The problem with a lot of marketing advice is that the examples they use are not exactly typical. It’s hard for businesses, particularly smaller businesses, to relate to the bold innovations of companies.
The reality is that a lot of businesses (and books) are low-key. If we’re being honest, we might say that a lot of businesses are boring. Or, at least they think they’re boring because they read the endless supply of breathless articles about some new plan to have innovation, realize immediately that this has no chance of working for them and get depressed.
But boring doesn’t mean you can’t be profitable and it definitely doesn’t mean you can’t use innovative marketing techniques to get quality attention. Let’s look at some of the opportunities and strategies that supposedly boring business can use:
Not sure where to start? Here are seven ways to transform your boring product marketing PR campaign into something that stands out and grabs people’s attention:
MAKE IT ADVANTAGEOUS
One thing boring brands do all the time is the focus on specs and features of their products. That’s a fantastic way to put people to sleep. People don’t care about specs. They care about how a product will impact them.
Bring your benefits to the forefront of your marketing and move the features to the background. If you’re selling to businesses, show them how your product will save them time or money. If you’re selling to distributors, focus on how the product will get them more customers.
MAKE IT SIMPLE
Too many companies get caught up in the complexity of their products. Just because you produce a complex product doesn’t mean you need to produce complex marketing. Anyone should be able to visit your website and understand why your product is valuable. If they can’t, you’re in trouble.
The key is to whittle your marketing down to the essential message. If you’re selling flush valves, maybe the message is “it won’t go down without us”. If your selling screws, maybe the messages are “without us, everything falls apart.” Use Apple as an example. Don’t be afraid to go simple.
MAKE IT VISUAL
Your product may not be much to look at. Washers and aglets aren’t much to look at. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your product visually interesting. Show your product in colorful or unique settings. Or show how an artist has used your product to create stunning artwork.
Make people see your product in a different light. For the washer, you could show the product next to a picture of the world weightlifting champion with the caption: “Only one can hold 10,000 pounds of weight”. For our aglet, you could show a dozen pairs of different sneakers with a caption that says, “What do all these shoes have in common?”
MAKE IT NARRATIVE
Behind every product is a story. Many stories really. How your product came into existence, how people use your product, how your product makes a difference in the world. Those are all stories that can be used to make your marketing more interesting. Your product is just a thing, but a story creates an emotional connection.
Tell people why your product matters. If you are a paper company, show how clients are using your paper. Show the notes, reports and contracts that have shaped companies—and people’s lives.
MAKE IT FUNNY
The Web has opened the door to more marketing humor. It’s a risky approach because you actually have to be funny for it to work. But for a “boring” product, a little humor can go a long way. You can even make a joke of how boring people perceive your product to be.
Nothing can push your marketing viral faster than a good laugh. Say you make rubber bands. You could create a video showing a plain old rubber band laying on a table. Cut to text: “A lot of people think rubber bands are boring. We beg to differ.” Cut to an office after hours: Rubber bands are shooting off everywhere. Loud music is playing. One band shoots the cork off a champagne bottle. End on the tagline “The best bands in the biz.”
BUILD THE MARKETING INTO THE PRODUCT
Word of mouth is ultimately the most effective and most desirable form of marketing for any product. First, we’ll assume that whatever service or product you’re selling is worth sharing. After that, you have to encourage the growth you’d like to see by adding campaigns that enable sharing.
REFRAME YOUR BUSINESS
Lots of industries are boring not because they aren’t important, but because we take them for granted. Clean water is boring, safe food is boring, electricity is boring, internet service providers are now boring—yet these are quite literally the most important developments in human history!
People forget how important clean water is, because it’s always there, it’s become a commodity. If your boring business is something utterly crucial, but taken for granted, then show them what the world would be like without you. This lets them appreciate what they have and creates a lot of appreciation for what you do.
In this same vein, a lot of businesses seem boring because they’ve chosen to frame and sell themselves exactly the same way as their competitors. The more there is of something, the less unique or special it seems. A way to change that is to reframe what your business stands for.