Cisco spices B2B with humour

26 September 2014

NEW YORK: Business-to-business (B2B) marketers should consider injecting more humour into their campaigns to engage customers in different and deeper ways, a leading executive from Cisco has argued.

Tim Washer, Cisco's executive product/rich media marketing, discussed this theme while speaking at the Content Marketing Summit, an event organised by NewsCred.

"I have worked most of my life in B2B, which – by definition – is humourless," he said. (For more, including details of how the firm has implemented this idea, read Warc's exclusive report: Cisco injects humour into B2B marketing.)

Alongside helping companies stand out amid the swathe of technical and functional information in the B2B space, taking a light-hearted tone lets brands demonstrate a greater degree of warmth and openness.

"One of the most powerful things about humour, I think, is that it shows our authentic selves," said Washer.

"I think when somebody laughs, they have lost control for a minute, and therefore we know, 'Okay; they're being honest with us'.

"In this context, that's the most intimate connection you can make with someone. So if you can scale that globally by putting it in a YouTube video, why don't you give it a shot?"

Another core benefit of adopting this tactic is the capacity to present a "kinder, humbler image" – and thus make massive corporations like Cisco more approachable on the personal level.

"That's what humour can do," said Washer. "It's such a powerful tool to humanise."

With writing credits for Saturday Night Live and appearances on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Late Night with Conan O'Brien to his name, Washer knows the comedy terrain well.

And rather than dismissing this vehicle as too risky or too throwaway for their products, he suggested that B2B brands should work with comedy experts to test out this strategy.

"If you can add humour to it, you can cut to the bone, get people's attention; dopamine's released, they're opening to listening to a message; and you can just have a much stronger impact than any other way of communicating," he said.

Data sourced from Warc