On the first Monday of the month, my manager and I sit down to plan out the HIPBlog for the coming month. We talk out content ideas we have, sometimes exploring the web as inspiration.
On one overly sunny afternoon (you think you want southwestern facing windows until you have them), Matt was scrolling through his LinkedIn feed. We stumbled across a post that showed off a B2B coloring book.
THE BLOG POST
Would I even be a marketer if I didn’t analyze the content that got me to the coloring book?
I read the original blog post we found on LinkedIn. It talked about the surprising things they learned from creating and distributing a compliance coloring book.
They use the example of it being a great activity for parents to do with their children. That seems a little odd, especially when you get into the meat of it.
But I was willing to go for the ride. And although we are several years past the height of the coloring book craze of 2015, there is still merit.
You get two options, the interactive coloring book and the download of the latest edition of it.
THE LANDING PAGE
The landing page is long, but it works. They know that they have an interesting — slightly controversial — piece of content here so they can ask for a little bit more.
After completing the form and downloading the coloring book, I started sending my manager Slack messages about the bizarre content. I sent a few of the pages to my friends. This content is well-done, though certain things made me very uncomfortable. And I was impressed with other things.
The compliance coloring book talks about shady business practices and advises against them.
The message is good, but it’s a weird idea for a coloring book.
Each illustration is accompanied by a caption that goes into detail on a topic in compliance. The above page is all about the difference between hospitality and bribes.
A good message and you understand quite clearly what they’re getting at, but in most of the book, the light-hearted tone is at odds with how serious the subject matter is.
The illustrations are very functional and have that sort of messy, Picasso-esque look that’s been popular in digital illustrations recently.
That would be fine if you weren’t spending time coloring them. It almost looks like they created this from a stock photo using photoshop. Why else would this woman’s eyebrow look like this?
Very odd. They should have modified the styling of their illustrations because this is just bizarre and would be off-putting to color by hand.
THE STRESS RELIEF
This coloring book was intended to relieve stress for compliance officers.
I think that’s an interesting thought, but if you were trying to destress from your compliance job, would you be coloring stuff that you work with every day?
It does jump on the coloring book trend. If your boss walked by your desk, you could tell them you were de-stressing and doing your job at the same time.
This version hits on the interactive content trend that has started to be popular around 2016 or so.
It’s also a great way to gets leads interested in the coloring book. It lets them “color” a select 6 pages of the book by clicking on a section. This color a bunch of different sections with a variety of color palettes.
The results can get pretty weird, where the color of people’s skin matches the color of the walls.
THE KID CONNECTION
I found the part of the blog post where they said compliance officers were coloring this with their kids a little disturbing.
I guess you could do that, but talk about exposing children to some disturbing content and/or bad ideas.
Some of the pages are not child-friendly, and you should use your judgment if that’s something you want to do. Here is an example of a page that I think is not suitable for children.
This must have been a hard one to figure out an illustration for, but the result is this highly unsettling mix of things I would not color with children.
This is supposed to be for compliance workers, but it seems like it’s for those that compliance officers serve. The language is somewhat simplistic, and I find the “share your colored pages on LinkedIn” a little callous.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the social side.
THE SOCIAL ASPECT
I started to explore LinkedIn and was surprised to see that there was a fair amount of talking and very few pages being colored. There was this one:
It’s a little extra horrifying in color. And a strange thing to post on social media.
But the blog post about it and the number of leads it produced were creating quite the buzz. People wanted to see, but I’m not sure they wanted to color it.
ANOTHER COLORING BOOK
In my research, I learned that about a year after original compliance coloring book was released, Trulioo released a comic book and a colorable comic book.
They don’t gate either version, which I thought was interesting. They have the same target audience, but they manage to use the comic angle to make it feel like they didn’t just copy the idea from another company.
It seems like they were inspired by the idea of getting kids to understand their parents’ job better from the other coloring book and decided to make a comic series out of it.
It works, you have a little girl who says her dad’s job is stupid (he’s the compliance officer, of course) and then she falls asleep and has a dream where her dad saves the day. She wakes up and apologizes to her father.
It makes more sense than the SAI Global coloring book, but it’s still cheesy. I do like the whole superhero narrative.
Overall, the concept of B2B coloring books is an interesting one. I think that using it for stress relief might be a bit of a stretch and even the storytelling came off a little funny.
SAI Global’s coloring book made waves because it tackles some dark stuff, in what some call an overly light format. I think that’s what made it a good lead magnet. Controversy breeds clicks.
But I don’t know that either example we looked at gave any true value to those that downloaded it.
I would be interested to see a B2B coloring book that was more educational than these examples. They almost seem to stroke the ego of compliance officers. That’s a decent tactic, but if you’re spending all this time coloring these pages, you might expect a little more value.