My marketing department recently hired a cartoonist. Yeah, he’s an accomplished writer and author, too, but his main role is to draw cartoons, post funny pictures on social channels and maybe convince a prospect or two why they should buy our products. As my colleague pointed out in a recent blog post, companies are stepping up their efforts and living by the motto, “no more boring content.” And if you are a cartoonist, infographic designer or comedy writer, you’re in luck: companies are hiring.
As a B2B marketing veteran, it’s a never-ending challenge to get someone’s attention. But now the bar has risen; your content not only needs to be better than your competition, but it also needs to be laugh out loud, forward-to-your-friend funny.
Take this recent video from Under Armour. It combines a few of my favorite things: Funny or Die, Boston accents and Tom Brady. A recipe for viral success. At last check it was up to 68,000 Likes on Facebook and will leave you saying, “I can’t believe I just watched a 3-minute Under Armour commercial.”
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Other companies are joining this trend of creating funny or provocative marketing spots – and some of them may surprise you. How did Cisco make a router funny, for example? Instead of a run-of-the-mill, boring spec sheet with features and benefits, by using some clever script writing, the marketing team at Cisco made me laugh by creating “Man vs. Grid: Engineer Battles the World’s Most Rugged Router.” Why did I sit through a 3-minute Cisco commercial about a product I would never buy? Because I wanted to see what would happen next. It was entertaining, and I appreciate good writing and video editing, which was probably a fraction of the cost of a 30-second TV ad.
In this era of social sharing, creating content that is witty, funny and novel is crucial to earning broad appeal. Though it is difficult to predict whether or not your next video or web meme will go viral, having a good sense of humor combined with strong writing is increasingly important for marketing teams across industries. It is up to those of us in the marketing industry to meet these new standards of what works online, and to find new and creative ways to truly earn the respect – and laughs – of our audience.
Lee Perlis is a Senior Marketing Manager for Blackboard Inc. He runs the channel marketing strategy and demand generation for Blackboard’s Professional Education division. When not solving Blackboard’s marketing challenges, Lee can be found on his blog, Twitter @lperlis or riding on escalators with his 2-year-old daughter.