How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for a Boring Business

June 20, 2016


An effective content marketing strategy reaches audiences, tells compelling narratives, triggers emotions and leads to action. But let’s face it—as a content marketer, not all of your clients have exciting products or services. Some of them are downright boring. (We won’t tell them you said that.)

So how do you create a content marketing plan that elevates the blah into exciting, vibrant, even viral content. We’ve rounded up some leading strategies you can use to inspire emotion and response—plus we’re sharing a few campaigns that are knocking it out of the park.

Be a Carnival Barker for Your Content

According to a study by traffic analysis company Chartbeat, 10 per cent of readers aren’t scrolling through online content at all—of those that do, only 60 per cent read to the end. That’s cold.

How do you keep readers flicking their fingers for more? Be like a carnival barker and toss out enticing, relevant information they can’t look away from. Break up your copy with text and visuals that invite their eyes to keep scrolling, including:

  • Headings: Foreshadow each chunk of content with a grabby guidepost (if you’re really successful, users who read only the headlines come away with information they can use)
  • Numbers: People love to hang their hat on numbers—statistics, especially percentages are particularly telling and are great for making readers feel like they’ve come away with useful information
  • Visuals: Photos, infographics, videos, memes and gifs, especially when they’re relevant and funny, will retain your readers’ attention and keep them scrolling down for more
  • Bullet points: Information broken down into bullets feels like less of a commitment for the reader and automatically sends eyes vertically

Related: 11 Expert SEO Strategies to Get Your Content Noticed

Add More Visuals

Who says content has to be copy? When Chartbeat analyzed how visitors read articles on Slate.com, they found that 100 per cent of people scrolled through a whole page if it contained photos and videos.

People have been instinctively captivated by pictures and moving images, but there’s a more modern reason for their appeal: they don’t require reading. (It’s up for debate whether that’s a symptom of a breakdown in society or a product of online content overload we all experience.)

To be effective, give the people what they want and offer your content marketing in the form of an image series or snappy, short videos (30 seconds or less). Or, at the very least, let them consume your content with fewer words. Think: infographics.

Share Valuable Ideas

It should go without saying that one aim of a content marketing strategy is to provide helpful information. But sometimes that aim gets diluted in an attempt to offer sizzling content.

To be sure your content is perceived as valuable, weigh your plan and your words against the needs of the readers, not the needs of your client. In other words, tell them what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them. Sometimes this means being less provocative, but the readers who value what you’re telling them would rather it be forward and helpful, than jazzy and shallow.

Exciting Content Marketing Campaigns in Not-So Exciting Industries

There are lots of small and large businesses creating a stir with their content marketing campaigns—despite the less-than thrilling content. Here are a few that got our attention and what you can learn from them.

Deluxe

Best “known” as a check company, Deluxe also bills itself as a growth engine for small business and financial institutions. Although it’s a big player in a niche field (nearly 4.6 million small business customers use their services, including checks, website development and hosting, search engine optimization and logo design), it has historically enjoyed only 1 per cent brand awareness.

Content Marketing / Deluxe

To address that problem, Amanda Brinkman, Deluxe’s chief brand and communications officer, spearheaded Small Business Revolution—an extraordinary content marketing campaign that celebrated the company’s 100-year anniversary by telling 100 business stories from their huge pool of customers. Content included 12 mini-documentaries, 88 photo essays and a full-length documentary to share the Deluxe story. They got the word out mainly through earned media and succeeded with 1.4 billion media impressions.

Related: Read these FreshBooks Customer’s Stories

Prudential

Financial planning isn’t the sexiest market, so it’s an uphill battle for those who slog away in that industry to capture the attention of consumers. Prudential’s The Challenge Lab explores five challenges that get in the way of planning for financial future:

  • I might live how long? (life expectancy)
  • I’ll do it later (procrastination)
  • It won’t happen to me (understanding risk)
  • I just can’t resist (emotions that affect decisions)
  • I want it now (short-term impulses)

Content Marketing / Prudential

Each challenge has its own web page that teems with interesting content that’s mostly video—an interview with a behavioral expert on each issue and funny, informative original videos that speak to the concerns inherent in each challenge. It’s a brilliant strategy that links creativity and important, useful data.

Edmonton Dental Clinic/Summerlea Dental

How do you make people care about your dental practice? If you’re Edmonton Dental Clinic, you create a kick-ass website chockfull of content people actually care about. The content marketing strategists for this site understand what will get the attention of existing and prospective patients, including:

Content Marketing / Summerlea Dental

Scrolling around the wealth of clickable headlines, you’d forget you’re on a dentist’s blog if all the content wasn’t so tooth-centric. The content is highly-readable, informative and even kind of fun. There are pieces written for a younger audience with cool facts that could put a wee mind at ease about visiting the dentist. With a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, this clinic is serious about being front and center and demonstrates a true passion for what is – to many – detestable subject matter.


about the author

Freelance Contributor Heather Hudson is an accomplished freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publishing, corporate and agency clients who depend on her to deliver high-quality, on-brand content and journalism with a fresh perspective. Learn more about her work at heatherhudson.ca.