3 Ways To Not Be Boring & Why It Matters in Online Marketing

Ah…your business is so boring

Good marketing and boring, don’t mix, but Social media in particular, really hates boring. Social media platforms are designed to make sure boring sinks to the bottom, and remarkable rises to the top. Both Google and Facebook work that way. Twitter works that way – heck, life works that way. If you’re going to be visible on social media, you’re not going to do it by being boring.

If you’re the only one talking about your product, then that’s a monologue – and Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter are about making sure monologues become less and less visible and influential. Social media platforms are where people go to talk about stuff that is personally interesting to them and again, boring just isn’t welcome there.

Now this bias against boring is a major problem for most businesses. You see most large companies today were built in a very different time and place – before the social media revolution really took off. In their world, boring wasn’t much of a problem, as long as you had enough advertising dollars and distribution muscle, you could still get super-rich whilst being boring.

It was a simple formula;

  • Hire an expensive advertising agency to create boring advert.
  • Pay TV station/ newspaper ridiculous amounts of money to make that advert seen and heard everywhere.
  • Gather the money from the 1% of people you managed to interrupt into buying
  • Repeat until filthy rich.

See for as long as you’re boring, only one route is open for you – interruption marketing. You’re going to have to find ways to interrupt me whilst I’m paying attention to stuff I actually care about. That’s what the newspaper, TV and radio advertising is all about.

I’m not buying the Herald newspaper to find out what Econet wants to sell to me. I’m not going to part with two dollars on the Financial Gazette to see the latest advert from Royco’s Usavi Mix or to business XYZ price list.

No, I buy it for the news.

And while I’m reading something I actually care about, the display ads are going to attempt to distract me for long enough to persuade me to buy.  It’s a tactic that used to work wonders, but things are changing fast. Today, businesses that are over-reliant on interruption marketing are finding themselves losing ground.

  • People are getting better and better and ignoring interruption (advertising)
  • People under 30 just aren’t reading the print newspapers anymore
  • Interruption marketing is only becoming more and more expensive (what a waste).
  • People are spending much more of their time in places that are so much harder for businesses to interrupt (Facebook, Twitter etc).

So, if you’re determined or comfortable to stay boring, you may eventually find yourself completely out of business.

Now, of course, some things will always be more interesting than others. Sex will always be more topical than paper clips, and fast cars are more exciting than razor blades unless you’re these guys – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Here are three things you can do, to not be boring…

1)      Innovate out of boring. If you’re boring it’s because you’re doing what everyone else is doing – even if you’re doing it better than they are. If you’re boring it’s because you represent the status quo, you’ve conformed to the acceptable norm and found a comfortable spot in the corner.

Look at banking for instance.

Instead of banks introducing and leading the mobile money movement in Zimbabwe, we saw them eating dust from Ecocash.

Econet Ecocash
Ecocash mobile money

With Telecel’s Telecash soon to launch, the door to mobile riches seems to all but closed for many a bank in Zimbabwe.But why? Couldn’t they see the need to go mobile? It’s not like the eventuality wasn’t obvious.

The problem is that most banks were just too trapped in their myopic focus on how things have always been, that they just couldn’t gather the courage or the energy to innovate. The result? they are already losing relevance – and as a bank in Zimbabwe, the bar for the innovation you’re going to need to compete profitably is going to be substantially higher than if you’d gotten off boring road earlier.

When it comes to innovation we see that there is usually a minor cost for being too early, and a major cost for being late. Innovation isn’t done with its mission to destroy conventional banking in Zimbabwe, keep watching.

Innovation though is scary, and risky – especially for larger businesses, and so they never do it, to their own demise. What a great opportunity for you. There is a lesson to be learned about the urgency and aggression with which Econet executed on mobile money. Success loves speed.

2)      Tell A Damme Good Story. This is another great way to communicate a message that might otherwise be quite boring. Look at what Volvo did recently to market the precision and stability of their Dynamic Steering. They could have gone the conventional route, but instead, they did someone epic…they hired Van Damme! Volvo created a video featuring movie star Jean-Claude Van Damne doing an epic split between two steadily moving trucks, to demonstrate just how precise their new trucks can be.

Volvo’s super precise and steady steering.

Van Damme Epic split
Van Damme Volvo trucks commercial

Seriously, watch the video, it’s worth it.

The results so far?

That video has become the single most watch automobile advert of all time! Not because they spent a fortune in advertising, but because everyone starting talking about. The video in YouTube has been watched over 60 million times and shared over 6 million times on social networks. It’s been the subject of over 20 000 editorial pieces so far and has attracted incredible amounts of media coverage all over the world. That video, it is estimated has gotten them the equivalent of over 70 million dollars worth of advertising…that they didn’t pay for.

Not bad.

A boring topic that would certainly never have made the news and hardly anyone’s Facebook timeline, becomes one of the most talked about content pieces ever. Why should we talk about you?

Now you might not have Jean-Claude Van Damme on speed dial, but you can think the same way. How can you demonstrate the promise of your product or service in an interesting way? How can you tell a story about it that the average Joe/ Tawanda will care about? Or, you can simply buy space in the newspaper and say “Volvo for sale. Powerful dynamic steering now available” See if anyone cares.

3)      Be useful. Beyond the hype and buzz, a product must actually be useful, otherwise it will never be sold. In the social media world, it works the same way, you marketing must be useful. You can aim for hype or you can aim to help.

The most powerful thing about social media is the opportunity to position yourself as a helpful expert –and you do that by providing useful content. Instead of the marketing you want people to see, what is the information they want from you? Most often this best done by starting with the “how to” questions your market has.

So for example, if I was Telecel Zimbabwe I would be answering…

  • How do I send a call me back when I run out of air time?
  • How do I save data when i’m running low?
  • How do I activate my new Telecel line?
  • How do I win that car in your latest promo?
  • How do I get more out of….you get the point right?
Answer the how to questions

Answering how to questions forces you to create valuable, practical content that people will find useful. That’s one of the ways the Bizsetup blog went from just me blogging to myself, to attracting thousands of readers and subscribers without an advertising budget at all. Just by answering how to questions that our market cares about…her are just a few examples;

You can do the same thing.

Very often, being useful will attract far better and more qualified prospects than simply be ‘hypeful’ will. That’s because when you’re useful, people come to trust your expertise. When you’re helpful people come to trust your generosity. There really isn’t a substitute for actually caring enough to be helpful to your market.

So, lets recap. Being boring simply doesn’t work on social media, but if you’re trapped in boring there are three ways out. 1) innovate out of there. 2) Tell an interesting story and 3) Be useful.

A little longer than my usual post, but I hope that helps? Would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment.

3 Replies to “3 Ways To Not Be Boring & Why It Matters in Online Marketing”

  1. Ah mahn, your posts are captivating. You are going to get me fired from my day job.

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