My first content role was at a startup that created and managed websites for small businesses. It was my job to provide the copy for their homepages, about us sections, and product pages. Sometimes, it was fun—what’s not to like about writing for grooming services and catering companies? Other times, I’d have to spend all day researching garage door parts or why an HVAC system might break down. Needless to say, if a garage door needs repairing, I at least now know the basics.
As content marketers, there are days it’s difficult getting excited about the industries we’re writing in—especially if the industries we’re writing for aren’t that glamorous. Finance and healthcare, for example, don’t exactly scream sexy or cutting edge. When you’re not jazzed about what you’re working on, creating inspired content can be extremely challenging.
But it’s important to remember that just because an industry may seem uncool and stuck in the 20th century, it doesn’t have to be. There are some outliers that get what it means to create killer content. Looking to examples of brands crushing it in traditionally boring industries can help us look at our own brands and find ways to innovate.
Let’s explore 4 unsexy brands pushing the content envelope in their industries.
Let’s be honest: unless you’re Danny Tanner, no one thinks cleaning products are sexy. And how many times are brands going to give us the same ad of a bird flying into a spotless window? It seems like many cleaning brands have thrown in the towel when it comes to producing new and interesting content.
In 2014, Ajax decided to take a different approach to marketing their products. Rather than killing off another bird to prove their cleaner leaves a streak-free shine, Ajax designed a tool to help users scrub their social media accounts clean.
Ajax Social Wipes is an innovative approach to content marketing. For Facebook, it pulls all your likes onto one page so you can unlike the ones you’re no longer interested in. On Twitter, Ajax Social Wipes runs through the accounts you’re following and those following you to see if any are actually spam or junk accounts.
What makes Ajax Social Wipes particularly noteworthy is the fact that Ajax doesn’t even have official Facebook or Twitter accounts. They aren’t asking anything from those using the tool. It’s purely a way for the brand to reach consumers and promote their Spray ‘n Wipe Easy Lift Out Wipes. According to Digiday, Ajax’s innovative tool scrubbed away 200,000 likes and 20,000 spambots in the week after the Ajax Social Wipes’ release. Users also spent an average of 5 minutes on the site, ensuring no grimey bots or fan pages went uncleaned.
Auto insurance is another industry many people don’t consider exciting. In fact, it’s one that leaves many pretty frustrated—seeing your rates go up just because you move to a neighborhood only ten minutes away doesn’t exactly give you warm and fuzzy feelings for a brand. How can auto insurance marketers combat these feelings of annoyance? Well, some have turned to creating relatable characters for their marketing campaigns, ones that help create a more human face for their brands. And despite the Geico Gecko’s best efforts, none of these characters can compete with Progressive’s Flo.
Flo made her debut in 2008. Since her arrival on the scene, Progressive has continuously proven itself as a savvy brand content creator. What makes Flo a slam dunk mascot for the brand is that she’s funny, memorable, and adaptable. Whether she’s featured in commercials or on Progressive’s social channels, people are drawn to her and continue to follow her auto insurance adventures wherever they can. Seriously. She has over 5 million likes on Facebook alone.
In the commercial above, Progressive utilizes both Flo’s humor and our culture’s love for nostalgia to create a slam dunk ad that resonates with their audience. The commercial became so popular that it’s now famous line “sprinkles are for winners” became a meme and was featured in a Lil Wayne song. Another big win for Progressive is how naturally user-generated content comes from creating such an affable spokeswoman. It seems that for as long as Flo has been around, people have been dressing as her for Halloween. Progressive’s investment in Flo has given them more user-generated content than they know what to do with.
Healthcare is only a sexy industry when given a Hollywood makeover. Just thinking about choosing a benefits plan or scheduling a doctor’s visit makes most people anxious. There’s nothing more unpleasant than waiting hours in the ER. It’s no surprise many brands in the industry stick to “safer” content marketing methods to connect with their patients. But Nuffield Health has taken a different approach, one that other healthcare brands should take note of.
Nuffield Health is investing heavily in video marketing to connect with their audience. One of their main channels is Vine, a social platform that’s intimidating for even the most seasoned of content marketers. What’s even more remarkable is how the healthcare nonprofit has nearly 400 followers without having followed anyone in return. Their Vine account provides cute, original bite-sized videos featuring everything from tips about lifestyle changes to interesting lead-ins for long-form articles. Their Vines aren’t simply thrown together, either. Each one is high quality, showing they care as much about their brand’s perception as they do their audience’s health.
Nuffield Health’s innovation doesn’t stop at creating killer Vines. They have an entire YouTube channel devoted to longer videos featuring interviews with athletes, nutritional recipes, and exercise routines. By creating a wide variety of content, Nuffield Health makes their industry feel more approachable for both patients and customers. No longer does healthcare have to be an scary industry—it can even be fun! By giving their audience educational and entertaining content, Nuffield Health is forging a connection that lays the groundwork for some major brand loyalty.
I count myself among the many who need a major education in finances. Like healthcare, I find the industry headache-inducing. Most times I attempt to educate myself in 401Ks or investing, I’m met with long-winded PDFs that go on for too long and never define confusing jargon. Giving the finance industry a human touch felt pretty hopeless until E-Trade decided to go through a rebrand and stepped up their digital and content marketing game.
In the summer of 2014, E-Trade retired their iconic baby spokesperson. The digital financial company’s decision to ditch the baby came with a complete overhaul of their marketing strategies and an update to their brand messaging: investing isn’t so easy a baby can do it, but E-Trade is here to help you understand your options. Though E-Trade has always had a collection of educational video content, they’ve ramped up their efforts in the past couple years. In addition to a comprehensive collection of longer educational resources that cover topics like diversification and options trading, they also have a series of videos that define common financial terms.
E-Trade’s Fun with Finance series combines cute animated characters with term definitions to create an engaging, seconds-long story focused on financial literacy. Defining strange sounding terms like “dead cat bounce” and “triple witching” in such an accessible manner allows E-Trade to position their content front and center on channels like Facebook and Twitter. By giving their brand a personality, E-Trade is reaching new and old customers, providing a more inclusive environment for them to learn.
The Bottom Line
Even though an industry may have a reputation for being uncool, there’s plenty of opportunity to develop awesome and innovative content that forges connections with audiences. By looking at how a few brands have positioned themselves as content leaders in their industries, you can discover ways to apply some of their strategies to your own brand’s content and create something exciting.