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Successful content marketing in boring industries

Glamour is not a prerequisite for successful content marketing.

What do sweaty plumbers, tongue cleaners and a technology service company have in common? They’re all the products of successful content marketing campaigns, writes Mahlab editor Jo-Anne Hui.

Pulling off a great campaign isn’t easy at the best of times, even say, if you’re a fashion brand and have oodles of glossy images and glittery back stories to share. But what if your brand isn’t quite as exciting as stilettos and strapless dresses?

Pipe Perfection

Located in Sydney’s Inner-West, Pipe Perfection hasn’t let unglamorous leaky taps and overflowing loos get in the way of an effective content marketing campaign.

There’s a Pipe Perfection ebook on how to not get ripped off by a plumber; practical yet entertaining blogposts, such as ‘A love letter from your hot water heater’; a Pinterest page featuring pins of luxurious bathrooms, photos of customers with the unique Pipe Perfection green vintage van, Pip; a Twitter handle with which they promote their blogposts and connect directly with customers and a Facebook page where they post quick and easy DIY tips and funny toilet-related images and jokes.

The interesting thing about Pipe Perfection is their content goes beyond just the obvious plumbing-related information (although it is certainly helpful). Because many of their customers are stay-at-home mums, much of the company’s content has a family focus – blogposts on what to do with the kids during the summer holidays and information on new restaurants and cafes in their area, for example. Indeed, what Pipe Perfection has done is go beyond just providing a plumbing service and become part of the Inner-West community.

The genius of Orabrush

How do you market a tongue cleaner creatively? Orabrush, armed with just $500, created a hilarious video called, ‘How to tell when your breath stinks’ in the back of a local pool hall. Shortly after, the video went viral and clocked up 18 million views!

The success prompted the Orabrush team to create regular webisodes starring characters such as Morgan, the giant dirty tongue; a Cure Bad Breath YouTube channel; a hilarious spoof movie trailer and even a Bad Breath Detector mobile app.

Today, Orabrush is the stuff of content marketing legends. They’ve sold over one million units worldwide and flaunt their product in over 7,000 Walmart stores across the US. If that isn’t enough to impress, the brand has snagged YouTube’s top subscriber sponsor spot – a status shared exclusively with the likes of brand giants Apple and Old Spice.

Cloud computing and the zombie apocalypse?

A cloud computing service company isn’t the most exciting of brands to develop a content strategy around, but in 2012, SunGard created an infographic that likened moving to the cloud with how to survive a zombie attack – an obscure yet wildly ingenious creative solution that resulted in a 300 per cent download rate, a 5.7 per cent email open rate and more than 20 qualified leads for the company.

10 creative solutions for boring brands: a brief how-to guide

So you don’t think you could incorporate zombies, luxurious cisterns or a man dressed up as a giant tongue into your marketing campaigns? Never fear, here are a few tips to help you turn a seemingly boring product into exciting initiatives for your company.

  • Think outside the box; beyond what your product simply is and does. What kind of an impact does it have on your customers’ lives?
  • People respond well to transparency and honesty. Why pretend your plumbing services are revolutionary when you can simply say, ‘we clean up poop so you don’t have to’? Don’t get bogged down in buzzwords
  • Focus on your core customer base. Your campaign doesn’t have to go viral or appeal to everyone for it to be a success. There’s no point in coming up with a crazy campaign that ignores who exactly your product or service is targeting
  • Engage your colleagues in discussions about your brand. Having conversations with people in different areas of your organisation will help you to gain different insights and perspectives – you never know, these could then be turned into great ideas for content
  • Consider how your product or service helps your customers. Toilet paper company Charmin created the ‘Sit or Squat‘ app, which was aimed at helping people decide whether to, well, sit or squat, on public toilets. People could then rate the quality of different toilets via the app
  • Unearth stories within your business. Your product might not be exciting, but the stories behind it might be well worth sharing. Here’s a video created by monthly tampon subscription service, HelloFlo. It’s called ‘Camp Gyno’
  • Re-focus your product. So it’s boring – big deal! What else are your potential customers interested in? For example, Red Bull’s campaigns are largely focussed on adrenalin sports and excitement, not the energy drink itself
  • There are some nifty tools available to help you discover what people are saying about your industry and brand, which will in turn give you some insight into what content to create. Visit Twitter and type in keywords related to your space, search Quora to find out what questions customers are typing in about your industry or do a blog search on Google Blog Search or Technorati to get an idea of some of the most engaging content out there
  • Consider changing the voice of your company. This is particularly useful if your product is in a rather serious industry. File sharing service Dropbox adopted a light, casual tone and approach to help potential customers understand how it actually works
  • Laugh a little. People love to have a giggle and humour can be a great way to create clever, shareable content. Here’s a video from technology company, Cisco. It’s called ‘The perfect gift for Valentine’s Day’
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