You are a candidate for a game show of marketing content and you see three marked doors.
Behind every door is a content marketing post. Is the job of your dreams behind one of these doors? Let's see.
Door # 1: Apple!
Door # 2: Outstanding Accounting
Door # 3: ABC Plumbing!
With Door 1, you can tell customer stories about the Apple Watch, the iPhone and the Apple TV. With Door 2, you create content on forensic accounting – a boring and complex topic for the most part. And with Door 3, you create content marketing for an undifferentiated service .
If I polled 100 people, more than 95 would choose door # 1. But guess what? Content marketers can also have a significant impact on jobs hidden between Doors 2 and 3.
Jonathan Kranz explains how to make Doors 2 and 3 work in his presentation of Content Marketing World, Nightmare Marketing: How to create content for boring, complex and undifferentiated content that frightens Else .
In this article, I discuss Jonathan's tactics for creating content on products that are:
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Boredom, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Jonathan defines "boring" as "having no quality that can capture your interest or inspire your imagination."
If there is a customer need for your product or service, the trouble is relative . Although forensic accounting can annoy most people, it meets a basic need of customers in the right situation.
Although forensic accounting may not inspire imagination, it can certainly capture the interest. Your job is to do exactly that.
Make a stake the star
Jonathan tells the story of Viessmann, a company that makes high-end heating systems like these:
A conventional approach is to describe the different models and their capabilities. You indicate which model is best for particular scenarios.
But if you increase the stakes?
According to Jonathan, Viessman took the opportunity to "tell a story that places the boilers in a context in which the stakes are important".
Creatively labeled "Canterbury Tales," Veissman tells the story of a community of gardeners called Canterbury Apartments, where a team of six was responsible for 480 units spread across 16 buildings.
According to Arthur Johnston, a senior maintenance technician at Canterbury Apartments, his team was responding to seven to eight calls for hot water service a day. Residents complained of lack of heat and hot water. The boilers were at the origin of the construction of the community in 1972.
Boilers operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, tiring electric circulators. As a result, the maintenance team had to replace 12 to 15 boilers each season. Whenever a boiler is changed, the system is fully drained, leaving people frozen.
The team performs repairs at 2 am, the inhabitants being awakened by the freezing cold.
Now, are the stakes high enough for you?
Veissmann arrives with much more reliable replacement boilers. The building has got a green certification and saved a lot of money. Here is how the story was presented:
Does raising the stakes work? According to Jonathan, "as a result of this article, they have entered into two or three additional agreements involving complex garden apartments representing more than a million dollars each."
An article that raises high stakes has resulted in 2 or 3 additional transactions for an HVAC firm, says @jonkranz. Click to Tweet
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Link your product to known events
Pinnacle Strategies is "a global authority in operations and supply chain management". According to Jonathan, Pinnacle Strategies seems to have exhausted the opportunities available to him in ebooks on supply chain management.
In this case, Jonathan recommends a tactic that he calls "flash information" or linking your brand to something (eg, an event) that people are experiencing. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was produced in the Gulf of Mexico on a prospect operated by BP.
Pinnacle strategies helped clean up the spill. He created a new eBook, Achieving the Best Performance in the Worst Conditions, and used this graphic to promote it:
This offer gives Pinnacle Strategies a good shot for two: it combines with the cleanup of a well known spill and has saved $ 700 million through this process.
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Empathize with potential customers
Convercent is a business compliance management solution. According to the company's marketing material, its product "allows you to manage an increasingly complex ethical and regulatory environment."
In a tactic that Jonathan calls "play with the players," Convercent diverted his attention from compliance to the benefit of the people for whom compliance mattered. In other words, this has made potential customers the hero of the story.
According to Jonathan, "Make them heroes and this will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your empathy, your understanding and your ability to meet them on the ground. All the qualities that matter. "
Jonathan puts forward a video produced by Convercent that does all these things:
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As a marketing specialist selling complex products, your job is to break the complicated into simpler parts. As Jonathan says, "Can we find a salient point, a corner, something smaller, something simpler that will at least allow us to open the door and engage in conversation?"
"Hitting" prospects with a 400-page e-book on how to rework their network architecture is excessive. Better to sell a highlight or take advantage of optimizing your network.
Best case studies: thinking "real" and "tangible"
While Jonathan agrees with this approach, he notes that some adjustments are needed for complex products.
Most of the case studies provide a brief summary of the challenge and move quickly to the solution. For Jonathan, the case studies must explain in detail why the challenge mattered: "In most case studies, it's" Whoa, I still do not understand why the problem mattered. "And without that, you will not get a lot of drama or interest. "
In the Solution section, dive into the minds of customers before placing them in their wallet. "Your job is to create a convincing image of words that readers think about unconsciously. As you do when you read a specific story, you are suddenly there, you are there, "says Jonathan.
In the results section, use your clients' voices to tell the story of . If you detail the results yourself, you are interested. But if you use customer quotes? It's a lot more powerful, says Jonathan.
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How do local plumbers put their feet in the door? With a free magnet stuck to refrigerators.
"A pipe bursts at my house. I do not have a lot of time to look for a plumber. If I can just look at the refrigerator and find the phone number, I'll call you, I'll call you, "says Jonathan.
Once the emergency work is over, plumbers can take care of the owner's biggest projects, such as renovating the kitchen, new heating systems, and so on. Do you see the return on investment of this simple magnet?
Jonathan encourages B2B companies to offer complex products to find the magnet of their plumber. "Create something that represents an easy starting point for a commitment so you do not have to sell them all the kahuna at one time," he says.
Jonathan cites the example of Executive Benefits Solutions – his plumber magnet is a free modeling tool to estimate the social benefits offered.
"People who might be interested in the services of this company are exactly the kind of people who would find it nice and helpful," says Jonathan. "Then this becomes the page that they bookmark and you become at the top of the list of authorities that they could possibly contact for this complex task."
Interviews with experts
On the one hand, the experts may be too much on the ground to be able to master complex concepts. On the other hand, you can extract the knowledge of these experts and shape them in the most useful way for your audience.
Jonathan does this by interviewing experts . Instead of publishing the literal transcript, however, he organizes the material and moves certain pieces. "It's the authenticity of a real voice and yet you retain control. It's a fantastic content opportunity, "he says.
Here is an image of an expert interview Jonathan created for the Collaborative Working Group:
"I ask all kinds of questions during the process. What I did was take the best things that this expert had. I put it in what appeared to be a logical and reasonable order, and then I inserted questions that would naturally pass what he had to say, "Jonathan explains.
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In a sea of blue, how do you present your mark in red? Jonathan offers three tactics to differentiate products in an undifferentiated or unmarked industry.
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Treatment of the product
In an undifferentiated market, products are perceived as identical. However, you can be unique in the way you create or deliver your product, which can also be differentiation.
Jonathan gives the example of Cityspan, which describes itself as "a complete system of recording participant information, tracking enrollment, attendance, and measuring results." Cityspan has competitors who offer equivalent offers.
Although the products themselves are similar, Cityspan is unique in its delivery. "They promise you that before deploying software, they will spend a lot of time talking to you and digging deep. Better yet, they are not going to give you a prototype. They will give you several options to choose from, "says Jonathan.
Once the customer has chosen an option, Cityspan goes further. It helps customers sell downstream to their customers' customers. Its competitors do not go so far. Cityspan states, "We understand your needs better than anyone else. And we are going to have the most likely and the most favorable results. "
Here are the related messages posted on the Cityspan website:
Use surprise to your advantage
The timing can be everything.
New laws or regulations that affect your industry can create differentiation in an undifferentiated market. This was the case for eSignLive, a provider of electronic signature solutions. The company is based in Canada, where it also manages data centers.
According to Jonathan, "Canada applies data rules different from those of the United States. This turned out to be a surprising win for them because they have separate data centers not only in the US and Canada, but also in the UK and Germany. "
Canadian data centers gave eSignLive an edge in this country, and data centers in Europe gave them an advantage when the European Union rolled out RGPD regulations in 2018.
"eSignLive has an advantage because they will keep all electronic signature data in their home country. They have the databases and data centers distributed, "says Jonathan.
eSignLive doubled this fortuitous calendar with marketing campaigns that focused on its competitive differentiation.
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Zig when they zag
When your industry shifts, you stand out in zigging.
Several years ago, the BYOD movement (bringing your own device) attracted a lot of interest: employees brought their personal devices (for example, smartphones, tablets, laptops) to the office and used them to work related activities.
While security technology vendors warned of the risks associated with the use of BYOD, Symantec took a different approach:
Symantec did not stop there. Once zigging attention, he had to demonstrate why others had to follow his example.
As shown in the image above, Symantec encourages BYOD to "say yes," provided that companies have the tools they need to implement it correctly.
According to Jonathan, "They explained why you should do it and how to make it work effectively without compromising your employee's privacy or threatening the integrity and security of your data."
In doing so, Symantec was able to stand out from the competition.
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Changing Mentalities, Changing Perspective
Creating content for boring, complex and undifferentiated products can be fun after all!
I noticed a trend in Jonathan's approaches: reframe the scenario and help your audience (for example, your prospects) think differently from you. Whether to raise the stakes, to focus on the process on a product or to be contrarian, you have the opportunity to shape the story of any product, service or industry.
Which boring, complex or undifferentiated products are you responsible for marketing? And what is Jonathan's tactic that has struck you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Here is an excerpt from Jonathan's speech:
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Cover image of Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute