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February 24, 2015

Engaging Content Marketing for ‘Boring’ Industries #SEJSummit Liveblog

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On the stage is Mindy Weinstein, director of training at Bruce Clay, Inc. Mindy manages content development and SEO teams, and is also an author of two books on personal finance. She’s going to share her top three pieces of advice for creating content when brands are “boring” or topics not usually addressed in polite company.

3 Content Marketing Takeaways

  1. Develop Real-Life Stories
  2. Keep your Eyes Open for Inspiration
  3. Focus on Being Practical and Personal
Mindy-Weinstein-SEJSummit2015-3

From left: Katrina Jefferson (CEO of Chica Intelligente) and Mindy Weinstein (Director of Training at Bruce Clay, Inc.) onstage at the Search Engine Journal Summit in Santa Monica.

A story: Mindy’s son is in elementary school and one day she picked him up from school and they walked back to the car together. When she got to the car she saw that there were rats in her car. How could she have known that? The story starts a few weeks before. She lived in a neighborhood with a lot of fruit trees and giant tree rats. She went to a mechanic and he told her that there were rats having a party in her engine. She searched online for a solution to get rid of the rats. She found an exterminator with a blog full of stories about people going through the same situation.

1. Develop real-life stories

“Why are stories so valuable? One reason is that a story exerts a power beyond the obvious. The whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts — the facts, the events, the context — that a story creates a deep resonance. “Think like a freak,” Mindy says.

Stories allow us to put ourselves in the character’s shoes. As the reader, we start to project ourselves onto the character. You want them to think: “Yes! That’s is what I thought too!”

People become interested when they are in need and want to know how you have helped others like them. When they are in need, and you tell them a story that helps solve their problem, a once boring topic is no longer boring to them.

Develop stories that address how people have used the product or service.

Take testimonials a step further by painting the entire picture for the reader.

Big brand example: Land O Lakes has a blog of bakers and families and their experience with butter. They have a column called Ask Becky.

2. Keep your eyes open for inspiration

 It’s often difficult to sit down at your computer and try to determine what to write. Prepare ahead of time by storing a file on your desk that is labeled “Content Topics.” Say goodbye to writer’s block.

Behave like a critical thinker. Reexamine every article or book you read and story you hear. Is there some type of angle or insight you could provide your target audience?

Harness your inner news reporter. Look for events and news items, holidays and bits of news to create content around. What are other companies saying? What can I say that is different?

One of Mindy’s books is titled “Rich and Thin.” She combined two topics: personal finance and weight loss. People care about both but add them together and it gets a whole new feel and resonance.

Some places to look for content inspiration:

  • Google Trends
  • Google Alerts
  • BuzzFeed
  • Buzzsumo
  • Addict-o-Matic
  • Even junk mail

3. Focus on being practical and personal

Big brand example: Dyson vacuum cleaners focus on being practical and personal.

What concerns does the reader have and how can you make it simple to get help?

Embarrassing question? No problem. Look at the Dollar Shave Club. They talk about every personal hygiene and grooming issue with a practical approach.

Mindy’s team wrote a lot of legal content. There were a lot of personal issues they needed to address, like providing advice after a car accident. But what about practical? They made sure to include ways on the page to make it easy for the visitor to learn more and get deeper and get in contact, like a live chat button. That’s the kind of thing that you need to think of — how to fit into your consumers life.


We’re reporting live all day from the SEJ Summit in Santa Monica! Read more liveblog coverage here.

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