The Case of the Missing Sense of Humor

Tips to Add Emotion and Storytelling to Your B2B Communications

Imagine a guy named John who travels to his office from his suburban home every day. Along the way, he sees billboards, listens to the radio and maybe stops at his favorite coffee shop.

He arrives at the office, checks his social media channels for updates and then enters the building, where he suddenly turns off his sense of humor, suspends his natural interest in compelling images and video and quadruples his attention span.

Or at least that’s the way B2B marketers often treat him.

Why is John treated differently whether marketers are trying to sell him a cup of coffee for his commute or a technology system for his company?

The truth is that John’s sense of humor isn’t missing. When he walks in that office he is still the same person who wants to be informed and doesn’t mind being entertained.

The real mystery is why B2B marketers don’t use all of the tools at their disposal to reach members of their target audience like John.

Here are a few tips to help add emotion and compelling content to your B2B communications:

  • Just like B2C marketers, think of the whole range of emotions, including fear, uncertainty or even envy. A blog post on new industry regulations can generate more interest with a headline like “7 Things Your Boss Wants You to Know about New Regulations.” You don’t have to be negative to play to people’s concerns about getting behind in their field.
  • Ditch the jargon and explain your product/service in language you would use with your spouse or a friend outside your industry. Sure, a guy like John knows your technical terms and they have a place, but no one has ever complained that something was too easy to understand. Put all the technical specifications in a PDF that your customers can access when they need more info.
  • Be seasonal. People like John celebrate holidays and seasons just like the rest of us. You probably want to avoid connecting your message to a religious celebration, but events like the start of Spring or national doughnut day can be interesting hooks. Or better yet, invent your own season, like retailers did for back to school. Our B2B client created an award-winning infographic tied to homeowner/contractor relationships that they distributed right before Valentine’s Day. They earned 53 million media impressions and saw traffic to their website increase 70 percent.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. This has never been more true. And video production value expectations are at an all time low. Take every project you have and increase your images/video vs. text. You don’t need professional photography or videography to start doing this. In this era of YouTube and Instagram, user-generated content is perceived as much more credible, so be sure to add this to your marketing mix.

Inspired? Here are a few resources to jump-start your journey to compelling B2B marketing:


Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator – Great for blog posts, email subject lines and article headlines.

BlaBla Meter – Have fun while you reduce jargon in your copy. (NOTE: This post scored .22)

Twitter Analytics – A great picture of the results of your Twitter activity and a great way to see what kinds of messages do best.


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