By Nathan Resnick
Some startups seem to have all the luck.
They have the ability to easily integrate cutting-edge technology, or their products and services spark consumer interest. When the ‘million-dollar idea’ itself is enough to get potential customers excited, marketing and promotions come easy.
But most small business owners and e-commerce entrepreneurs aren’t so lucky …
This doesn’t mean that their products and services are worthless. In fact, many of their offerings are essential for daily needs. They just have the unfortunate attribute of not being the kind of exciting, innovative ideas people want to talk about with friends and family.
Without a little extra innovation, this can make it all too easy for SEO campaigns and other promotional efforts to fall flat. If your brand is boring, if your website feels stale, you likely aren’t going to win many customers.
Thankfully, there is a way out. The following are just a few of the techniques that I’ve seen help even the most ‘ho-hum’ of niches gain added energy and interest:
Make them laugh
Few marketing techniques are more likely to inject energy into your business than humor.
In fact, according to one recent survey of social media users, 71 percent reported that the main reason they watch online videos is because they want to laugh. Needless to say, if you can inject a little humor into your marketing, you’ll be more likely to gain the attention of your audience.
Few e-commerce businesses better illustrate the power of humor than Dollar Shave Club.
The brand launched in 2011 but made a name for itself in 2012 with a cheeky, humorous YouTube video that quickly went viral. Founder Michael Dubin was interviewed by The New York Times, and in 2016, the company sold for $1 billion.
Not bad for a brand whose goal was to provide monthly deliveries of affordable shaving supplies. Razors are hardly high-tech or exciting, but by injecting its content with humor, Dollar Shave Club quickly turned into a major e-commerce success story.
This is hardly the only example of a “boring” brand that successfully integrated humor, but as Kim Speier notes on HubSpot, “When it comes to humor, it’s all about authenticity. The brands that make humor work are authentic; they know their persona and they run with it.” Authentic humor is vital for lasting success.
Integrate some new tech
Another great way to make your brand stand out and inject some much-needed energy?
Embrace the latest tech tools. Startups in practically every industry can make use of technology to provide a superior customer experience and get ahead of their competition.
With over one-third of the global population owning a smartphone, mobile apps can be a great way to reach new customers and make your brand more convenient and interesting.
For example, when traveling, I like to use Mozio, which has an app that lets me select and manage ground transportation reservations from a wide variety of providers in a single place. Alone, the car rental industry isn’t appealing; with an app to help boost widespread appeal, people like myself quickly take notice. And not just potential users — Booking.com, an industry powerhouse, recently partnered with the company, as well.
Another clever app example comes from toilet paper manufacturer Charmin, which helps users find clean public restrooms with its SitOrSquat app. With over 100,000 listings, this app has proven immensely popular with consumers, while simultaneously increasing awareness and interest in the Charmin brand.
A mobile app isn’t necessarily the right fit for every brand — and that’s okay.
However, you can still use other tech tools to streamline the customer experience and inject a modern energy into your brand. Even simple tweaks like chatbot integration or accepting alternative online payment methods can help your brand become a more valued resource to consumers.
Teach them something
Though humor may get most of the attention in traditional advertising, many of the most successful brands recognize that customers want to feel well-informed.
Whether this information is to satisfy personal curiosity, help them make a purchasing decision or perform an essential task, they want to get insight from experts.
As someone who works in the industry, you are an expert in your particular niche.
Rather than keeping all your expert knowledge to yourself, you can do your customers a favor and build greater interest in your brand by sharing what you know through your content marketing. Educational blog posts, infographics and how-to videos are just a few of the ways that successful brands create greater rapport with their consumers.
Some companies have even gone so far as to create online courses or educational television shows that air on local networks. Such efforts also have the advantage of providing additional materials for social media or blog posts, while further highlighting the products or services your company offers.
Consistency is key
Breaking out of the “boring” mold requires an understanding of your target audience, and possibly a bit of trial and error as you further define your brand personality. However, if you want to achieve lasting results, you need to consistently embrace these efforts across all facets of your marketing.
Are you going to inject your brand with humor?
Then that tone needs to come across in emails, social media and web content — not just your traditional advertising efforts. The same is true of those trying to create an educational persona.
In fact, studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of all shoppers use multiple channels to finalize a purchase. With both online and offline opportunities making themselves available to prospects, blind of industry, consistency is key for brands — there’s simply no getting around it.
Creating a branding style guide will keep everyone on track.
By taking steps to ensure that your branding and key differentiators are consistently communicated across every platform, your core identity will stick in the mind of potential customers and increase your likelihood of earning their business.
Selling toilet paper or legal services may not seem as exciting as the latest smartphone or fashion trends. But that doesn’t mean your brand needs to be cast aside as boring or irrelevant.
By making these changes, you can inject new energy into your brand and prove your worth in a crowded marketplace. As you solve more customers’ problems, you’ll generate the word-of-mouth buzz you need for even greater growth.