Many times we have students in class, or potential clients who say to our instructors, “My product is boring. How am I supposed to market something that’s so plain?” The answer is simple: think outside the box. You’re a marketer, that’s part of your responsibility. Not to mention the fact that even if you think your product or service is boring, it exists because there is a demand from some audience, no matter how small. There is a need for it, and if not, your company may want to take a look at its business plan.
So where do you start? You already have collateral that describes what your product is, or explains what is provided with your service. Those are great ad-ons for your sales team to use that look professional to their clients. What more can you do with content marketing to engage customers and make them aware? Here are five examples of companies with so-called boring products or services that did a great job making themselves stand out and appeal to their consumers with content marketing.
Bounty Paper Towels – Paper towels are not a groundbreaking product. They’ve been around for more than a century. Sure, you see the commercials comparing which brand can hold grapes when their paper towel is soaking wet, but who cares? Is that really how people clean their fruit? What bounty did was create an entire activities section on their website that breaks out interests and activities such as arts and crafts, seasonal, based on kids ages, and by how much time you have. It’s not hard to define which personas they wanted to engage with this effort, but nonetheless, it was a great idea. If I were a daycare provider, Bounty activities would dominate my syllabus.
Intel’s YouTube Channel – How many people actually know what Intel does? No really, can you answer that question? Computers are cool, and enable us to do a lot; Intel created a product that makes those computers run. When you say semi-conductor or Pentium processor, many peoples’ eyes glaze over. You can read about what Intel does, but the average adult wouldn’t last five minutes. So how do you convince people to buy a product with an Intel processing chip? Appeal to a variety of people and humanize the company. Their YouTube channel has a video for everyone. Here are a few topics they cover:
- The Making of a Chip with 22nm/3D Transistors – How a computer processing chip is made, starting from sand
- Moments of Inspiration: Carlos Montesinos – One part of a series about who is behind the design and production of Intel products
- Justin Lassen uses Intel Technology to create amazing content – How different people use Intel products
- Intel introduces Intel Extreme Tuning Utility at Computex 2013 – What Intel has done to interact with people in their social media community. (This technical level is over my head as to what they’re doing, but the dry ice is pretty cool.)
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty – What did Dove do to make such a simple product as soap be interesting and have customers engage with them? They featured the benefits of their product instead of the features. Dove launched this campaign in 2004 and they’re still using it. In addition to telling us that Dove makes you clean, it’s safe and leaves fewer residues than other soap (the features), they said the real benefit of using their product is that it makes you feel beautiful, no matter what you look like. They drove to the heart of an issue that most women relate to, their self-esteem and body image. One reason why they are still using a nine-year-old campaign is probably because of all the content marketing they have been able to generate. From a global study that revealed only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful, to providing scholarships for young females, to the recent Dove Real Beauty Sketches, with more than 55.5 million views and counting, they have content that speaks to a variety of female demographics. While there has been plenty of criticism as to whether the campaign truly is a positive movement, and whether it’s appropriate, 16 million Facebook fans and 85,000 Twitter followers can’t be that wrong.
Mint.com – To some people, personal finances are interesting, but to the general population, it’s not very fun. Mint.com was a startup company that nobody had heard of in 2006. Great content marketing launched its customer base to more than 2 million members in three years, and then it was bought by Intuit for $170 million, proving that small businesses can compete with the big boys if they use content marketing. How? They answered the questions that people needed with simple blog posts, videos and infographics. Simple questions like, “what is a stock?” and short guides about how to understand and build your credit report change topics that sounded foreign to comprehensible.
ASPE-ROI’s Top 10 SEO Pickup Lines – Yes, we’re referencing our own company on this one, but at least it’s for an entertaining reason. Some people would say that the training industry isn’t that exciting. Even if it is a great way to advance your career, learn new methodologies or skills and connect and network with colleagues, it doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi. With the multitude of information, tips and tricks about AdWords, Analytics, SEO, social media, etc. that are online, it’s hard to stand out. Our newsletter provides how-to’s and current events in digital marketing like many others, but every issue we try to have fun. Yes, these pickup lines are incredibly cheesy, but we know our typical student is intelligent, up-to-date with generic SEO lingo and a little nerdy at heart. We originally published the list in our May/June Newsletter. My personal favorite: Is it too soon to exchange links?
What do all of these content marketing examples and campaigns I’ve listed have in common? They have a message that speaks to a specific person, and makes their product fun or exciting while providing relevant information. To get started developing new or repurposed content to market your company, no matter how boring you think its product or service might be, here are some questions to answer in order to brainstorm your own ideas:
- Who exactly do you want to read/view/share this piece of content and develop their persona?
- How are those people connected to you, and what is their user behavior? – ie use your web analytics to help you determine what’s bringing people to your site and where they spend time.
- What are the top keywords that would interest these people?
- What is relevant and unique about your company?
- Which channel of distribution has historically been the most successful to reach your audience?
- Which channel(s) do you need to test to see if your audience is listening and active there?
If you’d like a more in depth session about content marketing and how to achieve your goals, ASPE-ROI offers the Content Marketing Boot Camp, a hands-on workshop to help you get started planning your content marketing strategy.
Katie Cothran (@k_cothran) is the product manager for ASPE-ROI at ASPE, Inc., and has more than seven years of marketing experience in various industries. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.