How to spice up content for a bland business

PeperoncinoIf you own a baby item store or puppy spa, you have access to content your audience loves and will share among the masses. But, when you work in a boring industry, you are facing a tremendous challenge.  The key is to look at it from an audience perspective, not an industry perspective.  The content you create does not have to be directly related to your industry, it has to be relevant and valuable to your audience.

1. NARROW your audience. Don’t develop content with the intention of engaging everyone. Your first task is to define your audience, so you can determine what content will be most valuable. (Here’s a link to an interview by Marie Forleo sharing the danger of marketing to everyone. Scroll forward to exactly the 5:00 minute mark and listen to why this can hurt your business.)

2.Tap into audience emotional triggers.  Trulia has done a fantastic job of tapping into a trigger that resonates with their target audience: personal safety. In a recent Facebook campaign, Trulia created a sponsored advertisement featuring their new App that tells you how safe your neighborhood is and provides you with a block by block crime map.

Boring Industry_Engaging Content-Trulia

The comments in the Trulia post indicate there are some glitches in the program, but the concept is perfect.  Even if I am not in the market for a new home, I will use the App to learn more about my neighborhood.  If it turns out my neighborhood isn’t so safe, I’ll be on Trulia looking for options. This is also highly shareable content.  It’s an important issue that I will share with my circles, some of them will be triggered to look deeper into the product.  Engagement compounds as your audience shares with their circles.

Along this same line, Marissa Buckley’s team at Security First Insurance recently developed a campaign around identity theft and how to protect yourself from it. The topic is relevant to their audience and their company’s message of protection.  Imagine how happy they were when the movie Identity Thief came out and offered up all that relevant content to glean from mainstream media!

3. Share effective resources/tips for saving money.  We are tiptoeing out of the recession but money is still tight.  No one wants to waste money.  Security First Insurance Company has done a fantastic job creating content that is important to their audience, is relevant to activities for this time of year, and doesn’t have anything to do with home insurance but is relevant to home owners (the target audience).

Boring Industry_Engaging Content-SFI

4.  Integrate the ‘Gold Mine’ content you find.  Marissa shared a really important point when talking about her company’s content strategy.

She said, “We strive to find content that is important to our audience, and understand that it also might not directly relate to our industry, but at the same time, we don’t lose sight of looking for valuable content that IS related to our industry.”

The content she was referencing is a soon-to-be released guide to help homeowners save BIG money when shopping for insurance.  Marissa has created a guide that shares important information about the home features that could save as much as 68 percent on your insurance policy. She calls this the Gold Mine content. It’s content related to your industry and very valuable to your audience. It’s a gold mine because you’ve already built trust with the audience and provided a positive brand experience using the other valuable content you’ve been offering. It’s actually sparking gold because her product can be a sales tool for a different business that also targets her audience: real estate professionals.

5. Meet an important need for your audience.  In a recent blog post on Spin Sucks, author Gini Dietrich shared about a day planner she created for potato growers.  I can’t imagine the challenge with finding content to engage potato growers, but Gini did it. The planner she created highlighted the dates the potato growers needed to remember for certain products, but also included interviews, stories, and testimonials from their peers.  Another example like this is an App that will soon be launched by the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The App is being designed to help growers manage their irrigation systems.

6.  Find the most effective timing and channel for content release.  When you create valuable content that is relevant to your audience, focus on the timing for releasing the content and the proper channel.  Using the example from Trulia above, their content appeared on my news feed on my mobile phone in the evening. If it had appeared during the workday and only on the Facebook desktop, I probably never would have seen it, so timing is critical.  But, and I can’t stress this enough, make sure the content is valuable.  If Trulia had posted a sponsored ad that read, “We just reached 1,000 likes!”, I would have been tempted to mark it as spam and that would adversely affect their rankings. Their timing would have been correct but the content would have been spamful. (You heard the word here first!)

7.  Promote across platforms but host the content on the optimal channel. At myMarketing Cafe, we strive to offer valuable content to clients, and one key offering is our marketing resource board. This is a Pinterest board that hosts 58 FREE marketing resources available to small business owners.  We have found some really cool platforms and gadgets that can help small business owners, and cost nothing to get started.  We drive our audience to this content through our other channels, but we host the content on Pinterest because it is the most engaging, visual channel for the content.

But now, it’s your turn, what ideas do you have for spicing up a bland business?

This post originally appeared on as How to create engaging content for a boring industry.

Jo Lynn Deal is an integrated marketing communications strategist and founder of myMarketing Cafe.  She has been featured in PR News, Project Eve, The Business Journal, and The Examiner. Catch her every week on the Cup of Jo blog, where she focuses on trending topics and fresh ideas in the world of integrated small business marketing. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.


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