What do you get when you cross a travel operator with a glamourous ladies’ fashion retailer, a couple of B2B hardware suppliers and catering equipment companies, a luxurious cashmere brand, an exquisite gift hamper company… and a building society?
Well, you get a very unusual (albeit well-dressed) party, but you also get a pretty typical working week for me as a content writer at Silverbean.
One hour you could be writing content about body-con dresses; the next, body fluid clean up kits (we swear, they aren’t related). Writing interesting, effective, and most importantly useful content across such a diverse range of products and industries is a challenge, but we have a confession – writing content for “boring” products and industries is perhaps our favourite part of the job.
Why? Because, ‘boring content’, in our opinion, simply doesn’t exist.
Trust us on this one: there’s just no such thing as boring products or industries when it comes to writing content. Not when you know your audience well enough, and commit to providing content that they’ll find genuinely useful and valuable (meaning that it delivers what we at Silverbean call Return on Attention) – because then, every topic has the genuine potential to fascinate, captivate, and most importantly, motivate.
So instead of telling you how to write about ‘boring’ industries or products (which we’ve covered in our 10 Commandments of Creating Brilliant Branded Content), we’re going to tell you how we make sure they’re not boring in the first place, and keep those useful content ideas flowing. We like to call them…
THE FIRST RULE IS: PUT IN THAT LEGWORK!
Variety is part and parcel of being a content writer, but there are times when we’re thrown headfirst into a topic or industry that we don’t know the first thing about. It’s time to put in the legwork and get to know it – and even better, love it.
We could get a good understanding of a product or industry simply by reading all about it at our desks, but so can any copywriter. To create content that stands out and shows genuine understanding of your business, we like to go even further, literally.
At Silverbean, we find immense value in getting out of the office and immersing ourselves in our client’s industries – whether that’s attending a B2B conference, expo or trade show and chatting to industry experts and suppliers, and most importantly handling or trying out the products or services they sell from the customer’s perspective, or going to their physical retail locations and meeting their passionate staff.
— Vicky (@Vicky_Cee24) 4 October 2016
For our team of content experts, gaining a first-hand experience of the product or industry doesn’t only provide us with priceless knowledge and an entire raft of inspiring content writing ideas courtesy of those who know it best, but it also equips us with an enthusiasm for the product or industry that reflects within the content ; something that couldn’t ever be faked!
It’s also fantastic for tone of voice development, as we’re able to understand and use the language that their customers speak and will respond to – and the key words and phrases they’ll be searching for online that could lead them to our content.
When it’s not possible to physically engage with the product or industry we need to write about, there are plenty of other ways that we actively keep interesting content ideas flowing. These include, but aren’t limited to, signing up to industry publications, message boards or mailing lists (Fun fact: the Silverbean Content team have a subscription to ‘Airports of the World’ magazine…), following competitors’ blogs and social media channels, and conducting content workshops with clients, to bring us closer to the brand.
All of these help us to gain a wider knowledge of the product or industry we’re writing about, and see them from a customer’s perspective, as well as identifying opportunities for future content ideas that will resonate.
WRITE CONTENT WITH A PURPOSE
Whatever the subject, writing content for content’s sake is BORING. At Silverbean we are committed to creating useful, customer-centric content that gives audiences a genuine reason to read it, and provides the very best answers to questions and queries that they may have about a certain product or topic at the different stages of a customer journey.
However, we also think about what we want the reader to take away from the content, and what we want them to do next. If content is missing an objective or benefit for the reader that will encourage them to engage further with the brand, then that’s Pointless Marketing – and it won’t excite them. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The purpose of the content should align with the stage of the customer journey that you’re targeting, whether that’s to pique their interest in your products in the awareness or consideration stages, or fostering loyalty and brand advocacy post-purchase.
Taking the time to develop and understand the customer persona (or set of personas) will illuminate what matters to the customer at each stage and open up a wealth of angles for content that they’ll find interesting, relevant, useful, and curious for more. We also don’t forget to link products and similar relevant content from within the post, as well as clear calls to action for readers to engage – we wouldn’t want to lose their attention after we’ve worked so hard to capture it!
ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF: HOW COULD I SAY THIS BETTER?
There may not be boring industries or products to create content about, but there are certainly boring ways of doing it! What you say and how you say it should be of equal importance, so don’t let an interesting content idea fall flat with poor execution.
We always consider how we can present content in a way that will attract and hold a particular type of customer’s attention. Performing a content analysis using tools such as Buzzsumo help us to identify what these are. It could be as simple as breaking down complicated subjects into a list post for a B2B blog, or presenting several facts, statistics or ideas as an infographic where we believe this will be effective.
For example, for the Electrical Guys, we created this infographic to present statistics on the benefits of learning a trade alongside the benefits of going to university. Not only would this topic be interesting to Electrical Guys’ target customer, but was highly topical for wider audiences – particularly when working alongside a robust outreach strategy to increase its coverage.
However, when it comes to content that packs a punch, you can’t ignore the power of video – four times as many customers would now prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it. We just so happen to have a partnership with an outstanding video production agency, so why don’t you get in touch to see how video content could be part of your useful content strategy?
BUT DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT!
Here’s what Penny Loughlin-Smith, Digital Marketing Manager at Bunzl Cleaning and Hygiene Supplies, has to say about the weekly blog content that we produced for their B2B blog.
“I have been extremely impressed with how Silverbean come up with interesting and information blog content on what is at first not the most inspiring of topics: cleaning and hygiene supplies.
“The post “Roll Through The History of Toilet tissue” is a great example, Featuring a bespoke infographic and also interesting facts and importantly, links to the products. Looking at topics from different angles, “Make Your Washroom Wonderful with Harmonising Fragrances” is also an excellent example of providing the reader with good information on a not particularly pleasant subject.
“The Silverbean team are always very keen to hear about innovation in the marketplace and even test out products for themselves. I feel it is essential to think of Silverbean as part of the team and ensure that they are aware of what our goals are so that they create interesting and inspiring content accordingly, no matter what the subject.”
STILL THINK THERE IS SUCH A THING AS BORING PRODUCTS OR INDUSTRIES WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING CONTENT?
Well, you might find it helpful to ask yourself:
- Do you have a clear customer persona in mind that you’re creating content for, and do you really know what they really want to know?
- As well as the client themselves, where can you go – or who can you go to – for some insider information? Every industry is full of passionate experts, and they’d love for you to join them!
- Are you speaking the language of your client’s customers – and do you understand it yourself?
- What reasons are there for readers to engage with your content? What specific needs is it addressing?
- How do you want readers to be motivated by your content? Are you writing your content with purpose that will make it inherently useful?
- Can you add a visual element to your content to make it interesting or easier to digest, such as a bespoke graphic or video?
All of the above are essential to consider when writing content, but if we can leave you with just one piece of advice, it’s this:
As content writers, we can’t create brand advocates unless we are brand advocates ourselves. Get to know the product or industry you’re writing about, get to love it, and then get to work on making everyone else love it, too.
If you’d like to know more about how we can create snore-free guaranteed content for your brand, get in touch with us – we’re all ears. We’d love to hear from our fellow content writers too, so give us a shout on Twitter @silverbean, to let us know whether you agree that there’s no such thing as ‘boring’ when it comes to branded content.