Kathy Klotz-Guest

Humor and Willingness to Go “Off-Brand Script” Can Power Video Storytelling to Success

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Humor is an important element in storytelling and an especially important component behind successful video storytelling. In my research on that topic, I have found that many of the best and most successful videos (not necessarily measured by whether or not the video goes viral) incorporate fun and humor. While this is no surprise to the B2C marketer, B2B companies have finally started embracing – rather than running from – humor in the last several years. It’s also interesting that many of these companies are willing to experiment with stories that don’t sound like PR soundbites. In fact, the best ones often have little to do with “product pushing.” My favorite example is IBM’s Art of the Sale:

Great video engages and fun is a part of the narrative that grabs people. As I’ve always known, it puts a human face on a company and that’s especially important when the technologies are complex. Rather than explain complexity with complexity like a never-ending recursive argument, humor cuts through the layers of density and opens up a conversation. As the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto wrote so appropriately 11 years ago, real conversations include humor. They do not include more techo-babble jargon.

We’ve seen examples in b2b that have been quite successful. Some of my favorites include videos from the following companies:

  • Approva (and the singing accountant!)
  • Serena Software (Mash It!)
  • IBM (Art of the Sale)
  • Cisco (Cloud Computing)
  • Cree Lighting
  • Grasshopper.com
  • Scofield Edit

When done well, humor is part of engagement and that drives campaign success. It’s not about whether the effort goes viral, however, b2b marketers are finally realizing that “same old dull” ensures their video won’t go viral. Forget about viral – it’s more important that the video engage and connect with prospects, customers and key influencers.

Some of the best videos are also what I call “off-brand” narratives. Rather than push a product or brand, the best videos are telling a story of challenge, of the human condition, of something surprising, great, or moving. And only 1/2-way or more into it, do we realize that the marketing department of a company had anything to do with it. As one agency director told me during an interview, “The more open, transparent and fun companies are, the greater the positive response they receive. That, over time, helps give them a comfort level with humor. The process is evolutionary.”

Videos allow a more fluid and human storytelling and that’s progress for marketing and for the audiences who have been subjected to poor marketing for too long.

Do you have examples of b2b companies using fun and laugh-out-loud funny videos? I’d love to hear about ’em. Email me at kathy@powerfullyfunny.com or, better yet, share them with the world by posting for all!


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