How to Create Sexy, Interesting Content for a Boring Industry by @jeremyknauff
“This product is sooooo boring! How can I possibly write anything interesting about it?! This sucks. I hate my job and I’m going to go drive for Uber instead!”
The last part may be a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ve all been there. After having worked with some mind-numbingly boring products and services over nearly two decades though, I’ve learned how to produce amazing content for literally any industry.
“Yeah, Jeremy, but you don’t understand how boring my clients’ products are. There’s no way to produce exciting content for them!”
Trust me. I’ve worked with some of the most boring products you could imagine.
Well, to name just a few: drug testing, window screens, hand crank generators, and even a “blinder” device that attaches to a bull’s head so he’s not distracted while mating (OK, that last one was more hilarious than boring, but it first seemed really difficult to produce incredible content for).
The fact is that no matter how boring an industry is, there is a virtually unlimited amount of amazing content you could produce that would be highly relevant to your products or services. The key is to get outside of traditional thinking, which says that you should just write about your own products or services.
So what else can you write about then?
I’m glad you asked!
1. Take a Controversial Position
You need to get comfortable with turning some people off – or even offending some – because taking a controversial position is one of the most powerful tactics you can use.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the content debating whether addiction is a disease or a choice that’s been shared all over social media lately, right? That is a perfect example.
Most people are passionate about their position on controversial topics, so while you should expect some people to be extremely vocal in their opposition to your opinion, you should also expect other people to be just as vocal in their support
The key here, with whatever topic you choose, is to firmly choose a side.
Being impartial isn’t going to elicit a strong reaction from anyone. That means no shares or links!
Staying in the middle of the road only ensures that you’ll be hit by a bus.
The power of this tactic is that it will engage people — both those who agree, as well as those who disagree – because it triggers a powerful emotional response. As a result, the likelihood of earning links goes up dramatically.
Those who agree will link to your controversial content because it supports their position, while those who disagree will often link to it to point out how ridiculous, wrong, or even stupid they think you are.
Either way, you win.
In some cases, people may even take the time to write a rebuttal, citing you by name and linking to your article. This produces even more exposure for you.
You see this quite often in the search industry, where someone states an opinion, followed by a flurry of other bloggers stampeding to publish their own rebuttal.
One great example of this tactic is the man that so many people love to hate, Jason Calacanis, who once said:
“90% of the SEO market is made up of snake oil salesman. These are guys in really bad suits trying to get really naive people to sign long-term contracts. These clients typically make horrible products and don’t deserve traffic–that’s why they’re not getting it organically so they hire the slimebuckets to game the system for them.”
Obviously, his comments are demonstrably false, and they were especially ironic coming from a guy who makes his living working in venture capital – an industry with one of the sleazier reputations. I’d go as far as saying that it ranks right up there with politicians and personal injury attorneys.
That was only one of many incendiary comments from this guy over the years, and I can’t say with any degree of certainty whether he believes what he says or he says outrageous things just to get a reaction.
What I can say with absolute certainty is that when he makes incendiary comments like these, he gets an intense reaction, along with lots of exposure and links.
2. Incorporate Tangential Topics
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only writing about your products or services, but you’re placing yourself at a serious disadvantage by doing so.
Think about all of the things someone who is interested in your products or services might be interested in that also relate to your products or services. A white board, brainstorming software, or even a large pad of paper make it easy to quickly come up with tons of potential topics.
We recently took on a client who sells privacy screen – the black mesh screen that you see covering screened rooms, pool enclosures, and gazebos. Pretty boring stuff, and it may seem like there are only so many things you can say about it. However, when you open it up to tangential topics, we now have a plethora of additional, and more importantly, interesting things to write about, such as:
- Back yard entertainment
- Pool maintenance
- Landscaping tips
- Gazebo ideas
- Grilling/outdoor cooking tips
- Outdoor pest control
In a few hours, and with a little imagination, you should be able to come up with hundreds of blog post topics that are both relevant to your niche and highly engaging – exactly the kind of content that earns shares and links.
3. Compile Unique, Useful Data
Call me a cynic, but in my experience, people are generally lazy. So if you invest the time to compile data that is both useful and unavailable elsewhere, and then present it in an easily digestible format, you have the potential to earn relevant links.
What you have to consider is how that data will help others support their position, because that is what will motivate them to link to it. Your goal is to give them powerful ammunition to support their own position.
Often, this type of data is updated yearly, so if you do a great job of presenting it, and then updating it each subsequent year, your website will become the go-to resource for this data within your industry. Moz did this with their Local Ranking Factors survey.
Depending on the circumstances, you can either publish the data on a particular page and then update it as often as needed, or update the data on that page and move the old data to a new page.
4. Interview Industry Leaders
Interviews are a relatively easy way to produce lots of great content without putting in a ton of effort, and, they also offer a few additional advantages:
- You become associated with the leaders in your industry.
- Interviewees will often share and link to their own interview.
- Industry publications, bloggers, and other media outlets may share and link to your interviews.
In order for this approach to be successful, you’ll need to make it as easy as possible for your interviewees – that means interviewing them over the phone rather than email. Most people won’t spend their time typing out thousands of words to answer your questions, however, many will happily jump on a 15-minute phone call. Simply record the call, and then you can use a transcription service to create a text document that you can edit and publish on your blog.
I would take it a step further and turn the audio recording into a podcast episode, and then publish the text as the transcript of the podcast. This is more work but gives you the SEO benefit of text content, as well as the added exposure that iTunes and other podcast aggregators provide.
If you’re unfamiliar with the production side of podcasting, John Lee Dumas, host of the massively successful daily podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire, has an outstanding (and free) course that explains everything, step by step.
5. Include Case Studies
Case studies can be a powerful tool if you use them properly.
Instead of simply presenting dry, boring facts, use those facts to craft an engaging story.
Storytelling activates our brains in ways that simply stating facts never could.
When you tell a detailed story about cooking a rich and vibrant meal, people start to imagine how it looks, smells, and even tastes. They can clearly picture that beautifully browned rack of lamb, encrusted with the perfect amount of thyme, rosemary, black pepper, and garlic. They can almost hear the sizzling as the juicy fat drips into the hot roasting pan below, and it seems as though they can smell the heavy aroma of herbs wafting through the air.
Hungry? Unless you’re a vegan, your mouth is probably watering right now, and that demonstrates the power of storytelling!
When we engage with stories, our brains activate in the same way they would if we were actually experiencing it ourselves in real life, which creates a powerful connection.
Case studies in a storytelling format give you the best of both worlds.
A well-crafted story engages people emotionally, while the facts provide logical justification to support their emotional decisions.
- Identify the problem(s) your client faced.
- Explain specifically how it impacted them in terms of money, time, manpower, etc.
- Explain what stopped them from taking action sooner, or what other actions they’ve taken prior to coming to you.
- Describe how your product or service solved their problem.
- Explain how their situation changed in terms of money, time, manpower, etc. (Revisit the same aspects you explained in step #2.)
Publishing amazing original content is essential to search engine optimization because it helps search engines to understand what your site is about and it plays a vital role in earning links.
Producing that content for a “boring” industry seems extremely difficult, but in reality, it can be as simple as producing content for more exciting industries—you just need to approach it from a different angle.
- 20 Ways to Never Write Boring Content Again
- 7 Examples of Great Storytelling For Boring Brands
- Make Your Boring Content Awesome
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