How to Market a Seemingly Boring Industry in a Unique Way That Results in Page Views

Sometimes the outrageous, bizarre route is best

Melbourne Trains took a risk by using cute characters to discuss a somber topic. Melbourne Trains
Headshot of Stephan Spencer

If you have even a passing interest in marketing, you have probably heard the phrase “content is king.” If you’re a marketer, those three words have probably been drummed into your brain so hard that they haunt your dreams!

Like most clichés, the reason this phrase has become so popular is because there is an element of truth to it. In the 21st century, creating innovative, eye-grabbing content is essential to any marketing strategy, especially if you want people to click, call or buy your product—or, at the very least, remember your name.

Unfortunately, on its own the exhortation to create “good content” is pretty useless, especially when it’s paired with examples or case studies from brands in “exciting” industries like fashion or tech, as is often the case.

While it might be savvy for a young fashion designer to create a viral campaign around a hip Instagram influencer, is that really going to work for a small law firm specializing in maritime law? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on influencer marketing entirely.

One myth I confront regularly with my clients is that you need to be in an interesting industry to generate interesting content for a general audience. For example, one of my clients is a large manufacturer of construction equipment. You might think that it’s hard to create interesting content about digging holes or bulldozing dirt, but you’d be wrong!

Influencers in the construction space regularly achieve hundreds of thousands of views on their YouTube videos, and there are popular construction-themed Instagram accounts with millions of followers, along with top 10 lists, hacks videos, trick videos, you name it.

The key to coming up with share-worthy content ideas is throwing out all the rules and investing time in the brainstorming process.

In my experience, even people who operate in “exciting” industries play it too safe with their content strategies and spend too much of their budgets on mediocre, uninspiring content. If even these brands can’t cut through, how are you going to get attention by posting another blog on the same topic as your competitors?

People want to be entertained. They want something different to share with their friends. The key to coming up with share-worthy content ideas is throwing out all the rules and investing time in the brainstorming process.

Lock your team in a room for an hour or two and see who can come up with the craziest, most outrageous ideas. What if you did a mash-up or a parody or picked a bizarre or controversial topic that has nothing to do with your industry? Write down all your ideas on a list and then pick out the best ones.

If you need some inspiration, type keywords from your industry into a site like BuzzFeed or ViralNova and research the best-performing content.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite campaigns below that combined a relatively uninspiring topic with a genius idea to amazing effect.

H&R Block: Tax shred live

One recent campaign that really took advantage of the livestreaming format was H&R Block’s “Tax Shred Live,” where legendary shredder Michael Angelo Batio was hooked up to the world’s first guitar-powered document shredder. The livestream of the event received nearly half a million views and scored H&R Block free press on Metal Insider, Metal Injection, Accounting Today and many local news channels.

Melbourne Trains: Dumb ways to die

While getting hit by a train isn’t exactly boring per se, public safety campaigns generally take a serious tone, using shock and awe tactics to drive home their message. For this campaign, Melbourne Trains took a different approach, juxtaposing a morbid topic with cute, colorful cartoon characters and a catchy jingle. The risk paid off, with the original video receiving millions of views and sparking a series of videos that would go on to reach over 200 million views worldwide.

Stephan Spencer is co-author of The Art of SEO, author of Google Power Search and co-author of Social eCommerce.
Publish date: September 17, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT