How smart writers can bring boring topics to life
“I love writing about industrial heating and cooling equipment’ – no writer ever.
But the thing is, a great content marketer should embrace a challenge. In the B2B market specifically, you won’t be hard-pressed to find dry topics related to ‘boring’ industries.
But that’s not to say you can’t write some amazing content that has prospects going:
‘Wow, industrial heating and cooling equipment really is fascinating!’
OK, so exactly do you make content that is seemingly dull come to life? How do you create engaging content people care about when you work in a boring industry?
Well ask, and you shall receive!
First things first – remember that ‘interesting’ is a relative term. What I find interesting and what my Dad finds interesting will differ greatly (he’s really into the history of the Quakers. Seriously. ). Similarly, what the general public is interested in and what your prospects are interested in will be different as well. This brings us to the first point of our list.
Research your prospects
Know. Your. Audience. What are their goals? Their challenges? Their hopes and dreams? Remember, no one cares about you, your services or your products. They only care about how you can help them. In order to do this, you need to research your target customers.
For example, HubSpot is killing the blogging game. Their target audience of sales and marketing pros eat up their blogs covering topics from buyer personas (how meta!), to social media best practices to blog writing. They know their audience, they know what they want, and they serve it right up to them each and every week.
If you need more help pumping some energy into your content, why not check out the latest news headlines? What are the topics that your prospects might be interested in that are happening in the world today? How can you (legitimately) tie them back to your solutions? Newsjacking only works when there’s a natural correlation between your solutions and what’s trending. When it’s not done right, it can be disastrous.
For example, Mint Mobile looked at rising inflation making headlines and decided to capitalize on it in a creative way. Their tongue-in-cheek campaign mocked their competitors’ inflation fees with a clever ‘deflation campaign’ where they offered new customers a low-priced plan at $15/month.
Take a look at their commercial here with Canada’s favourite marketing guru and Mint Mobile spokesman, Ryan Reynolds:
Make bold claims
In every industry, there are universal truths that people believe but don’t ever say out loud.
This gives you an opportunity to be the voice of reason. Whether it’s an ill-conceived industry standard or a refusal for industry leaders to adapt to change in your marketplace, making a bold claim or taking a controversial stance on an issue will set your content apart and - if it’s well-written and researched - gain a ton of clicks.
One of my favourite examples is actually a manifesto from B2B marketing agency, Velocity Partners. The blog and slideshow discuss why the deluge of crappy content is the biggest threat to B2B content marketing. It’s a bit like the classic lemon ad from Volkswagen.
Remember to be fair, kind and open-minded – being bold doesn’t mean being offensive.
Use different mediums
The medium is the message – or so said a wise old communications genius. This means that the medium you choose (blog, infographic, video, etc.) becomes part of your message – and influences how your audience perceives the story you’re trying to tell.
So basically, if you have a boring topic, find a new exciting medium to get your message across. This also has added SEO value because Google likes to present a variety of content types at the top of its search engine results page (SERP).
For example, IBM do some beautiful infographics around content that most people would probably classify as dull – IT and technology consulting. But by being creative and clever with how they present their information, they’re able to captivate prospects with beautiful infographics, such as Inside the Brain of CEO.
Use a metaphor or analogy
If something is really boring, your best bet for nabbing a user’s attention is to relate it to something else that’s, well, more interesting. Or at least, explain it in a way that makes it more engaging.
One we really like is a blog post from startupbootcamp.org that compares using a start-up ‘accelerator’ – to the Barcelona Football Club.
This seems like a great metaphor as professional football is tangentially related to the idea of a ‘boot camp’ – intense training to get new recruits physically and mentally prepared while instructing very harsh discipline. The analogy is a strong one – but it’s also a nice tie-in to the services they offer.
So if you’re struggling to find an engaging way to tantalize your audience with the otherwise dry subject matter – always remember this twist on a favourite copywriting adage:
‘There are no boring topics. Only boring content.'
Just like ‘There are no small roles, only small actors”, content is what you make of it. A clever writer will use all the tools in their toolbox to bring dry, lifeless topics to life through their creativity.
Need help bringing your dull content to life? I’ve written for many a boring brand and I relish the challenge. Get in touch to see how we can work together.