Here is a challenge: instead of going for really exciting marketing projects or careers, try something different for a change: market a product that is really dull. Like, a commodity. Like, nuts and bolts.
Now, THAT is a huge marketing challenge.
Great marketing is about creating a story around the product or company that is authentic and true, and inviting people to step into that story. Great marketing engages and educates people; it helps them transform their lives, their work, and perhaps themselves.
OK, easy when you’re marketing space travel, iPhones and the latest technology and what not, but how do you do that with really mundane products? I’m talking about the stuff you hardly know exists because it’s out of sight? Items that people take for granted and don’t appreciate? How can nuts and bolts become exciting?
Your best bet is video. Here are a few ideas on how to create excitement around “unfun” and “unexciting” products:
- Demonstrate what would happen if the product didn’t exist
- Take people backstage, show ‘em how the thing is made!
- Show ‘em what people experience from the quality
- Acknowledge that people take the product for granted and show the thought, the love, the quality that goes into the manufacturing process (see #2) despite the product being invisible or taken for granted.
Above all, have PEOPLE in your videos, imagery wherever possible. Make the copy and the case studies about people – and their relationship to the product. Start with people and end with people.
The good news when marketing boring stuff and commodities is that you only have to create emotional connection to the product, and then you win – because most competitors won’t do that.
There is a great video about how a bolt is created. It wasn’t made by a manufacturing co, but it could have been. Think about this for a second: of all the things RedBull can and usually does make videos about (jaw-dropping, adrenalin-bomb, extreme stuff), they’ve taken the challenge and created an engaging video about a single, tiny little bolt.
If you need more inspiration, check out detergent commercials. Yes, detergents. If you didn’t know anything about the emotion and creativity that goes into detergent ads, you’d think it’s the most boring product in the world, right? It’s just powder or some liquidy stuff used to perform a mundane chore everyone hates: washing clothes.
But, because the target audience and their problem is so sharply definable, advertisers have managed to make good commercials for something that is almost a commodity.
In B2B, be brave with video and advertising. Don’t be afraid to use people… and EMOTION. Yes, companies manufacturing boring things can be a little rigid and they might initially push back on exciting things in general, or having people talk on videos.
One last important thing: you will be super-tempted to push the envelope on truth. What I mean is when you brainstorm ways to make a commodity exciting, you will come up with ideas that go a little too far and unless you can censor yourself, you’ll promote claims that are over-the-top, not true or just inauthentic. This trap is real and it’s part of the beautiful challenge of making awesome marketing.