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How to create interesting content in a boring industry

03. 24. 16

I was prepping myself to write about Donald Trump this week.

Say what you will about Trump the Candidate (let’s not), but Trump the Marketer is quite savvy. I’d even assembled a few thoughts on why. Luckily, my smelling salts kicked in and I realized: I have no energy to write about Trump… and you don’t want to read it.

Then the news hit that The Most Interesting Man in the World was retiring

Now this is a relevant topic for brands of any size.

It’s been a decade since we first heard the iconic line, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer Dos Equis.” The Most Interesting Man, played by Jonathan Goldsmith, signed off every commercial with his own familiar catchphrase. And the campaign was a huge hit: North American sales of Dos Equis increased 22% at a time when other imported beers fell 4%. 

But that’s the least interesting aspect of the story. More telling has been the public’s willingness to not only tolerate the advertising but actively seek it out. Millions of us have cataloged and searched the commercials on YouTube. They’re interesting

And then there are the memes. There’s even a ranking of the Best 50, including, “I don’t always have a fantastic beard. Oh wait, yes I do.”

Last week, Dos Equis announced Goldsmith’s retirement with a new spot that sends him on a one-way journey to Mars with this final narration: “His only regret is not knowing what regret feels like.”

How can our own brands be more interesting?

Face it: most of us aren’t beer companies, technology rock stars, retail heroes, or even the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. We might even admit that our categories are… boring.

So how do we create interesting content that gets noticed and shared?

Here are five tips to put in play right away:

  1. Focus on helping, not selling.  It may sound trite, but boring content isn’t boring to the people that need it. If someone has a mundane question like how to negotiate a lower cable bill or refinance a home, content that answers that question isn’t boring. If you focus on genuinely helping your audience, you’ll garner interest.
  2. Write like you talk.  Be natural. Remove the business babble that makes it difficult for readers to understand what you’re saying. Break a few grammar and punctuation rules. This alone makes your content more interesting. (Yeah, I hear my high school English teachers cringing… I’m over it.)
  3. Lighten up. Infusing a light, humorous tone in your content adds life to otherwise boring topics. It can be more fun to write, too. We use humour in everyday conversation, so why not use it when we write… especially if we write like we talk?
  4. De-mystify the complex. Boring can actually be code for confusing. Don’t assume your audience understands what you’re writing about. Using analogies can help. For example, many in my own audience are unclear on some of the details of content marketing. So I describe blogging like jogging. You have to do it consistently – and over a long period of timebefore you see results.  De-mystifying the complex is helpful.
  5. Give readers a break. Part of not boring our audience is not overwhelming them. That means any written content has to look easy to read, even if it’s well-written and fascinating. Break up your text into smaller, digestible chunks so readers feel capable of tackling a more difficult piece. You can also use bullets, numbered lists and images to help dense content look less daunting.

Looking for inspiration? Unum UK, in the exciting category of income protection insurance, is a prime example of these tips in action. 

The category might sound like a wasteland for great content, but – under the slogan Everyone needs a back-up plan – Unum creates a wide range of useful material, including blogs for employers and advisors, e-books, a Twitter feed, and lots more. The materials are informative, often humorous… and designed with a light touch that counters our traditional perceptions of financial services as dull and boring.  Bottom line: Unum’s content is interesting. 

Look, we can’t all be Trump. (Thank God.)

And there’s only one Most Interesting Man in the World. (Too bad.)

But our content can still be interesting… even if our category is “boring.”

So ask yourself:

  1. Are you writing like you talk?
  2. Do you de-mystify the complex?
  3. What’s stopping you from creating content that helps?