12 Jul 2014

How to Create Engaging Content for “Boring” Industries

How to Create Engaging Content for “Boring” Industries

Let’s be honest here, there are industries which are “sexy” and you can’t decide what to publish first, but there are also industries, that are less interesting…

Since you are reading this, I will assume you are in the latter. Hey, there is nothing wrong with that. Actually these industries are usually the most profitable!

So, you have probably heard about content marketing, you want to include it in your marketing plan, but you have no idea how to do it.

Let’s say you are a dentist, or an electrician, or -if we want to make it more difficult- you own an eshop that sells office chairs and desks. What are you supposed to write and talk about?

-Hint: The answer is at the end of the article, but I suggest you read the full article to get in the right mindset and be ready to face any challenge!

We will get to answer that question and many more in this article, but before we get to the “hot” stuff, you need to be in the right mindset about approaching this marketing channel.

After all, you don’t want to mindlessly jump in it with the herd and get disappointed by trivial results, right?

Ok, let’s start with the definition of “boring” and a basic concept in marketing…

Define Boring

Bore (definition): to weary by dullness

There are 2 ways to bore someone:

1. You share interesting knowledge that can benefit the audience, but the format in which you present it, is monotonous, flat and outward needs extra willpower from the receiver to consume it.

Solution: You need to enrich the medium. Here’s how to do it:

Is it a blog post?
Hire someone that has some copywriting skills, so they can write engaging blog posts. There are specific marketing books, just for that. He/She will be more expensive than a random freelance writer, but the results will be justified, if everything else is in place. Also, try including images, charts and other visual content, inside your blog posts.

Is it a video?
Hire a professional presenter, that has good presentation skills. These can be an engaging voice, along with facial expressions and body language.

Is it an Infographic?
Get the infographic created by a quality design agency, that is up-to-date and knows how to present useful information in this visual medium, without just stuffing percentages and words.

You get the idea, let’s move on to the second…

2. You don’t create content, or your content is all about company’s news, special offers and the features of your product.

This content is (probably) interesting to your existing customers, but it will alienate your potential customers reading it.

Why?

Because they haven’t converted yet to customers and they are still looking for information.

Here is everything you need to do, to avoid this trap and get in the right mindset:

First, marketing fundamentals:

Not only your potential customers, but every human being on this planet is interested in “What’s In It For Me?”, meaning what do they stand to gain from your content.

Will your content solve a specific problem they are having? Will it boost their well being? Will it make them healthier? Maybe prevent a danger, or some bigger damage they are not aware of?

Doing any of them, without having necessarily to buy from you, will make them much more likely to buy from you in the future or on the spot. You can also tie the article with a subtle promotion of your product or service, if applicable. More on that later.

Take for example the awesome Post Planner and their old 2013 homepage:

post-planner-homepage-2013
Post Planner’s homepage in 2013

 

“Post smart. Save time.”

A bit generic, but interesting.

Check their homepage in 2014:

post-planner-homepage-2014
Post Planner’s homepage in 2014

 

Wow, now we are talking, aren’t we?

Who of their visitors engaging in social media, wouldn’t be interested in what they have to say and offer, just by reading their motto?

When you produce content, you must always think like Post Planner, “What do our customers stand to gain from this content and our company?”.

For example, this blog post you are reading is designed to help businesses produce engaging content for their audiences, thus building trust with them and grow their customer base (along with their revenue).

Secondly, businesses that don’t create content are missing on countless opportunities. Here are some:

  • No way to keep visitors coming to their site, or talking about it to their friends, other than their products. Therefore, potential customers will rarely see their brand, leading to weak Mere Exposure Effect.
  • Weak SEO and keyword targeting. 15% of daily Google’s search queries (or 500 Million) have never been seen by Google before. That’s a lot of search queries, usually long-tail (5 or more words), which these businesses could target with content.

By now, you must be convinced that producing content is very important. So, who are we writing for? Who is our customer?

That’s where we need to understand customer personas…

What are Customer Personas?

Customer or Buyer Personas are the profiles of your target customers.

What you want to achieve with profiling your customers, is that you want to be able to know their psychology, needs, mindset, as these are greatly defined by demographics, occupation and other characteristics.

For a much more thorough understanding of Buyer Personas, I highly recommend reading Tony Zambito’s awesome article.

Once you know them, you will be able to write a better message and address their needs much better than before.

You will be able to find the places they hangout online, the forums/groups and everything else they read and participate.

Once you know where to find them, you can see what they are talking about, what are their problems, what they need, how they think, their lingo and any fears or objections they might have.

This is how I came up with the idea for this blog post. I didn’t wake up one morning and thought, “Hey, let’s talk about how to create engaging content for boring industries”!

I was reading, watching people in B2B, talking and asking this question over and over again, struggling to produce valuable content for their audience.

What was also interesting, was that most of these people had enough Human Resources to pull it off successfully, but they didn’t know where to start or how to go about it.

Similarly, when you start listening to the conversations of your potential customers, you will definitely uncover untapped needs and gain powerful insights into the psychology of your customers, which in turn will allow you to tailor your messages specifically for them!

But what if there is more than 1 buyer persona?

In most businesses (if not all), there will be more than 1 buyer persona, but if you haven’t profiled your customers before, I suggest you start with 1 or 2 buyer personas and then expand as you gain experience and data.

If you are selling kitchen tools and cooking gadgets for easy cooking aimed at housewives and the majority of your buyers are…housewives, don’t start producing content for male bachelors. I am sure some of you are saying: “But Alex, 20% of my customers are bachelors and the 80% is housewives. We can’t ignore them!”

Indeed you shouldn’t ignore them, but you absolutely have to start small with the customers you are more likely to succeed. This small win will give you a psychological boost to keep moving forward. For our previous example, start with content that will be interesting to housewives and then expand if needed and if appropriate.

Topics could include:

– “How to cook healthy for your children”
– “10 Fast recipes for the working mother”
– “How to prepare a successful dining table”

The second topic might drive more sales than the rest, if it makes sense to propose one of your cooking tools for cutting cooking time by a few minutes.

The other 2 may not be directly affiliated with a product, but this doesn’t mean they are not useful.

If a mother is looking to cook healthy for her children and your article is in depth and helps her, who do you think she will think of, when she decides she needs new cooking knives?

What if she subscribes to your email newsletter and starts getting awesome content, right in her mailbox?

Will she then decide to shop for kitchen tools elsewhere?

I doubt that.

All you need is a little brainstorming to create your first 1 or 2 customer personas, or get some help from a professional, like Tony who is mentioned above. Then research them thoroughly and find as much as you can about them. After that, you are ready to start jotting down content ideas, based on their conversations, their questions, troubles and anything else you might find.

And since you now know them, it will be easy to talk about a topic that will benefit them and it won’t be boring!

For the small “riddle” I wrote at the start of the article (you own an eshop that sells office chairs and desks. What are you supposed to write and talk about?) here is the answer:

One buyer persona for these products is Freelancers (developers, writers, designers, etc). Some of them spend countless hours in front of their PC sitting on a chair. Let’s assume you have a specific type of chair that is ideal to keep the body in the right posture. Here are some blog topics and how you can tie them with your product:

  • How to keep healthy and fit as a Freelancer

Somewhere inside the article you can talk about how important choosing the correct chair is for long term freelancers and how it is an investment. There you can also suggest your high priced and high value ergonomic chair.

  • How are desks tied to productivity?

Here you can talk about how keeping a clean and organized desk enhances productivity. Back it up with scientific research for extra points. On the sidebar of the article you can advertise some of your desks.

Another buyer persona is a company moving its offices. Here is one more title:

  • Five Tips for Office Relocation Success

Conclusion

Content matters and it can be tied to serve both your products and your visitors. Just find out what your customers are struggling with and offer to help them.

Also, please do the preparation first, because content without being prepared or without research, will be a waste of time and resources.

So, what industry are you in and do you have a blog?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

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