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3 Eye-Opening Content Hacks for ‘Boring’ Businesses

It can be difficult to steer amazing Content Marketing for a company that sells ‘dull’ stuff (like antique clothes pegs). No fear — we have the tools

Sam Hurley
August 20 2018

Many people admire vibrant, inventive companies…

Red Bull, Amazon, Lamborghini and Oreo, to name just a few.

Not only are the public fond of them — but also those fortunate marketers who get paid for producing awesome content to market these luminous brands.

After all, it seems relatively easy (and ludicrously fun) to dream up fantastic, viral material for such powerhouses of stimulation, right?

On the contrary, what if you are in charge of Content Marketing for a company that sells products or services that are a little on the dreary side?

[Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ‘boring’ business models; many are vital for our economy, the environment, and our everyday lives.]

Think: Industrial products and machinery, financial services, solar panels, funeral directors, DIY products… and many more offerings that can be considered somewhat ‘dry’.

Hang in there, fellow marketers!

Throw away those well-worn matchsticks, once placed between your eyelids…

Effective content for these business types often requires imagination, creativity, and sometimes a stroke of genius to pull off — though you will be glad to know, many have successfully done so before.

I’ll soon be sharing prime examples, too.

This guide will ignite your inspiration, taking you from yawn to wow; who says a ‘boring’ business can’t be like Oreo?

Even if you’re a marketer lucky enough to be part of a thrilling brand, I’m going to unveil some super content hacks to boost your existing content strategy further.

First, absorb the following reasons why you absolutely need to be deploying incredible content to your target audience, regardless of industry:

“The average person consumes 11+ pieces of content before making a purchase decision.”
(Source: Forrester)

 

“95% of B2B buyers consider content as trustworthy when evaluating a company and its offerings.”
(Source: DemandGen)

 

“86% of B2C marketers say Content Marketing is a key strategy.”
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)

(Infographic Source: PointVisible)

Nothing more needs to be said…

Content Marketing is a vital component of visibility — also driving revenue, customer retention, and brand affinity — when it performs as intended.

So, speaking of intentions, how do you:

  1. Conjure up relevant, appealing content ideas that hold the potential to go viral?
  2. Ensure all pieces of content reach your target audience?
  3. Gain targeted traffic, leads and sales as a result of this content?

Here are 3 overarching, ROI-focused methods to hack your ‘boring business’ Content Marketing strategy!

Don’t think outside the box. Know you are never bound by a box.

Hack #1: Forget Exciting — Think ‘Useful & Interesting’

Yes, you did read correctly…

‘Exciting’ isn’t always achievable — at least, the nature of excitement that bring bottom line results — so don’t fret trying to make your content something it may struggle to become without tons of resources.

[i.e. Your brand sells dark green indoor dustbins.] ☺

However, it’s important to realize your content limitations are directly proportional to the limitations you set in your mind.

Think of it this way:

Red Bull is a brand that merely sells energy drinks. That said, look at the crazy campaigns its team runs to market the product!

(Photo Source: ZigWheels)

  • The light-hearted Red Bull Soapbox Race (above) is one of the company’s most well-known branding and marketing techniques, taking place annually all over the globe since the year 2000.
  • Clearly, Red Bull nailed the factor of excitement and then expanded it — fitting perfectly with the brand’s upfront image and international target audience.
  • Red bull inherently portrays high-octane adventure, thrills and exhilaration. (This is why it all fits together nicely.)

There are two fundamental points to remember here:

  1. Red Bull has a marketing and advertising budget that would make most of us wince (I’m talking billions per year!).
  2. Red Bull sells an extremely high-demand product — energy drink consumption is astonishing — over 6 billion cans of Red Bull sold in 2017!

To give you even more perspective on this sheer demand: Monster Energy (a competitor) actually owns greater market share than Red Bull, despite the colossal stats above.

Now, let’s revert back to your dark green indoor bins (which can definitely be used as a metaphor in place of your ‘boring’ products and/or services).

It may initially seem that everything is pitted against you in terms of Content Marketing for this product, especially when compared to the likes of the prolific Red Bull…

[Appeal. Excitement. Vibrancy. Demand. Budget.]

But take a step back and consider your audience, before anything else.

(Graphic Credit: Warner Bros. via Tenor)

Everything you do, each piece of content you publish, and all promotional ideas — should entirely stem from the specific needs of your audience.

“Sam. Our customers are merely looking for a stupid green bin for their bedrooms.”

^^ This mentality is exactly what suffocates Content Marketing. ^^

Take this into account:

If you really wanted to, you could create an event just like Red Bull — where contestants slide down a ridiculous race track on customized bin lids.

‘Could’ is the key word here, because what truly matters is ‘why’.

Is an event like this going to make a huge difference to your bin sales? Is the expected cost-to-profit ratio worthwhile? While spectating (if anybody bothers to show up), are people going to think, Wow, I need to get myself one of those bins…”

Probably not — because bins aren’t typically exciting, and it could be said you’re targeting the completely wrong audience for your product!

Focus on usefulness and earn the interest of your audience, instead.

Do it this way, and set yourself up to acquire new customers as a result = Meaningful metrics that make a difference to your business.

(Infographic Source: i-on interactive)

 

Hack #2: Actually Become Useful & Interesting

However daunting it may seem at first, it’s not as difficult when you’ve adjusted your mindset towards:

  • Being useful, helpful and resourceful

and

  • Directly or indirectly generating sales as a result

Everything now becomes much more straightforward.

To kick off your ROI-focused Content Marketing project the right way, define your target persona/s (for your metaphoric dark green bins) like this:

— 25 to 35 year old female, living in X location
— Renting or pays a mortgage with partner
— Annual income of $12K to $25K
— Employed by small business, non-corporate
— Enjoys socializing and keeping fit
— Highly active on Facebook & Instagram
— Frequently shops online
— Prioritizes convenience over luxury
— Interested in products similar to X, Y, and Z
— Heavily influenced by shopping decisions of peers, and vice versa

[I explained persona exercises a little more in-depth, right here.]

It ensures your content will truly resonate with those who are more likely to become customers. You can’t target everybody!

There are numerous ways to collect this type of valuable information — data from past (and current) customers is a goldmine and always deserves your initial attention.

If it isn’t obtainable for whatever reason (unfortunate, but perhaps you’re promoting a new business), then look to other rich sources such as engagement on your competitors’ content, the Census Bureau, plus information collected from your own target audience — by conducting primary market research (the type that has never been carried out before).

Carry out digital surveys, polls on Social Media (+ paid reach), email marketing campaigns simply asking questions, create appropriate quizzes, and analyze trending conversations across the entire web using tools like these

Think: What will help your target audience in their lives? What will captivate them? How can bins naturally fit into this strategy?

You can simply ask them!

Who’d have thought such an insane technique would work? :-O

[It additionally provides the bonus of intimate interaction that not only gets your name out there, but also fosters brand love and curiosity — because you make others feel valued in your quest.]

Although this tweet from IBM is a perfect illustration, it is very top-level — you can (and should) explore deeper…

i.e. “You said you wanted videos, now tell us what topics you want us to cover most?”

A combination of publicly available statistics, owned data and common sense is highly recommended before drafting any content ideas. (How to draft, up next).

Your data-fueled content strategy will be bulletproof.

I’m also going to touch on a clever way to test your content concepts in the real world, before even starting your ‘big’ piece and/or Social Media push.

Before we head into those juicy tips — keep training your mind to expand, Neo. Look beyond limitation (there really isn’t any!) and check out the following remarkable examples from B2B and B2C brands / topics that could be considered ‘boring’, yet the content is absolutely pristine, targeted and absorbing:

Sells: Car Parking Tickets (I repeat. Car Parking Tickets.)
Content: Interactive Microsite + Quiz
Title: Battle of The Sexes
Details: Take the slickly-designed test to find out which sex is better at driving, and discover other informative driving statistics along the way.

Sells: Business Insurances
Content: Interactive Microsite + Quiz
Title: Work Life Balance
Details: Enjoy the color-filled journey through the questions to see if you’re running your business productively.

Sells: Home Security
Content: Interactive Microsite
Title: How To Defend Your Home Like A Castle
Details: Scroll through the digital house inside and out, while learning vital steps to take to keep your family safe from intruders.

Sells: Wealth Management Services
Content: Interactive Microsite + Quiz
Title: Financial Literacy
Details: How well do you know your money lingo? (Also provides the business with valuable data about their prospects.)

Sells: Sticky Notes
Content: Instagram Post
Details: Spiderman on the wall — created entirely using colored sticky notes! (Shows alternative ways to think about the product, plus decorative ideas).

[Notice how these brands have all just gained unrequested links + free exposure as a result of the amazing content they produce? That is exactly how it works!]

And better still: The content is all directly related to the brands’ offerings — while a number of the microsites also include a component of lead generation and/or an emphasis on social sharing:

At this stage, I know you’re probably itching like crazy to begin crafting your masterpiece!

But if you think you already have a lot of initial ideas via the above, just wait until the next hack…

Let’s say you’ve now gathered a ton of advice from the public, past customers, subscribers and other sources — you should have a much clearer picture of what they want, and perhaps some notable ideas have also been born?

Well, that means it’s time to get the brainstormin’ ball rollin’…

Hack #3: Brainstorm Content Ideas (This Way)

This is a surefire way to infinitely multiply your content ideas list.

Yep. Infinitely.

It doesn’t matter if you sell sink plugs, financial consultancy, golf clubs, life insurance, or T.V. aerials.

Use this particular brainstorming technique, and you will never run out of content.

After a while, your brain begins to think this way automatically — which is really cool, and especially helpful if you work in a marketing agency setting…

DARK GREEN BINS

Content Topics

  • The environment
  • Government services / council
  • Household waste
  • Materials used
  • Waste technology
  • Home décor ideas
  • Saving money
  • Saving space
  • Inventions
  • Science
  • Health

That’s 11 possible topics straight off the top of my head. And we’re still only selling bins, remember!

Now, let’s develop those topics:

Subtopics

The environment >>>>

  • Effects of waste
  • Recycling
  • Hazardous waste
  • Waste relocation / vehicles used
  • Comparisons to other planets

 Government services / council >>>>

  • Waste collection
  • Debates
  • Trending news
  • Public satisfaction
  • Employment

Household waste >>>>

  • Waste reduction
  • Waste measurement
  • Household comparisons
  • Men VS Women
  • Kids VS Adults

Materials used >>>>

  • Cost comparisons
  • Materials also used for …
  • Eco-friendliness
  • The future
  • Colors

Waste technology >>>>

  • Machinery
  • House tech
  • Futuristic
  • Bad VS Good
  • Expensive VS Cost-Effective

(Graphic Credit: Universal Pictures via Tenor)

You get the picture!

Before thinking about headlines, there’s still more we can do.

This is where the ‘infinite’ part really comes into play…

For every single topic + subtopic above, there are many content types and also content genres to consider:

Content Types
— Long-form or colossal content
Profound material
— Quizzes
— Free tools
— How-tos / Highly educational pieces
Data-driven research
— Microsites
— Infographics / Gifographics
— Calculators
— Interviews
— Stories
— Influencer roundups
— Brand collaborations
— Case studies
— Reviews / User-Generated Content
— Videos
— Animated GIFs
Augmented / Virtual Reality
— Competitor comparisons
— Games
— Competitions
Listicles
— Statistics
— Controversial topics / Newsworthy linkbait

I could go on and on! Not so ‘boring’ now, right?

[Note: If you’re a visual learner, use idea clouds instead — although it can become messy if you produce hundreds of concepts.]

(Photo Source: Moz via Parallax)

Back to our joyful green bins, we haven’t yet explored genres…

Content Genres
— Humorous
— Seasonal
— Serious
— Historical
— Futuristic
— Retro
— Scientific
— Apocalyptic
— Mythical / Factual
— Emotional
— Romantic
— Just for Fun
— Adventurous
— Addictive
— Satirical

So, for every subtopic there could be many content types — and for every content type, there could be multiple genres created.

The possibilities are endless!

[Remember that each piece of content can also produce hundreds of Social Media posts.]

Finally, here are 15 content headlines I created in just 5 minutes, only referring to the above lists:

  • 5 Myths About Household Waste You Must Know
  • How To Reduce Your Rubbish & Save Money
  • Study: What Would Happen If Pluto Had The Same Waste As Earth?
  • 7 Worst Places For Rubbish In America
  • Quickly Calculate Your Household Waste (& Help Charity, Too)
  • Bored? 15 Ways To Use Your Bin As An Entertainment System
  • How To Make Your Household Bin Look Sexy (Maybe)
  • 9 Ways To Keep Your Family Home Enviously Hygienic
  • What Your Waste (& Bin Choice) Says About You
  • Prepare Your Home For The Future: Waste Tech Interview With President R. Ubbish
  • The (Surprisingly Fascinating) History Of The Household Bin
  • Is Your Bin Ready For The Trash? Why Not Transform It Into…
  • 3 Tips To Save Money On Your Groceries (& Produce Less Waste)
  • [Just for Fun!] How Donald Trump Is NOT Like Your Household Bin
  • Rubbish Talk: Don’t Use These 8 Chat Up Lines & End Up In The Bin!

[BONUS: You can also use a topic generator tool to aid your flow of ideas.]

Your headlines can ultimately mean the difference between click or no click…

(Infographic Source: Express Writers)

When you’ve drafted a few viable content topics, you can even ask your audience once again — to gain their feedback before you spend any real time or money.

In addition, head over to Facebook for confirmation!

Why?

Facebook Ads is a strong, reliable tool to utilize; you can experiment with granular ad targeting to visualize how large your potential audience will be (based on your persona/s) — and even run live, on-topic ads before the launch of your ‘big’ content piece etc. — purely to test the waters.

For example, you can set up a simple video engagement ad on the topic of an intended piece of content, and analyze the nature of engagement it produces.

Think: Who are these people? Are they relevant to your products and/or services? Is non-paid engagement gained as a result?

Test, analyze, adjust, deploy, and repeat…

Here’s a super helpful guide on split testing FB Ads, too.

Wrap-Up

— CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. There are no limitations, only your mentality.

— TRANSFORM YOUR BRAND. Want to be merely known for bins, or spearheading eco-friendliness around the globe?

— ASK YOUR AUDIENCE. They know what they want, better than what you may think they want.

— DISTRIBUTE YOUR CONTENT. Just because it’s awesome, doesn’t mean it will get seen easily.

— FOREVER OPTIMIZE. Your journey of testing to make content better (and even better than that) is never complete.

We’d love to see your own examples of useful, interesting Content Marketing!

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Sam Hurley

Sam is a passionate 'people connector', Personal Branding expert & Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ. He has achieved success for SMEs, national and international organizations, while being ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale, #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica and world’s #3 content marketing influencer by ScribbleLive. Sam loves a high-octane action movie and his all time favorite supercar is the Lamborghini Aventador! Catch him on social for cosmic amounts of Digital Marketing tips.

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