It’s kind of tough to compete with God when it comes to writing persuasive copy.
Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/starfire2k/
I mean, think about it: here’s a book that’s inspired fascination, debate, in-depth study, life-changing zeal and faith in its readers for thousands of years. It’s sold literally BILLIONS of copies. With a B. Billions!
No matter how you feel about the content, you have to admit that as a content marketing case study, the Bible is a pretty tough act to follow.
So what content marketing lessons can we learn from the Bible? Here’s a few I came up with. There are probably a hundred more I didn’t consider. When you find them, throw them in the comments below so I can pretend I came up with them when I re-purpose this information down the road. (Oops, I got ahead of myself there…see #4!)
1) Don’t be afraid to be controversial.
There are few books in the history of the written word that have sparked more conflict than the Bible. Which is kind of interesting, considering it talks so much about love and peace.
But the real lesson here is that one of the main reasons it sparks debate and conflict so easily is that it doesn’t pull any punches in what it says. Here’s one interesting example, (quoted from The Message, a really easy translation to understand,):
“There’s nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
Don’t count on being remembered. ” (Ecclesiastes chapter 1)
How’s that for in-your-face honesty? Doesn’t feel good to have God telling you “don’t count on being remembered” does it? But, in context, it’s totally true.
So, as you’re developing your content, don’t shy away from putting some controversy out there for your audience to chew on. It makes for great eye-catching headlines, which is so important in the Twitter-scan world we’re writing for, and it helps make your content ultra-sharable as well.
And don’t worry about whether or not you’re alienating anyone. The fact is, weeding out the tire-kickers and the stragglers can be a god-send (pardon the pun) to a content marketing campaign.
That’s why Ben Settle explained that he loves getting unsubscribe notifications from his e-mail list provider! Something to think about.
2) Make your contact indescribably valuable, then give it away.
You can read the Bible online for free on any of a hundred different sites. Nearly everyone seems to have one or more copies in their house, and the local public library probably has a dozen copies of various translations available.
But is it treated like it’s free? Of course not. Many people consider it sacred. Many more consider it classic literature and still more admit it’s got some great stories in it.
Your content should aspire to be just like that.
No, you’re not likely to produce a blog that people consider sacred. But you certainly can provide spectacular content that people would be willing to pay for, then give it away for free. You can amaze people with the quality of your content and make them desperate to devour it and share it with their friends.
3) Consider crowdsourcing content.
Forty different people had a part in writing down the words we read in the sixty-six most commonly accepted books of the Bible.
What’s the main benefit? Different voices and different points of view means the words can speak to each of us in the most effective way.
For example, David (who wrote a bunch of the Psalms) and Solomon (who wrote Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon) were wealthy and powerful kings. Paul (who wrote over a dozen letters in the New Testament) was a recovering lawyer and a tent-maker. Luke was a doctor, Matthew was a Jewish IRS agent, and Peter caught fish. All these guys were going to put the message across in a slightly different way based on their own backgrounds, their own spin on things.
And for that reason, what we read appeals to us in different ways and for different reasons. Which makes the Bible about forty-times more effective than it would have been if one person wrote down the whole thing.
When you first start developing your content strategy and creating content, it’s likely to be primarily your own. This is great, and there’s nothing wrong with sitting in the driver’s seat most of the time, especially if you’re a solopreneur using content to build your reputation and expertise in the minds of your prospects.
But don’t overlook the tremendous value in spreading the love around.
Take advantage of all the simple and powerful content curation tools available out there. Accept guest posts if they fit your blogging strategy and they’re well written. Link liberally to point your audience to other great sources of content that will truly benefit them. Work with other content marketers to collaborate on a project that will turn out twice as good as a result!
4) Don’t waste good content. Re-purpose like crazy!
Think the Bible repeats itself? You’re right.
Classic example: the four Gospels. Basically, four different people looking at Jesus’ life from different viewpoints and at different times, all writing essentially the same things. But no one’s ever going to say any one of them is worthless.
Because the content’s been effectively re-purposed.
Each book changes the camera angle just enough to keep us interested. Each one highlights a different combination of stories, focusing on a slightly different main point.
And for that reason, even though they’re all together in a row, we can read them one after the other and learn something new with each one.
Make the same use of your content! Coming up with a killer blog post is not easy. In fact, it can be incredibly hard work. And it’s unfortunately really easy to do it wrong.
So when you manage to put together an awesome post, or white paper, or landing page… use it again! Make some adjustments and turn it into a Slideshare presentation, or a YouTube video, or a podcast, or all of the above! Take a different slant on the same general theme and offer it up as a guest post to a blog in a different market. Chop it into bite-size chunks and tweet it out over time.
There’s a thousand ways you can re-purpose great content. And if you do it right, there’s a thousand different groups of people you can touch that might have never read that first awesome article.
5) Get the word out there.
Like I mentioned in the intro, the Bible’s kind of a popular book.
It’s estimated that the Bible is available in whole or in part to over 98% of the world’s population, in a language they can read. That’s incredible reach. And when you combine that with the millions of derivative works out there: sermons, companions, criticisms and interpretations… there’s no possible way to even estimate how many billions of words have been distributed connected to this book.
And it’s had all this success despite the fact that there’s been pressure to eliminate the Bible pretty much ever since it was finished!
Is your content getting that kind of push? Are you making it readily available to any and all who can benefit from it? Sharing it in all your various networks, encouraging your audiences to do the same? Stepping outside your comfort zone to open up your content to new and wider audiences?
If you’re not, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.
So What are You Going to Do?
Granted, you’re not God. I guess I’m not either.
But there are some very un-godly things you can do right now to push your content marketing strategy to biblical proportions!
- Start creating spectacular content.
- Get it out in front of people and spread it as far and wide as you can.
- Get networking with other marketers and work together to spread each other’s content even further.
- Re-purpose like crazy.
- Create some more spectacular content and do it all over again!
Now, like I said before, I know there are more great content marketing lessons in the Bible. Let us know in the comments if you’ve found some more!