Making SEO Fun in a “Boring” B2B World
There’s a great thing that’s been happening lately around SEO and “boring” industries…people are realizing their product doesn’t have to be sexy and are actually embracing it!
In December, Will Reynolds of Seer Interactive put out a video, “Link Building in Boring Industries.” Last month, there was a great article from SEOMoz, “Companies in Boring Niches Creating Great Content.” And, during my SMX Advanced presentation in May, I noted that, even if you have a boring product, you can still make marketing and link building fun.
The fact is that for many B2B companies, your product might not be the most amazing thing to talk about. The good news is you have other options. Let’s take a look at a few:
Market vs Product
If your product isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, then start thinking about what is exciting. Who are your customers? What do they like? What types of things can you offer them that are related to your business and are interesting?
You don’t need to spend all of your time writing and talking about the product when you can (and should) be talking about the things your target market cares about.
Example 1: FreshBooks
Freshbooks is an accounting software, which could initially be labeled as “boring.” But the company has made their brand cool by creating content and doing fun things around small business. Their blog offers content around networking, entrepreneurship, taxes, etc, which are some of the issues small businesses want to know about. They also do things like hold business card contests that get people engaged and are fun to be a part of. It’s worth noting they also have something like 80,000 links because of efforts such as these.
Example 2: Herman Miller
While office furniture can indeed look nice, it can’t possibly be exhilarating to write about all of the time. So on the Herman Miller blog, instead of writing about just office furniture, they write about ergonomics (a huge industry), exercising at work, and office design. They also ran a contest in May encouraging students to design chairs. It’s a creative way to get a few links and promote something other than just office furniture.
Admittedly, Herman Miller is a well known brand but it’s a good example of a company with “boring” products finding innovative ways to engage their customers.
* Takeaway *
Create share-friendly content and campaigns that will interest your audience. Because, let’s be honest, you can still figure out how to get a couple of those valuable keywords into more compelling content.
It’s easy to form a partnership with people, add them to your partners page, and then forget about them. So why not form partnerships with companies whose products can actually help your customers?
Partnerships are a different way to give your customers help beyond your product or service, they make for great content and you may get a few links.
Example 1: Build-a-Business Competition
Shopify recently teamed up with Fast Company for their 3rd annual Build a Business competition. Shopify is an ecommerce building platform, certainly not the most exciting product ever, and Fast Company is well, Fast Company, a magazine/website geared toward businesses. What makes this a great partnership, is that it truly benefits both companies and their respective audiences. Shopify gets support from a large media outlet like Fast Company and Fast Company gets to help entrepreneurs, the people they market to, achieve their dream.
Example 2: BarCamp Tour
If you aren’t familiar with BarCamps, they are global “unconferences” where people get together and essentially teach one another about various tech topics. Fast forward to BarCamp Tour, described as an “entrepreneurial adventure of four brands to help BarCamps across the country be as great as they can be.”
Basically, four B2B companies including MailChimp and BatchBlue, which target a similar market, teamed up and are now traveling around the country, sponsoring BarCamps and helping entrepreneurs and small business folks get together and learn. It’s a partnership that really does benefit each company and their respective audiences.
* Takeaway *
Find companies you believe in that target a similar audience. Once you have a couple of companies in mind, locate the appropriate persons and approach with a partnership idea ready. People won’t often turn down free marketing opportunities.
Something to Talk About
Word-of-mouth has become hip over the last few years as social network usage increases. These days, asking for trusted opinions has become as simple as typing 140 characters.
What this means for businesses is there’s a tremendous opportunity to let your customers do the work for you. Let them write about you, build links for you, and get you new customers. But in order for them to want to do this, you need to give them a reason.
Example 1: Grasshopper
It’s easy for me to use Grasshopper as example because I worked there and saw first-hand what pros they are at giving their customers something to talk about. Grasshopper is a virtual phone system and they know that at the end of the day, their customers just want the product to work. They don’t really care about the company much beyond that. However, knowing that, they go out of their way to make their customers care.
They send handwritten notes to customers with bags of candy and Starbucks gift cards, they give away books, and they create fun videos their market likes and wants to talk about.
Example 2: 37Signals
37Signals is most widely known for BaseCamp, which is a project management tool. But they also know how much their customers like them. Their site actually has a Happy Customers page. If I were a customer and saw myself and my business listed on this page, you bet I’d be telling other people about it. They also have a “happiness report” that’s based on their last 100 ratings. This shows they care about their customers but it also gives people something to talk about.
* Takeaway *
Once you have an idea or campaign in mind, start planning how you can get the biggest bang for your buck. Find customers who have blogs or use social media and are likely to talk about it and share. Start with the people you have the best relationships with and go from there. It’s an easy way to get some content written about you and links back to your site.
The bottom line is that even if you think your niche is boring or your company can’t be doing cool things around SEO and online marketing, you can. You just have to figure out fun and innovative ways to do it.