From Dull to Engaging: How to Build Shareable Content Around Less-Than-Exciting Subjects

Let's face it -- very few products actually sell themselves. The majority of products on the market just aren't as exciting as the new iPhone, Beats by Dre, or the 6th Game of Thrones book (which may or may not ever exist).

Trust me, I understand -- I work for an online test prep company, so people often ask me, "How could you ever make standardized testing -- the one thing people dread most -- appealing?" I tell them it's 100% possible for any marketer to do, even if they're working with a product they find boring or unattractive.

Here's the thing: your product doesn't have to be boring -- not if you frame it the right way. So stop telling yourselves the boring lie. It's holding you back! If you want to amp up your sales, gain followers on social media, and attract droves of new customers, you can.

Credit: Cristiano Betta
Credit: Cristiano Betta

Its time to throw out the bad content marketing and start building sharable and interesting content around your product, even if you never thought you could. Here's how:

1. It's Not About The Product, It's About The Customer

The goal of content marketing is to attract new customers to your company, so let your customers inspire you! Think of all the wonderful, unusual people who decide to buy your product or service. They have lives, wants, needs ... and your company fits into that picture.

Figure out how.

If it seems challenging to build engaging content around subjects that, on the surface, are less-than-thrilling, it's because you're forgetting the people. Be personable, and build your content around their lifestyles. Which leads me to my next point ...

2. People Are Curious

Your customers have many questions. Find them. Answer them.

In ed-tech, our customers are students. People who, in their free time, wouldn't normally Google "What is a good GMAT score?" or "How to calculate score percentiles," because they're not fun topics to ponder while enjoying a beer with friends at a bar.

However, when it comes to making life-altering decisions -- like whether or not to attend graduate school or how much money to spend on test preparation -- students will Google those boring topics as if they are the latest scoop on Miley Cyrus.

All of a sudden, these customers have questions and need information. You have the expertise. It's the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Check out Quora, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, Google+, and Facebook to find out what kind of questions your target audience is asking, and then insert yourself into the conversation. Tell them what they want to know in an interesting, eye-catching, branded way! Speaking of which ...

Credit: Timothy Krause
Credit: Timothy Krause

3. Don't Just Blog

Blogging is great for marketers, but it's also expected. Promoting interesting content in unique, non-traditional venues can allow you to reach your customers where they're already hanging out and, sometimes, where they aren't already bombarded by marketing messages from a million other companies. Ad fatigue and banner blindness are real.

So, try new outlets for your content. Think of how you can provide a free service using Pinterest, infographics, Slideshare, eBooks, YouTube, Vine videos, or even by organizing a simple Q&A or webinar. You could start a contest with an interesting, desirable giveaway. (I'd share a tweet from Charmin if I could get a free year of toilet paper. Think of the savings!)

4. Shift The Focus

Chances are, people aren't going to be interested in your product year-round. There's a degree of seasonality for everything, but don't let that get you down -- use it to your advantage! Get creative and tie your product to things that are in season, such as current events or relevant pop culture references.

For example, is football season starting up? Write a blog about kicking off a new product for the season, or a social post about how your product can help customers score a touchdown ... you get the idea.

Credit
Credit: Keith Allison

5. Remix And Repeat

Try each of these steps and remix the process along the way. You will get better at all of it as you go along, and you'll eventually stumble upon something that works well for your company. Once you've identified a successful system, iterate! Scalability is important, so never stop looking for ways to grow and improve.
We all know Ruth Burke's famous quote, "Only boring people get bored." Well, fellow marketers, we are not boring folk! And from here on out, I challenge you to stop thinking of your product and industry as boring. Because they aren't. Change your mindset and your tactics. The quality of your content will follow suit and you'll see your company and product start to stand out from the noise.

About the Author: Rita Kreig

Rita Kreig is the Inbound Marketer at Magoosh, an online test-prep startup in Berkeley, CA. She earned her Masters of Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego, where she also studied nonprofit management. Rita loves all things education, marketing, and community development - be it creating and sharing new content or analyzing metrics. Follow Rita on Twitter and Google+.

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