If Voltaire was into content marketing today instead of philosophy and history in the 1770s, he could well be great at it. Why? Certainly not because of the copious amounts of coffee he drank that allegedly stimulated his creativity. And not just because he was prolific: he authored content in almost every literary form, including poems, plays, novels, and historical and scientific works. The reason is, that he got it…
He is famously quoted as having said, “the secret of being a bore… is to tell everything.” All those years ago he already understood that most powerful asset of a great writer is knowing what elements go in to making a great story, and what to leave out. The same is true in modern marketing: no matter how boring you think your industry is, there is always a gem hidden away. You just need to know where to look and how to present it.
It’s not about your industry being dull
So you think your industry is dull, and whenever someone asks you why your company is not active on social media you just shrug. Guess what, “you are what you eat” and your industry is what you think of it. If at social occasions you dread the question “What do you do?” then this post is for you.
It’s about your audience
You have the knowledge and the expertise, and your goal is to share it with others who might turn from casual visitors into loyal customers. The first step to achieving this is to establish the topics that interest your target audience. Finding the right topics to engage people and the channels they are most comfortable using is the first step to becoming interesting.
Yes, your business may be niche, but there are always numerous topics that are of general interest if you know your audience well enough. Let’s say you are a steel manufacturer. There are over 3, 500 grades of steel, leading to its use in various environments: from surgical room to the kitchen, from the car to the wires. You could write about exhaust pipes, stainless steel forks, or the latest specialized alloy. You may want to use tools such as Buzz Sumo to help you find out which topics the most popular now within your industry.
Your success will be further cemented if you spend time researching your audience’s media habits: do they use Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn? Do they prefer infographics, watch videos or attend webinars? Maybe they just like reading short blog posts or do they prefer lengthy, content-rich guides? Use your email database to find their social media profiles and Google Analytics to tell you where your website traffic comes from.
It’s about their problems
You know your market, and, hopefully, you know what problems your customers have. Let them know you are there to help out. Start by finding and filling in the holes of your current process - create a list of what has worked before. Check your inbox and the social channels your company is on - scan for issues. Write about the problems and how you solved them.
It’s about diversity
Don’t let your content become like the contents of a shop in a communist country: empty. Provide quality and variety. Visuals and infographics attract attention and encourage sharing. Furthermore, they are the most popular form of content over the internet. Always remember you can relate anything to anything and you can do it in style and with humor. Use memes, gifs, cartoons, illustrations, photos. Use testimonials, reviews, press releases, guides. Use anything that makes you stand out of the crowd. Find out what makes you different than the other companies in your industry and exploit it!
Using video marketing is something you should consider. Find topics that are of general interest and connected to your business and produce something educational and entertaining. Use John Oliver as your guru: if he can make over 4 million people watch a video about the IRS or over 5 million about the chicken industry in the USA, you can definitely interest a hundred people with your story. Keep your videos short and to the point. Share tutorials and keep an eye on your FAQ pages and comments for further ideas. Using elaborate metaphors and inspired comparisons may help your audience receive the message better. By bringing a new topic closer to something that they are familiar with will gain their trust.
Whatever canvas you choose for your creativity, always include a call to action. Invite your viewers, readers and visitors to learn more, download a guide or share the content with a colleague.
It’s about data
Data can be fun and can also become unique content. Find high-quality and reliable resources and go wild. Whatever the topic is, you can express correlation and causation to mesmerize your readers. Even if it’s about the quantity of white papers produced or the amount of rainfall during the year. You can always find inspiration through government agencies or on state department sites, census bureaus, etc. where you will find data generated from demographics similar to your target audience.
It’s about what’s trending
The new Game of Thrones trailer? Donald Drumpf’s latest faux pas? Is Leo getting that Oscar or will the bear from the Revenant get it instead? Take advantage of hot topics and spin them so that they involve your industry. It’s not a new idea, but it works. Besides, if it’s a topic that you are passionate about, you will be overwhelmed with inspiration.
So to get back to our rebellious French philosopher. Voltaire did indeed believe that only an enlightened monarch could bring about much-needed change, so he would have agreed that this monarch is indeed Content. And as content marketers, we now also know that it’s not what we tell, but the way that we tell it, show it, and share it on social media.
Now go and get yourself a cup of much-deserved coffee.