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4 Marketing Tips For "Boring" Businesses

Steve Surdez

There are few businesses out there that can be justly labeled as inherently exciting. There are crazy innovators like SpaceX, Tesla,and Apple, to name a few. Then there’s a host of other enterprises that focus on sexy gadgets and services that automatically have a leg up when it comes to marketing.

For the rest of us--those businesses that are more traditional service and product providers--well, let’s face the truth: We’re kinda boring. Finding the secret sauce for marketing CPA firms, HVAC companies, law firms and general contracting outfits, among others, is a bit more challenging.

What we do is not unique or newsworthy; there is no obvious intrigue or hook for us to dangle out to snare attention.

So, what are we “boring” companies to do when it comes to marketing? How does a “boring” company market and generate new leads so it can grow?

Let’s take a look at 4 marketing tips for “boring” businesses that can get you on the right track.

Stop Trying to Make Things Sexy

The first thing that you and your marketing team need to come to terms with is that your product or service is not sexy. Stop trying to make it so.

Your customers and prospects will view you as more authentic if your marketing materials display some sense of self-awareness--marketing, social media, and other messaging that try too hard to make metal fabrication or accounting seem life changing and earth shattering will undermine your company's authenticity.

Your marketing efforts should be as authentic as possible. When you stop trying too hard to be interesting and turn your attention to showcasing how you do what you do in a genuine, personal way, then you’ve got something.

Ashley Diebert, a contributing writer at Forbes Magazine, recently observed, “Those that have embraced authenticity and transparency (Dove, Airbnb) find consumers will do the marketing for them. Those that have fought it (Uber, Pepsi) continue to struggle to regain footing with an audience who will watch their every move, waiting to pounce when the first signs of negativity arise.”

This is not to say that trying to make your work exciting puts you on the level with Uber controversies. What we’re trying to drive home is that consumers are more informed and savvy than ever before and will know very quickly if your marketing is genuine or phony.

It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It and Who Does It

It’s not the what, it’s the why and the who. Once you make peace with the fact that your “baby’s ugly”, you can focus on what can have true marketing impact: showcasing why your process and people are different than the competition. While not every business is sexy and exciting, every business has a story, something that makes them stand out and people that customers and leads can relate to.

Market your process and success stories, showcase your talent and their stories and credentials, and reflect a broader picture of why your company is the best “boring” company to choose. Marketing messaging around the following can help tell the why and the who:

  • Employee spotlight emails or web updates
  • Employee bios that go deeper than the c-suite
  • Company histories
  • Project case studies to showcase your great work
  • Client testimonials (video is especially useful)
  • Showcase community volunteerism (especially if you operate in a smaller market)

Elements of your marketing, particularly your website, need to tell your company’s unique story. However, your outbound/inbound marketing and content must forget “sexy” and refocus on highlighting the benefits of choosing your company will give a new customer.

Focus on Benefits and Helping

While showcasing company or personal awards, or detailing every certification you have, has its place, communicating clearly how potential customers will benefit from your product or service should be front and center.

Kate Ellis of the Now Marketing Group explains the benefits/helping approach this way: “People buy from those who they know, like, and trust. And serving customers instead of selling to them is a long-term approach, which really focuses on building that relationship. When you make people feel good they feel good about buying from you. Essentially, by focusing on serving them you and your business have earned the right to sell to them. To quote from Joe Chernov, good marketing makes the company look smart, while great marketing makes the customer feel smart.”

So, the key to marketing a dull business is first being genuine (understanding your “baby is ugly”); second, you should provide content that consumers can connect with; and third, your marketing should help solve problems and clearly communicate the benefits of using your company.

Go Visual

Reading about plumbing solutions or building techniques is one thing, seeing it in action is entirely another. Start creating videos that focus on solving your customer’s problems. These videos, or infographics if you go that route, don’t have to be overly complex or Hollywood production quality clips.

No. They can be simple, recorded by your phone and do-it-yourself.

The key is delivering short form (30 seconds to a minute or two) videos that immediately help solve a customer pain point. This could be anything from fixing a running toilet and HVAC DIY fixes to tool recommendations and the best questions to ask when vetting CPAs for hire. Seeing and reading is always more impactful than only interfacing with a sea of words on a website.

Check out a video we did recently for Frederick-based HVAC and plumbing contractor, Warner Service. The production quality is more advanced than a DIY phone video, but should give you the idea of the type of visual content that can make seemingly dull topics a bit more engaging and fun.

Infographics, too, can provide a way for consumers to more easily digest the relationship between what you do and how it can benefit their lives. Now, infographics are less DIY than a phone video, but most outsourced graphic designers can handle the work at a reasonable cost. To check out some effective and cool infographic visuals, you can click here.

If you work in a dull or common service industry, or your product might be considered very useful but boring, adopt these strategies to improve your marketing performance, increase lead generation and enhance brand loyalty over the long term.

Know thyself, a great philosopher once said; or, in this case, know you’re boring, accept it, stay genuine and focus on helping customers to improve your marketing results.

We can help. Illumine8 Marketing & PR has helped grow many traditional, common businesses by practicing what we preach. From sheet metal companies and HVAC/Plumbing businesses to community management firms and commercial real estate companies, we know how to market what some might call “boring” businesses. You can read some of our success stories here.

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