How Content that Focuses on Users Helps You Stand Out From Crowded, Generic Industry Competition
There’s an unspoken assumption that content writers can come up with amazing content that will wow readers and win big, no matter the industry. But not everyone wants to acknowledge that some industries, despite their importance, usefulness, or commonality, are sort of dreary. They lack the big, obvious, attention-grabbing content marketing opportunities afforded to other industries. Some industries just lack mass-market appeal, which means you’re going to have to get creative. Good content is always a challenge, but some industries pose a greater challenge than others. In many of these cases, you must target a niche audience to get results. That said, there’s one fact that cannot be ignored: There are no boring industries—just boring storytellers. Find the stories that matter to your industry and give them the spotlight! If we step beyond the realm of content for a moment, it’s true of practically every aspect of marketing: the challenge is always in finding the excitement and delivering it, not in the industry itself. From advertising to design, content to local SEO strategies, you’ve got to find the hook that doesn’t just attract attention but demands it.
Dispelling the Myth that Certain Industries are “Boring”
As we just mentioned, there’s nothing inherently boring or exciting about any given industry. Marketers are simply good (or, well, bad) at spinning them a certain way. Consider, for example, the fact that there are a healthy 394 million search results for something as generic as “patio construction.” If we narrow that down to “diy patio,” and target those handy folks looking to take on a challenge themselves, that’s still 190 million results. See for yourself: Obviously, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it goes to show that there’s a wealth of possibility in something that might seem pretty mundane. In fact, the more you search, the more you realize that a lot of these topics have a pretty narrow niche. For instance, a search for “tying flies” reveals a treasure trove of articles and topics, tailored around specific species of fish, locations, and inspiration to get you started. There’s a ton of information and data out there that proves that there’s an audience searching for content that informs and engages, no matter the field or industry. You just need to find ways to make it stand out.
Make the Mundane Interesting
Writers make the mundane interesting. They take the details of a project, find the threads that will capture attention, and weave them into something that people will want to read. Of course, this can seem daunting if you’re trying to write content about HVAC systems. So how do you make the mundane interesting? Let’s take a closer look:
- Delivery is Everything: It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Forget about keywords and focus on the topic. Write for human beings, not search engines! When in doubt, be as helpful as possible. If your content matters to people who have questions or need information, don’t hide it. Put it front and centre. It’ll pay off.
- Cut the Jargon: There’s a time and place for industry terminology or jargon, but it often gets in the way of your central argument or the point you’re trying to make. If you can say it in fewer words, and with language, more people will immediately understand, why not drop the jargon? It makes reading easier for your users, which, again, ties into being as helpful as possible.
- Get Specific: We’ve discussed buyer personas before, but when you hit a wall with content creation, it’s time to break out the personas. For instance, if you’re reading this now, you’re either a content marketer or you have a business struggling to make its content strategy pay off. A quick search for “making content for boring industries” reveals how big a concern it is. What concerns or issues does your audience have, and how can you address them?
This all sounds suspiciously like Google’s favourite advice: create great content and great websites. There’s a reason for that: search intent, user experience, and thinking in terms of topics and narratives that engage with your audience.
Focus on Search Intent and Get Outside the Box
If you’re still struggling to find your angle, there are a few things you can do to shake up your usual approach and get fresh ideas and approaches. Focus on search and user intent. All the keyword research in the world doesn’t matter without examining the context you find it in. Those high-volume search terms you’ve found might not provide much in the way of direction. You need to zero in on what provides value to your users and how you can offer comprehensive, engaging content. For instance, if you search “car repairs” in SEMRush, a useful keyword research tool, it’ll return a ton of information about what other terms you might want to focus on: So, say we want to rank for “car repairs.” Running a quick search reveals a bunch of ads before a location snippet, and the top organic result is for the 10 best car repair businesses in the region. As we delve deeper into the organic results, there are several Kijiji results intermixed with websites for automotive garages. Because our search term is so broad, Google tries to return results that match our intent. As such, we get a lot of ads and general information. It’s not immediately clear if we need repairs now, or if we’re thinking ahead for the future, so we get a broad mix. Google’s trying to figure out where we are in the buyer’s journey, and what we actually want from a search—they’re considering the user’s experience and what they’re trying to do.
The Buyer’s Journey
There are three stages to this journey:
- Awareness: A user is conducting early, educational research to understand or give a name to their problem or opportunity.
- Consideration: The user knows what their problem or opportunity is and wants to understand their options better.
- Decision: The user is ready to make a decision based on their research, and simply wants the best possible service or solution.
If you’re trying to create content for a garage or shop, then, you’ve got to do some heavy legwork to get your content noticed and help move the needle on search results. Instead of focusing on broad, catchall topics, try and create content that addresses the buyer’s journey. Target the intent behind a search, not the specific terms themselves—don’t just create content around “car repairs,” focus on providing guides and advice for specific problems.
Tips for Keeping Content Marketing Fresh and Engaging
If you’re still struggling, understand that there are times where the ideas aren’t going to flow as readily. You won’t always be able to knock it out of the park on the first swing, after all. When in doubt, though, remember:
- Don’t be boring—remember, there are no boring industries, just boring storytellers.
- Skip cliched formats—listicles, clickbait, and generic content that doesn’t contribute to the industry aren’t doing you any favours, and users would much prefer something informative and interesting.
- Remember the power of storytelling—people love good stories! Find the good ones in your industry. They provide huge opportunities to showcase your knowledge and speak directly to the issues your users are facing. For example, jumping back to our car repair example: “A client came in the other day, looking pretty stressed out. Their tire went flat and the rim of their wheel was starting to crumple, but they hadn’t driven their car all weekend…”
- Don’t be afraid of disagreeing or presenting a contrary perspective. Don’t focus exclusively on controversial topics or adopt a contrarian perspective just because, but if you disagree with popular opinion, speak up. Just make sure you support your stance with well-thought-out arguments and information.
- Brainstorming (especially with team members) can get the ideas flowing. Sit down with paper or a whiteboard and break things down by topic. Build idea maps and webs of content ideas focusing on who you’re trying to reach. You’ll be amazed at how this can get you out of your comfort zone and shake the cobwebs loose. We particularly enjoy finding top-level ideas and breaking them down until each idea could be a full-sized article in and of itself.
The Last Word
Creating good, engaging content and content marketing strategies is a time-consuming, challenging task at the best of times. With a so-called “boring” industry, it can feel even more daunting—but that’s no reason to back down or give up. Find the threads of the stories and highlight them. Provide answers, information, and stories that users are searching for. There’s nothing boring about that!