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Content marketing can be challenging–especially when dealing with a “boring” industry. The truth is that there are no boring industries, just boring content. Whether you’re in the insurance business, accounting, law–or even something as “boring” as ball bearings–there’s still hope for you.
There are plenty of examples of seemingly uninteresting industries that have worked hard to get their creative juices flowing–and have come out on the other side with a winning idea.
In this post, we not only detail the specific steps you should take to take your content marketing efforts in the right direction, we also provide you with some specific examples of how you can spice up your own content.
So, without further ado, here are 10 essential principles and ingredients to getting your content marketing strategy on the right track:
As a content marketer, there may be times you wish you were in a more glamorous and exciting industry, such as fashion, travel or fine dining. But the truth is that what makes your industry “boring” is actually what gives you a slight edge over the competition. How so? Since there are so few in your industry who are calling attention to themselves with innovative content, it becomes all the easier for you to stand out from the crowd.
Take, for example, the cleaning supplies industry. Snore-ville, right? Well, the company Bissell has done an excellent job of thinking outside of the box to make their content more enticing and relatable. Instead of wasting time talking about things their audience really doesn’t care about–such as suction and different types of vacuums–they’ve built an entire campaign around how to manage time better. They propose that by using their new and efficient vacuum, their customers can give themselves more time to do meaningful things, such as being with family and traveling.
The campaign worked. Their “Gift of Time” contest has healthy levels of engagement on Facebook and more people are tuning into their company news and updates.
For companies in a B2B industry, there’s always the option of using your unique access to specialized information that many of your potential customers could find helpful and interesting. One example of this the email marketing platform, Mailchimp. They regularly use their access to information on email marketing open rates by industry to create benchmark reports.
Another way you could use internal information to attract more potential customers is by revealing a how-to that doesn’t give away your entire “secret sauce” — but just enough to act as a hook.
Also look at the company Lexar, which makes memory chips. They’ve applied this same principle by making a behind-the-scenes video of how their products are made.
Another good example of a company who makes use of its unique expertise is Probiotics Now. In one of their blog posts, they not only explain why unadulterated yogurt is the best for your health, they also show you how to make it:
Another great way of making content more accessible to a wider audience is to create infographics that draw people in with two or three “hooks.” Danny Ashton from Moz calls it “topic bridging.” What it refers to, simply, is creating more engaging content by finding a topic that matters to a wider audience–even if it is only tangentially related to your industry.
Take, for example, the infographic below created by the Law Office of Daniel Rosen. Instead of talking about the boring details of auto accident injuries, they create a hook for technology lovers by featuring visual information on driverless cars and how they can eradicate car accidents caused by distracted driving.
Infographics are also an effective way to make use of statistics. While facts and figures on paper may be uninteresting, they can be taken and repurposed from annual reports to create attractive visual material that can be widely disseminated. These concrete figures also lend credibility to your content.
One of the stand-out characteristics of relevant industry content is its ability to answer burning questions that many people may be grappling with. By providing solutions and unique insights, your company not only becomes wholly relevant, it also begins to act as an industry thought leader who will be sought out in the future.
Consider, for instance, the case of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Although not in a boring industry per se, they were able to capitalize big on the global GMO food issue by creating a gaming app and video called Scarecrow that attracted millions of views and likes. By challenging them to bring “real” food back to the people, the company name quickly became relevant in the global debate over the effects of GMO food on health and environment.
While it may be tempting to create viral content just to get the millions of views and shares you’ve been craving for–and the thrill that comes from knowing others appreciate your work–it’s not the most profitable strategy in the long run.
Lauren Pope from Brilliant Noise argues that “bread and butter” content–the kind that brings in consistent traffic and is affordable, practical and sustaining–is preferable to Buzzfeed-type viral content. Similarly, Ronell Smith of Moz believes there’s a lot of hype around viral content, but little substance to back it up. Because viral content is so hard to create and predict–and often doesn’t lead to conversions–he advises focusing on creating content that will generate links, rather than views and likes.
The best advice is to find a balance that works for your industry. Jon Norris, for example, believes it may be beneficial to experiment with viral content, but to avoid building a strategy that is wholly dependent on it.
While you want to create content that is interesting and shareable, too many businesses fall into the trap of trying to please everyone. The key to a content strategy that has link-building as one of its primary goals–rather than views and likes–is to know your audience really well. Besides demographic information on your audience, you can ask yourself: What are your potential customers interested in? What are their favorite topics? What social media platforms do they use? What blogs do they read? What challenges do they face? What content would they find useful enough to share and link to?
We’ve said it many times before, and we’ll say it again: Storytelling works. Psychologists, academics and marketers alike have found that the brain processes information in the form of narratives. Stories will never go out of style, as seen by the tremendous success of Hollywood films and novels with a classic plot. So your best bet is to tell a story rather than bore your audience with a mountain of data and unrelated facts.
Kletterwerks, for example, is a company that turned its company history of manufacturing packs for hiking and mountaineering into an eye-catching story in the form of a timeline.
If you don’t know where to begin to find your company’s most compelling story, here’s a guide to some questions you may ask yourself and who you need to talk to (Hint: Start with the founder.)
This may sound a little cliche, but a surefire way to a solid link-building strategy is to truly care about your customers and find ways to solve their problems.
The company BankRate, for instance, is in the finance industry, which is quite boring to some people, but this doesn’t stop them from getting a ton of exposure and really serving its readers. By creating auto loan and mortgage calculators and even tax forms, the company has provided some really useful tools that will keep potential customers coming back to their site.
If you don’t have the resources, expertise or time to build a nifty app, don’t worry. You can also provide users with detailed step-by-step guides and templates.
While it’s important to keep your topics relevant to your target audience, you also want to spice things up once in awhile by approaching things from a different angle and connecting seemingly unrelated concepts. Movoto is a real estate company that does this just right. Instead of creating content on boring real estate market news, it shakes things up with Buzzfeed-style posts that are highly shareable. Take, for instance, this amusing article on 25 Insane Things in Florida You Never Knew Existed.
Another way to engage audiences is by giving your readers, customers and potential buyers the opportunity to create their own content. Purebred Breeders, a service that allows people to find the right puppy for their family, allows its customers to upload images and video testimonials of their puppies. The company not only receives high-quality footage for nothing, it also gets free publicity since family members and friends are bound to share the content with their networks.