Editor’s Note: Next Level Creative is a blog series that explores the artistic side of B2B content creation. We offer ways to level-up your marketing by unpacking the attributes of great storytelling across different media and channels.
Creatives working in the B2B space might not say it out loud, but sometimes we look wistfully at our B2C counterparts and their colorful ad campaigns and witty social media banter and wish we could have that kind of fun.
As we’ve covered in a previous Next Level Creative article, the buttoned-up, risk-averse nature of B2B often lends itself to unimaginative content that marketers are loath to create and audiences aren’t excited to read.
It’s unreasonable to expect B2B brands to sound as casual and playful as fast-food chains, but B2B content marketers can have a little room to play, right? The short answer is yes we can. The longer answer is yes we can, but…
Here’s how to inject playfulness into your content without sacrificing professionalism — and why a wholehearted attempt is worth it.
Make it About You
When making content that’s purely fact-based, focused on identifying our customers’ problems, and highlighting our product or service as a solution, it can easily come off as overly technical, dogmatic, and prescriptive. It’s not only dull to read, it can sound condescending, too.
Getting a little playful can soften this harsh tone, and the best way to go about it is to poke fun at yourself. As marketers, we’re writing largely for other marketers. We know what problems they’re dealing with because we’ve faced them, too. And we know what solutions don’t work, because we’ve also tried them and failed.
Acknowledging the absurdity of what you do as a marketer, of what we all collectively do, shows that you understand.
You’re not lecturing, you’re relating. You’re showing your customers that you’re in solidarity with them. And most importantly, you know how to solve their problem because you’ve gone through it yourself.
For an example of this type of fun but informative content, check out 6sense’s Revenue Team Therapy video series.
Make it an Experience
Reframe the question, “How can I make this content fun?” and instead ask, “How can I make this content an experience?”
Customers are looking for solutions to their problems, but they’re also eager to work with people and brands that are interesting and fun to engage with. If you’re bored writing it, they’ll probably be bored reading it.
Customers also want to know why you do what you do. The “why” is connected to your brand’s core values, and playful messaging needs to be rooted in them.
For instance, 6sense is serious about using data to uncover insights, and we’re passionate about helping our customers with their pipeline. We could’ve put together a no-nonsense video series about our data capture and consolidation, orchestration, and predictive analytics features, but we decided it would be more fun to envision revenue teams as agents of change with a James Bond spoof.
Make It — But Take Your Time
When comedic genius strikes, you might be tempted to record a quick, funny video at your cubicle or throw something together to post on social media. Don’t.
Even for humorous content, production value is important, and the professional look and feel cannot be compromised. Put the same amount of time and effort into producing something playful as you would straight-laced content. In fact, putting in a little bit more time is advisable.
Before releasing comedic content into the wild, take the time to get feedback from every member of the team and ask:
- Is it cringe? If you feel uncomfortable, chances are good your audience will, too.
- Is it an inside joke? Your company culture might have a side your customers don’t see, but revealing it this way can leave them feeling out of the loop and confused.
- Does this connect to our brand message and sentiment? Remember that even fun content needs to link back to your core values.
Every member of the team should be welcome to give honest feedback and pump the brakes if needed. Comedy is subjective, but if someone has a gut feeling that the joke is going to fall flat or bring unwanted attention, they’re probably right.
B2B content can be playful and professional, and when executed successfully, it can make your brand sound like a trustworthy, relatable colleague with advice worth listening to.
Striking that balance presents a creative challenge, but you don’t need to be a master comedian to write fun B2B content. Keep egos low, production value high, and core values in your mind, and you’ll be able to create engaging content that will inform and delight your audience.