boring business

By Rieva Lesonsky

Do you own a “boring” business, like freight forwarding, accounting or industrial manufacturing? It can be difficult to know how to market a business that doesn’t have a natural “hook.” How do you get attention on social media, make your website stand out or grab the interest of local press?

While marketing a business in a dull field presents a few extra challenges, it’s not impossible. In fact, with the right attitude, marketing a boring business can actually be pretty interesting. Here are 8 ideas to get you started.

  1. Focus on the benefits. Often, entrepreneurs have trouble marketing a boring business because they focus on what they find interesting about their companies — not what the customers care about. Follow the old marketing advice to “focus on benefits, not features” in your marketing, and turn your perspective to the customers’ point of view. What does your business do for the customer? For instance, if your freight forwarding services takes the complications of international trade off their hands, your marketing should focus on that—not on your thorough knowledge of the 2005 amendment to the X12 B – 17 International Customs Agreement.
  1. Find the “people” angle. Bringing a human factor to your marketing makes any business more relatable. This could include:
  • Sharing the history of a multigenerational family business and how it changed over the years
  • Explaining what inspired you to start your business. Perhaps your manufacturing business sprang out of your childhood love of developing inventions with your father in his workshop.
  • Sharing the stories of the people who work at your company. For instance, photos and short bios of the people customers will work with if they do business with you can make your business more interesting.
  1. Emphasize social responsibility. Is your business involved in any community causes or charitable organizations that add interests? For instance, perhaps your dental practice focuses on serving special-needs children and adults, who are often fearful of getting dental work. Or maybe you contribute free dental work to residents at a local homeless shelter. Sharing this angle of your business can make it stand out from others in your “boring” industry, especially when it comes to getting publicity for your business.
  1. Differentiate yourself from your competitors. This is important for any business’s marketing, but especially if your business is in a dull industry. How are all the other accountants/dental offices/HVAC companies marketing themselves? Check out their websites, ads and social media accounts and do something different.
  1. Focus on your customers. Marketing that shares how your customers are using your product or service to change their lives/do something better/have more fun/be healthier is inherently interesting, no matter what your industry is. Make it a practice to gather testimonials from satisfied customers and get permission to use them as part of your marketing. You can even create videos interviewing customers about how your business has helped them. Encourage customers to share content and post on your business’ social media pages. You can hold contests or surveys on social media to get more customer content.
  1. Share information that’s interesting to your customers. What interests your customers may not interest the average person. For example, if your business sells equipment for dental offices, you can create content that’s interesting to dentists and dental office managers. It doesn’t have to directly relate to your product, just to their interests. For example, you could create useful tips on how to make their waiting room more appealing, help decrease cancellations, or keep their hygienists happy. Share the info in blog posts, email newsletters or social media. You’ll attract more dentists to your business website and hopefully get them to learn more about your products.
  1. Think visual. Photos and videos make anything more interesting (yes, even dental equipment!) Get creative with your images. Do a behind-the-scenes video of your manufacturing assembly line at work and employees putting together the product. Show a before-and-after video of a dental patient getting her teeth whitened. Regularly change up the photos and videos on your business website and social media accounts.
  1. Promote yourself as an industry expert. When you interact with others in person, you have a chance to promote the human side of your business. Even if what you actually do is boring, you can engage prospective customers with your personality. Get out and get visible in the communities where your customers spend time, whether industry conferences, the local Chamber of Commerce or LinkedIn groups. Be helpful, start conversations and answer questions. As you develop a reputation as an industry expert, you’ll find more and more prospects are interested not only in what you have to say, but also in doing business with your company.