Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Longevity of Fun in B2B Social Media

If there’s one thing that B2B marketers seem to be hesitant about it’s having fun in their marketing efforts. For some reason, even though we know that nobody enjoys reading boring and dry marketing collateral, and absolutely no one will share it with their friends, we still resort back to creating that style of content.

We would all agree that fun content is more shareable, and infinitely more likely to go viral. However, the one factor of fun content that is often overlooked is its longevity. Fun content has a habit of being discovered, and rediscovered many times, and each time can lead to another Tweet, another Facebook post, or another share, continuing the cycle.

As evidence, I want to share data from one of our not-so-recent campaigns, called The Conversation. It’s a fun, interactive exploration of marketing, the challenges we all face, and the odd things we all do to engage our prospects and measure our results. The great thing is how little it was promoted compared to the results we saw.

The campaign was launched over a year ago, and you can see a spike in leads driven by a promotion of it that we did in January. However, the campaign continues from there, generating a steady flow of leads every day since then. The campaign has been picked up numerous times including a recent Forrester Groundswell award, and you can see from the chart that it shows little sign of stopping.

To be clear, the fun and the humour in this campaign is tied directly to the solution it is here to promote, but in an entertaining and non-salesy way. At the end of the campaign, a marketer can choose to connect with us or not, there is no requirement to fill in the form. (this chart measures the actual leads created as someone interacts with the campaign, and at the end decides to connect with our sales team for further discussions)

However, in taking a message from product and solution, to fun and entertainment, an interesting transition happens. Being fun and entertaining forces us as marketers to connect with the actual people and personalities who might buy our products. This is not the idea of taking a “feature” and spinning it into a “benefit”, it’s much deeper than that. It’s about understanding what motivates, frustrates, entertains, inspires, and irks the people we are hoping to engage with. To do that, we end up creating a message that has a longer shelf life than the latest release, or an interesting capability.

Humor and entertainment lasts longer than features and benefits because it is about people, not about products, and people don’t change as quickly.

What makes a person smile, laugh, or think today will likely make them smile, laugh, or think a year from now. Connecting with buyers on a personal level makes your message not just more shareable, but also more long lasting. After seeing David Meerman Scott speak at Eloqua Experience this year about the concept of a World Wide Rave, and seeing this data from an actual campaign, I’ve become more convinced that we as marketers need to revisit how to add humor and entertainment into our B2B marketing campaigns.

Oh, and make sure you watch The Conversation - it's a lot of fun.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar


Anonymous said...

I just went through the campaign and it was VERY good. I use humor in every sales cycle and it is very effective at breaking down walls and encouraging teamwork between buyer and seller. Well done.

David Meerman Scott said...

Well said Steve.

What some B2B marketers forget, is that no matter who you market to, you are still communicating with PEOPLE.

I find many B2B marketers think "I am marketing to a business, therefore I need to be very businesslike (read BORING). Yet, it is the people in the business who consume your marketing.

I enjoyed speaking at EE09 and many people came up to me after or emailed me later to say the ideas around B2B marketing bring fun were liberating to them because they had always assumed that they needed to be dry as dirt.

Take care, Davi

Steven Woods said...

Thanks David, Anonymous,
Let's hope next year brings a surge of creativity, humour, and entertainment to B2B marketing. The field definitely needs it...


Anonymous said...


Just saw your San Francisco presentation that someone posted on youtube. I cannot tell you how much I have been thinking about these concepts about sales 2.0. I have been selling to the enterprise for 10+ years and every year I find its gets harder to reach our potential customers with cold cals and emails. If we can connect and work with clients who are looking for our solutons, we can kill interuption marketing.

I have been reading non-stop on this topic - great stuff.

Jon Feldman

Steven Woods said...

great to hear - agreed, the world of buying and selling is changing rapidly. 2010 will be a very interesting year, as the downturn truly forced a number of the changes in buying and selling that had been masked by a good economy to come to the fore-front.

I look forward to connecting at some point in the future.

Jyoti Bhargava said...

Agree with you Steven, on adding the fun element into messages to increase their shelf life. It remains important, however, to be wary of trivialising the subject at the cost of making it light hearted. Another parameter to consider would be the length of one's message -- I'd found The Conversation an enjoyable way to engage but also way too long to hold my attention.

Look forward to more such thoughts in your future posts.

Matt Heinz said...

This lesson equally applies to sales as well. Too often, sales scripts and processes are too formal, too corporate, and don't allow for treating the prospect like a real person. If both sales & marketing can open up, show some personality, and use humor to quick gain respect & rapport, the sales process can be more fun and more successful as a result.

Steven Woods said...

you're definitely right with that. As soon as one uses the word "script" in sales, the concept immediately becomes impersonal and humorless. At the end of the day, people by from people, and humour is a great way to show shared views and values.

yeah, it is a bit longer than "recommended" - although it's interesting - the people that come out the end are *very* qualified buyers and have strong propensities to purchase.