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I got a call out of the blue (a LinkedIn message, actually — yet another reason LinkedIn is my favorite social media platform for business) from Heike Young, the co-host of Salesforce’s Marketing Cloudcast. She’s invited me to participate (podcast coming soon) and in the meantime, our conversations have got me thinking about marketing.

But not just any marketing. Tough marketing. Marketing the bitch-ugly stuff. The stuff they never tell you about in marketing school. My kind of marketing!

There are lots of ways marketing can be tough, and I plan to write about them in subsequent posts. For this first one, I want to focus on boredom. The dull product. The unsexy service. The thing you think no one could possibly be interested in.

So what do you do with “boring” products?

First step, understand that the problem isn’t the product, it’s you. It’s not that the product is boring, per se, but that you’re bored with the product.

Solution: Understand that for a particular set of people out there, your “boring” product is not boring at all, but essential in some way. Perhaps it’ll never be exciting, but it may be important. As a marketer, your job is to identify who these people are–and then get inside their shoes. Or heads. Doesn’t matter. You have to get inside them and then see the product from their perspective.

Here’s a B2C example: trash bags. Specifically, the thickness of trash bags. Booorrrring. Right? But I’ll tell you this–you’ll save a dime and buy discount trash bags until that one day (and this one day will come, I promise you) when that thin, cheap-ass trash bag breaks apart under your hands. I can’t give you the date and time, but I can guarantee it’ll be when you’re late for a very important meeting and you’re dressed in your best duds.

Second promise: you’ll never buy a discount trash bag again. That’s why Glad ran a successful (and oh so boring) ad campaign that featured burst bags. Because if you’ve ever suffered one, suddenly bag thickness becomes a very interesting topic. “Come to me baby. Whisper sweet gauge figures in my ear. Oooohhh.”

What about B2B? Yup, there are even more opportunities for boring products here. Here’s one I learned about from experience: drill bits. The kind of drill bits oil rig operators use to extract…oil. Most of us lay people don’t know (and don’t care about) this, but there are actually many different kinds of bits designed for many different kinds of geologies and ground conditions.

Are you yawning yet?

But consider this: every day of delay on an oil rig could mean millions of dollars in lost revenues. This is not an exaggeration. Millions. Of dollars.

Once you put that drill bit in context, it’s not so boring at all, is it?

When you’re bored by a product, you’re thinking of it from the wrong point of view–your own. Think of the right people and the right context–think of what the products means in their world–and suddenly, most “boring” products can be pretty exciting things to market.

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