“Dry” and “boring.” They don’t sound like formulas for marketing success, right?
But content marketing can work in any industry, no matter how boring. Awhile back, Sujan Patel joined us to prove it.
In our content marketing webinar, we looked at 10 brands from some boring and unexpected industries, and how they’re absolutely crushing it.
His examples prove how content really can drive success for any brand. In fact, you might have an advantage if you’re in a “boring” niche. That means you’ll probably have less competition, so it won’t take as long to see results.
So, what content marketing tips can you learn from boring companies? Let’s take a look.
10 content marketing tips for when your industry’s less than sexy
Thanks to our friends at Venngage, here’s a handy infographic of how you can “unboring” your content in a dry niche:
1. Become an expert in your niche
By becoming a thought leader, you’re strengthening the connection between your brand and what you do, or the audience you serve.
You don’t even need to be self-promotional – it actually works better when references to your brand or product are much more indirect.
Developing thought leadership content creates a web of mentions to get your company’s name out there. And usually with a shout-out and link back to your website. There are tons of tactics you can use to get your company’s name on other sites:
- Use tools like HARO to connect with journalists looking for sources.
- Guest blog on big & influential websites.
- Contribute to expert round-ups other content marketers are working on.
And there are so many benefits to this: traffic, SEO, good ole fashioned PR and brand recognition, etc.
A great example is Autodesk, who sells software for 3D designing and engineering. They’ve leverage the expertise of their team members (for example, Lynelle Cameron) to demonstrate on external sites that they know their stuff:
Sujan’s particularly into guest blogging – which is why you’ve seen his name on all of the best marketing blogs.
In fact, it’s how he drove tens of thousands of sales during his ebook launches. For example, when he was launching 100 Days of Growth, he published one guest post per week. His name was everywhere – it would have been hard to visit a growth hacking site and not see him there.
He built that web of mentions, which became his book’s sales team. Pretty awesome.
2. Educate your customers
Help your customers do what they wanna do. Give ‘em knowledge. Give ‘em power.
For example, if you’re selling industrial fans, write content that helps people learn about industrial fans. I would imagine most people don’t know much about them until they need one – give your readers everything they need to get the job done.
A great example of a company doing this is DailyBurn. They’re an online fitness company. But their blog isn’t just about fitness, it’s about living well in general.
It covers food, fitness, healthy eating, exercise tips – everything someone needs to get healthy and get in shape.
As a fitness company, you would think their most popular blog post would be about exercise, right?
Nope – it’s about peanuts. And it has over 7,000 shares now.
The content may not be directly related to fitness, but fitness is just one part of living well. By writing about all the other parts too, DailyBurn is attracting a wider range of people who care about their health (and therefore, fitness).
3. Help your customers
For some companies, the best way to help your customers is by teaching them. But not always.
Sometimes, your customers know how to do something but need help with some other part of the process. Maybe it’s time-consuming or complicated and you can make it easier with a free resource, tool, or tip.
For example, take getting a loan. Researching, applying for, and getting approved for a loan can be a grueling process. And a lot of us won’t understand the nitty gritty numbers part of it (like me).
They’re different tools for helping people through things like buying a house, getting a new car, paying off debt, and planning for retirement. Again, ginormous pain points here.
Through those, Bankrate’s become the go-to resource for this kind of stuff (see #1 – they’ve become the expert), people link to and share these resources all the time because they’re helpful, and they’ve become a huge SEO asset for the company.
4. Take a different angle
Sometimes your ideas are great, but that won’t be enough if competitors have great ideas too. You need something else to stand out – try taking a different approach to the topic.
Be funny. Be edgy. Be weird.
Just do something different.
Look at Movoto. They’re a newer real estate site, and definitely weren’t as big or popular or well-established as some of their competitors. At least, they weren’t before they struck content marketing gold.
But they managed to stand out and get people to notice them by writing “not your average” real estate content. They use fun, light, BuzzFeed-style content to appeal to people interested in real estate – aka people moving, relocating, starting families, etc.
5. Write for the enthusiast
Write for the people who love what you’re talking about. They’re usually influencers and can help you get the word out about your brand.
If you involve them in content, they’ll have a vested interest in their success. So they’ll share it and leverage their network to promote it, leading to more success for you. Bam!
For example, an L.A. funeral service runs an “Ask a Mortician” YouTube channel – likely watched by other morticians and influencers in that field.
(Doesn’t this example prove you really can do content marketing in any industry?)
You can find enthusiasts and influencers in forums, private groups, message boards, etc. Where people with common interests can come together and discuss them.
6. Create and share great videos
The previous example touches on this a bit, but never underestimate the power of great video.
Video is having a renaissance with the rise of Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram video, and other social networks and apps.
It’s also made it possible for anyone to create and share videos, no fancy equipment necessary. In fact, you’re better off shooting film on your smartphone so you can easily upload it to social video apps.
For this point’s example, we’re going to talk about one of the classic video marketing case studies: Blendtec’s Will It Blend? Series.
It first became popular in 2006-2007 and continues today. At the time, it was their one and only marketing strategy. People were shocked at how crazy it was, and it led to a 700% sales increase between ‘06 and ‘08.
7. Leverage consumer reports data
Think about what people care about and find a unique way to approach it, using data to support your findings.
You don’t even need to generate the data yourself. There’s so much available online, or you can affordably hire someone to do some research.
In fact, the popularity of infographics came from people’s interest in this data.
You could generate your own data using a survey method as simple as an emailed Google Form.
8. Tell stories
Stories let you write something educational, entertaining, aspirational, inspirational, and more at the same time.
Online storytelling became huge in 2014 and hasn’t declined since. Maybe because of the reason we just mentioned.
Take this TurboTax ad. How do you tell a story about tax software?
But instead of focusing on the software itself, it tells someone’s life story framed by the questions he answers in the software.
Your brand storytelling doesn’t need to use video like they do. You can write about how your customers are doing things with your products. Show the before and after of using your brand.
9. Watch the news
There’s always news, and new news (hehe) happens daily. With this tactic, you’ll never run out of material.
Just find current issues that your readers care about and create content around it, also known as newsjacking.
For example, ShoreTel saw a 42% higher conversion rate from visitors who viewed their news-related content than those who only viewed commercial content in 2012.
They created an industry news section separate from their blog to provide content to the enthusiasts they wanted to reach.
10. Showcase your brand’s personality
Find ways to show how your brand is unique. It triggers a more emotional part of people’s brains to build a connection with you.
Take a very boring/unsexy industry: toilet paper.
Charmin created a tool called “Sit or Squat” that helps you find clean public restrooms online.
It’s useful, relevant, and silly – and gets people thinking about toilet paper, which is why it works.
The proof is in the content
We’ve just shown you successful content marketing tips from morticians, mortgages, and toilet paper. Do you still think your industry is too boring or not a good fit for great content?
Sujan wanted to prove that any industry can take his content marketing tips – he more than delivered.
What are the best content examples you’ve seen in unique industries?
This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated with new content.