blog voice and narrative is tricky. How conversational you can be often depends on the audience or the subject. With that being said, the more blogs a person reads, the more refreshing it often is to see prose with personality injected into it.
This example from ConversionXL, a conversion optimization agency, demonstrates how most of us really feel, and speaks to us in a more relatable language.
When you can cut formality and just speak to someone like you would a friendly colleague, one on one, the whole of your service or product can come to life in a much more human way. Humans like humans.
Like ConversionXL, Punchline Copywriting’s website and blog is filled with playful writing. For example, their email subscription list is called Just the Tips.
What really stands out is their CTA and the personal quality of the copy. Throwing in my name and email for this list isn’t a chore because I genuinely want to see what they will send me.
And once I did sign up, my expectation was immediately met with a much more fun-to-read confirmation message than a simple “Thank you.”
By creating a more personal and interesting Call to Action, you can entice a reader’s curiosity more. We’ve all seen “Download Now” a thousand times. Even simple changes like “Give Me the Goods” or “Let Me Own This” can have large impacts.
In this live broadcast series, optimization experts weigh in on a series of different landing pages and debate the optimization merits of each. This subject could be totally tedious, but creating a riffing-discussion based format that doesn’t take itself too seriously makes it an enjoyable experience.
By going beyond written content, Unbounce and ConversionXL offer an alternative content experience and brand promotion. Note the ever-present CTAs at the bottom for additional content.
Wistia may be a video platform, but they know how to send great emails too. Below is a simple product update which can often be overlooked in crowded inboxes.
So instead of focusing on the product details, Wistia, instead, focused on a parade!
The email links to a short video of Wistia team members throwing a celebratory parade. This allows them to use a much more inviting CTA. How much more interested are you in “Watch the Parade!” than “Read more”?
I know I said that we’d avoid video examples, but Wistia’s are a bit different. Because they are a video platform, they use video for everything – in blogs, trainings, updates, social, and overviews.
What makes their videos great is the employee personality that are in each one. Most videos are shot in their office, and while the quality always looks great, there’s a homemade feel to them that offers a unique viewing experience – one you want to return to.
By showcasing their company culture and the employees that thrive within it, Wistia creates disarming content that feels friendly and familiar – the type of people you’d want to do business with and get excited for what’s coming next.
When you think of a flash storage solution software, humor may not come immediately to mind. But that doesn’t stop Tintri from making engaging content that both entertains audiences and learns about them, too.
They created an election-season themed assessment, pushing for “No LUNs in 2016!” For non flash storage experts, a LUN is a software storage term (logical unit number).
The interactive content has animations and unique quips for each question that is asked. Check out the whole No LUNs app here.
Injecting a topical theme like election season or a popular event into your content is always a way to breathe a little life into it. Tintri took it a step further by using satire in their content to make the subject material more engaging. The fact that they got to learn about their audience in the process is bonus points.
As singer/ songwriter Regina Spektor said in her song Ghost of a Corporate Future, “People are just people like you.” When creating content in a B2B environment, it can be easy to lose sight of the abstract “leads” and “prospects” as just people who laugh, talk, and like to experience fun things.
The voice you use for your own content is very much dependent on your audience and subject, but you may be surprised at the boundaries you can push and the positive impact it can have on your content performance.