Let’s face it: Some businesses are sexier than others. The cutting-edge tech companies led by young geniuses often dominate the news cycle, while businesses that don’t sate our love of flashy technology end up relegated to the back pages. Those guys have all the fun, don’t they? Especially when it comes to creating exciting marketing campaigns that dazzle the public, get the press, and drive sales.
Engrained in these stereotypes is a long-held misconception that exciting and fresh marketing campaigns are only for the hip tech guys, while everyone else is stuck with boring “here is what we do, please call us” types of strategies.
If you think that your business is too boring to have a fun and results-driven marketing campaign, you could be missing out on a great opportunity to better market your business and have a blast doing it. Here are five ways to break the bland corporate marketing mold and create a brand that stands out—no matter how “boring” you think you are.
1. Reassess the “Boring” Label
There’s an old cliché that says there’s no such thing as a boring subject—there are only boring writers. The same goes for a business. If what you’re selling is actually important to people’s lives in some way (one would hope so, since you’ve spent all this time building the business), there must be some way for you to position it in a way that grabs your target audience’s attention.
Yes, this means even accountants and insurance agents can find clever and fun ways to interact with potential customers. What gets you excited about what you do? What’s your story? Often, there are interesting or entertaining details you can pull from your company’s history to use as hooks in a marketing campaign. At The Huffington Post, Ryan Holiday, best-selling author and marketing guru, writes that you need to find the intersection of what excites you and what can get other people interested in your business.
“What bores people is when a business has not actually taken the time to figure out who they are and what they do—when they haven’t figured out their story and told it properly,” Holiday writes. “More than that, it wastes people’s time. It’s like a friend who tells a story about something you experienced together, but leaves all of the good parts out, and you want to jump in and correct them—you know something is there, they’re just explaining it poorly.”
Before you assume that you and your marketing must be boring, do some serious thinking about what you do. Why do you do it? What parts of it are you passionate about?
2. Ditch the Corporate Talk
No matter what you do, the way to connect with customers isn’t to barrage them with the same cookie-cutter messaging as every other business. As Corey Eridon explains in “Content Marketing for ‘Boring’ Industries: 10 Tips for Creating Interesting Content,” you establish credibility by being a solid resource for your audience, not by talking over their heads or boring them to death with empty platitudes about providing value.
You don’t have to have a bouncy, peppy tone if that’s not who you are, but your writing should be conversational in all aspects of your marketing. Be direct and be useful. In many cases, less is more.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Over the Top
If you think back to some of the most provocative commercials you’ve seen, there’s a good chance that they were for incredibly boring products. Think of GoDaddy. This company is a web domain name registrar—quite possibly one of the most boring things on the planet. Yet their marketing is in your face and way over the top with its use of scantily clad models and innuendo.
Even State Farm’s ridiculous “Discount Double Check” commercial series got people all over the country mimicking Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers touchdown dance. It was silly and weird, and it’s been getting people’s attention for a few years now. Knock it if you want, but it works.
Obviously, there’s a line that can’t be crossed. Don’t veer into the realm of outright profanity or obscenity. But at the same time, don’t live in fear of the moral police. A hint of controversy may be just what you need to turn an otherwise boring product or business into a memorable campaign.
4. Use Multiple Mediums to Tell Your Story
Everyone processes information differently, so your story shouldn’t be told through only one medium. Use a combination of videos, visuals, and writing to get the attention of your audience. A well-made infographic that gives people the salient points of your story is great for building awareness and initial attention. From there, the rest of your campaign can be more in-depth to give the curious reader more to think about.
5. Think Sideways
If you’re familiar with the basic content marketing best practices, you know that it’s rarely a good idea to talk only about yourself. That’s what a boring business does. No, the best way to get attention is to talk about big industry trends, newsworthy stories and other things that your audience can relate to on a personal level.
Moz’s “The Art of Thinking Sideways: Content Marketing for ‘Boring’ Businesses” relates a fascinating case study about coming up with a content marketing campaign for the owner of several car parks. That’s right, they were tasked with marketing parking lots—not exactly the stuff good times are made of. It was impossible to talk only about what the client did, since there’s only so much you can say about pavement in a wide open space.
Robin Swire, the marketer behind the campaign, decided to think sideways. What are some things related to parking lots that he could use to connect with potential leads and customers?
He decided to create a variety of branded, driving-related infographics that would attract viewers and pose as great conversation starters. One was about drunk driving and the importance of using a designated driver. This was perfect because it showed how the client’s service helped solve this problem while also weighing in on an issue that is always timely. Another, more playful infographic showed entertaining statistics about the differences between male and female drivers. This poked fun at a long-held societal joke and got a lot of visibility, just like any good “boys vs. girls” contest does.
Just because you don’t sell flashy software or the latest gadget, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your marketing. Drop the corporate facade, be yourself, and you might be surprised at what happens.
What You Can Do Right Now
Ready to make exciting content for your “boring” business? Here are three things you can do today.
- Identify what you’re passionate about when it comes to your business. What are the parts of your industry you find exciting that might be compelling to others?
- Try approaching your writing with a more personable, conversational tone.
- Think sideways: what are some topics related to your business that can engage customers?
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