16 Companies in “Boring” Industries Delivering Awesome Content

Whether you realize it or not, there’s definitely industry sectors out there that are easier to create great marketing content for. You probably don’t have to wrack your brain to write a great brochure about promoting a resort in the Bahamas or develop an online contest to market your restaurant’s grand opening or sell your new line of clothing.

Let’s face it, the tourism/travel, food/beverage, film/entertainment and fashion/beauty industries are generally pretty easy to generate buzz for, get fans excited about and create some awesome content for. Just photos of great events & locations can be enough to get fans buzzing about the latest developments.

But unfortunately, not every industry has that luxury. Have you ever had to create a marketing campaign for accounting software? How about for soap or maybe even a pharmaceutical company? Ever felt stuck doing that and wanting to pull your hair out?

Well, I’ve got some examples that might be able to pull you out of that marketing funk. From soap to file storage and customer service, here’s 16 companies in so called “boring” industries, doing marketing right.

1) Soap

Take soap, for example. It’s pretty plebeian, right? You use it to keep clean on a daily basis and more often than not, I’m sure you purchased a certain one based on price rather than any other attribute. With over 40 different brands, it’s a product that’s more about daily utility, rather than actual consumer interest. But, there ARE a few brands that make marketing for soap/body wash exciting.

Take Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, for example. From deodorant to body wash and everything in between, the brand has done an amazing job of emphasizing that every woman, no matter the ethnicity, age or body type is truly beautiful. The campaign has expanded from TV ads to billboards and online videos, with 2013’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’-where women describe their appearances to a forensic sketch artist-one of the most watched ads of all time.

Why does it work? Maybe it’s because instead of focusing on positioning themselves against the competition and coming up with a USP, Dove instead chooses to focus on how they can empower their consumers through subverting what advertising traditionally tells us is beautiful and focus on accepting ourselves just as we are.

2) CRM Tools

Sprout_Social_Blog

CRM tools to make life easier for online businesses? Yawn. It’s an absolute necessity to help businesses better manage contact lists, gauge campaigns stats and manage their presence on social media. But is it as fun and exciting as reading about the latest movie premieres @ TIFF? Probably not, but there are a few companies that are working hard to make CRM topics more interesting.

Take Sprout Social, for example. One of the most comprehensive CRM when it comes to helping you leverage content on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, their blog does a great job of explaining all of their new features in layman’s terms and gives great advice on how to better use other platforms such as Google+.

3) File Storage

Dropbox_enewsletter

Cloud file storage and sharing products to make organizing and sending documents at work easier. Sounds like a sleeping pill, right? Even so, it’s a process for people to wait for your files to sync, upload and finish storing. There’s still a lot of people out there who may not understand the newer concept of cloud storage instead of using a USB drive or a CD. So cloud storage companies have their work cut out for them in trying to make their products sound user-friendly and fun at the same time. But there IS one company that’s doing a good job.

Dropbox’s email campaigns keep their messages short and snappy, they use great photos and they use language that has personality, which makes you want to interact with them.

4) Meeting Platform

GoToMeeting

Who doesn’t love attending meetings at work? Even when you’re away travelling for work, you don’t ever have to miss a meeting in the office with convenient online meeting tools…..Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? Meetings aren’t exactly peoples’ favorite thing to do, but there’s one company that does a pretty good job of making the most out of it.

Check out GoToMeeting’s Twitter feed. They do a great job of taking a friendly professional approach to their content. They post everything from popular Internet memes to retweets and articles about the modern workplace. They make things interesting instead of focusing on their products all the time. They also share customer success stories which goes a long way to endearing clients to them.

5) Household Cleaning Supplies

Hoover

Vacuum cleaners and other cleaning supplies can be pretty boring huh? Almost every ad you see on TV shows the amazing cleaning powers of the vacuum or broom in question. From Dyson to Swiffer WetJet, all they seem to focus on is how it gets dirt off your floor. It’s definitely useful to know, but not very exciting.

Take this heart-warming campaign from Hoover. When they heard about a young man named Marcus who was autistic and had a special love for vacuums as he was always drawing them, they took his pictures and started displaying them around the office. Even better, they took his drawings and put it online for people to download, creating a mini-campaign in which Marcus’s love for vacuums could be spread to homes all over the world.

6) Real Estate

Finding a new place to live, whether you’re renting or buying can be a huge headache. There’s a ton of listings to go through and open houses to attend AND a lot of questions that should be asked in order to determine if it’s the right place for you. After all, it IS the biggest investment you’ll ever make.

The best companies try and make the experience more enjoyable. Memphis Invest did an entertaining video showing a typical property that a real estate investor would be looking at in the region. It has a Cribs-esque feel, complete with pop-up prices. It make touring through the property both informative and fun at the same time.

7) Consulting

Accenture_blog

Consulting is booming amongst baby boomers who retire from full-time work but aren’t quite ready to stop working. As of 2011, there were some 400,000 consultants in the US alone. Not all of them were sole proprietors either, some companies employ several consultants on their roster.

Either way, that’s a lot of companies and a lot of people. With that many people out there with the title of consultant, how can companies differentiate? One great way to do so is through authoritative content, which one company uses to their advantage.

Accenture does a great job of creating authoritative content in a number of different forms, from blog posts to podcasts and they’re also not afraid to bring pop-culture references into their content to make things more interesting and helps to turn industry content into something COOs and CMOs can use to help generate interest among their audiences.

8) Health

Vega_Sport

Having written academic papers myself on direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, I can see how it can be extremely boring to the average consumer. Everyone knows for example that probiotics are good for you, but how many people are actually interested in hearing an explanation on how they work? Many health topics are convoluted and hard for the general public to understand and the biggest content opportunity for that industry is to break it down into layman’s terms that everyone can understand and absorb.

Vega, a plant-based nutritional supplement and health company does a great job of disseminating quality content that promotes healthy living through their social media channels and on their blog. They focus on inspirational stories on what inspires their consumers to get-and stay-active. Check out this great post on what inspired a consumer to start running.

9) Marketing Automation

State-of-Content-Marketing-2014_Infographic-FV

In a nutshell, marketing automation platforms allow you to streamline your marketing campaigns, scheduling tweets, managing workflows and automating follow-up emails. Are you falling asleep or switching to another website?! I get it, compared to other awesome aspects of marketing, marketing automation isn’t really considered to be ‘hot’, but it IS integral to improving everyone’s ability to create better marketing campaigns. Still, it sounds fairly bland and robotic compared to talking about the latest ad from Chrysler 300.

There IS one company that’s spicing up the more boring aspects though. Eloqua has been creating an awesome content-rich blog for years, but where they particularly excel is at infographics. Their infographics are awesome because they make a point of adding value rather than just color and they do a good job of laying out statistics in such a way that everyone understands them.

10) Insurance

Everybody knows what a necessity insurance is in the modern age. The demand for information can be pretty high, whether it’s about health insurance or car insurance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t boring. It’s an important part of personal and professional security, but that doesn’t mean we have to enjoy it. Luckily for us, there’s two insurance companies that are creating popular buzz-worthy content that definitely isn’t boring.

Geico’s marketing campaigns with their mascots, the gecko and two offbeat guitar/ukulele players have been causing audiences to be in stitches for years. All-State has also been generating their fair share of laughs with the character of Mayhem, doing everything from streaking in a football field to running into the road like a deer in headlights.

11) Customer Service

Most people cringe about calling customer service. They worry about having long wait times or dealing with customer service representatives that aren’t helpful. However, there are quite a few companies that don’t deal with customers this way that don’t get enough credit. That’s why awesome content can help the customer service rep and the customer, making their lives easier. Here’s one company that has recognized how exceptional content can help.

ZenDesk offers customer service and support ticket software, but they do a good job of infusing the human element of customer service into their marketing. In one video, they sit two people next to each other, one ‘the business’, one ‘the customer’ that allows them to speak personally with one another, showcasing how ZenDesk can add real-world value into improving their relationship.

12) Crutches

Goodbye_Crutches

Crutches can become a necessary evil when you have an injury that affects your mobility. Until you actually need them, it can be tough to figure out which ones you should buy or which ones work for you. A great company can provide content to help you decide if crutches are right for you.

Goodbye Crutches provides free ground delivery for all of their alternatives to crutches. To make the process of choosing an alternative, they have a great quiz on their website that will help you find which crutch is the best for you, eliminating guesswork and making things easier for you!

13) Toilet Paper

Charmin_Twitter

It’s a necessity that you use every day, but you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about which one to buy unless it’s about price. But when you do buy it, there’s a ton of options to choose from.

You don’t generally think about toilet paper as having great marketing, but Charmin’s been doing an amazing job keeping their products top of mind with their TV spots and their Twitter feed. They’ve converted their Twitter account into a hilarious hub for humor, with #tweetfromtheseat, their most popular hashtag generating hilarious responses. They’re not afraid to even keep the conversation going and respond to even some of the more NSFW comments.

14) Radiology

RSNA_Facebook

Ah, radiology. The ability to take X-rays when you have an injury. Not exactly making you feel warm and fuzzy, is it? Especially since you only go there when you’re already dealing with an injury.

Radiology, like the rest of the health industry, isn’t crystal clear, but there’s an organization out there that’s staying top of mind and making it a little easier to understand. The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) successfully uses their Facebook page to connect with their audience in a light and funny way. They even hold contests for the public to submit and then vote on their favorite X-ray images.

15) Everything

GE_inspired_me_pinterest_board

You know what’s interesting? A multi-national conglomerate company that has their hands in every industry from consumer to industrial, finance to energy and technological infrastructure. Basically, your company does everything and yet how do you take everything and make it interesting?

Check out GE’s Pinterest Page, it’s proof they don’t take themselves too seriously, with boards named #Badass Machines next to boards like #Brilliance in Motion. They even go so far as to incorporate the Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” meme into a Pinterest board, but making it about Thomas Edison instead and hold a contest special board #GEInspiredMe to entice the public to post photos of how GE inspires them.

16) Software

People don’t typically turn to software companies for entertainment or educational content. But with the right mentality and the organization to keep great content always in the pipeline, software companies can gain recognition and spread the word by producing the right content for the right people at the right time.

Marketo does a great job of creating top 5 and top 10 lists of marketing ideas and other aspects that are easy to read and follow. They also do a great job of creating videos that opens the dialogue between them and the customers, almost as if you really were having coffee with them and asking them questions, known as “Coffee with Marketo”.

I hope that no matter what industry you’re in, these companies have inspired you to create awesome content and to not let the label of “boring” stop you. Keep checking back here for more awesome blog post on how to make the most of your marketing campaigns, including this post on how you can improve your calls-to-action (CTAs)!

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21 Awesome Online Tools to Make Your Business More Efficient

Technology is moving and changing at lightning speed in today’s day and age. If you don’t integrate at least some of the tools and cutting-edge platforms to help your marketing strategies and assist increasing your company’s productivity, you’re going to be left behind by the competition.

But, it’s not as simple as just pressing a button or learning HOW to use a tool or application. You need to have support for adopting new changes in your company from the senior management down to IT, marketing, sales and business development and an open environment to collaborate and share the knowledge on the new applications.

This blog post will cast the spotlight on the most popular cloud-based applications that your company should be using to improve creativity, productivity and efficiency.

The applications fall under the following categories:

• File sharing and collaboration tools that will help your business get projects done faster
• Social networking tools that make cross collaboration between teams easier
• Administrative tools that make managing manage projects, schedules and billing a breeze
• Tools that make sales, marketing and content management simple
• Misc. tools that will help you save time on managing your email and more time developing strategies

File Sharing and Collaboration Tools

1) Evernote

Evernote-4

Do you have Post-It notes scattered all over your desk and have a hard time keeping track of all the paper you take notes on during meetings? If this sounds like you, Evernote is the program for you.

With Evernote, you can capture, organize and write information that can be accessed using any device, even giving you the ability to read the text off of photos of notes you’ve taken. You can save and share information in your Evernote virtual notebook that can be shared with your team through Evernote Business.

You could create separate virtual notebooks for each client to keep track of business goals, campaign ideas and project notes. You can even create shareable notebooks for clients to look at, filled with informative web articles or ideas you’ve been ruminating on that you think they might like. When you’re researching on the web, Evernote’s Web Clipper can be your best friend because it allows you to capture and store screenshots of the web pages you’ve been looking at.

Cost: Individual Use: Free, Individual Premium Use: $5.00/month or $45.00/year and Evernote Business: $10/user/month

 

2) Dropbox

Dropbox

By now, you’ve probably heard of Dropbox. It’s a cloud-based shareable hard drive that you can sync files, photos, videos and projects saved on your personal computer to your work computer or vice versa. When you make a change to a file, the updated version is automatically saved to Dropbox, so you’re working on the latest version no matter where you access it from. If you want to revert to working on an earlier version, you have the option to do that also.

Instead of attaching several files in an email, you can just send a link to the Dropbox folder. You can organize all your files into subfolders based on department, subject or client, so that every folder is shared with the right group of people.

Cost: Individual use: Free up to 2 GB of storage, Team use: Starts @ $795/year for 5 users with unlimited storage

 

3) Google Drive

Google-Drive

Google Drive is the new home for Google Docs where you can upload files and create spreadsheets and presentations to share with others. Any editing you do to the documents is automatically saved and you’re always working on the most recent version. Everyone can see the same version of the document without dozens of email threads with new attachments. Editors can highlight text and suggest changes with the comment tool and writers can hit the ‘Resolve’ button on each comment after the feedback has been incorporated.

Google Drive also has the benefit of being able to open 30 different file types right in your browser, even if you don’t have the appropriate program installed. (ie. you can see .psd files even without Photoshop). Just like with Dropbox, you can organize files into different subfolders and access the documents both on and offline. Google Drive can also recognize objects and text within images like Evernote!

Cost: Individual use: Free w/ 5 GB storage, Google Apps for Business: $5/user/month or $50/user/year

 

4) Google +

google-plus

There’s a great way you can interact and collaborate with your clients on Google + by using Google Hangouts. You can have live video chats with your clients while editing a Google Doc to write down campaign ideas. You can also share videos and documents over Google Hangouts too!

Cost: Free (Needs Google Email Account)


5) Microsoft Office 365

You can use the cloud version of Microsoft Office, email inboxes, calendars, instant messaging and file sharing. You have access to web versions of Office, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote with some pricing plans giving you access to the online version of Microsoft Sharepoint for document sharing and collaboration.

You can use the online versions in conjunction with the desktop version which will allow you to move documents back and forth without losing formatting.

Cost: Small business with 50 users: $6/user/month, midsize business or enterprise with 50k users (view files online but no editing)$8/user/month, Enterprise with 50k users (view files online & editing) $14/user/month

Internal Social Networks

6) Salesforce Chatter

With an internal social network like Chatter, you can ask questions, send files back and forth and get responses in real-time without overloading the email server. You don’t have to worry about it getting out of the office because Chatter is for your company only. You can create groups for specific clients to ask questions and provide feedback. It’s a great way to keep telecommuting employees and those in out-of-town conferences in the loop.

Cost: Basic Chatter for your company: Free, Chatter Plus: collaboration, customization with Salesforce CRM features $15/user/month

 

7) Yammer

yammer

The enterprise social network provider is now part of Microsoft Office and you can use it to organize meetings and events and create groups for specific clients to house all the campaign ideas and project details.

Used in conjunction with MS Office, you can create an organization chart for your business so that everyone knows who’s who in each department.

Cost: Basic: Free, Yammer Enterprise: $3/user/month, Yammer Enterprise w/ Office 365: $8/user/month

 

8) Basecamp

Basecamp

Basecamp is a simple project management platform that allows you to centralize all presentations, documents and meeting notes in one place. You can track and assign project milestones and keep track of the progress on your computer and on your mobile devices.

Basecamp doesn’t price by number of users so everyone involved in a particular project can access the platform to work together. You can control who works on which project and organize them based on their departments (ie. event planning, accounting). You can use the Discussion feature to keep track of all the different conversations and use email to reply to them so you don’t even have to log in.

You can coordinate everyone’s schedules and project milestones using the calendar and keep track of clients’ editorial calendars so you know what’s published when

Cost: $20/month for 10 projects with unlimited users & 3 GB of storage, $150/month for unlimited projects and users with 100 GB of storage

 

9) ActiveCollab

ActiveCollab is another easy-to-use project management system that includes the ability to create invoices and manage time. You can access projects by filtering searches by clients, label, assignee and more and you can break better tasks into sub-tasks and drag and drop project milestones into certain due dates.

You can even create quotes for new projects and mark them as ‘won’ or ‘lost’. If won, you can import the client contact information and start a new project based on the quote.

You can filter tracked time by billable and non-billable and populate a new invoice

Cost: Small business w/ unlimited users: $249/month, Corporate use w/ unlimited users (including time tracking & invoicing0: $399/month

 

10) Intervals

Intervals

Intervals is a web-based project management software that combines time and task management with reporting that allows you to see where time is being spent and adjust priorities accordingly.

There’s a built-in timer that you can use to calculate time spent on projects. You can put in task instructions and attach any accompanying files to help with a project such as research notes or website copy. You can track the evolving changes in a document and revert back to the previous version(s) if you choose. The reports help you view which clients you’re spending the most time on, which clients you need to bill, whether you need to hire someone to help with the workload and if you should be adjusting the hourly rate.

Cost: 40 projects, unlimited users, 15 GB of storage: $50/month, unlimited projects, unlimited users, 75 GB of storage: $150/month

 

11) Workamajig

Workamajig

Workamajig is a web based project management system that combines task management, shared calendars, contact management, expense management, project requests, billing and more.

You can created customized templates for creative briefs, tasks, estimates and more-and you have the option to host it internally on your servers or on the Workamajig servers.

Cost: $38/user/month w/ minimum of 10 users

 

12) Trello

13trello

The premise of Trello, another web based project management systems, is that you write tasks on “cards” like digital Post-It Notes and attach them to different boards labeled “Need to Research”, “Delivered to Client” etc. You can create as many cards as you want to keep track of where projects are at, assign people to them and once the projects are done, you can move the cards from “To Do” to “Done”.

Create cards for different content marketing projects and even create cards for employees to store meeting notes and feedback that they can easily access rather than interrupting them via email or in person. You stay updated on all your different boards and how projects are doing using Trello’s mobile app for iPhone and Android.

Cost: Free

Content Sourcing, Creation & Management Tools

13) Kapost

You can create and manage your entire editorial calendar with Kapost Calendar and even export them to your everyday work calendar (iCal, Outlook, or Google). You can assign different user permissions to all involved in the content management process, from all access to view only AND you can add clients so that they can take a look and give feedback and their approval.

When you have a content idea, you can email the Kapost platform for editors to review, approve and then it goes into the editorial calendar. You can categorize all content according to campaigns, content types etc.

Cost: Standard: $1200/year for 8 users, Pro: $3000/year for 20 users, Enterprise: Quote

 

14) Zerys

Zerys for Agencies banner

Zerys is a content marketing and project management system that connects your company with qualified writers looking for opportunities to create content for your clients.

Post writing jobs, sample writers based on their expertise, review their work, negotiate rates and publish their work.

You can create questionnaires to ask clients what they are looking for in a project and you can then use that to create a job description for writers. It will help generate a lot of content for client blogs in a short amount of time and you can add your own company’s writers to the system.

Cost: Pricing is based on the per word rate you charge between $0.01 to $0.20

 

15) Contently

contently-screenshot

Contently offers an editorial project management program along with a marketplace that connects brands, agencies and other companies with the talent that can complete content projects.

Using Contently, brands gain access to qualified writers that have already been vetted and writers gain access to self-promotional tools and visibility into how their content is performing.

You can create and manage your entire editorial calendar, schedule publishing times and due dates, manage approvals, editing workflows and you can automate content to publish on WordPress, Hubspot, Typepad or Tumblr.

Cost: You’ll have to ask Contently for pricing plans

 

Misc. Handy Tools

16) PassPack

PassPack

PassPack allows you to store all of your agency’s and clients’ passwords, grant access to team members on a need to know basis and it saves time by allowing you to log-in into the sites with the one-touch button to login that also works on mobile.

Cost: Up to 100 passwords for 1 user: Free, Pro: $1.50/month for up to 1,000 passwords and 3 users, Group: $4/month for up to 1,500 passwords and 15 users, Team: $12/month for up to 2,000 passwords and 80 users, $40/month for up to 10,000 passwords and 1,000 users

17) Rapportive

rapportive

Rapportive allows you to find out more about your email contacts by providing info about their social media activity right inside your Gmail inbox. You can see their interests and hobbies and connect with them on a variety of social media platforms.

It helps you put a face to the name of unknown contacts in email, use recent tweets and their LinkedIn profile to find common ground to help you tailor your conversations accordingly and follow them via social media without getting distracted and pulled away from your inbox.

Cost: Free!

 

18) Skitch

Skitch

It’s a screen capture, sketching and annotation tool that makes explaining a project to a client much easier. You can overlay text, draw simple arrows, shapes and lines and blur image sections to draw attention to certain areas. As Skitch is also an Evernote product, you can save all your Skitch notes and share them between all your devices.

You can use Skitch screenshots in blog posts, reports and in emails to your clients to help you illustrate your point.

Cost: Free!

 

19) Pixlr

Pixlr

It’s a web-based, desktop and mobile photo editing tool that allows account managers and social media strategists to create and edit images without having to resort to spending large amounts of money for a Photoshop license. You can add Pixlr to Google Drive, edit your photos and re-save them on the Drive and you can easily edit any online image by clicking and dragging it to Pixlr using the Firefox and Chrome extensions. You get the mobile app to edit photos on the go when you’re away from the computer.

Cost: Pixlr Web-Based Editor: Free, Pixlr Express: Free, Pixlr Express Plus for Android & iPhone: $0.99

 

20) Pocket

Pocket lets you save everything online that you want to read later and tag them with different tags so they’re easy to organize and find when you’re ready. Pocket syncs content automatically across all your devices, so you can read it with or without an internet connection.

You can even sync Pocket bookmarks on your mobile devices to Evernote and manage your articles along with notes and ideas.

Cost: Free!

 

21) DocuSign

DocuSign

With DocuSign, you can upload a document you need signed, indicate where a client needs to sign and the date and send it off with a customized note. Once they’ve signed off, you’ll get an email notification and you can start the project.

You can upload all kinds of contracts, NDAs and employee handbooks into DocuSign and save time and money on the printing process and turnaround time.

Cost: Free for 1 user w/ 5 signature/month, Professional: $15/user/month for 50 signatures/month, Workgroup: $20/user/month for 2-200 users and unlimited signatures, Enterprise: Get a quote

 

Check back here every week for more posts on how to become an expert on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, content development and management AND learn about new tools you can use to make marketing and running a business easier!