Laughing All the Way to More Sales: The Importance of Humor in Marketing

Christoph Trappe 4 minute read

We’ve all been there – eyes glazing over as we scan through another email full of buzzwords, jargon, and dry corporate-speak. When faced with lifeless B2B messaging day after day, even the most patient prospects yearn for something fresh. What if brands approached communications from a place of wit and levity instead? How about some humor in marketing – when relevant and appropriate, of course!

Elliott Curry

Elliott Curry

“Find those things that you know your audience experiences and use humor and wit to make it a little bit lighter,” said senior marketing pro Elliott Curry on “Marketing, Demystified. “Making fun of that can be a powerful way to connect immediately.”

When done judiciously, humor in marketing humanizes companies, engendering goodwill and trust. It signals that brands fundamentally grasp customer challenges because they can poke fun at painful problems.

In essence, the right humor winks, “We get it—and we’ve got your back.” Who wouldn’t want to work with a partner who can turn frustration into laughter? Especially one capable of delivering serious solutions with a twinkle in its eye?

Let’s explore best practices around integrating humor into marketing without sabotaging credibility or professionalism. While laughter opens hearts and minds, failed comedic attempts breed discomfort and resentment. What is the difference between the two? Mindset, preparation, and empathy. Let’s discuss each area so your next campaign gains smiles rather than furrowed brows.

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B2B Buyers are Actually Human

A common sentiment Elliott has encountered is the belief that B2B buyers do not want humor or creativity – that they only respond to logical arguments. However, Elliott counters that B2B buyers are still human beings who enjoy laughing like everyone else. Ignoring opportunities to connect emotionally and tap into buyers’ humanity means missing out on forging stronger relationships.

Elliott also suspects generational differences impact perspectives on injecting humor into marketing. Older generations tended to have strict divisions between professional and personal lives. Millennials and younger, however, are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work. As younger generations assume leadership roles, brands clinging to dull marketing may struggle to engage audiences that expect humor in marketing.

Humor humanizes your brand.

When people laugh, their brains release endorphins, leading to feelings of pleasure and decreased stress. Elliott argues that eliciting laughter through humor allows brands to link those positive sentiments with themselves in the minds of prospects and customers. It also makes companies seem more relatable and approachable.

Overcoming Fear to Test Humor in Marketing

The fear of trying humor stems from potential risks. Elliott maintains brands can start small:

“I always equate it to working out. On my first day at the gym, I wouldn’t jump up to the bar, grab a couple of Cadillacs, slap them on, and try to benchpress 200 pounds.”

He advises beginning with emojis to take emotionless emails up a notch. Test and expand from there based on audience reactions. Elliott also recommends leveraging data to overcome concerns.

Read next: Humanizing Brands for Competitive Advantage – a chat with Emma Borochoff

Considerations When Integrating Humor

While humor offers rewards, getting it wrong damages trust and relationships. Elliott stresses starting slowly and avoiding stereotypes and assumptions by thoroughly understanding your audience. What delights one prospect may offend another.

Growgetter CEO and co-founder Jenn Mancusi cautions that humor differs across cultures. A joke landing in the U.S. may not translate well in other countries. Global brands must carefully consider humor through a local cultural lens.

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Elliott and Jenn also advise testing humor extensively before wide release. Loop in diverse perspectives to catch blindspots. And above all, keep the brand safe even if it means scrapping an idea.

When in doubt, no jokes. As Elliott says, “If everybody’s not laughing, it sort of kind of takes the fun away from it.”

Types of Humor to Test

Integrating humor without tanking your brand takes experimentation. Elliott suggests starting with:

  • Emojis: Quick emotional triggers that make subject lines stand out
  • GIFs: Convey sentiment economically through moving images
  • Memes: Cultural references that tap into shared experiences
  • Puns: Wordplay tickles without provoking belly laughs
  • Self-deprecation: Highlights approachability when used judiciously

AI tools can help generate ideas for puns on demand to inject harmless humor.

Common Pitfalls

Aside from outright offensive missteps, some humor integration attempts amuse without moving prospects closer to a sale. Elliott calls out two frequent mistakes:

  • Failing to tie humor back to the offering: Don’t leave “meat on the bone” by entertaining without showcasing how you solve relevant problems.
  • Neglecting the CTA: All humor and no clear path forward wastes effort. Provide a solid motivator—not a weak “feel free to reach out”—to capitalize on the goodwill built up through an engaging message. Ditch generic “Click Here” CTAs in favor of specific benefits prospects receive by taking action.

The Key is Consistency

Elliott stresses that while every marketing message need not be hilarious, brands best serve audiences by integrating humor as part of consistent emotional connections rooted in understanding buyer needs.

Jenn said the tips work across marketing channels and apply equally to small businesses. As Elliott says, “We’re all people. We all breathe, we like food. And I guarantee you we like to laugh.” B2B marketing works best when it embraces our shared humanity.

Read next: 5 B2B Marketing KPIs You Should be Looking At


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