A product so boring no one will care

“My product is so boring that I can’t create compelling content around it.”

You don’t have to talk about the concept of content marketing for very long before you run headlong into this statement. It’s usually someone who has been at the same company a long time. Sometimes even the founder.

You’re right. You never should have taken the job of promoting it, because you’re doomed to fail. Give up now and start sending out resumes to apply for jobs listed in your local newspaper.

Things are boring.

I have a mobile phone. It’s boring because all it does it let me make phone calls and use the internet, just like a million other devices. I also have a car that allows me to sit in traffic everyday to and from home, and an axe in my garage, the oldest known tool.

None of those things are interesting or remarkable, because they are just things.

People are boring

I know a guy who is in his mid 50′s. He’s worked most of his life marketing consumer packaged goods. He’s about 5’9″ and wears glasses. You probably wouldn’t even notice him at a restaurant.

Marketing Boring Things

Spoiler alert: You can’t market boring things.

Everything has a story. It’s always the story that appeals to people.

What if I told you that my mobile phone was the Apple iPhone 5s, does that make it less boring? Regardless of if you love or hate Apple and their iPhone, it certainly makes you think of my phone differently than if I told you it was a Nokia 1100 (250 million sold).

What if I told you that my car was the Ferrari 250 GT Spyder that was used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? What if I went on to tell you that the car isn’t actually a real Ferrari? That’s right, it’s a replica. The story of the replica is even more fascinating.

Finally is the most boring product on earth, an ax. My axe hasn’t been around since 1.5 million BC like the originals, but it’s basically the same tool. Mine is the Best Made American Felling Axe from Best Made Co.

Dependable, versatile and with a rich and powerful history, the American Felling Axe is the quintessential woodland tool and an icon of American design and ingenuity. Every feature of this axe was meticulously designed by Best Made in New York. The Dayton pattern head is made from high carbon American steel and is drop forged in North Carolina by fourth-generation axe makers. The Best Made helve is lathed from Appalachian hickory and its elegant curvature and slender form factor ensure superior efficiency and safety. Every Best Made axe comes numbered with our documentation and guarantee, and a fitted, top-grain leather blade guard.

The Clincher

See what happened? You may not buy this axe for yourself after watching that video, but I’ll bet you can think of at least one person you know who would love it. Not because they need an axe, but because they would embrace the story.

The axe section of Best Made has attracted 2,229 links.

A Story

Martin Smith and Amy Lewis

Martin Smith and Amy Lewis

Marty Smith spent the first half of his life shilling for the man. He sold chocolate for M&M/Mars, then a couple other Fortune 50 companies until he decided to throw it all away and start a company with his wife. The invented the magnetic poetry kits that adorned half of the refrigerators in America. Then one day his doctor told him he had cancer.

Martin’s first thought was, “Shit, I never rode my bike across the country.”

A few years later, which is when I was working with him, he came and told me he had just resigned as Director of Marketing so at the age of 52 he could ride his bicycle across the USA. He figured he had 5, may 10 years left and didn’t feel like he could put it off any longer. So he took his 50 pound overweight frame and trained for a couple months. Then he started to raise money for his ride. He would give it all to Duke Cancer, the doctors and staff that had helped him so much. He used all his own money to fund his ride, and gave about $30,000 to Duke.

When he got back home, he was tired, but energized. He had seen what he always knew was out there in theory but hadn’t had the opportunity to live with. the kindness of strangers. He had been fed by people who he had never met before. He had people donate money to his cause while they drank coffee with him. He had seen the soft, generous streak Americans have when someone needs help.

Marty was hired on at AtlanticBT to help their marketing efforts. What AtlanticBT got was unexpected. They didn’t get a Marketing Director who stressed out about CTR and P&L statements (although he does), they got an unexpected gift. A person who isn’t in the game to win some imaginary brass ring. Marty is in the game to fundamentally change it and throw out the brass ring and replace it with one million brass rings.

Marty decided to not take his salary this year to pay AtlanticBT for help in creating his vision of a better world. AtlanticBT for their part, matched Marty’s salary to put up 2 sites that may change the way cancer research is funded.

The main site is the Story of Cancer. The idea behind the site is simple at it’s core. Rather than have giant organization fund cancer research in a very controlled and conservative way, you (as in YOU, regular people) can donate to specific doctors doing specific research that looks promising. Want to bet on a million-to-one idea, here’s your chance. Conspiracy theorist that think funding only goes to the pill makers, stand tall and fund a better idea.

The theory is so damn simple, it can’t possibly work right? There’s no way average people can be relied upon to fund something as important as cancer research. Last year Americans spent $2.1 Billion on Easter candy. We somehow manage to get through that holiday without massive government and corporate funding.

Marty is a boring guy. He just happens to be trying to change the world. Now that you know his story, can you doubt he’ll succeed?

A product so boring no one will care by

Phil started working on the Web before it was cool – he started as a web developer in 1996 and spent the bubble days gaining experience as a system administrator and trainer. Many hats later, he brings broad experience to any digital project, where his super powers include translating über-geek jabber to mortals and explaining marketing-speak in binary code.

Comments

  1. That was a great story, and hats off to Marty Smith and his endeavor. As to the initial question many businesses run into about having trouble finding interesting stuff to write on their product, there’s a hitch. If you really only sell one specific service, you may be able to write something somewhat or even extremely interesting one time or even a few times on that product/ service, but there’s only so much before the wheels fall off that ride. That’s the struggle many of us run into.

  2. It’s true any product will be perceived as being boring without effective marketing. I learned this from the Glazier/Kennedy Group I was associated with about a year ago. Even if your product actually sucks, it will sell with good creative marketing. Even one sale would be ROI. Thanks, Nelson Coy

  3. Very inspiring story. I have just finished the book by Napoleon Hill “Think and grow rich”. It is not just about thinking or making money as the title may suggest. It is about the attitude. With the right mind set there is no such thing as impossible.

Trackbacks

  1. […] GLUM doesn’t cure cancer, so I’m thinking differently. I’m offering my support to an audacious idea. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) if there ever was one – cure cancer in our lifetime. Read about the idea’s champion in the bottom half of this story. […]

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