How to Generate Content Ideas in a Boring Industry
If you’re in a boring industry, you might make the mistake of thinking content marketing isn’t something that applies to you. You’re wrong. Great content improves search rankings, helps build your social media presence, shows off your professional expertise, and can lead to PR opportunities, among other benefits.
In some ways, boring industries (specific niches, industrial products, B2B products and services) have it better than exciting, crowded industries when it comes to creating content. If you’re in what people consider to be a dull industry, it’s likely that few of your competitors are using content as a strategy to reach potential customers. That means any content you create will be unique, and is more likely to surface in Google searches and get shared.
How Boring Industries Can Create Great Content
We’re not talking about creating viral content here. We’re just talking about creating good, solid content — content that connects with your current and potential customers. To start generating content, you just need to know how to find the hidden opportunities in your seemingly uninspired workplace.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
What useful industry data do you have access to?
If you’re in a B2B industry, you probably have access to at least some data that your customers would find useful. Mailchimp, the email marketing platform, not only injects a bit of fun into email marketing by incorporating a lovable mascot, they’re sitting on a mountain of data about email marketing that’s useful to anyone who sends out email newsletters. They regularly compile and report that data on their blog. Check out their email marketing open rate by industry benchmark report— something we refer back to all the time!
Moz, the SEO analytics software company, published this post about “boring” industries that have created great infographics — another idea for compiling stats you have into a usable piece of content!
What’s a how-to you can give away without revealing your secret sauce?
You can put together simple how-to videos, e-books and blog posts that offer brief tutorials on topics related to your business without giving away proprietary information. For example, Mr. Rescue Plumbing, a chain of plumbing services, put together this video, which illustrates how a toilet works. While it’s useful for homeowners and renters trying to diagnose common plumbing problems, it’s not likely that a 4-minute overview video will cut into too much plumbing business. With over 100,000 views, the video acts as a free advertisement for Mr. Rescue’s plumbing business.
How does the stuff get made?
Everyone loves the episode or Mr. Rogers that illustrates how crayons are made. People like to understand how the world around us works, and that includes understanding how the things we use every day are made. If you’re manufacturing anything, your customers might be interested to get a peek into the manufacturing process.
Case in point: this video, created by Lexar memory chips, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the super-technical process behind how memory chips are manufactured. You might not think memory chips are all that fascinating, but Lexar’s video has over half a million views!
What life stage is your customer in right now?
You might be selling an unexciting product like floor tile, patio bricks, or mulch — not exactly something that easily generates thousands of Facebook likes. But ask yourself: why is my customer buying this product right now? If you’re selling floor tile, you could be dealing with a customer who’s remodeling a home. If you sell office furniture, you could be dealing with a customer who’s furnishing their first business. Use those assumptions to create content that appeals to customers at those life stages. (You don’t have to create videos that are solely about mulch!)
Espoma Organic Fertilizer understands this. They know that a customer buying organic fertilizer isn’t just into fertilizer, but is also probably a home gardner, so they have a wealth of videos on their website dedicated to gardening techniques and tips, including this quick video on container gardening.
What’s your company’s history?
You might think you’re in a dull industry, but even dull industries have long histories and potential super fans. Hon, the office seating company, uses legacy product history to create popular #ThrowbackThursday Facebook posts.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your Facebook fans’ interest in your legacy products! Look how Bob jumps into the comment thread with the exact make and model of the chair pictured. This isn’t even a contest!
John Deere also uses their company history to engage fans on Facebook. They have a large Facebook fan base, and this historical post generated a healthy amount of likes, comments and shares.
How can a person make sure they’re buying the right product from you?
Customers don’t always know which of your products is the best fit for them. Helping them figure that out is a great opportunity for content. There are hundreds of ways you can package information about your products in a way that helpful during the decision making process.
ShippingSupply.com, a company that sells packaging and office supplies, has created a series of buying guides for specific products like shipping boxes, bags, and padded envelopes. They’re not the kind of thing you’d stay up late at night reading, but they’re certainly helpful for businesses making a decision about a costly bulk order.
What can you be more transparent about?
Do you make claims in your marketing that would benefit from a longer explanation, or a concrete example? If your products lasts longer, can you show how long it really lasts? If it’s organic, can you show us where the ingredients came from? Instead of simply telling your customers how something works, show us the process! This can make for great content.
Brackenbox Roll Off Service, a company that provides dumpster rental in Chicago, created a short video that shows how the contents of each rented dumpster get sorted and recycled back at their facility. This is a great reassurance for any potential customers shopping around for a green dumpster rental service.
Other questions to help you generate content ideas
Here is a short list of some other things to consider when you’re trying to come up with content.
- What part of your business do you talk about at dinner parties?
- What’s an innovative new way to use your product?
- Who builds the things you make?
- Where do your raw materials come from?
- How can someone get more life out of your product or service?
- How are your customers using your product successfully?
No industry is really that boring
Remember that if you have customers, you have content opportunities. Even if your product or service isn’t appropriate for everyone, you’re creating content for the people your business is targeting. If you’re in a boring industry, get your content inspiration from other people in similar fields like the examples above, and don’t waste time comparing yourself to exciting consumer products and media outlets that have the advantage of generating click-worthy content without much thought.
Remember: any content you create gives you a major competitive advantage, so try out a few things and test them. You might be surprised at what interesting content your seemingly boring industry can generate.