Consumer companies can get away with creating humorous ads, said Tim Washer, senior marketing manager at Cisco, as he opened a one-person panel on “Humanizing B2B Brands with Video and Comedy” at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. With business-to-business companies, however, the purchase prices are often higher and the decision cycles far longer. As a result, B2Bs feel the need to be serious and stuffy in their messaging.
But humor can deliver real value to B2Bs, Washer said. While it’s hard to prove the return on investment (ROI) for humorous videos, they can get the company valuable press in targeted publications — kudos just for trying something different. That can lead to other opportunities in the future.
“If you can get analysts and your press laughing, they’re a lot more open to taking that next phone call,” advised Washer.
To help B2Bs get started, Washer offered the following tips:
1. Enlist Your Employees
One way to humanize your company is to get your employees involved, telling their own stories. Don’t try to make these into marketing messages. The company blog can be a great place for guest spots where employees write entries or create slideshows about their passions. Keep entries simple and don’t use buzzwords. If the readers feel they’re being marketed to, they’ll tune out.
2. Keep Costs Down
If you approach your company with a costly online video proposal, there’s a strong chance you’ll be shot down. If you keep costs low, however, you can have the video shot, edited, and ready to preview to your execs before they know about it. For video projects, it’s easier to show corporate what you want to do than describe it. Hiring video students as interns, says Washer, is a great way to get affordable talent. Talk to a video professor at a local college and ask which students are natural storytellers.
3. Keep Expectations Low
If you have to convince executives to support an online video project, they’re going to ask about the number of views you expect to get and may well have thoughts of going viral. Keep their expectations low. Talk about niche audiences and targeting the right people. Even videos that don’t get huge views can find success if the right people see them.
4. Make them Laugh
There are many reasons to use humor in your online videos, says Washer. For one, it puts the viewer in a good frame of mind, and marketing is all about creating a positive association with a brand. Humor also helps your video cut through the noise, and it puts a human face on your company.
Try these tips and don’t be surprised if your customers become a lot more receptive to your promotions.
“I’m a big believer that decisions are made emotionally,” said Washer. Put a funny and human face on your company, and your customers will feel a connection.