Don’t laugh—humor can be a useful marketing tool

Some view corporate levity as too risky or unprofessional, but with the right approach it can open doors to new opportunities. Follow these guidelines for getting a laugh while making a sale.

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If you ask marketers, the answer will often be “no way,” or it’s “too risky.”

Quel dommage.

Using comedy for branding may alienate some customers, partners and/or vendors and spark more trouble than it’s worth, so B2B companies can be forgiven for keeping humor at bay when it comes to marketing messages or crisis management.

But at the same time, a myth has evolved that B2B brands should avoid humor in all their marketing efforts.

The reality suggests otherwise.

Some of the most highly regulated and closely scrutinized industries also produce some of the most humorous marketing campaigns—without forfeiting their overall message.

Exhibit A: the insurance industry.

Progressive Corp., which offers business insurance policies, has relied on Flo, a fictional character, to get the word out about the company for a decade. Progressive’s ads are lighthearted—silly even—but they reinforce the discounted rates that distinguish the insurer from its competitors.

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