It’s difficult to admit that you work in a boring industry but it’s okay if you do. In fact, if your industry is considered boring by most than it’s probably an industry that’s ripe for content marketing disruption. The BBB’s (Big Boring Brands) are usually the best industries for doing something that is against the norm because it quickly allows them to stand out.
It’s not often that you hear people talking about how you can use content marketing for textile businesses or fishing supplies. That’s because they aren’t as sexy as brands like Warby Parker or Old Spice. But that doesn’t mean they cant use content marketing to stand out and become a leader in their industry.
Whenever I speak at an event where there are a few content marketing newbies in the audience, I tend to be met with the same rebuttal time and time again:
“No one cares about our product and what we have to say – Why would we create content?”
And as usual, I disagree. Every industry can be made interesting when it’s met with a unique and compelling story to associate with a brand. Prescription glasses were a boring industry until the Warby Parker came around and Old Spice was a boring deodorant before the Old Spice guy came around. It’s all about developing a unique and compelling story that targets an audience that can be influenced.
In reality, if you’re passionate about your product or have customers asking you questions; you’ve got an opportunity to create content. If you have employees and an organizational culture; you have an opportunity to create content. I’ve never met a company or organization that is too boring to develop content. I’ve met hundreds that require a bit of an adjustment in their brand story but I’ve never met one that couldn’t benefit from content marketing.
General Electric Content Marketing
It’s a brand that has boring wrapped throughout it’s DNA. It’s a brand that people see as dinosaur because in reality, it is. General Electric has been around for over 130 years and continues to be a leader in a wide variety of industries. At the same time, much of the success associated with General Electric is connected to their legacy.
After digging a bit deeper into the General Electric bag of tricks, you quickly realize that this brand isn’t your grandfathers General Electric. The brand is slowly moving into content marketing using channels like Pinterest, Blogging and Facebook to lead the way and help them succeed.
On Pinterest, you can find them using reactive storytelling to better connect with their audience and create content that goes viral. As an example, they used the meme “Hey Girl” featuring Ryan Gosling to create their own version of the meme:
As a brand that has been seen as boring and dull, they have recently used content to truly differentiate their brand and become more of a thought leader and innovator. After launching a website called ecomagination.com, they released a wide range of blog posts that promoted innovation, efficiency and resources. Whether they were highlighting A Tool to Help Keep CO2 Locked Away or asking thought provoking questions to stir up discussion like Can we make Power Outages a thing of the past?
Yet, that’s not where it ends. General Electric has also embraced content as it relates to Facebook. Unlike most brands who struggle to generate fresh ideas that are worth sharing; General Electric understands the psychology behind why people share content on Facebook. As such, they constantly deliver and share content that drives users to engage and interact with the 100 year old brand in a new and dynamic way. So how can your brand get to the level of General Electric and stand out as a leader?
Let’s get to it.
Your Product Doesn’t Have to Be Cool But Your Story Does
It’s important to recognize the value of telling a compelling story. In the example above, GE has embraced a story focused on the power of science, technology and innovation which together continues to push our society forward. The story triggers your emotions as it’s focused on providing us with a sense of inspiration, hope and pride while making us smile. It’s a story filled with emotion.
Stories that play on our emotions are stories worth sharing. Whether it’s a story that makes us laugh, cry or reminisce; stories that connect with us as humans are able to spread like wildfire.
When you develop your story, you need to go back to the basics of marketing 101. Think about who it is you’re talking to and what messages will resonate best with that audience. Don’t fall into the age old trap that many marketers do and believe that the target audience is the person they see in the mirror. What drives you, doesn’t necessarily drive your customers decisions.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby
Once you’ve identified the group you’re going to be targeting with this story, start thinking about what topics and triggers will catch their attention. Based on what I’ve seen, I would guess that the folks at GE are targeting people who are highly affluent, professional and have an appreciation for smart humor. What attributes define your audience? What pages do they like on Facebook? What blogs do they follow? All of these questions and more will help create the persona for the people you want to share your story.
Understand The Three Types of Content
The triple threat of content is framework in which your content marketing will be built. The combination of these three elements drive success for the campaigns and initiatives that we can consider content excellence.
When I work with brands, the first thing they want to talk about is the content that we will develop as a brand. It’s the right approach but thinking about the other types of content and the role brand developed content plays in influencing it; is a key piece of the puzzle. Brand developed content includes things like videos, tweets, ebooks, webinars, white papers, blog posts, facebook updates and Pinterest pages to name a few. It’s any type of content that is delivered and delivered by a specific brand.
As everyone should know, the goal of content is to influence stakeholders. Whether it’s to influence them into liking the product enough to buy it or develop a sense of brand affinity that drives loyalty, the goal is always anchored in influencing users perception.
An additional goal for content is to create content that the users find compelling enough to share, engage or interact with. A user commenting on a GEO fridge status update saying it’s the best product they ever had, is user developed content. This content has the potential to influence other users which is why I highlight the user circle in blue above.
When a user has direct interaction with a piece of brand comment and creates content as a result of it, that content that they created becomes a part of the brands overall story. What’s often forgot about though, is the influence that media plays on the brands story.
One of the best examples of a brand who controlled media with their brand story was Redbull and their Stratos Jump from Space. Red Bull made a commitment to creating a piece of content that was so amazing, so out there, that the media had no choice to talk about them because the rest of the world was whether they liked it or not. Media channels connected to the Red Bull live stream and aired it from their stations free of charge.
It was the best example of the power of compelling content I’ve ever seen.
Create Content & Resources with Value to your Audience
I wanted to express one addition I’ve found very valuable when it comes to content strategy – that the final consumer of the product/service doesn’t need to be the key target for content. In fact, it’s often easier to influence the influencers simultaneously or as part of a campaign.
When planning your content, always think about the solutions to your clients pain and problems. When you focus on these issues you can deliver them with content that they are looking for through search but also content that will help them and build a deeper connection with your brand. The power of providing your audience with valuable content cannot be overstated.
When I work with clients, I strive to always create value for our target audience. Whether it’s in the development of an application or the content created in shared on a blog; injecting value into that content is key. Brands from any industry can create content that provides their audience with value they just need to embrace the idea of giving away their knowledge.
When Realtor.com launched a blog sharing industry tips and tricks there was a huge rift in the Real Estate industry about them sharing too much information. What Realtor.com recognized that many organizations did not, was that people were going to Google for answers whether the industry liked it or not and the only way to win in this new game was to start playing by the new rules. Further demonstrating the value of providing valuable content that can be found through search, Hubspot released a study showing that organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate.
Recognizing the power of providing value, Realtor.com started creating content that would be relevant to first time home buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords so they could find them during search. Whether it was a post titled 5 Secrets Your Contractor Doesn’t Want You to Know or How to Fake a Fire and Put Some Spark in the Bedroom, they ensured the content was relevant, compelling and valuable.
Infographic from the AllState blog that shows their readers how to create the Ultimate Secure Shelter. The post was shared hundreds of times and even brought AllState, an insurance company, a content marketing award for creating a compelling and resourceful infographic.
But it doesn’t have to end with creating guides, ebooks, infographics and other information products to deliver value.
At the end of the day, there are tons of different approaches you can take to differentiate your brand and stand out with content marketing. These tips will give you a good foundation to ensure you’re delivering great content but there’s definitely more that can be done to take your content marketing to the next level.
I’m currently working on a content marketing eBook that will help people looking to find success in social media. If you wan’t to get on the mailing list and be the first to receive any updates on the progress and launch; sign up today.
Also, please let me know if there are any specific things you’d be interested in me writing about in the comments. I’m hoping to create a resource that you will look back at time and time again for helping you in achieving content excellence. So let me know what you’re interested in learning and I’ll try to squeeze it in!