By Sean McVey published December 3, 2012

Create Engaging Content for Any Industry, Even “Boring” Ones

create engaging content, even for "boring" industriesAccording to a new book and recent study conducted by the Hinge Research Institute, high-growth, professional services firms are focusing heavily on blogging.

The researchers asked 500 marketing executives to rate how much focus their firms put on various marketing techniques. The respondents were then segmented into average-growth and high-growth firms. 

focus rating chart, engaging content

As the chart above shows, firms that are growing the fastest tend to focus a significant effort on blogging. This may not be much of a surprise if you’re a regular reader of this blog, but regardless, the case for content is clear.

The question then becomes, “What are these firms writing about?” It’s one thing to create engaging content about entertaining consumer products. But what about the less glamorous professional services industries?  How can you make business intelligence consulting fun? What about banks and accountants? Government contracting? How do you create engaging content for some of these industries?

To help answer that question, I’d like to direct your attention to Kinaxis, a supply chain solutions company (doesn’t that sound fun?). In a profession that elicits blank stares from many of us, Kinaxis has found a way to create a vibrant community of supply chain professionals through its content marketing efforts.

The firm has built up a group of nearly 7,000 members on its website, the Supply Chain Expert Community. This niche group is founded on sharing educational content — covering everything a professional would ever need to know about supply chain management. The firm itself consistently publishes new educational content and encourages members to share their perspectives. Here are a few takeaways from this community that has embraced its specialty.

Seek out common issues, and offer solutions 

In the professional services space, valuable content means giving people the resources they need to educate themselves about important issues and solve critical problems, which Kinaxis does by writing about the issues that are important to their prospective clients.

Examples of issues in the supply chain world include:

  • Risk mitigation: Are we looking at risk in the right way?
  • Establishing a common platform to address multiple supply chain applications
  • Achieving supply chain visibility

By developing a steady stream of new white papers, reports, and blog posts, the company continually nurtures visitors with practical information and cutting-edge advice.

Kinaxis’s blog posts tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • Step-by-step guidance (Example: “3 Keys to a Collaboration Framework”)
  • Visionary topics (Example: “The Future of Supply Chain Strategy”)
  • Technical tips (Example: “Simpler is Better: Dynamic Buffer Management”)

The marketing team employs ongoing keyword research to monitor which words and phrases are hot, ensuring that they are covering topics that are in demand. This ongoing list of keywords helps their in-house experts uncover new opportunities and content ideas.

The company uses tools such as Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool to gain insights into which industry words and phrases are being searched in Google. For example, the phrase, “sales and operations planning” is an important phrase to Kinaxis and thousands of people search this topic every month. Seeing this opportunity, the content team creates blog posts and other pieces covering this critical area. 

Leverage new media 

Kinaxis has been experimenting with video and monitoring engagement for several years. The firm’s success can be measured by its tens of thousands of plays, both on its website and on YouTube. Here are just a few of the ways they are crafting their content to leverage the video medium:

  • Executive Perspectives: C-level executives appear on camera to explain and discuss their particular supply chain challenges.
  • Quick Takes and white papers: Kinaxis team members explain their perspectives on hot topics and summarize some of their key content pieces.
  • Late Late Supply Chain Show: A spoof of late-night talk shows, this comical series attempts to make supply chain topics as entertaining as possible.
  • Uncle Jay Explains: These videos provide amusing explanations of hot topics in supply chain management. 

Remember: Video and other interactive media make learning easier. They also can bring a company’s many personalities to life. Which brings us to… 

Tap into various personalities 

Thirteen different team members contribute to the Kinaxis community’s blog on a consistent basis, making for diverse discussions on various topics and issues. For user convenience, visitors can access every contributor’s blog from one single landing page.

Encouraging different thought leaders to get involved is a proven way to keep ideas fresh, and it is one of the key reasons the Kinaxis community is so lively. In addition, allowing your employees the opportunity to show off their industry expertise gives your business the opportunity to cultivate visible subject-matter experts who will enhance your reputation as a trusted information source.

How do you encourage employees to get involved? Here are a few tips:

  • Offer incentives: Getting the team motivated can be tough in the beginning. Try offering a free lunch to the blogger with the most comments or shares for the week.
  • Tie it to career: Publishing content can be great for business development and also personal exposure. Enticing employees with the idea of being an expert can boost inspiration.
  • Make the time: Few people want to spend their free time working on company content. Allocate work time for content creation.
  • Make it fun: Content can be the best part of going to work. The folks at Kinaxis are sharing their knowledge, but laughing while doing so.

Discover the two-way conversation

Some companies choose to publish content in a vacuum — keeping interaction with visitors to a minimum. More confident firms open up their content to discussion, which creates more of a community feel.

The members of the Kinaxis community are constantly commenting on pieces and discussing new hot topics. Not only are the Kinaxis blog posts open to commenting, but the firm also provides a designated forum (resembling the forums within LinkedIn’s groups) where members can debate topics and regularly engage.

Here are a few methods Kinaxis uses to engage its community:

  • Keep it light: Although the community is professional, the feel of it is fairly relaxed. It’s a place people would want to visit to take a break from work and stress.
  • Make it personal: The contributors have personal profiles, friendly pictures, and cheerful personalities. Talking to a person is a lot easier than talking to a cold forum.
  • Expand to social: The team does a great job of getting out into the Twittersphere and pulling people into the community. Get social outside and generate buzz inside.

Content works in professional services 

Kinaxis and many other high-growth professional services firms are proof that creating educational content is key to attracting eyeballs — even in dry industries. With the right knowledge, a little creativity, and an open mind, you can transform your web presence into a leading community.

For more content marketing tips from companies that are succeeding with content marketing, read our Ultimate eBook: 100 Content Marketing Examples.

Author: Sean McVey

Sean McVey is the Director of Online Marketing at Hinge, a branding and marketing firm specializing in professional services, and a co-author of the book Online Marketing for Professional Services. Follow Sean on Twitter at @Seantmcvey.

Other posts by Sean McVey

  • MedicareContent

    how do you recommend doing this in an industry that requires federal approval of all content? ie Medicare

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Sit down with your legal staff on what you can say and cannot say. Then proceed! Sat in on a Cleveland Clinic presentation at Content Marketing World Health Summit and they said it is SO much easier than the financial industry.

    • Sean

      We’ve worked with clients in the financial sector that require approval of all content. It tends to slow the process and requires more planning, but it does not decrease the value of the education. Get to know the guidelines and like Joe said, proceed!!

  • BewareoftheDoug

    It is striking how many companies argue they have nothing of interest to write about. Years ago as a young freelancer I got a gig writing for the Federal Highway Administration’s research lab. The engineers I met were working on some really interesting projects – de-icing technology or crumble-resistant railguards, for example – but were writing about it strictly from a left-brain perspective. I would bring my right brain to meetings and suggest a story that started with a juicy parable about a family meeting with an icy road and substandard guard rails abutting 1,000-foot mountain ravines. Suddenly their work seemed not just exciting but damned important. Readership blossomed and I became popular with the pocket-protector crowd.

    Good content ABOUNDS in every industry. Sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective.

    Thanks for the post!

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Amen!

    • Sean

      Great point Doug. It seems that there are many firms out there that would benefit from embracing their niche and telling a story. Although it may not appeal to the masses, it will likely appeal to a focused community.

  • http://twitter.com/3rdPlanetMedia 3rd Planet Media

    Can’t tell you how many times we’ve presented ideas like these to customers. It’s taken a while but with the results we’re getting for them elsewhere they’re finally coming around to this way of thinking.

    Thank you so much for saying it so well!

    Best Wishes

  • 5KSpecialist

    No business is boring, but some writers are. Every business supplies its customers with products and services that improve their lives, and a good writer can identify those benefits and make them exciting.

  • Kris Avina

    Great article! Clear, concise, quality content for regulated industries such as financial, legal and medical industries is a must along with an established review process as part of the strategy. While that may seem daunting, other relevant educational, entertaining content can keep the flow on course. For example, the medical field can talk about related topics focusing on lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and beauty topics to engage audiences. The banking industry can talk about how to research colleges, college scholarships, financial aid, etc.

  • http://managedformimi.com/ osbennn

    Another key tactic worth mentioning here, in my opinion, is to find the little colorful, quirky aspects about the relevant industry that would be interesting to _any_ reader, and to use storytelling to welcome the reader into a world of “who knew that these issues were so important and developed” newness.