In this Mens Health survey of more than 1,000 women, you know what the #1 Most Desirable Personality Trait was they wanted in a mate? Sense of Humor. So, if most of us are out there looking for a life partner who can make us laugh, why do B2B businesses, who too are courting their own prospects, often leaving their sense of humor at the door?

B2B marketing is fundamentally changing, moving away from traditionally dry corporate communication and marketing, in large part due to social media. According to these Vital Statistics for B2B Marketers video, nine out of 10 buyers say that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you, because 93% of buyers use search to begin the buying process.

That means that B2B businesses are acting more like consumers themselves, which means B2B marketers need to be thinking more like B2C marketers more than ever before.

“Consumer brands get away with being ridiculous all the time,” Tim Washer said. But with the proliferation of social media, “it doesn’t matter if [the audience] is B2B or Consumer. They’re people… there is more room for humor in B2B.” And why should we be listening to this Tim Washer character? He’s just a former writer for The Late Show With David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, and Conan O’Brien, who is now the brains behind B2B technology company, Cisco Enterprises.

As the senior manager of social media at in a 1:1 marketing world focused on enterprise sales of servers, routers and the like, humor is one characteristic you wouldn’t think would be part of Washer’s job description. However, when his B2B marketing team came up with a commercial video with a humorous twist for a new router that went viral, the publicity which it garnered from being featured everywhere from The New York Times to trade magazines, “was a huge win for us because our customers and prospects are reading the articles.” Businesses showing that they are human is an easy way to brand your business, helping it stick in consumers’, including B2B consumers’, minds.

There are lots of ways to humanize (and humorize… did I just create new marketing slang?!) your B2B brand. Epuron, a clean energy company in Europe created what may be the best B2B marketing video of all time. Shoeboxed, a fellow Durham startup, showcases its software’s versatility by blogging about famous Hollywood characters. McKissack & McKissack capitalized on holiday cheer and created a fun, simple and entirely effervescent video Holiday Card to send to clients and prospects.

Here at Argyle, we share photos and stories of company milestones, drop one-liners into our Leadership Team bios, and even incorporate humor into our Whitepapers… I mean, if you’ve read the first sentence of our Primer on Social Media Attribution & ROI, then you know we are not publishing your historically dryer than dry whitepapers. Alright… since I like you, here it is:

Now armed with the knowledge that B2B Marketers can, and moreover potentially need to be funny, the next step is figuring out what and how to joke with your audience. Check out more witty wisdom from our friend Jason Falls’ interview with Tim Washer for Social Media Explorer or Washer on MarketingProfs Podcast, How Humor Can Humanize a B2B Brand.

Image from: Burdette Ketchum

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