Ah, comedy. This powerful artform can tear down the privileged, lift up the despondent, and make everyone’s day a little bit brighter.
Yet, comedy also has a dark side. Those that wield it without skill risk offending their audience. Or, even worse, they may find themselves suffocating beneath a mountain of debt that only grows heavier with each enrollment in a new ventriloquy class.
“It’s too many puppets,” they’ll mumble through lips that are clearly moving. “I own too many puppets.”
So, it’s pretty easy to see why a B2B company may be hesitant to use humor in their marketing videos. Even if you toss aside the risks listed above, B2B marketers still have to contend in a space that prefers technical specificity to silly spontaneity.
Yet, because of that inherent risk, there is also a real opportunity for reward. B2B companies shouldn’t shy away from going the comedic route, and there are plenty of reasons why humor can boost their brand.
Using Humor in B2B Video Allows You to Zig While Your Competition Zags
Just because there is a difference between B2C and B2B marketing, it doesn’t mean that those who practice the latter can’t borrow any creative strategies from the former. B2B video marketing is often dry and technical with a message that focuses on product specifications and ROI.
This makes it difficult to stand out. If everyone’s message has the same droning tone that goes on and on about how what they’re selling can help increase efficiency by 15% each quarter, it’s going to be hard to have your voice heard.
Instead of doing that, you can employ humor. If you want to be smart, you can even play on the common tropes of B2B videos in your industry. This breaking of pattern repetition helps capture your audience’s attention while being both funny and smart.
Take a look at this video we did for Contract Hound. The beginning of it starts like 90% of all B2B videos out there, but it quickly takes a hard left turn. It zigs where others zag.
Being Funny Can Humanize the Technical
We’ve talked about humor in B2B video in the context of marketing, but it can also serve a purpose elsewhere. Product demos, customer success videos, and sales videos can all benefit from being funny especially if your brand or product is a technical one.
Adding humor to those videos gives them personality and makes it easier for the audience to form a personal connection with your brand. That doesn’t mean you have to shy away from technical specifications. You can even lean into them and incorporate pop culture or nerdy references that are specific to the people watching your videos. It’s like a little inside joke between you and your audience.
Another way to feature comedy and humanize your videos is to have a host personify your product. You’re literally – well, figuratively – turning your product into a real-life human. That may mean hiring an actor, but hiring a funny actor to be funny is also a lot easier than trying to forcing a sense of humor onto an employee.
Laughing Makes Your Audience Feel Good About Your Goods
Finally, laughter is a positive experience. Everyone likes to laugh. In terms of involuntarily emotional responses, there is no competition. Yes, crying can be cathartic, and there’s nothing quite like luxuriating in a deep sigh, but laughter will always reign supreme.
If laughter is undeniably good, why would you deny it to your targeted audience? You might say something like “Well, our brand is serious,” and that may well be true. Your brand is your company which is the result of your hard work, and no one wants to take that away from you.
Still, your audience has a sense of humor, and if you can make them laugh, they’ll associate those positive feelings with your brand. If they feel good, they’ll want to share that feeling with other members of the buying committee. That is, humor can provide a direct path to finding your champion and advocate.
Knowing the Rules of Comedy Helps You Avoid Common Pratfalls
It’s important to be upfront and say that you’re not going to develop a sense of humor from just reading a couple of bullet points at the end of a blog post on a B2B video agency’s website. Still, here are some general rules for using comedy in B2B video:
- Be specific. You didn’t spill something on yourself. You spilled congealed duck fat on your brand-new khakis. Even if the premise isn’t universal – I mean, most people are pretty apt duck-fat handlers – its specificity makes it easier to identify with.
- Don’t worry about being polite. This doesn’t mean your goal should be to offend, but it’s better to go overboard to find out where the line is and pull back. If you are afraid of being impolite, your comedy will come out tepid.
- Cameras suck out 30% of the joke. On-camera performances usually need to be big, broad, and play to the cheap seats. Subtle humor can be funny, but only subtly.
- Test screen your video. As you write a joke, film a joke, and edit a joke, the repetition makes it difficult to know if it’s still a funny joke. Bring in people outside of the production process to watch the video. Their reaction can let you know if the video is still funny after each new iteration.
- Hire funny people to be funny. Everyone likes to laugh but not everyone is funny. If you want your video to be comedic, hire those well-versed in the humorous arts.
Joking Your Way to B2B Video Marketing Success
Comedy can be risky, but the benefits of a humorous video should outweigh potential concerns. The key is to actually be funny because that’s hilarious.
For more on using humor in B2B video, make sure to listen to episode 41 of The Video Reformation Podcast.