Joe Friedlein
Joe Friedlein 25 April 2016

How to Create Engaging Marketing Campaigns for Boring Businesses

5 real life examples of campaigns that prove that marketing does not have to be boring for boring industries.

You (hopefully) won’t need convincing that excellent content should be at the heart of almost any digital marketing campaign. The content marketing drum has been banging loudly for the past couple of years and there is no doubt in my mind that you will struggle to earn the attention of your target audience without publishing outstanding content. 

One of the reservations that I come across frequently in my agency life is the notion that a particular industry is ‘boring’ and it is ‘impossible’ to create engaging content as the subject matter is so dry. 

I want to challenge this assumption and share some examples that, I hope, prove that engaging campaigns can be created by pulling on emotional levers. 

We are all human. We all have emotions. This is still true even if you work in a ‘boring’ sector. Whilst your business may not be selling the trendiest product on the planet, you and your customers are still human.  Enticing an emotional response will help people notice your brand and allow you to stand out in a crowded market place. 

There is often a strong correlation between the ‘boring’ industries and ‘old school’ marketing practices. These businesses have been around for decades and follow a traditional blueprint in almost everything that they do. Marketing is formulaic and is typically based on showing features rather than highlighting the benefits of the product / solution. 

A feature-led approach almost always leads to boredom and an exercise in navel gazing. You end up talking about yourself when you should be acknowledging your customers’ pain and gently showing how you can help solve that pain.

Enough theory, here are five examples where I will compare old school thinking against a more creative approach. These are all real life B2B marketing campaigns that worked well, attracting decent levels of exposure and engagement. 

1] Office air conditioning 
Old school marketing : Talk about the technical specifications of air conditioning units. Eulogise about two-stage cooling circuits and fan inverter control...
Creative thinking : Undertake research and have fun with the ‘thermostat wars’ campaign. Use data to prove that the thermostat is a source of constant warfare between freezing cold women and perspiring men. Nobody cares about rotary compressors, but everyone cares about being too hot or too cold.

2] Loss assessor
Old school marketing : Talk about how you can help increase your insurance claims in the event of some form of disaster. Focus on how evil insurance companies are and ignore the fragile state that your customers may be in. 
Creative thinking : Create an information portal that offers practical advice on what you need to do in the event of a disaster. Include downloadable check lists / guides that ensure that your brand is visible to those most in need…

3] Web hosting
Old school marketing : Engage in a price war. List the features of your hosting package (ignoring the fact that you are being swamped by bad reviews from disgruntled customers) and persist in stating how cheap it is.  
Creative thinking : Explore the reasons why businesses are registering domains and buying hosting and publish interesting stats / infographics. What does this data say about macro economic trends? Get behind national entrepreneurship week and offer support for new businesses being set up - be the trusted friend rather than the cheap hosting provider. 

4] Business insurance
Old school marketing : Talk about the risk of not being insured against every eventuality. Terrify people into buying business insurance...
Creative thinking : Explore how universities are preparing graduates for alternative / entrepreneurial career paths and publish research. Softly introduce the issue of insurance as one element of general advice and support for individuals setting up their own business. As above, be the trusted friend rather than a grudge purchase.

5] Employment lawyer
Old school marketing : Talk about the heritage of your firm and eschew digital marketing in favour of fat lunches at your local business networking club.
Creative thinking : Undertake research that highlights the ticking time bomb that discrimination in the workplace could prove to be and become the authority in discrimination. Publish shareable resources and data that can be used by others to highlight the issue. 

The challenge of creating engaging marketing campaigns for less exciting industries is not a new one. The onslaught of content marketing in recent years has simply highlighted the particular issue. Some brands have been doing it very well for quite some time (a personal favourite of a brand rising to the challenge was Lifebroker’s wife insurance which was simply brilliant), but I hope that the examples above show that it is possible to find a human angle for any industry or sector.

Remember - only boring people get bored. 

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