By Nick Rojas - September 9th, 2015

Article Event Banner

It’s always a struggle to get customers to convert. No matter how cool, well-publicized, or reasonably priced your product is, finding the right tools and methods for marketing it is never without its challenges.

It’s always a struggle to get customers to convert. No matter how cool, well-publicized, or reasonably priced your product is, finding the right tools and methods for marketing it is never without its challenges.

This is especially true when you offer a great product, but the market you are in is not a particularly “sexy” one. What you make might be the best at what it does, but if it helps save for retirement, clean your toilet, or identify mineral deposits, it’s not likely to build much buzz on its own.

Luckily, you are not alone. There’s no shortage of Fortune 1,000 companies that have emerged from being a steady, homely, and traditional brand to becoming a part of pop culture.

1) Subvert Expectations:

Take “Old Spice” for example. The company sells products that fight body odor (e.g. deodorant and body wash). This is not only boring, but could even come across as offputting or unappealing.

In 2010, however, “Old Spice” changed from being yet another deodorant brand to becoming one of the most-discussed topics in media. And, it only took them 30 seconds.

Their now famous 30-second commercial called “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” turned the brand’s traditional marketing on its head. Instead of directing the commercial at its target audience (men), the pitchman Isaiah Mustafa addresses women, asking them imagine if the men in their life used Old Spice to smell and be like him. He’s on a boat, he offers his female audience two tickets “to that thing they like”, the tickets are diamonds, then he’s on a horse.

The ad starts by fostering a little playful jealousy and competitiveness between men and Old Spice Guy, but then manages to be surprising, genuinely funny, and shows that the Old Spice brand doesn’t take itself too seriously. It began a whole new era for the deodorant brand, laying the ground for future innovations and successes on social media and with a millennial audience, and establishing the form their ads still take today (can you believe that was 5 years ago?)

And therein lies the lesson, and the number one way boring businesses can improve visibility: know your audience (which isn’t always the obvious one!) and don’t be afraid to tell an entirely new story about your company (re-brand).

2) Don't Be Afraid to Grab Attention for Attention's Sake:

Another great example of a boring service that turned into a hot brand is “GoDaddy.” It started out as just another domain name registrar—and just saying “domain name registrar” is boring. As soon as it focused its overall marketing strategy on being over-the-top, it got the attention it needed to become a billion-dollar company.

This ranged from releasing a series of provocative and sometimes tasteless commercial spots featuring sexy female models to Jean-Claude Van Damme playing the bongos in the kitchen of a small-business owner.

According to Barb Rechterman, GoDaddy’s former head of marketing, "We want to maintain our sense of humor while focusing on how GoDaddy's services empower customers […] and speak to small business owners out there looking for an edge.”

And that’s the second way you can improve visibility as a “boring” business: don't be afraid of attracting attention. If you can associate your business with being fun, spontaneous, and worth paying attention to, then you’ve already one half of the marketing battle.

3) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Did you know that Uber delivers flowers and Mariachi Bands? To promote its on-demand town car service and establish itself as a much more interesting and hip alternative to taxis, Uber has partnered with several companies over the years to hand-deliver roses on Valentine’s Day, Mariachi Bands on Cinco de Mayo, Christmas trees during holiday season, ice cream during National Ice Cream Month, and Iron Thrones during the Game of Thrones premiere.

While not directly related to its core product, the items Uber delivers draw attention to its larger, overall service – transportation – and does so in a personal, outside-the-box kind of way.

4) Be More Honest and Direct Than Your Competition

When it comes to boring and complicated businesses, there is nothing more irritating to potential customers than the use of buzzwords like “immersive experience” and “snackable content.” Why are they irritating? Because they tell you what companies think you want to hear, rather than what they actually do. .

Instead of trying to dazzle your audience with empty combinations of words, just call it what it is. Simplify and examine the core of your brand, and you might be surprised about the positive feedback, simply because you made it easy for customers to understand what it is you are selling.

Take a company called “College Hunks Hauling Junk” as an example. They couldn’t be clearer about what they offer; and they just landed on Inc Magazine’s 5,000 Fastest Growing Private U.S. Companies in 2015.

5) Get Involved

There is nothing boring about actually helping people. Honda’s “Random Acts of Helpfulness” campaign has proven this to be a successful strategy. It turned around a brand that until then was perceived as boring. Turns out, showing that you care can be exciting.

Sometimes, the easiest way to be more interesting is just taking the spotlight off of yourself, and putting it onto your customers and their stories instead. 

The Incite Summit East 2015

November 2015, The Marriott Brooklyn Bridge

The USA's best brand-focused marketing conference. Featuring CMOs, SVPs and marketing leaders from Dell, Citi, Chobani, Activision, HSBC, Mondelez and many more.

Brochure Programme
comments powered by Disqus