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

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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)!

Turn Dedicated Fan Content Into Sales for Your Company in 4 Easy Steps

With the rise of cool techniques on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Vine, consumers are consistently finding new ways to create, share and consume more content on a daily basis.

Consumer-created content isn’t just popular, it also has the power to influence other consumers.
How many times have you watched a how-to video posted to YouTube by a fellow user to learn how to create a certain design in Photoshop? Or read a restaurant review on Urban Spoon from another patron that ultimately led you to decide to NOT eat there? Or, even just seen a friend’s beautiful travel photos on Facebook and wanted to travel to the destination yourself?

We’ve all made decisions about products we want to purchase, restaurants we want to experience and destinations we want to travel to, based on user-generated content (UGC).

But how influential is it really? Millennials report that user-generated content (UGC) is 20% more influential on their purchases than any other type of media.

And yet, many retailers still aren’t capitalizing on the popularity and influence of social content.

In 4 steps, I’m going to show you how to convert influential and authentic consumer content into sales for your company.

Step #1: How to Build a Library of User-Generated Content

#GEInspiredMe Pinterest UGC campaign

#GEInspiredMe Pinterest UGC campaign

You can capitalize on getting value from consumer content by using one of the most powerful tactics: building your own UGC marketing campaign.

Building your own UGC marketing campaign allows you to use this word-of-mouth strategy to automate the content collection process. You don’t have to reach out to individual consumers to request permission to reuse their content and it collates all of the valuable consumer feedback in one place.

So what are some easy ways to create a UGC campaign?

Start with a hashtag campaign. Make it easy for consumers to enter the campaign with a designated hashtag. The beauty of hashtags is that they’re a common feature across many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, which allows your fans to choose how and where they want to participate; allowing you to pull off a cross-platform campaign easily.

Branded hashtag campaigns can be powerful calls-to-action across all platforms, including TV, social and print.

Take, for example, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s marketing campaign for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They wanted to ‘own’ winter and establish it as Canada’s identity and they did this by creating the #WeAreWinter campaign, the largest ad campaign ever for the COC.

With social media as the prominent platform, #WeAreWinter featured well-known Canadian Olympians (and their social profiles) talking about how winter is at the core of who Canadians are. Documentary-style videos on the re-designed Olympic.ca helped tell the stories of the lesser-known athletes and showcased the drive and determination of the medal hopefuls.

The end result? The hashtag #WeAreWinter was used over 500,000 times on Twitter in Canada, over a million times worldwide, and was trending worldwide on the final days of the Olympics.

Country_Living_Magazine

Country Living Magazine’s Pinterest Page

If Pinterest is one of your major platforms, consider running a contest on it. Take the Pinterest contest run by Country Living Magazine. They asked pinners to follow the Country Living Pinterest page, launch a new Pinterest board entitled “My Country Living Dream Bedroom,” and pin at least 10 items that represent their dream bedroom (5 of which needed to be pinned from CountryLiving.com), all tagged with #countryliving and #dreambedroom. To submit their entry, pinners were required to comment on the contest’s pin with a link to their pinboard.

Whether you’re holding a Pinterest contest or having fans enter into a cross-platform hashtag campaign, here are some tips to get a UGC marketing campaign on the go:

• Offer an incentive for fans to share & tag their content, whether it’s a prize or a chance to be featured on your home page.
• Promote the contest/campaign inside stores if you have a bricks & mortar presence.
• Put a CTA for the campaign on or inside product packaging
• Include a CTA in your e-newsletters
• Promote the campaign through all of your social channels & share the best fan entries

Step #2: Capturing Data from Campaign Participants

Suave_sweepstakes_t_and_c

Suave #RadiantWishes Sweepstakes

When you’re running a UGC campaign, it’s important that you remember to comply with legal guidelines by having your consumers agree to the terms and conditions.

After having fans send out a hashtag tweet to enter a contest, you can send them a custom response form thanking them for their entry and asking them to accept terms and conditions in order to claim the prize.

Sign up forms are also a great way to have fans grant permission to allow your company to use their content across multiple platforms. You can also use them to capture any consumer info you choose, from demographics to contact info and hobbies. Leverage the data you receive from sign up forms to better understand your consumer base, learn their preferences and to tailor future marketing campaigns accordingly.

Also, by enabling opt-ins for your email campaigns and allowing your consumers to receive updates about future promotions, you can now build an owned audience and create deeper connections with fans on your social platforms and through your website.

Step #3: Turn Your Website into a Social Hub

Burberry's UGC campaign for their famous trench coats

Burberry’s UGC campaign for their famous trench coats

When you create a cross-platform UGC marketing campaign, don’t forget to include your website. Save the best entries, photos & hashtagged images from your UGC campaigns and display them on a dedicated landing page on your site.

Displaying rich, engaging user-generated content on your website not only drives up web traffic but increases opportunities for users to share their own content, as well as content from other users that they enjoy.

Here are some tips on how to showcase UGC across multiple platforms:

• Create online displays via your website and social media platforms that promote holidays and seasonal offerings such as winter recipes or a summer product line
• If you have a bricks & mortar store, put up a prominent display in store with the site URL
• Ensure that you place reviews and comments on specific products on those product pages
• Pull quotes from your website and use them across the social platforms
• Run a Pinterest board with your favorite user submitted how-tos/styles/photos
• Run an email campaign with users wearing/using your products & drive traffic from the campaign to a branded landed page on your website full of UGC.

Step #4: Drive Sales & Measure the Results

mod_cloth_pinterest_contest

Don’t just display user-generated content, employ tactics to actively drive sales. Associate UGC with product-related content as much as possible across your website, email campaigns and social media platforms, providing a clear path to conversion.

Easy ways to do this include placing a link to the product page behind each photo, making it easier for users to click through and buy or link to pages that display products in seasonal collections or for certain occasions.
By including trackable links with each piece of content, you easily track visits, shares, views and ultimately sales. By measuring the results of each piece of content, you can make informed decisions about what content works and how you can include it in your overall strategy.

Stay tuned for more on content marketing, including a post on how to turn brand advocates into content creators for your company!