Tesla, Virgin Galactic and Oculus all have something in common: They build sexy products and the media loves to give them coverage. Most businesses are more mundane. They lack the flash and sizzle inherent in an industry such as space travel. Because these companies don’t have a built-in marketing advantage, they companies have to get creative if they want the media to shower them with love.
For example, consider the self-storage industry. Could there be a more boring business? The building is shaped like a box. Inside are box-shaped rooms, each filled with boxes that customers leave there for years. Not exciting. Yet the industry hit gold when “Storage Wars” became the most popular show in A&E’s history. The series attracted millions of viewers and brought attention to an industry that pop culture previously had ignored.
Not quite boring enough? Here’s another: flowchart software. It’s one of those things no one thinks about until he or she needs it. That’s precisely the challenge Lucid Software faced when marketing its flagship product, Lucidchart. The cloud-based platform helps users create flowcharts. It’s sophisticated technology, but unless you’re an engineer, it isn’t likely to raise your pulse.
“We had to find a way to change how people think about diagramming,” Lucid PR head Jackson Carpenter said. “So our marketing team decided to see if we could attach the brand to trending stories by making flowcharts for superfans and pop-culture geeks — people like us.”
The company since has made flowcharts for topics ranging from Star Wars and fantasy football to Dungeons and Dragons. Flowcharts created in Lucidchart have been featured in The Huffington Post, Gizmodo, ScreenRant and more. The marketing campaign itself earned ecognition from the Utah Marketing Awards and produced more than 2 million views for Lucid Software in seven months. Not bad for a boring little software company from the Beehive State.
What lessons can the rest of us take from Lucid’s success?
Think bigger than your product.
If your product isn’t newsworthy on its own, don’t pitch the product. Instead, tie it to something bigger and more exciting. Lucid used movie premieres, sporting events and video-game releases to create relevant content that major outlets were sure to pick up.
Build it for the grassroots.
At the beginning of the campaign, Lucid’s staff of active Redditors shared content on their favorite subreddits. Because they were involved with the communities they were making content for, they knew what their audience would love. When a flowchart took off on Reddit, the team knew it wouldn’t be long before the press would follow.
Remember the end game.
Lucid’s campaign — while lighthearted and fun — served two very specific business purposes. First, it showed people who’d never thought about diagramming software how versatile flowcharts are as a medium for conveying complex ideas. Second, it helped drive traffic back to Lucid’s website, where the company was able to register new users and capture email addresses for future marketing campaigns.
If you think your business is boring, look at how other “boring” businesses are promoting themselves. If self-storage facilities and flowchart-software companies can make themselves interesting, you’re out of excuses for not finding a hook to tell your own business’ story.