‘Tis the Season for a Little Fun, Friends and Gratitude

Conventional wisdom says that B2B marketing can’t be quirky, humorous, or even ‘fun’.

However, the truth is that, these days, if you hope to have any impact on your target market at all, you’re going to need to bring a little more personality to your brand and your marketing communications. Your customers are getting thousands of marketing messages every day – at home and at the office – and the key to cutting through the clutter is to engage their emotions. You don’t need to leave them weeping over a cute puppy video – in the B2B environment, just leaving them with a smile on their face will give you an advantage over your competitors.

The holiday season is a great opportunity to inject some ‘emotion’ into your marketing communications without looking like you’re trying too hard or forcing your formerly ‘serious’ brand into an awkwardly touchy-feely mold. Here are some ways to do it:

Have some fun with your logo
Take a tip from Google – which regularly offers themed versions of its logo to celebrate notable inventions, historical events, and holidays – and post a holiday version of your logo on your website (and other places, like social media channels). It doesn’t have to be strictly ‘Christmas’: you can use snowflakes, stars, or rotate through a suite of logos representing various December-based holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. You’re adding a bit of whimsy without getting too ‘crazy’ with your brand.

Share some engaging photos of your team
Your people are your most important asset, and this is a great time to demonstrate just how fun, smart and interesting they really are. Post photos (on your blog, Facebook page, or other social media) of employees wearing Christmas sweaters or reindeer antlers; from your company-wide Secret Santa luncheon; or delivering the canned goods you collected for your food drive. Clients like to think they’re working with a company full of happy, team-oriented employees, even if they aren’t interacting with those people on a daily basis.

Find creative ways to thank clients – publicly
Gratitude is a good idea any time of year, but it’s especially appreciated during the holidays. By all means, send your clients the ‘usual’ seasonal thank-you tokens like gift baskets, but this year, why not consider a more public thank you? A heartfelt (and not too long) video from the CEO or President, thanking clients and suppliers who have contributed to the preceding year’s success, is a great way to put a human face on your gratitude – and your brand.

Launch a light-hearted contest and invite clients to participate
Ask employees and clients to submit their most embarrassing holiday photo, recount their most awkward Christmas memory, or even a Vine of their pet wearing a Christmas costume, and offer prizes for the best entries. (Prizes don’t have to be expensive, but they should have a good perceived value – Starbucks gift cards, for example, will be more motivating than a box of your company pens.) Assign someone from your marketing or social media team to post the funniest and most interesting entries to your website and other social media channels. It’s a good (and relatively low-cost) way to drive online engagement while giving your brand some personality.

Add something different to your holiday client party
Most of your clients will receive several invitations to ‘customer appreciation’ cocktail parties this season. Why not make yours the one they remember? Set up a giant screen where clients can play video games like GuitarHero or Dance Revolution; set up a photo booth for funny holiday shots; set up a ping-pong table (this will be more popular than you think); set up a light show at the entrance to deliver some instant wow-factor; feature your clients’ logos on food items or posters. One of the best ways to ensure your client party is remembered as a big success? Ensure all employees know their roles (greeters, facilitators, designated conversation-starters, etc.) and that they are prepared to make introductions – after all, one of the reasons your clients come to these events is to network!

You may discover that your clients are more receptive to your more ‘fun’ brand personality than you thought – which will give you some valuable insight for your 2015 marketing strategy.