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how to market boring productsSome products are naturally easier to market than others. An apparel maker can ask social media influencers to post photos of themselves wearing their dresses on Instagram. But what if your company makes toilet valves? Promoting an innovative or attractive product is easy. The boring truth is that most companies manufacture parts used in other products or make items sold through distributors.

These ideas can help PR pros and marketers promote staid products and transform what people think are unexciting into items they find interesting and desirable.

Highlight your solution. Citing product specs will put people to sleep. Instead describe a problem your audience faces, then emphasize that your product solves that problem, without delving into complicated details of how it does it. For an example, consider the “Will It Blend” YouTube series. “Rather than talking about the power of the blender motor, the video demonstrates that this blender will blend absolutely anything, period,” writes Rishi Medhi, head of marketing function at mSupply.com, for MarketingProfs.

Tell a story. Connect with your target audience by telling stories of how people use your product and benefit from it. PayPal was first perceived as a faceless financial provider. But then it showed how real people use its product, says Kaylynn Chong at Hootsuite. People shared stories about how they use PayPal in their personal lives. The strategy produced a 327 percent increase in engagement.

Focus on your company culture. Rather than focusing on the company’s product, you can publicize its interesting company culture. Try posting photos of employees at work, company functions or doing volunteer work. You can create a hashtag for posts on the company culture, Chong suggested. Hootsuite uses #HootsuiteLife.

How to go viral. Even boring brands can create marketing campaigns that are awe-inspiring, positive and surprising, the elements of posts that go viral. To promote its new whiteout tape, Tipp-Ex created a series of customizable YouTube videos that showed encounters between a hunter and a bear, explains Dan Hecht at HubSpot. Deciding not to shoot the bear, the camper uses the whiteout tape to erase the word “shoots” in the video title, and then asks viewers to fill in the blank to create their own story. The video continued to show the camper and bear (actually an actor in a costume) in a range of activities. The video gained over 46 million views and over a million social media shares.


Be visual. Even staid products can be visually interesting with some creativity. Show your product in colorful or unique settings, or show how an artist used it to create stunning artwork, suggests creative agency Monsters Unlimited. Or use a far-fetched demonstration to make the sales point. Think of the television commercials for the liquid rubber agent to prevent leaks. The spokesperson cuts a hole in a flat-bottom boat, patches the hole with window screening used to let in air and keep out bugs, spreads their liquid rubber over the screening, and takes the boat for a spin. No leaks. Convincing.

Use humor. Although risky, humor can be very effective. People love to share funny photos and videos on social media. You can even make a joke about how people think your product is boring. Try a video of people having a raucous party with the supposedly unexciting product – or show your product in fun settings.

Simplify. Reduce your marketing message to a single, simple sentence that explains what the product offers. Fancy buzzwords like “immersive experience” don’t explain what the company does – and will probably only irritate potential customers.

“Instead of trying to dazzle your audience with empty combinations of words, just call it what it is,” recommends Nick Rojas at Incite Group. “Simplify and examine the core of your brand, and you might be surprised about the positive feedback, simply because you made it easy for customers to understand what it is you are selling.” Alternatively, simple analogies can drive home the selling message.

Bottom Line: With some creativity, PR and marketing professionals can bring meaning and interest to products people may consider dull. Sometimes, the best way to be more interesting is to move attention away from the product and focus on your customers and their stories.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.