Cast iron or particleboard — how excited can you get?

You may have noticed that on my About page, I’m saying

I’m sure you’ve met creatives who think your product or service is not ‘sexy’. What utter rubbish.

The latest technology and inventions are always exciting and get a lot of enthusiastic coverage in media and social networks. Yet, there are hundreds of more mundane materials and products that deserve proper recognition—and the correct marketing tone of voice. How about cast iron, for example? Or particleboard?

Here are some examples of ‘unsexy’ products from my career that actually turn out to be pretty exciting.

Cast iron

Years ago, I was working with Högfors Foundry, then part of the Santasalo Group. They had invented a new type of austempered iron called Kymenite ADI, whose microstructure makes it extremely strong. The material was first used in heavily loaded industrial gears, but it soon found its way to other applications, too.

Did you know, for example, that this iron was used by major European truck manufacturers for commercial vehicle components intended for markets like Siberia, where they have to operate reliably in deep sub-zero temperatures? Ordinary iron and steel parts turn brittle in temperatures that may reach -50°C. Or that it was tested as the material for tank and bulldozer tracks thanks to its high strength and wear resistance?

Particleboard

On the surface, particleboard may seem to you about as exciting as sand. But the product takes on quite new dimensions when you know that with special treatments and coatings it is stronger than steel in applications subjected to heavy wear, like the beds of beer delivery trucks. Or that it can be used for building the decks of refrigerator vessels. There are also variants that withstand high humidity, contrary to the lay belief that particleboard turns into a soggy mass when subjected to moisture. I was really excited to write marketing material for Schauman, a Finnish plywood and particleboard manufacturer.

Mobile technology for power grids

One client of mine produces mobile technology based equipment used to control field switches in power grids. Field switches go off automatically if there is a disturbance in a part of the grid, such as a tree falling on the power line or a lightning strike. Mobile technology now allows control of each individual switch, for example trying to reconnect if the problem is expected to be a temporary one.

If the fault requires sending a repair team to the spot, the grid operator usually knows the approximate location of the fault, but in difficult terrain and remote regions it takes ages to find the exact location and repair it. Now with mobile technology, each switch can send an automatic alarm to the control centre and identify its location, thereby saving hundreds of working hours and tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs annually.

As you can see, it doesn’t need to be a new Pinterest or the next iPhone to get the juices of some of us B2B copywriters flowing.

In fact, I’d venture a guess that products like those I’ve described above may contribute more to a company’s economic development than some of the latest technologies or trends.

One thing is certain: even cast iron and particleboard need good marketing. Produced in-house, marketing material often tends to lean toward corporate and technical jargon. That’s not what your customers are buying. Make sure your product gets the quality of copywriting it deserves, whatever its “sex appeal”.

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