Develop a brand narrative
At the core of the Bible is a strong narrative voice. It’s this narrative voice that gets the message of Christianity across so clearly. How does it do this? It tells a story that’s how.
Isn’t this what every blog post about content marketing you’ve ever read tells you to do? Of course it is. Engage with your customers by sharing an interesting story with them? This is what the Bible does in bucket loads.
Think of all the Biblical stories that you know: Adam and Eve. Noah, Moses, Jesus, to name but a few: these are very powerful stories that have been remembered for generations.
It is these stories that have helped spread Christianity and made it one of the world’s leading religions.
How does the Bible tell this story?
At the heart of the Bible and Christianity are the 10 Commandments. These 10 rules are the key set of laws that govern all Christians. It is a framework from which all of the Bible and other Christian teachings and writings stem from. This is what all content strategies need. You need to have your own set of brand rules, establishing tone of voice, target audience and story.
Before any content is created brands and their agencies need to work out what their core beliefs and core outcomes are. As we outlined in our Content Marketing Guide 2013 there are many questions that content marketers need to ask before creating any content at all.
What story do you want to tell? Who do you want to tell it to? What is your ideal outcome?
The Bible has a creative core of ideas behind it that speaks out to a reader on every single page. How many content marketing campaigns have this creative forethought behind them? Red Bull does and so do Coca-Cola and Amex. More brands need to.
The content marketing wheel keeps on turning
The Bible is just a starting point in terms of content creation for Christianity. The Bible is the content strategy document for Christianity, but as a brand Christianity provides various “multiple touch points” for consumers to engage with their content message.
What is a hymn if not music with a religious brand message included? These hymns, if written today by a brand, could be distributed via Spotify, YouTube, ThisisMyJam and countless other online music hubs, including national radio, creating a valuable distribution channel for your content.
The book of Psalms is the longest book in the Bible, which contains 150 short poems. The Bible understands that sometimes consumers are not interested in overly long forms of content; but we are open to shorter, more accessible brand messages.
Many of the messages in the Psalms can be broken down to single sentences. Think Twitter, Facebook updates, message forums, video ads and anywhere else where short messages can work. The Bible got there first.
Some of the greatest works of art have been created with a Christian message behind them. In many instances they have literally tried to illustrate stories from the Bible. The results have been extraordinarily successful, such as Da Vinci’s Last Supper (above).
Content marketers today need to think about how they can develop their content messages around visual concepts; Instagram, Pinterest, infographics and Flickr – these are extremely good ways where there is an opportunity to create something that is in-keeping with your brand and offers another opportunity to connect with your customer base on different platforms.
If you can find a Da Vinci in the process, all the better!
Some marketers forget that content marketing takes place offline as well as on. Where is there a better example than in the Bible and Christianity as a whole? This is a religion built around the church service and sermon.
Think about how all of your content marketing activity can be harnessed for face-to-face interactions. Think press conferences, blogger events, Meet-ups, Google+ hang-outs, sales meetings, staff training; anywhere where you can speak directly to your target base and create advocates of your brand message.
And remember, you can film these too, creating more content for your brand stories.
Inspiring user generated content
If, as a brand, you can inspire others to be so inspired by your content that they start to create content that shares and promotes your brand – content that can often then in turn inspire more and more content to be created – then you are on to an extremely powerful thing.
For example, Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, you could argue, is user generated content promoting the brand of Christianity. How iconic and recognisable a symbol is the below?
What else can the Bible teach us about content marketing? Quite a lot more actually.
Expert thought leadership
If you look at the New Testament, obviously one character stands out, Jesus. The brand story is, to a large extent, Jesus’ story. All the significant stories in the New Testament follow Jesus.
He is the expert, the storyteller, the one you get behind and support. As a consumer, we all buy into his story. He appeals to all of us in some way or another.
Content marketers can learn from this
There is a lot to be said about promoting your brand through a recognisable persona, someone that appeals to your customer’s tastes and can promote your brand through dialogue.
A good example is Steve Jobs. Apple customers loved his passion and attention to detail, everything he did, -every talk, every interview, every article he wrote, helped promote Apple. Likewise we have Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook.
Online we have Matt Cutts for Google; Rand Fishkin at SEOMOZ, Pete Cashmore at Mashable and Dale Lovell at Content Amp (wishful thinking on my part here!), all of whom are only marginally less well known than the brands they represent.
From YouTube video channels to Twitter handles, guest posts to Google Author rank; content marketers need to promote a persona, or multiple personas, that can easily be identified with your brand.
Why? Because the personal approach is one of the best ways to connect with your customers online.
Have you ever wondered how there are so many key events in the Bible around peak holiday times? Easter, Christmas, the Bible has them all covered! How did that brand get so lucky?
Joking aside, it’s worth looking at what inspiration we can get from the Bible here. The thing to remember is that many of what we now view as Christian holidays are actually based on old Pagan festivities – so key events have actually been added to the calendar to tell the brand story of Christianity.
I’m not suggesting you try and create a new brand based holiday, but content marketers should think about what message – and what story – they can tell around key holiday periods that will speak to their customers.
Try something different
Many content strategies fail because they try to cover all the bases and appeal to everyone. You need to set out your stall and commit to what you believe in. It’s what magazine and newspaper publishers do – and it is what determines their success or failure.
Be bold in your content strategy; if done correctly consumers reward such action. How many content marketing campaigns actually try something different and actually give off an emotion and a sense of themselves as a brand?
The Bible does this. Can you say that for your content marketing strategy?
10 content marketing commandments to take from the Bible:
- Create a core set of beliefs – develop a content strategy.
- Use narrative to tell your brand story.
- Create content that can inspire your customer base.
- Don’t be afraid to be original with the content you create, the argument you make and the stories you tell.
- Create different forms of content – long form, short form, video, music and images – multiple touch points for your customer base to engage with your brand.
- Develop an expert to spread your brand message and to become a brand advocate.
- Create a content calendar – key dates to inform your story.
- Amplify your content message using all multiple platforms that are available – spread your message.
- Place your content strategy at the heart of your organisation. It shouldn’t be the function of your marketing department; it should be the core of your company ethos.
- Evangelise; practise what you preach – blog, guest post, social network and share.