Picture this. Your business is doing moderately well. Now you need to scale up by acquiring more customers.
There’s a huge market for your products. Almost everyone can use it. You know that given your resources, digital marketing is what you need to ramp up on to get your product out there.
All you now need is to create some content so people can find you as they navigate search engines, websites, and social media networks. Your marketing team has to get going on some kick-ass copywriting, blogs, and maybe even some of those videos like the Old Spice ‘The man your man could smell like’.
You can see now – that business you built taking off like you never even dreamt.
SCREEECH! *Sound of brakes*
Here’s that catch.
You are manufacturing and selling metal nuts and bolts.
You wish it were the cereal variety instead and the marketing team could churn out stories of cheerful kids and cartoon critters into the eager hands of your prepubescent and easily influenced customers.
Instead, you are selling boring metal nuts and bolts. That’s life. But you know there’s money to be made and your products and service are the best.
What do you do? Why would anyone read the content your marketing team creates about nuts and bolts. How is your social media activity about this boring business ever going to generate an audience?
Most important of all – How will it bring you, new customers?
Boring industries are opportunities in waiting
I love working with the so-called ‘boring’ industries for a quite a few reasons, but before I get into that, here’s an important fact.
There are no boring industries, only mediocre storytellers and poor strategies.
Every viable product is important to its customer at some point. The content you create does not have to be interesting to all and sundry. It only has to resonate with customers who need your products and are willing to pay for it, when they need it.
And since your customers are in charge of the purchase process, the first thing to do is to find out which specific customers are interested in your products – your customer personas. Check out the third point in this link> for more details on identifying your customer personas.
Consider the content creation process in the context of the customer’s journey. Ask yourself, what kind of content provides the customer with most value along stages of the buyer’s journey?
Your content should be relevant to the customer as they progress from the ‘awareness’ stage to ‘consideration’ stage to the ‘purchase’ or ‘decision stage’.
If you’re ever feeling stuck, read this bunch of tactics in the inimitable plain-speak of Neil Patel.
Let’s now turn our attention back to our metal nuts and bolts business. Chances are high that the ‘nuts and bolts’ competition is as clueless about content creation tactics.
This is why in such industries
- It is much easier and quicker to achieve results with content marketing – if done right.
- Those who are ‘first-to-marketing‘ with a good content strategy have a competitive advantage.
- There may even be the luxury of time, a rarity in this rapid-pace marketing era, to get things right.
- Your leader status allows ample opportunity for more creativity, as your marketing strategy matures under the comfortable environment established by the previous points.
So how can you make the best of the opportunity? What exactly can you do?
The ‘Content-Layering’ Strategy
You’ve probably seen those blog posts which give you a ton of ideas. In my experience, it is often futile to apply all these tactics at once. Instead, given that your competition is yet to get a grasp on digital marketing, you can afford to layer one content creation tactic over the other.
In his recent book ‘Hacking Marketing’, leading marketing technologist Scott Brinker dives into how modern ‘agile marketing’ has an incremental delivery model. The content-layering strategy is perfect for the agile marketing mindset.
Here is how you use content-layering as a strategy:
1) Start with the low-hanging fruit. This is your base ‘bed-rock’ content layer
Your first content layer can be the easy to create content that nevertheless provides value to your customer.
Every industry has some content collateral like whitepapers. Refurbish these into blog posts. While you are at it include the original whitepapers as downloads.
Talk to the sales team and look for ‘war’ stories of customer challenges and how they have been resolved. This again is excellent fodder for blog posts.
Are there any FAQs that lend themselves to quick blog posts or other micro-content? Can you interview employees for stories on what they do for their customers or what makes them proud about what they do?
Look for ways to create quick 1-minute product demos that provide solutions to customer problems.
Now may also be a good time to get some paid advertising to push your content out in the form of sponsored posts on social networks so that you can get the word out to your customer personas.
Play close attention to the feedback loop to see what content is performing better when measured against the accountability metrics.
2) Dig deep into your community. Gather compelling content from, by, and about your customer personas.
Once you gain some momentum with your bedrock content you can then look for stories about your customers or customer personas.
Use your digital assets to provide a platform that showcases the successes of your customers and of others like your customers.
Shine a spotlight on the good work in the community. Talk about their struggles and how these were overcome.
Using such tactics, with my last employer, I engineered the establishment of a thriving online publication which now boasts over 100 volunteer writers.
3) Push across the extended niche. Expand and consolidate your reach.
At this point, your previous layers have probably established a sizeable readership of followers and subscribers who are also able to amplify your content to their own networks.
Explore other industries for potential collaborators. There are probably other organizations who target the same customer personas as you do. Work with them.
Interview some of those thought leaders in those extended niches and promote them on your platforms. Showcase your own content on those external platforms. Tactics like guest posting not only expand your reach among the host’s networks but also secures backlinks to shore up SEO.
4) Flex your creative muscles. This layer forms your ‘Mad-Men’ topping.
You’ve worked hard to get this far. Your content mill is consistently churning out content across all three layers.
You now get to reward yourself and amp it up. Experiment with new content and try pushing the creative limits. It’s time to put on your Mad-men hat with the safety net and extended reach that the other content now affords you.
The advantage of introducing experimental content only at this point than earlier in the game is that the audience can always fall back on the previous content if your creative experiments miss the mark.
Justin Herring from Yeah! Local provides some great examples for getting creative with seemingly ‘dull’ businesses.
Look at content marketing for a dull industry as an opportunity in disguise. You’ll be excited to find how quickly you can achieve results under a well-defined digital marketing strategy.
Layer up your content marketing starting with a strong foundation of consistent content. Keep adding in those layers of content that resonate with the community and the extended niche.
Ensure that your feedback loop is able to identify and leverage the kind of content that bring you best business results.
Top it all off with creative and experimental content that will delight your audience as well as push your creative abilities.
The vibrant content contrast you create by layering these different types of content will ensure that your customer personas keep coming back for more as they progress through the customer journey.
Ready to serve it up?
Do you use content-layering strategies? How are they different from what’s mentioned in this post?