When I first read the title of Kathy Klotz-Guest‘s post on the Convince and Convert blog, I was curious. (Good job on the title, BTW!) “10 Ways to Kiss Boring Goodbye in 2017” she said. But boring in what? Marketing? Life? My next speaking engagement?
As I read through the article, I realized that she was talking about many things. Relationship building, customer engagement, content marketing, and mindset. What struck me the most was the line: “Boring” is shifting the burden of messaging clarity to the audience. She writes that if we become lazy in our own messaging, and require our audiences to do all the work, then we’ve lost them. “Great communication,” she says, “Is always in service of your audience: their learning, entertainment, inspiration, and optimism.”
That’s a great lesson for all marketers that it bears repeating. Be in service of your audience: their learning, entertainment, inspiration, and optimism.
This is why marketing messages that put the audience first are memorable and definitely not boring.
Examples of Un-Boring Messages That We Remember
Bell Canada’s ad from the 1990’s where a grandson visits the beaches of Dieppe, site of a famous battle where Canadians took part in WW2:
The ad was for the budding cellular phone industry and could have been a dry explanation of all the features of the phone and how you could use it to call from anywhere. But by having a young man use it to call his grandfather from a beach with an emotional message of thanks, Bell made sure we all remembered it. (If you ask anyone who was in Canada in the 90’s about “that Bell add with the kid on the beach”, we all remember it immediately.)
P&G’s Thank You Mom ads debuted for the Rio Olympics in 2016, with a series of fictional vignettes of athletes thanking their moms for their support throughout their years of training to get to the Olympics. Elite athletes go through decades of training, struggles, injuries, and triumphs, and their support system is critical to help get them to the top. Previous versions of the ads focused on the effort and sacrifice moms made in helping their kids train for their sports, but this latest incarnation for Rio 2016 showed them being the emotional centers for their kids beyond sports and how they helped them in their everyday lives.
What stands out to me about this series is that it’s not about the products at all. Known for producing cleaning and beauty products, P&G instead shows the perspective of their audience and how they feel. Focusing on the human/personal side of elite athletes and showing all the hard work that goes into those moments of triumph. And how triumph isn’t just about the athletic performance. Family support (or in this case, maternal support) goes a long way in life.
Who can forget the Old Spice series starring Isaiah Mustafa?
These ads were playful, funny, and targeting a completely different audience than Old Spice was used to: women. They took a playful and entertaining look at a pretty boring and mundane product (deodorant) and turned it into something entertaining and hilarious. They took the campaign a step further by producing Twitter response ads. Fans of the ads sent in questions or comments about the ads and then Old Spice filmed Mustafa responding to them just like in the ads. Check out some of the videos here, here, and here.
How Can Tech Companies Be Un-Boring?
Okay, I’ve been talking about mainly consumer/non-tech products so far and how they’ve managed to be un-boring. Since you’re probably a tech marketer wondering how this applies to you and your tech products, let’s figure out how you can think more creatively about your content.
Focus on Quality, not Quantity
Are you publishing blog posts, updating three different social media platforms, sending out email newsletters every week, and producing new eBooks once a month? Phew! I got tired just writing all of that down. Your audience has probably grown tired of this widespread approach and has tuned you out. Plus I’ll bet it’s hard for you to keep up with all that production, right?
Instead, narrow your focus and focus on producing smaller amounts of the highest quality content you can. Produce evergreen content that is always good and then repurpose it. You’ll find it easier to maintain that kind of publication schedule, and you’ll probably find your audience reacts to it more as well.
Break Out of the Everyday
It’s easy to fall into a marketing rut. We all do it. So why not break out of it by trying something new?
HP Enterprise (HPE) did that by sending out a picture of an HPE-inspired manicure, definitely not something we’re used to seeing from a tech company.
VMware has a little fun with some memes on their Instagram account:
Rackspace likes to show how it’s not just about work with them and their “fanatical” customer service folks:
By getting outside of their usual marketing zone, these tech companies become more interesting to their audience. It breaks up the monotony of a marketing campaign and gives audiences a glimpse into the inner workings of the tech company. Showing employees at work or having fun, showing off the workspace, and the passion employees have for their work. It all translates into a more meaningful relationship with your audience and brings you both a little closer.
Partner With Your Audience to Create Content
Okay sure, the idea of crowdsourcing content may seem like old news, however, it still is the best way to engage your audience and be un-boring. Earlier I talked about how Old Spice did that by creating response videos to Twitter comments about their campaign, and it’s this kind of idea that I’m talking about here. Don’t just ask them for ideas, but ask for contributions. GoPro does this with their Video of the Week submissions. They encourage users to submit their own videos and then post them on their own video channel. Not only that, but they give out cash awards to the top producers.
This type of audience submissions achieves several goals:
- They engage the audience and get them excited about the process.
- They create a community around the tech product.
- They showcase the products themselves as consumers show off how they use them.
Stop being boring in your content marketing programs and bust out the creativity this year. Experiment and have fun. You can do it.