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How to market a boring business

We’ve heard this one more than once: “what we do is so boring, it’s pretty hard to make us look interesting.”

As professional services marketers, we’re not strangers to some seriously dry, technical and complex businesses and services. Income tax planning. Business valuation analysis. Succession Planning. Commercial electrical design-build. Financial services. Not every business has a sleek, sexy product and the backing of a big consumer brand like Apple.

Sure, it can be a challenge to find creative ways to engage your audience as a service-based organization. But if you think marketing efforts won’t be effective because your services are too boring, the problem likely lays in your understanding of your audience.

Marketing your boring business requires a little strategic thinking so you can start reaching the right audience with the messages they care about. If you’re deeply interested in something, it’s anything but boring.

Here are three ways to shift your thinking:

1. Recognize that to the RIGHT audience, your services are anything but boring

If your client is wondering how to solve a major problem and you offer a solution, there is absolutely nothing boring about what you do. You’re the lifesaver. But to effectively solve their problems, you need to fully understand your audience. Figure out the questions they are asking themselves about how to do their own jobs better and then identify key themes that help answer those questions.

There are countless examples of some pretty boring products and services that have succeeded in engaging their audience. GoToMeeting, which is run by Citrix, uses Twitter to engage with its audience in a client-focused way. The online meetings company fills its Twitterstream with useful content—things like a video series featuring some of its favorite customers.

What about a domain registrar business? Yawn. GoDaddy separated itself from the competition by never being afraid to attract attention to its fun, humorous and over-the-top brand. GoDaddy realized that it could never help customers get an edge in their businesses if it did not find a way to get an edge of its own as a marketer.

2. Bring boring ideas to life with great stories

Essential services are never boring.  How frequently do you think to yourself, “I’m so happy to have access to clean and safe water.” And yet you are grateful for it – at least you would be if you considered the alternative. Highlight the importance of what you do. Tell stories about what life would be like without your offering.

Think about an example of a great success you’ve had in the recent past. To craft a great story, start by giving some background information that illustrates how your client’s business was facing challenges before your solution. Be very specific in discussing why exactly your solution worked so well and how the client was able to benefit. When did they start seeing results and what exactly did those results look like? What about the ripple effect for their business? Are they able to solve important problems within their industry, partly due to your contribution?

Remember that people respond well to a concise, conversational tone are highly visual—they love hearing great stories in combination with compelling pictures or perhaps even a video. Adding visuals helps them to recall your stories for a longer time and can add emotion. Visual content helps your case studies come alive for the reader.

3. Get creative with how you communicate your boring service

So you’ve got a seemingly boring service, but you’ve identified the right audience and how your service solves their problem. Awesome. Now you need to get creative. Not only is this how you get the audience’s attention, it’s how you establish your brand as cutting edge. Identify marketing initiatives that get your brand out, AND help your audience. Think highly-valuable educational content to teach them how to do something better, or how to avoid a crisis for their business. Furthermore, get creative about how you distribute that content: A LinkedIn ad campaign, a share-worthy video for your social channels, a presentation at the next trade show? Aside from content, you can differentiate yourself from “boring” with some unexpected branding tactics: develop a fun, go-to event; get creative with your next presentation and make it anything but another dull PowerPoint.

Make your audience care about what you do by using a bit of creativity to craft compelling stories that they find appealing. If you don’t have a creative hat, or the time to put it on, turn to a marketing professional for some creative strategy and delivery.



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