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The F word in B2B marketing

bubble-fun

Is it just me or is typical B2B marketing utterly joyless?  Why is that?  Why do people who are passionate about carp fishing and bicycling and the Beatles become robots when they sit down to tell the world about the thing they do for a living — the thing they spend a THIRD OF THEIR LIVES doing?

Whatever happened to fun?  Don’t you prefer to do business with people who enjoy what they do?  Don’t you find yourself attracted to companies that look like they’re glad to be doing what they’re doing?

A good friend of mine, Nick, is an accountant. Boring, right?  But he’s incredibly successful and his clients love him and recommend him because, to him, accountancy is the furthest thing in the world from boring. Nick loves accountancy.  He loves business and the hydrodynamics of finance and the way small, sound decisions can have big, positive impacts on businesses and the people who care about those businesses. There’s nothing boring about that.

You might sell software that helps trucking companies improve their fuel efficiency.  Or a service that helps IT departments protect their databases.  Or a piece of middleware that improves the way some ERP application interacts with some other ERP application.  But if you love what you do; if you really see the value in it; if you enjoy the challenges or the tech problems or the look on a customer’s face when he gets it… why in the world would you want to bury that passion under layers of business-speak and techno-babble?

Maybe it’s time to lighten up.  If you can’t muster some enthusiasm for your work, find another job.  And if you can, share it with the people who most need to see your passion: your customers and prospects.

How does fun manifest itself in a B2B context without becoming frivolous?  Here are a few ways:

  • Light, honest, human blog posts – a blog is a great place to have a bit of fun without jeopardising the hallowed brand values.
  • Social media – another place to let your hair down and give the world some evidence that your company is not driven by robots.
  • Video fun – quick, short videos are a great way to have a ‘play’ with your story and your brand.  Stick them on YouTube, embed them on your site, email them to prospects.
  • The home page – you might think this real estate is too precious to muck around with. Actually, it’s the perfect place for showing a bit of attitude and energy. You’ll increase time on site and page views by giving people an open,  friendly, accessible story. By having fun.
  • Data sheet or case study ‘seasoning’ – Even hardworking technical documents can have a bit of fun without detracting from the business at hand.  A sidebar, a striking metaphor, a surprising quote…

The list could be endless because the principle applies to everything you do. Before you publish, think “Can this be a bit more fun to read/watch/listen to?”

Of course, done badly, attempts to lighten up can fall flat.  That’s probably why B2B marketers tend to shy away from it.  The point is not to aim for hilarious.  You’ll fail and look silly.  Aim for honest and plain-speaking and you’re a lot more likely to hit the target.  But for God’s sake have a bit of fun with it!

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2 Responses to “The F word in B2B marketing”

  1. Claire

    I am strangely fascinated with the ins and outs of warehouse management systems(whatever rocks your boat I hear you say) I’m taking on the challenge to write a value proposition for Best of Breed Operational Processing Systems in the spirit of your article. Here goes…

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