As B2B marketers, it can be easy to look at RedBull and Coca-Cola and wonder how we could ever be as innovative and exciting in our boring industries. Before you start throwing yourself a pity party, remember that your target audience does not think your industry is boring. They love it, they live in it everyday, and they bore their friends to death on the weekends talking about it. Think of these people while you're planning, creating, and promoting your content.
Here are 15 tricks to help you along the path to creating epic "boring industry" content:
Building Your Strategy
Before you put finger to keyboard you need to construct a strategy. This strategy serves as your atlas. From of your atlas you can navigate your course like a true sea captain. The most essential component of your strategy is your goal, it is the X of your treasure map.
1. Create Detailed Personas
Creating epic content marketing starts by putting the customer first. To create content that will really resonate with your audience, you need to walk a mile or two in their shoes.
Creating detailed buyer personas will help you better understand the influences, interests, and activities that are important to your target customers.
2. Implement a Content Branching System
Thinking about 12-months worth of content can be overwhelming. Try using a Content Branching System instead. Content branching breaks content planning into easy to digest chunks.
Decide on 6-8 main content features that answer the most common questions that customers are asking. This list of themes provides direction to your content creation over the next 12 months.
Once you have your list, plan on creating cornerstone pieces of original content for each area. These could be industry reports, expert video interviews, an op-ed in an industry publication, or even a book.
After creating the cornerstone piece, start branding out into smaller, more in-depth chunks. These can be formatted in a lot of different ways. If you create an in-depth industry report like ThomasNet's Industry Marketing Barometer, CMI's B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, or Hubspot's State of Inbound Marketing, you can break that resource down into 10-15 blog posts that further digest the data.
The heavy lifting of a cornerstone piece of content can fuel your content creation engine for weeks or months.
3. Implement an Editorial Calendar
A Content Branching System will help you identify a large volume of content to create, but it is your editorial calendar that activates the plan.
An editorial calendar should break down the timeline for it to be created, posted, promoted, and reformatted as other pieces of content.
4. Define Success
When you watch a football game, everyone knows that a touchdown means six points. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. There are rules in place for scoring the game and determining the winner.
The same needs to happen for your marketing strategy. Outline the key performance indicators (KPIs) that indicate success. These can be metrics like:
- New leads generated
- Landing page conversion rate
- Traffic-to-lead ratio
- Lead-to-customer ratio
- Lifetime value of the customer
5. Measure Along the Way
While the outline of your marketing plan should stretch out 12 months or longer, the everyday activities need to be measured and adjusted as you go. Create a weekly recurring checklist for your content marketing team to dig into your marketing analytics.
Measuring results helps you clearly identify what is working and what isn't working. Online content marketing allows this to be done almost in real-time.
Pivoting toward the marketing elements that have attracted the most qualified consumption will help to increase your marketing ROI over the long term.
Content Inspiration and Creation
With a strategy in place, it is time to start creating. It is helpful to surround yourself with streams of relevant content. This helps keep you up to speed on the latest and greatest in your industry.
6. Interview Your Experts
There are likely people in your company who are filled with golden content - content so good that folks would eat it with a spoon if there was just a way to access it. As a content marketer who thinks like a publisher, it is your job to find a way to extract the information.
One quick and easy way to way to capture content from boring experts is to interview them journalist-style. Just grab your iPhone, turn on the audio recorder, and get them talking.
7. Curate Content on Your Blog
Content curation focuses on bringing in industry relevant content from around the web. There are a few different ways to do it well. One way is to build thought leadership. If you find a thought provoking piece of content, you can add your perspective to the topic, provide a preview of the post, and attribute the work.
Another way is to create wrap-up posts. They are just a collection of 5-10 interesting articles with a brief intro and a link to read more. Both of these strategies can help provide a boost to your content creation.
8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Take some time to evaluate your past content and think about new formats you can use to re-publish it to your audience.
For example, if you have a really popular step-by-step blog post, think about turning it into a checklist and printable PDF. Include the same content, just change the format. Now you have a quick and easy eBook to share with your audience!
9. Use Twitter Lists
One easy way to sift through all the noise on Twitter is to maintain private, niche lists. If you find an account that you'd like follow, don't just hit the follow button, add them to a topic-focused list. You can add the list as a Hootsuite stream. You have just created a fresh stream of relevant content to inspire your content creation and industry expertise.
10. Setup RSS Feeds
A key to creating regular content is regularly consuming content. When you find a relevant stream of industry content, look for a link to their RSS feed. If you can't find it listed, try Googling it.
Once you find it, drop it into your RSS reader to keep tabs on the content they publish in the future. Check out Feedly, a great free RSS reader.
While a better mouse trap may drive people to your door, better content needs to be shared and promoted. In a "boring industry" it is important to find tribes that are interested in the content you're sharing. If your content is helpful and solves problems, then it will be well received.
11. Find relevant LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn is a treasure-trove for B2B marketers in "boring industries." Hubspot's 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report found that 43% of companies have made a sale through LinkedIn. One killer way to connect with decision makers on LinkedIn is through groups.
Discovering a healthy LinkedIn Group can be difficult. Their on-site search feature is pretty weak, so you can try doing a Google search for industry terms and "LinkedIn Group." Also check out the groups that your customers have joined.
If there isn't a group in your niche, consider starting one!
12. Discover Google+ Communities
There are mixed feelings out there about the weight that a +1 carries on a post. Moz did an intensive study on the impact of +1s on SERP. They found a positive correlation, so it doesn't hurt matters that every +1 received within a Google+ community contributes positively to the SERP of your blog post.
13. Submit past articles to curated websites
After a blog post has been published for a little while, think about republishing it to a curated website. Websites like Business2Community and Social Media Today allow you to submit content that has already been published online, they review it for relevancy, and repost it on their website.
This trick can help you reach a whole new audience and increase the shelf life of your blog content. If there aren't any curated blogs in your industry, consider starting one.
14. Continue to share your old content on social media
In addition to reviewing and reformatting older content on your website, you should be scheduling social updates for older posts. Hootsuite and Buffer both offer great browser extensions that make social scheduling quick and simple.
You may want to think about removing the time and date stamp from your blog posts too. When someone sees a post from 18 months ago, they may be less inclined to read due to the perception that the information is stale. Copyblogger does this with all of their blog posts to increase the shelf life of their content.
15. Create cornerstone subject landing pages that link to old posts
As you create a deep pool of content across a variety of topics, create landing pages with links out to the blog posts. These cornerstone pages are valuable for two reasons.
First, they provide the reader with a simple list of relevant content, all in one simple place. This is a very bookmarkable, tweetable, and sharable destination. Second, it is an opportunity to rank for a keyword phrase that is included or relevant to the collection of blog posts.
Make it rain, old sport!
Hope these tricks help you in your quest to create epic content that is truly helpful, even if you find yourself in a "boring" industry.
Andrew (@AndrewJDymski) is the VP of Inbound & Co-Founder of GuavaBox, an inbound marketing agency. GuavaBox is focused on helping companies in the industrial B2B market reach new customers through content and inbound marketing. He is also the CEO & Co-Founder of DoInbound, a software system helping inbound marketing agencies manage, track, and scale their business. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.