One of the things I loved most about journalism was talking to people about their greatest passion in life — whether it was cars or nuclear physics or the lifecycle of lacewing butterflies.
Even when the topic seems boring, a person’s passion rubs off on you. I once spent 40 minutes talking to a guy who had spent 25 years writing for Britain’s top quarrying magazine. (He wasn’t even the editor; the editor had been there for 30 years. Imagine dedicating half your life to writing about quarries and still not being Britain’s premier quarry journalist.) Anyway, in 40 minutes the conversation didn’t run dry — his enthusiasm was just so infectious.
My point is that nothing is ever truly “boring”. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking your B2B product or service is boring, just because it’s not stereotypically “sexy”.
B2B marketing doesn’t have to be boring
These days we’re all looking for stories to tell about our brands. If you employ experts, specialists, boffins and geeks, then chances are your very best stories are already right under your nose, just waiting to be shared with your audience. It’s time to tap into that and get creative. As content marketing guru Doug Kessler recommended at last month’s Content Marketing World convention in the United States, “give your geeks a budget and get them to be creative”.
Here’s what happened when GE Aviation did precisely that. It has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Ah, I can hear you think, “But planes are interesting and our product is boring. We produce air conditioning widgets and air conditioning widgets are boring. We could never do something like that”. I disagree. The only thing boring is the way you’re thinking about your product.
How to unblock the “but we’re boring” thinking
This week the Brand Newsroom podcast team chatted with Cor Hospes, the Dutch marketing guru behind Merkjournalisten. During the conversation he suggests several different ways to think about your product, service or brand, to help turn the idea it’s “boring” on its head. His advice is brilliant and you can listen to the whole thing here:
To get the context, do listen to the podcast. But, in brief, if you need to shake up the way you think about your product, service or brand, get your team to try these exercises:
- Get everyone to write down how they would explain what your company does, or what your product is and does, to a small child.
- Get everyone to write a eulogy for your company, as if it has died. What would they say about it at its funeral?
- Pretend it is the year 2030. Write about how your product has changed the world. What did you make possible?
The first of Cor’s exercises helps you discover what it is that you do in the simplest terms. If you do something difficult or boring, chances are you can explain it to a child in a way that makes it both readily understandable and interesting.
The second exercise helps you identify what your company means to the people who work there, your clients, wider society, and so on. You’re identifying core truths.
The last exercise is designed to uncover what it is that makes you proud of your brand, your company, product or service — because you can see clearly the difference it makes in the world.
And that’s where your stories are — right there — in the answers to those questions. As Cor says: “It’s not about the product; it’s about what your product makes possible”.
Nothing is boring; there are only boring ways of thinking
Everything can be explained simply. Everything is interesting if you explain it correctly. Correctly, that is, for your audience.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because your business is B2B that you need to be boring. Never forget that at the end of the day there’s an actual human being making the purchasing decision. Your marketing can be interesting, engaging, and entertaining.
Here’s how Cisco did precisely that:
No matter your business line, you can create fantastic content, too.
- Use the tools you have at your disposal: get your geeks out and give them a budget.
- Don’t fall into the trap of boring thinking: rediscover your passion for your product and brand and communicate that to your audience.
- Remember that actual human beings buy your product or service — and humans love engaging stories!
If you’d like to work with a content marketing agency that loves B2B businesses and creating content that works for their audiences, get in touch with Lush – The Content Agency.
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