Much Ado about Nothing: 4 Marketing Tips to Create Excitement for Boring Industries
Politics are for the most part either mind-numbingly boring or downright disgusting. And yet, the first time I watched Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing in my sophomore years of college, I fell in love with the witty, idealistic and walking-and-talking team of (fictional) President Jed Bartlet and his senior staffs. In fact, The West Wing was credited with inspiring political idealism among American teens at the time, the same demographic who then went on to carry the very real President Obama into the White House. Hollywood might fall short in a lot of ways but the one thing they’ve always been good at is turning something mundane into exciting.
Of course, Hollywood is able to do this mostly because they bend the truth a little bit and left all the boring part in the cutting room floor. It gets harder when you’re trying to portray your business in the most positive way possible while trying to be as truthful as possible as is the case when it comes to the field of marketing. Those who work on the field of finance, law, construction, etc have no alternative recourse other than to grit their teeth, keep their head down and try to make the best out of their situation. Generating excitement out of boring industries might be hard for content marketing services but it’s still very much within the realm of possibility.
The ultimate marketing challenge
If you’re really confident about your capability as a marketer, you shouldn’t be eager to work for Apple, Google, Nike or other massive, culturally-relevant companies. No, you work for a company that manufactures or produces practically unmarketable products such as plumbing, generic construction tools and other random knick-knacks and try to find a way to properly market them somehow. Trying to market the latest iPhone is easy because it’s something that the world as a whole is generally excited for and you don’t really have to do much but when it comes to the stereotypically boring industries, marketing would be like trying to polish a turd.
Keep in mind however that boring industries are different than what the marketing world calls niche industries. Niche industries are industries that are actually appealing but their appeal outside the intended market is limited. Enterprise-grade network routers for example don’t hold much appeal outside genuine IT enthusiasts but I’m speaking from personal experience when I say there’s people out there who are really excited when they talk about routers. Boring industries on the other hand are something that most people are familiar with but just can’t be excited about.
Casting our eyes back to Hollywood, they once did a television show revolving around a funeral home. Six Feet Under was the name of the show and it revolves around a family-owned funeral home named Fisher & Sons. I mean, a show about politics at least makes sense but a show revolving around mortician sounds like a bridge too far. However, the show turned out to be not merely a hit but also celebrated as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It’s really not about the material you’re given but more about the execution. If you’re stuck working for what you consider a boring industry, the following 4 tips should at least help get you started.
Widen your perspectives a little bit
If you think that the products and/or services you’re selling are a little hard to get excited about, don’t put too much focus on them. For example, in that example of Six Feet Under, the creators of the show did a great job by making the show not just about the funeral home but also about death in general, imbuing the show with a level of profoundness that might not be immediately apparent. Take a step back, look at the bigger picture and figure out how you can take advantage of ideas that while not directly revolves around your business is still indirectly connected to it.
Use the tried-and-true elements of storytelling
One of the reasons why The West Wing and Six Feet Under works so beautifully is because while they revolve around politics and funeral homes, they’re also about the trials and tribulations of people working in these two fields. If there’s anything that people are almost guaranteed to love, it is stories and just like Hollywood, framing your contents around a narrative could do wonders compared to if you’re just simply listing arbitrary reasons on why people should choose to do business with your company. Craft a story on how your previous works have helped other businesses and include details to make it personal and you’ll have a much better chance of connecting with potential customers.
Use real-life case studies
This is still connected to the point above; using actual case studies can also be a great way to generate excitement around your business. People tend to ignore most businesses not because they have no interest in those businesses but because they lack proper understanding on what those businesses do and this is a problem that can be solved by using actual case studies. By showing the public of what could go wrong when your work is ignored, you’re raising the stakes and giving more reasons to people on why they should pay attention to what you’re trying to say.
Include some cultural references
For example, my decision to include bits and pieces about The West Wing and Six Feet Under doesn’t just work because they’re good analogies; they’re also good because it allows me to bring a certain je ne sais quoi into my writing. This is also incredibly useful if you work in an industry that might be a little too technical for the general public to wrap their heads around. By using analogies pulled from something that everybody understands, you’re making it easy for potential customers to understand you and recognize your appeal.